The delight of being read to

Sometimes there is nothing better than having a story read to you. There are times when I am transported right back to the cosiness of childhood when I have had a story read to me.

A few weeks ago I took our children along to a book signing by one of their favourite authors and the look on their faces when she read from her book was of pure delight. Her voice, tone and use of inflection bought the characters to life in a way that only an author who knew what was coming up next in the story could do. This author showed as much passion for the characters in the book as did my children and it was wonderful to watch.

However, having a story read to you is not just for children and sadly we can’t always be there in person to have the authors read to us (how good would that be!). But there are a range of audiobooks that are read by the authors themselves and what a treat to is to have conviction and passion directly from the author. Others are books ready by voices you love…they are not necessarily the author, but someone who is a great storyteller.

Here is a list of a few of our favourites:

Yes Please read by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler is hosting a dinner party and you’re invited! Welcome to the audiobook edition of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. The guest list is star-studded with vocal appearances from Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even Amy’s parents. Yes Please is the ultimate audiobook extravaganza. Hear Amy read a chapter live in front of a young and attractive Los Angeles audience. While listening to Yes Please, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll become convinced that your phone is trying to kill you. Don’t miss this collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers. Offering Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and “the biz,” the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a “face for wigs”. Yes Please is chock-full of words, and wisdom, to live by.

The Happiness Project : Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun read by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realised. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.


Angela’s Ashes read by Frank McCourt

Angela’s Ashes was a true publishing phenomenon. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Royal Society of Literature Award (amongst others), this lyrical and poignant memoir topped bestseller charts the world over for more than two years and has since become a much loved modern classic. A heartfelt account of poverty in Ireland and emigration to America, Angela’s Ashes combines a personal perspective on a little-known aspect of modern history with Frank McCourt’s spellbinding story-telling, creating an enduring masterpiece in the process.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings read by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s autobiography is a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother’s lover. ‘I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it’s like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again’ – Maya Angelou

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone read by Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry brings the Harry Potter books magically to life for the listening audience in the fantastic, unabridged audiobook editions. The first is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he’s the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers, which could be valuable, dangerous – or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin.


A Short History of Nearly Everything read by Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything is Bill Bryson’s quest to find out everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilisation – how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. His challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, and see if there isn’t some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. It’s not so much about what we know, as about how we know what we know. How do we know what is in the centre of the Earth, or what a black hole is, or where the continents were 600 million years ago? How did anyone ever figure these things out? On his travels through time and space, Bill Bryson takes us with him on the ultimate eye-opening journey, and reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.

One more thing. Have you heard of Story Box Library?

The Story Box Library is something we have recently stumbled across. It is an online subscription based ‘reading room’ where the wonderful world of Australian Children’s Literature is on permanent exhibit and read by a diverse range of local storytellers – think Nick Cave, Missy Higgins, Dany Katz and Claire Bowditch. The stories are a little bit cheeky, a little bit charming and a whole lot of fun.