books and authors you simply must read

As many of you know, I adore A to Z’s.
So, to celebrate the fantastic world of audio books, here is the A to Z of audio books – in 3 parts.
A is for: Audible
I have been a member of audible for almost 10 years and during that time I’ve listened to over 100 books.
The first one I read was called The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams.
I used to read them on the way to work on the bus. I worked in Bangor at the time and it was an hour long journey each way.
B is for: Breath
I’m going to take this opportunity *it’s my blog after all* to recommend some books, authors and narrators I’ve really enjoyed.
I moved to Cardiff 4 years ago and didn’t have any TV, smart phone (I know, can you imagine?) or CD player.
The only means of entertainment I had was a battery operated radio, but, much as I adore radio 4, there’s only so much you can listen to!
Breath is by one of my favourite male authors, Tim Winton.
It’s set in Western Australia which holds a very special place in my heart.
It is about a paramedic who explores the theme of “breath” as part of his work, and his time as a teenager when he and his friend used to dare each other to hold their breath underwater for as long as they could.
The first part of the story isn’t drawn to conclusion until nearer the end, and the outcome left me – well almost breathless! *sorry*
C is for: Catherine Howard
If – and it’s a big if I ever went on Mastermind, one of my specialist subjects would be Catherine Howard.
I’ve always been drawn to “tragic heroines” and there’s something really appealing and enigmatic about Henry 8’s fifth wife.
Suzannah Dunn’s excellent book The Confessions of Catherine Howard is about the relationship between her and Cat Tilney, a distant relative and eventual lady in waiting to Catherine.
It depicts Catherine’s total naivety – but also shows how in the end, even your closest friends can’t be trusted.
I’d really recommend this to anyone who’s interested in Tudor times – it’s easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable.
D is for: dogs
I adore dogs! One of the very first books I heard was 101 Dalmatians.
I heard it on a cassette (for anyone under 18 reading this – ask your parents what a cassette is)
It was read by Joanna Lumley.
I loved the stories of Pongo, Mrs. And Perdita.
I recently re-read it – and also The Starlight Barking (which I hadn’t read before) and it was great to be re-acquainted with this brilliant book.
E is for: Emma Powell
This is the first of some excellent narrators I’m going to feature in this blog.
Emma Powell’s voice is kind, reassuring and great to listen to.
I’d recommend you listen to The Little Flower Shop by the Sea by Ally McNamara.
F is for: favourite
I have so many favourite authors I thought I’d pop them in a big long list for you to check out at your leisure.
Lucy Dillon: (try Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts) I first read a Lucy Dillon book during an immensely stressful and traumatic time – and it helped me through the awfulness of the experience by providing a small crumb of comfort.
Lucy Diamond: (try The Secret of Happiness)
I love Lucy’s books so much, I’ve purposely not read them all, as there’s nothing worse in book land than reading everything by one person then waiting ages for their next book to come out.
Warning: You’ll need tissues when you read these authors.
Liane Moriarty: When I read The Last Anniversary it was like one of the characters had been written just for me.
I could relate so much – and when an author does that, there’s something special about them.
Liane isn’t afraid to explore deep and dark themes either.
I purposely didn’t watch Little Lies as I knew it would never be anywhere near as good as the original book (sorry Reece and Nicole)
Read anything by her – and also her sister Nicola who is a brilliant author in her own right.
G is for: giggling.
I giggle – a lot! In fact, I’ve often startled various animals, people and birds with a particularly uproarious snort or screech!
I remember reading a really hilarious part in Neither here nor there by Bill Bryson and I laughed so loud the whole train carriage I was in stared at me in a concerned manner.
I love Bill Bryson and have read nearly all his books as well.
I recently re-read Notes from a small Island and laughed at exactly the same bits I’d found amusing almost 20 years ago.
H is for: heavy going
I have five devices I can use to listen to audio books. They use a variety of speeds – but none of them can make a book, or a narrator sound interesting if they’re not!
Recently I had to abandon three books (I won’t name them) because the plot was heavy going – or too slow for me to commit to.
The same goes for narrators.
I’ve abandoned a book which could have been really good, if the narrator had injected some enthusiasm (or even a change of tone) into reading it.
I is for: Impossible to choose
How do you choose which book to read next?
I’ve written down a whole file of books, narrators, topics, names and authors to choose from. I like to pick something or someone in the manner a lot of people pick horses in the Grand National.
This has meant I’ve read things I might not have considered reading before – from children’s books to a book about Labradors by Ben Fogle (another book I’d highly recommend)
I also love the website Good Reads where you can recommend books – and find books and authors similar to each other.

J is for: Jeremy Paxman
I have always adored Jeremy Paxman. I was actually sitting next to him at the BBC once when I went for an audition for a quiz and was waiting in reception – but I was too star-struck to chat to him.
I read A Life in Questions earlier this year and it was one of the most interesting and enlightening books I’ve read.
He narrated it himself, which is fantastic, as most celebrities or famous people don’t do this.

Next time: more narrators, books and authors I’d like to recommend.
Please may I take this opportunity to ask you to consider helping me with a fundraising challenge.
I’m hoping to raise £1500 for a talking book to be recorded for children through the RNIB.
The cost covers narrator fees admin and other costs – but will have a dedication at the beginning to the Canton and Ely talking book challenge.
Every little helps- so please give whatever you feel you are able to – and share as far and wide as you can.
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