Two Awesome Audio Books: We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union and Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

Confession time: I don’t really like to write about audio books.  I like to listen to them but I balk at writing reviews of them. Why? Because I don’t take notes. I’m almost always driving in my car or doing dishes when I’m listening to them, so I don’t want to stop and get a piece of paper and a pen and write things down like I do when I’m sitting and reading a paper book.

Because I don’t take notes, I feel like I can’t give a detailed review of the book. So I just listen, hopefully enjoy, count them in my Goodreads total, and move on.

Today, however, I feel compelled to let you know about my two most recent audio book adventures. These books are so outstanding that I know I will include them in my end-of-the-year Best Of list. The first is Gabrielle Union’s memoir We’re Going to Need More Wine. I have to be honest, I’m not exactly sure why I listened to this. I don’t think I’d even seen one of her movies or shows before I picked this up! But it was available in my library’s digital nonfiction audio collection, and I saw that one of my Goodreads friends had rated it highly, so I thought, Why not?

51lTCeNTXNL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_What a woman! She is strong in the best way a person can be strong: by being vulnerable, showing her flaws and admitting her mistakes. She covers a lot of ground in these stories. She covers her childhood, growing up in a predominantly white, conservative town in California, dealing with clueless white classmates who are sometimes horribly racist without “meaning to be.” She writes about her disastrous first marriage, being a recovering “mean girl,” the importance of having money of her own, experiences on various movie sets she’s worked on, her sweet dog, Bubba Sparks, and so much more. She is smart and thoughtful and unapologetic about her owning her sexuality. These are really stories where you feel like a friend is telling you these things over a glass of wine, getting real with you so that she can impart some wisdom from learned experience. I don’t remember if she uses the word “feminist” at all in the narrative, but I wouldn’t hesitate to call her a feminist. She is a strong woman who wants other women to take care of their minds, hearts, and bodies, and to lift up other women. These stories were entertaining, sometimes funny and occasionally sad, and I loved 29780258them.

When I finished Union’s book, I thought that perhaps it was the best celebrity memoir I’d ever read. Until I started listening to Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this from everyone I know who’s read it. I waited on my library’s hold list for months before I finally got it, and it’s worth the wait! I’m actually not finished listening yet – I’m on the last disc! But it is absolutely riveting. Not only is his delivery unbeatable, but his personal story is just fascinating. He managed to weave in so much historical and sociological information about South African and Apartheid. I learned that there’s a LOT I don’t know about that place and time, and even the aftermath of Apartheid, when Mandela came to power. I had no idea how codified and rigid Apartheid was. I had no idea of all the ethnic groups and languages contained in South Africa. So besides being entertained, I’m definitely learning! Noah’s very existence is unlikely with the way the races were kept apart. One anecdote he shared that stuck with me was how he later met other “colored” (what South Africans call mixed-race people) South Africans around his age who were expats. It blew his mind that his mother could have theoretically left South Africa and raised him elsewhere, somewhere that didn’t operate under the dark cloud of overt racism. He said something like, Imagine you fell out of an airplane and broke every bone in your body in the landing. You spent years and years healing from all the damage done to your body and spirit, and then someone told you about the existence of parachutes. That was how he felt when he realized that his life could have been different if he grew up in Europe or somewhere else. Noah’s mother is a force of nature, a strong and powerful woman who, despite an abusive marriage to Noah’s stepfather, raised a smart, compassionate son. Noah doesn’t shy away from describing his faults, though, especially delving into his youth as a petty criminal and a brief but harrowing stint in jail. This audio book is truly a MUST LISTEN. Even if you aren’t familiar with Noah’s work (which I’m not really) or you normally don’t read celebrity memoirs, I encourage you to give this a try.

Have you read or listened to either one of these? What kinds of audio books do you like, or do you enjoy them at all? Do you write reviews of the audio books you listen to, and if so, do you take notes on them? Let’s chat in the comments.

 

33 thoughts on “Two Awesome Audio Books: We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union and Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

  1. I think the 1st best type of book made for audio narration is the thriller. You get a good voice narrator, and he/she can bring the story to life in ways that the novel doesn’t pop on the page. 2nd is memoir. Again, you get a good narrator, and the compassion really comes through. That’s why it was so hard for me to finish First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung.

    When I review audiobooks, I always think in chunks rather than details. Was there a certain anecdote that I enjoyed, and why. How did the voice narrator do? Was his/her speaker clear, at a reasonable pace, and did it have just enough emotion? Finally, I often judge the entire product in terms of cohesion. Some books feel like they just end, some are trying to do too many things at once, etc. Those are my three basic criteria for an audiobook review, and I’ve found I don’t need to take notes for that.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree with Melanie! Please review more audiobooks. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, but I don’t often address them as such… lately, I’ve started to include more comments about the narrator. They really can make the book come to life. It can be such a different experience listening to an audiobook compared to reading the physical book, too. In fact, lately all my re-reads have been in the opposite format. I like comparing them. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved both of these books. I listened to both of them too.
    It is harder to review audiobooks especially as a person who tends to forget even character names after I’ve finished the book. I listen to mostly nonfiction and urban fantasy. For me those translate best to audio. I think general fiction moves too slowly for audio.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes when an audiobook really strikes me I go back to the library and get a paper copy so I can find some of the passages that made an impression. I did this with Marilynne Robinson’s Home at the end of last summer.
    Most often, though, I listen to audiobooks as rereads. My husband has been listening to Heinlein SF and passing them on to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel exactly the same way about audiobooks! I’m not a huge note-taker anyway, but it’s really annoying not to be able to highlight key things.

    I’m a fan of celebrity memoirs in general, but Born a Crime is truly exceptional. I still think about it and I read it years ago! It’s almost not fair that Noah can add “writing” onto his already large list of talents.

    Adding We’re Going to Need More Wine to my list now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t normally read or listen to personal memoirs but I am very tempted by the Trevor Noah one, since yours is not the first glowing review I’ve seen of it. I think we were all more aware of apartheid and all that stuff over here because of our connections to the African continent from our Empire history, and it’s a subject that fascinates me. My tip for reviewing audiobooks is to head off to Goodreads and read a few of the reviews – I always manage to pick up all the names and places I didn’t take a note of, which is my major problem with writing a review without the book in front of me – I usually remember the plot and what I liked or didn’t about it, but not all those pesky details…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would say that you would like Noah’s memoir, FF, since he does connect his personal story to the history of his country so well, and also does a really nice job talking about how race is a construct and how a common language can unite people of different ethnicities. He is a good writer as well as a good reader.
      Thanks for the tip on going to Goodreads reviews, I’ll remember that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love, love these two books and the authors. I have been watching Trevor for years and he is funny and so real. Born a Crime remains one of my favourite memoirs of all time. Like you, I also really liked his mom. This book also opened my eyes to inter-racial relations in SA during apartheid. I still remember that bit about punishments, white people get warned but black people go to jail. How crazy was the whole thing! Trevor has a few standup comedies, my favourite one is called The Daywalker. He is also the host of Daily Show, USA.

    Gabrielle’s story was inspiring. I agree with you about her being so real. I am still shocked about the incident that occurred at the diner where she worked. Her story also enlightened me about the racial issues in TV productions. I am especially shocked by Friends since I loved that show. I agree with you about Gabrielle’s strength.

    I am still yet to listen to an audio book so can’t comment on that.

    Awesome reviews, Laila. I am so happy that you enjoyed these two memoirs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Diana!
      I’m glad you enjoyed these in paper form!

      Yes, that part about Friends surprised me too!

      I will definitely try to watch some of Noah’s stand-up. I’ve never seen him on The Daily Show but I was aware of his hosting.

      Like

  7. You did a perfectly fine job with these reviews. Also, fyi, Audible has a quick button to click to “capture a note” and also add to it. It IS difficult to do when busy with other things while listening but there is a way to at least make a marker in the time… If only my car app would let me do it hands free – we’d have something! My problem is that I rarely go back and look at these notes…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My track record with writing up audiobooks isn’t great either. What I finally ended up admitting is that I need the text even when I think I don’t. I’m just not a good listener. Heheh. So I have the actual book in my stack, even when I’m listening mostly, sometimes even exclusively. Then I can scan through the parts that I listen to, later on, sometimes marking the passages that I couldn’t catch while on-the-go (or while vegetatively staring out the window or eating lunch – cuz that would take too much effort?). I’m kinda “saving” the Trevor Noah, but I should probably just listen to it and then re-listen to it, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t delay, just put Born a Crime next into your audio book queue! 🙂 You’re so good about having a text copy. I think part of the reason I predominantly want nonfiction for my audio books is that I don’t feel like I have to listen as closely as I would with fiction. Mostly I want to be entertained and educated while I drive, LOL!

      Like

  9. Yay! I’m so glad you took the time to review these, Laila. First of all, I completely agree with your thoughts on Trevor Noah as a narrator. I love how he is funny without trying to be, but also there is a consistent underlying seriousness. You can’t just crack jokes about apartheid consistently and make an effective memoir about growing up in that time. There is something about Born a Crime which really stuck with me, too. I don’t know how I learned so much from just listening to this memoir. Often, details just slide out of my head. Not so here.

    We’re Going to Need More Wine is new to me. And, honestly, so is Gabrielle Union. I don’t really watch TV/movies. But I am all about listening to a powerful female memoir! Powerful can be so many things to so many different people. Personally, I love learning about the mistakes and vulnerabilities and how women have learned from these moments. I will certainly add this to my TBR now.

    Do you plan on seeking out more audiobook memoirs? This is my favorite medium to absorb them!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve seen Gabrielle Union in a couple things maybe? But I am really curious about her memoir because I’ve heard it’s really good and that she really opens up, unlike most celebrity memoirs. I’ve wanted to read Born a Crime since it came out so that’s great to hear you’re loving that too!

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I still don’t listen to audiobooks. I get more and more tempted though by how much people seem to like them. I don’t usually have big chunks of time that I can listen while doing something else, though. Even doing chores, I’m usually interacting with other people in the house at the same time. And I have no commute. I walk a lot, but I prefer walking without listening to anything. It’s the only time of day I can let my mind wander any where it wants. Anyway, maybe someday… And I was thinking that our summer driving might be a good time, especially now that the kids all tend to have their headphones on while we drive now anyway. My husband and I could listen to something!

    Born a Crime is definitely a book I want to read sometime!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, the summer drive would be a good time, especially if the kiddos are otherwise occupied! But i get it about liking the silence. I don’t listen to as many audio books as some bloggers do. I’m too addicted to my podcasts! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I heard of Trevor Noah’s memoir but I didn’t know of Gabrielle Union’s or her acting career. I must be clueless. I think I could learn quite a bit about South Africa from Noah’s book. I like audiobooks and dont take notes but feel I can review them as well as I do books. I recall them quite vividly by listening. Sometimes dense stories don’t work well as audios so I try to get ones that are a bit faster paced etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m enjoy audiobooks a lot. They have changed my reading life so much. I have talked several friends into trying them (after I was talked into it too) and I can’t be without one or two. I do take notes when I listen to them,I bookmark quotes but if I can’t when I’m commuting I try to make a mental note of the chapter so u can go back and write it down, I’ll have to pick these two up based on your review. I think you’ve done a nice job with these. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great reviews!! I loved Born a Crime, such a fantastic book. I also haven’t been able to get into audio books, really..I love podcasts but audio books just don’t do it for me. The ones read by people who are actually performers make more sense to me, though. Sometimes the reading is so terrible on ones I’ve tried to listen to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been able to listen to audio books. I still prefer podcasts because they fit into my limited time better. And I do prefer nonfiction when I do listen to audio books. Thanks for reading!

      Like

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