Cosy Autumnal Listens
By Kathryn Alley, Emily De Vogele, Cameron Phillips and Sarunicka Satkuruparan
With us all being well and truly into the autumn season, we wanted to share some of our favourite cosy listens and autumnal audiobooks to keep you warm on the colder, darker nights. We also wanted to welcome our newest contributors, Kathryn and Sarunicka, and bid adieu to one of our regular writers, Emily.
Most of my favourite listens remind me of the gift of friendship and family on cosy, autumnal nights. Little Women, narrated by Barbara Caruso, is a timeless story that embodies curling up beside a fireplace with a warm mug of tea. Caruso’s gentle, expressive narration is the best companion to Louisa May Alcott’s writing. At its core, this is a story about a family finding beauty in both the glittering and mundane seasons of life. I have clung to the strength of the characters since I was a child, and hope that you will find the March family to be endearing and restful.
My second recommendation is less familiar, but just as delightful an audiobook to accompany fall weather. Similar to his most famous work, Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie offers Dear Brutus as a Neverland for adults. The 1917 piece explores a supernatural garden that is free of responsibility, reality and permanence. Dear Brutus is a wistful and melancholy return to childhood which crafts a warm audiobook. Narrated by LibriVox volunteers, the story examines eight guests who gain a second chance at life and the tragedy that follows. Barrie’s tale is captivating, balancing whimsical gloom with the idea that all adults are simply lost children in need of home.
Given that this is my last issue, I thought it’d be fitting to go out with a bang and recommend my favourite audiobook of all time. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, narrated by Allan Corduner, may not seem like the first choice for a cosy, autumnal audiobook, but I promise you, it is.
The story is narrated by Death, who watches on as Liesel Meminger lives through war-occupied Germany, and desperately tries to cling on to what little hope and love she has left. The story is dark, gritty and, at times, hopeless. But throughout everything, love and friendship keeps her going. It covers some incredibly dark subjects, yet the narration and writing style is beautiful and heart-breaking, balancing the beauty and the pain of war perfectly.
The audiobook feels like a warm hug, reminding the listener how incredible humans can be, even in the toughest of situations. The narrator, Allan Corduner, brings Death to life through his tone and kindness. This book fundamentally changed my life, and helped shape me as a person, and if you haven’t picked it up yet I promise it's worth the hype.
I wanted to explore the more mundane aspects of Tolkien’s legendarium. I’ve listened to the metaphysical and cosmological works of Tolkien multiple times, but I’ve rarely delved into the smallest of crags that ultimately make his creation so rich and lived in. The Nature of Middle Earth explores topics like how time works, and how the various races count it. It answers questions such as: how is Lembas bread made? I love these sorts of discussions, and they add so much to the more mainstream stories of his canon. It is also very interesting as the audiobook explores gender and sex, especially in the dwarven realms, which Tolkien’s work often gets criticised for avoiding.
Daniel Stride’s narration is rich and lends a sense of weight and history to the world which upholds the tradition of many previous narrators of Tolkien’s works. It is important to remember that Tolkien always viewed and presented his world as something real, and this is truly brought to life with Stride’s narration.
Set in a café down a narrow back alley in Tokyo, Before the Coffee Gets Cold written by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, is a cosy autumnal listen for those of you who enjoy stories that make you feel without being overwhelming with emotion.
Aside from brewing an excellent cup of coffee, the Funiculi Funicula café also transports people in time. The most important rule is that they have to return to the present before their cup of coffee gets cold. This story explores complex dynamics within four separate relationships. It radiates warmness with its capture of the bittersweetness of learning from regrets. Reflective, character driven, short yet leaving you feeling hollow, Before the Coffee Gets Cold uses magical realism to shed light on humanity and gets you thinking about what you would change if you could go back in time even if it wouldn’t change the future.
Narrator Arina Li's performance handles the sentiment of the stories with care. She encapsulates the longing and confusion the four time-travellers hold, whilst also sustaining the mystical atmosphere of the café. Credit also to Arina and the translator, Geoffrey Trousselot, for maintaining the essence of Japanese culture throughout. All this accumulates to make listening to this book feel like you’re sat in a café listening to an age-old tale.