Our Spring Picks
By Cameron Phillips and Emily De Vogele
There’s no denying that spring is just around the corner: the longer days, shorter nights and blossoming flowers that are beginning to bloom. It’s a hopeful time of the year, and we wanted to share the top picks from our recent reads to get you back into audiobook reading this spring!
I recently read a book that has stuck with me since putting it down – so, of course, I had to listen to the audiobook version as well. It is It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. After seeing the book all over TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and every other social media site imaginable, I caved and started to read it. And I was hooked.
It Ends With Us follows Lily Bloom, a recent college graduate who moved to Boston in an attempt to move on and start anew after a death in her family. In a fated encounter, she meets neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid, who changes everything in Lily’s life. Ryle is arrogant, stubborn and completely against relationships, but has a soft spot for Lily, throwing her into impossible choices and a life so far removed from her old one. That is, until her first love, Atlas Corrigan, re-enters her life, and once again lily finds herself in an impossible situation.
Falsely marketed to me as a romance, this book is so much more than a meet-cute love story. The way Hoover portrays these characters and brings them to life is indescribable; it’s something you have to experience for yourself. There’s an element of butterflies in your stomach, sweet and breath-taking romance, but there’s also the other side: the heart-wrenching, difficult decisions and pain that come with relationships. Every single character is so well-developed I almost forgot they weren’t real. Hoover admits that this novel is deeply personal to her, and this is evident in the way she tells these characters’ stories.
Without giving away any spoilers (because believe me, you want to go into this blind with no pre-conceptions or prior knowledge), the ending of this book had me reeling. Even though I knew what was coming by the time I listened to the audiobook, the way the ending was read aloud had me feeling that wave of emotions all over again.
The discourse about relationships, specifically Lily and Ryle’s, that surrounds this book is incredibly important and one that I encourage you to take part in once you’ve read it. Full of heartbreak and hope, this is one I can see myself re-reading annually. It’s the perfect read for spring, and it will break your preconceptions about it.
One of the most famous Batman comics is Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth. Written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Dave McKean, A Serious House is a deep dive into the psychology of Batman, but more specifically his rogues gallery. From mental health and its treatment, insanity, psychological horror and surrealism to Jungian psychoanalysis, the themes are very dense, but offer a fascinating platform from which the story is told.
Batman is invited to Arkham Asylum by Joker, who has threatened to kill the staff. Batman duly accepts and sets off to quell the riots at the asylum. Departing from the traditional themes that Batman’s villains are usually framed within, Maxie Zeus is portrayed as an emaciated criminal with a God complex obsessed with electrotherapy. Killer Croc’s disfigurement places a magnifying glass on the treatment and real-life discrimination against those with physical deformities, as he was based on Joseph Merrick, the ‘Elephant Man’ as he was labelled in Victorian England. Additionally, Two-Face’s dual personality is attempted to be treated by the asylum staff by taking away his two-sided coin and replacing it with a die, in an effort to give him a greater sense of choice. It ends up making him even more insane.
That is as far as I will go when it comes to the details and themes of the story, as some of them are very graphic, but the way in which it delves into the above-mentioned topics is both suitably delicate and frank. My interpretation is that Morrison is criticising the attitudes within the American mental health system. The stigma around mental health in America has long been an issue, but it has only been addressed slowly; I believe Morrison’s writing aims to bring attention to this.
The voice work and narration are excellent. There are too many names to list, but the entire cast is listed in the description of the audio video. The chilling story and its various themes are spine-tinglingly narrated, and each character is given personality and weight. The ambient sounds of the asylum, obviously absent in the written comic, are also magnificent. It can be tough, dark and quite horrific at times, but that shouldn’t deter anyone who is not only a massive Batman fan, but also a fan of writers who subvert expectations and offer something completely different to the norm. You can find this recording on a YouTube video entitled Batman Arkham Asylum – Audio Drama (Remastered).