My Top 5 Books and Audiobooks

The journey of a lifetime starts with the turning of a page.

Rachel Anders

Whether you’re stuck in quarantine getting a hint of cabin fever or you’re traveling, reading is always a great escape or addition to your journey. While none of these books are about travel itself, I found myself captivated and didn’t want to stop listening or put my book down.

In these uncertain times, books can be a great way to distract yourself from the uncertainties. I know it’s helped me! These are some of my favorite books, book series, and audiobooks to, hopefully, help you get out of your head and immersed in a story. They are also amazing choices to take with you whenever we can travel again!

My Top 5 Books & Book Series

I know I’m forgetting so many books, but these will have to do for now! I read well over 100 books a year, so it’s hard to choose just five. I’m also leaving out some of the books I’ve already featured on previous posts, so check those out!

Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

Yes this is probably on 57 million lists, but I are up reading this series and I’ve reread them dozens (yes, dozens) of times and always find something new or just feel renewed. Plus, there are lots of them and will keep you occupied for quite a while.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Fantasy meets romance meets magic meets fierce competition. Words just don’t do this novel justice. The second you read the first few lines, you’re sucked into the vivid world the author created. It’s one of my all-time favorite reads for not only the interesting characters but the unique story line that I have yet to read anything similar.

The Pendergast Novels by Preston & Child

I love a juicy plot mixed with characters that are both flawed and endearing. Any novel written by the powerhouse duo Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is worth your time. While they are good writer separately, they are truly a dream team when they collaborate. The Pendergast novels feature a modern day Sherlock Holmes (but, dare I say, better) who solves intricate cases that also dabble occasionally in the fantastical, but still somehow realistic. If you’re looking for a great to place to start, Cabinet of Curiosities was one of my favorites.

The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan

Historical fiction is the genre, but Brian McClellan takes this to not another level but a completely different universe. Fantasy has never been so unique and intriguing. Kings are overthrown, powder mages control gun powder, gods are awakened, and there are fresh surprises in almost every chapter that make this trilogy refreshingly amazing. While they are lengthy, they are never boring.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

I had been in a creative funk. There’s just no other way to put it. I had stopped crafting and I didn’t have any photo clients. It was just a blah time to be creative in my life. This book was so interesting in how it talks about following creative impulses, letting some work go, attracting creativity, and allowing yourself to be the best creator possible. If you like anything creative and feel like you could use a boost, this is a fantastic choice. Bonus points: the author also wrote Eat, Pray, Love so there’s at least some connection to travel.

My Top 5 Audiobooks

I never got into audiobooks until recently. Now, you will be hard-pressed to find me not listening to a book whenever I walk my dog, when I’m running errands, working out, and/or driving long distances. It’s a way I can read when I can’t physically have a book in my hand and I love that.

Personally, I use Libby so I can check out books for free from my local library. There are tons of free options if you’re willing to wait for extremely popular books, but there’s always something great that’s available.

Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History by Bill O’Reilly

I cannot express how much I love WWII novels. I love them when they are fiction and non-fiction. I recently read a whole slew of fiction novels based on real events and I was absently scrolling through Libby to see what was available. The title caught my attention immediately. In school, we never got to learn about what happened to key players in the aftermath of the war except a tiny amount about the Nuremberg trials. I wanted to learn more. This audiobook is read by the author and tells a gripping, but true tale of how several of the most notoriously awful people ever to walk the earth were brought to justice. I never wanted to hit pause.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Mythology has always interested me. I love learning about how different myths manifest in different cultures but outside of the Marvel universe, I didn’t know too much about Norse mythology. I stumbled across this audiobook and got overly excited that the infamous Neil Gaiman not only wrote but narrated his interpretation of the myths. It. Was. Amazing. The stories are incredibly unique and told in a truly captivating, and often hilarious, way.

Cormoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith aka J.K Rowling

A good murder mystery with prickly but lovable characters is always on my radar. While the plot unfolded in a classic way, the story is propelled forward by a private investigator struggling to get by. An unlikely duo is later formed and leads the story ceaselessly forward in a cunning plot that J.K Rowling is famous for. They are on the longer side, but you’re never left with a feeling of “why is this going on forever?”. You’ll feel more along the lines of “ohhhh what happens next?”.

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

Self-help books usually bore me and before I listened to one I thought I wouldn’t benefit from any. I was wrong. This book motivated me to get sh*t done. I felt empowered. It’s nice knowing that I’m not the only person on the planet that lost my sense of badassery. If you’re looking for a book to help get you out of a slump and find your inner beast mode, I would recommend this!

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

I’m currently listening to this gem of a memoir. Read by the author, the story is as gripping as it is tragic and uplifting. This man clawed his way to a new life and faced horrors none of us can even begin to imagine. Then he turned around and wrote about it for all the world to see. That takes unparalleled grit. To say this story is moving is an understatement. It sheds a light on a part of the world that too often gets overlooked. This audiobook should be at the top of your list for so many reasons.

What Are Your Favorites?

Apparently I love listening to non-fiction with a hint of murder mystery thrown in. I don’t typically love reading physical books of those stories since I gravitate more towards thrillers, but listening to them is such a fun way of learning and expanding my reading boundaries.

While thrillers will always be my absolute favorite to read, I would LOVE any and all book suggestions. I have a ridiculous amount on my bookshelf I’m working through, but please drop your suggestions in the comments below!

Published by Emma Browning

Hey everyone, my name is Emma Browning. Thanks for stopping by. I like to think of myself as a modern day renaissance woman since I basically do a little bit of everything. Here's a few of my jobs/hobbies in case you're curious: Group Fitness Instructor (Zumba, BodyStep and BodyPump), small business owner (string art& travel photography), archaeologist/anthropologist, actress, SCUBA dive master, reading addict, dog mom, cellist, and of course travel enthusiast. I've traveled to over 21 countries and speak French fluently and am learning Spanish. Traveling is one of my all time favorite things to do whether it be a day trip with my dog or a massive international adventure. I created this blog to help others see the world vicariously through my wanderings and also to give useful tips and essential information that will hopefully inspire more people to travel. Hopefully you have as much fun reading these posts and get a lot of useful information from them!

2 thoughts on “My Top 5 Books and Audiobooks

  1. Totally agree with you on the Harry Potter series! Thanks for the suggestions – I’m going to put some of them on my county library “virtual bookshelf.” Believe it or not, I can still get requested books from my closed library in a drive-up fashion. How sweet is that?

    My three favorite books of all time are Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca, which looks like a mass market thigh throbber, but really is sort of a thriller/mystery. Also, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which is historical fiction about 1800s (?) China and footbinding, which is fascinating to read about. Finally, Follow the River, which is also historical fiction but based on as much fact about the main character as the authors could dig up.

    1. I am so jealous that your library is doing that!!! Luckily I have over 30 books in my house that I haven’t read, but at the rate I’m reading right now, I’m not sure how long that will last me! Thank you so so much for the suggestions. As soon as I can check them out, I will! Or I’ll see if I can find a good audiobook version!

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