Several months ago, my Mom lent me her copy of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” audiobook and I rediscovered a passion that nourishes my soul. Listening to a book on CD brings me back to the pleasure of being read to as a child. It fills my imagination with all of its descriptive language spoken aloud. It has changed my work commute which has always been a stressful drive in traffic. Now I am not bothered at all by the many vehicles surrounding me as I am transported by words to another world.

Here is a list of the books I have listened to since then.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – A riveting tale about 2 women’s lives over the course of 3 decades in Afghan society during Soviet occupation, civil war and then the Taliban. Mariam is 15 when her mother commits suicide and she is given in marriage to 40-year-old Rasheed, a cruel man who abuses her throughout the many years of their marriage, especially after she cannot have any children. Laila is 14 when her parents are killed by stray bombs and Rasheed takes her in and marries her. The 2 women come together in that household and slowly develop a deep bond that carries them through the worst of times. I smiled and laughed, cried and sobbed as I listened to the story of their lives unfold.

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult – A very intense story about a 14-year-old girl, Trixie Stone, whose life comes apart after her boyfriend breaks up with her and then rapes her at a party. Her mother, Laura, a college professor who teaches a course on Dante’s Inferno, and her father, Daniel, an artist who draws fantasy comic book heroes, cope to keep their family together as their world unravels around them. Their traumatic experience eventually leads them to Daniel’s boyhood home, a remote Alaskan village. Picoult has an amazing ability to bring out such depth in her characters, showing all of their faults in colorful detail. A lot of twists and unexpected turns in this story.

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier – The story of a man’s life from age 12 until he is very old. Will Cooper is bonded to an “antique gentleman” when he is 12 and he sets off for the general store where he will be working. Narrated in the first person as Will looks back upon his life, his journey is described in beautiful, poetic language. The story is set in the Southern Appalachian mountains in the 1800s and the landscape is described so beautifully that you can picture every tree, every creek, every ridge, every mountain. Will is adopted by Bear, a Cherokee chief, and he then grows up to become a lawyer and then a state senator, defending his people and their rights to their land as Jackson and his government move the Native people out west. Will’s deep love for the young girl, Claire, is woven into the tapestry of his many years. The actor Will Patton does an amazing job with the accent and his narration.

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes – By the telling of myth and story, Dr. Estes explores the instinctual nature of the wild woman archetype. Her soothing, melodic voice invites you on a journey to discover your own power, creativity and passion. I read this book in the early 90s and that sparked an exploration into Goddess myths and archetypes. It inspired me to embrace my creative nature as an artist. Listening to her stories again brought that wonderful journey back to me and deeper into the spiral of my psyche.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Brilliantly read by actor Patrick Stewart, this classic tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge is sure to delight, especially at this time of year.