So I’m not a big exerciser by nature. I much prefer eating a bowl of ice cream while reading a good book to getting all sweaty running or something. But I’ve also realized that I should probably exercise at least occasionally if I’d like to sustain my ice cream habit. In an attempt to make exercising a little more palatable, I’ve begun listening to audiobooks while I run. I mean jog. I mean jog for a bit and then walk for a bit and then try to force myself to jog again. It’s a work in progress.
Anyway, I figure if I can find books good enough that I want to keep listening to them, maybe I’ll exercise even longer. So for this month’s book list I’ve rounded up nine books with incredible plot twists that will keep you listening. And jogging. Or cleaning. Or whatever else it is that you’re trying to convince yourself to do. (Of course, you’re also welcome to read them while on the couch eating ice cream. I won’t judge.)
1. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Ok, I’m not normally a sucker for mysteries, but this book is the world’s best-selling mystery for a reason. Ten strangers are lured to an island by a mysterious host who never appears. After a storm cuts them off from the mainland, they begin to learn each other’s secrets, just in time to start succumbing to murder, one by one. You’d think a novel written 80 years ago wouldn’t be that hard to figure out, but I promise you’ll never see the twist coming, and you won’t want to stop listening.
The audiobook is narrated by Dan Stevens, whom I know from Downton Abbey, but I had no idea what an accomplished narrator he is. He does a fabulous job creating identifiable voices for each of the characters in the books–he even does a great job with the female characters.
2. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
This is one of THE classic novels of psychological suspense for a reason, and if you haven’t read it yet you are in for a real treat. Our heroine is a young orphan who’s working as a ladies’ companion when she meets handsome, wealthy, and recently widowed Max de Winter. We’re just as surprised as she is when he falls in love with her and makes her his second wife. When the new Mrs. De Winter joins her new husband at his fantastic mansion home, Manderly, she begins to realize that Rebecca, his first wife, casts a shadow over every part of her marriage. I can’t say much more without ruining the surprise, but believe me when I say you’ll love it. By the way, I’ve always found the first chapter or two a little slow, but hold out, it picks up!
3. Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
This is another one of my favorite books – even though I already know the twist at the end it’s so good I pick it up every few years to reread. We know from the outset of the book that a murder is being planned–half of the book is written from the perspective of the person planning the murder–we just don’t know who the prospective murderer is. Set in a boys’ prep school, the novel has a bit of a Dead Poets Society feel to it, mixed with a race to see if anyone will be able to figure out the murder before it actually happens.
4. Possession by A. S. Byatt
This book could be described as a literary mystery–perfect for those of us who love reading books about books. It tells the stories of two Victorian poets and their gradual romance as well as the story of the present day academics who are trying to discover the hitherto unknown truth about the poets’ connection. It’s a nice long book (I love long books that keep my attention the whole way through!) with plenty of discoveries, a couple budding romances, and a satisfying twist at the end. And the writing is fantastic!
5. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
This is a YA novel, but it’s so much fun that I’d recommend it to everyone. Sixteen people are called together for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will, and each one of them is a possible heir to his huge fortune. They just have to figure out whom the money is actually supposed to go to. This quirky little mystery is actually fairly complex, with lots of clues dropped along the way. Winner of the Newbery Medal in 1979.
6. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
You may already know the story from one of the various screen adaptations of this story, but if you haven’t, you are in for a treat! I read this classic as a teenager and I can still remember where I was sitting in my parent’s house when my jaw dropped when the plot twist was revealed. Set during the French Revolution, this book tells the story of the Scarlet Pimpernel, an unknown Englishman who travels to Paris to save French nobles from the guillotine, complete with clever disguises and fantastic escapes. There’s plenty of action, adventure, history, romance, and pretty much everything else you could want from a book in this classic.
7. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Famous author Vida Winter fiercely guards her privacy and has never told anyone her life story. Well, she’s actually told 19 different journalists 19 different versions of her life story, but she’s never told the truth. Until now. When she does begin to talk, we hear of a childhood full of governesses, ghosts, crazy relatives, and family secrets, including at least one abandoned baby. This book is an homage to gothic classics like Jane Eyre, and it will definitely keep you reading past your bedtime. Content note: implied (not described) incest
8. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
I love quirky books about quirky people. I just do. And Bernadette is definitely quirky. She lives in Seattle with her husband and daughter. She’s a famous architect but has recently developed an “allergy” to Seattle, and people in general, and has started outsourcing even basic tasks to a virtual assistant in India. And then one day, she disappears. The story is told through the emails, official documents, and secret correspondence that her 15-year-old daughter Bee compiles in her attempts to find Bernadette, and it is imminently entertaining. It’s part satire and part family drama, sometimes a little dark but often absolutely hilarious, with a fantastic twist at the end. Content note: more strong profanity in this book than what I generally recommend (or read myself) but it’s so darn enjoyable that I couldn’t put it down.
9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Chances are if you like to read, you’ve already read this one. If not, it’s probably because you saw the trailers for the movie and assumed it was another teen angst filled YA novel that wasn’t worth your time. Well, it is a YA novel and there is some teen angst in it, but this book is really fantastic. The writing is smart, the characters are real, and much of the book is very funny, even though the premise isn’t funny at all: Hazel and Augustus meet in a support group for teens who have cancer. Augustus is in remission and doing well, but Hazel lives with the knowledge that her terminal diagnoses means any day could be the beginning of the end. Hazel is determined to meet her favorite author and find out what happened after the last page of her favorite book, and Augustus is determined to help her. I’m not gonna lie, this book is sad, but it’s also completely delightful.
Thanks to some of these audiobooks, I might actually be able to convince myself to exercise this week! If you want to give listening to audiobooks a try, head over to Audible to sign up for a 30-day trial and choose your first audiobook absolutely free.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.