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Review: The Audiobook of the Year 2019

The Audiobook of the Year 2019 cover, which features a red backdrop emblazoned with the words "THE AUDIOBOOK OF THE YEAR 2019 - the world's weirdest news".
The Audiobook of the Year 2019 by No Such Thing As A Fish.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Duration: 11 hrs 2 mins.
Publisher: Penguin Audio.

The Audiobook of the Year 2019 by Dan Schreiber, Anna Ptaszynski, Andrew Hunter Murray, and James Harkin takes the listener on a fun, fact-finding trip back through the most interesting tid-bits the team discovered while researching their superb podcast, No Such Thing As A Fish, and the equally marvellous TV show, QI.
Audible Summary: "In a year when South Korea announced that its new robotics museum will be built by robots, and French cheese terrorists put a camembert through every French MP's letterbox, The Book of the Year returns with another dose of barely believable yet bona fide facts and stories from the past 12 months.

Each week for the past five years, Dan, James, Anna and Andy - the creators of the award-winning, chart-topping comedy podcast No Such Thing as a Fish - have wowed each other and millions of listeners with the most astonishing trivia they have learned over the previous seven days. Now, once again, they have scoured the newspapers for hidden gems and transformed another year's worth of weird and wonderful happenings into one uplifting book that you won't be able to put down.

Discover how TV channel Hallmark has so many new Christmas movies that it will now start airing them from July. Be amused to learn that a thousand people were hired to attend a rally in Kiev to protest against the practice of hiring people to attend rallies. Share the excitement of the scientists who discovered that more attractive monkeys have smaller testicles.

From ecologically minded Birmingham drug dealers to dodgy Belgian petanque players, The Book of the Year 2019 is an eye-opening tour of yet another incredible year you didn't know you'd lived through. And the authors have promised not to mention Brexit. Much.

©2019 No Such Thing as a Fish (P)2019 Penguin Audio."

Walruses are falling off cliffs, blue tits are pecking out other birds' brains, Britain is in the throes of wormageddon, and James' fear of mushrooms must now extend to being swaddled in a suit of them and, quite literally, left to rot. Just in case that wasn't bad enough the QI Elves from No Such Thing as a Fish cover a myriad of other calamitous topics, with equally thought-provoking and hilarious consequences. Full of facts and interesting tidbits from the last year, the aptly-named Audiobook of the Year 2019 brings you all the fascinating things that may have slipped under the radar over the past twelve months.

Though it would be impossible to review 2019 without mentioning it at all, the word "Br*xit" has been bleeped out of this recording in all but one instance. As well as lightening the tone of this divisive topic, it also helps the book feel more relaxing for those of us who find it too exhausting or infuriating to contemplate in our down-time.

I won't spoil any of the facts by discussing the stories the tam cover, but it was nice to see them address the dispiriting statistic that "only ten percent of Britons believe that listening to an audiobook is as good as reading the physical book" by quoting the new studies (including one by the University of California), which have proven that listening is just as good for your brain as sight-reading. I encounter this erroneous perspective a lot, often couched in very ableist attitudes, and it's heartening to hear respected researchers help to debunk the myths and dispel some of the intellectual snobbery.

The Audiobook of the Year has been excellently narrated by each of the regular podcasters from No Such Thing as a Fish; Dan Schreiber, Anna Ptaszynski, Andrew Hunter Murray, and James Harkin. Its tone will be familiar to those fond of the aforementioned podcast, as it is both conversational and educational, with the facts clearly presented but the narrators occasionally interjecting with responses, queries, and laughter. This balances the heavily-scripted nature of audiobook narration with the moments of spontaneity that we are used to, and makes this audiobook very easy to listen to, even if you usually struggle with non-fiction.

In many ways it feels like an extended edition of the podcast without the live audience, which is exactly what I'd hoped for in a book from one of my favourite podcasting teams. I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who is a fan of QI, or No Such Thing as a Fish, or is looking for a humorous and engaging review of what has certainly been an eventful year.

It has been the perfect audiobook upon which to end 2019, and one of the things I am most looking forward to in 2020 is the potential for the next edition.

(Click here to buy this book, listen to a sample, or add it to your wishlist!)

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