Blog – Posted on Thursday, Apr 08
The 60 Best Audiobooks of All Time
Whether you’re doing the dishes, running errands, or going for a long walk, audiobooks are a fantastic way to keep your mind active as well as your body. Especially in today’s busy and stressful world where there’s not necessarily time to sit down and read a physical book, audiobooks have become more in demand than ever.
If you’ve never gotten into audiobooks before, you may be wondering where to start. Well, you could start by listening to some free audiobooks to see if you enjoy the audio experience — or you could let us do the hard work of choosing for you! Below, we’ve gathered 60 of the best audiobooks out there, from classics and old standbys to new books every book club will be talking about. Whether you're interested in fiction or nonfiction, you'll find something for you. So make sure your earbuds are charged, because once you start listening, you’re not going to want to stop!
Best audiobooks in fiction
1) The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, narrated by Tom Hanks
Perfectly narrated by the iconic voice of Tom Hanks, The Dutch House traces the life of Danny Conroy. After a series of tragic events, siblings Danny and Maeve are kicked out of the glamorous house their father had bought several years earlier, the titular Dutch House. This series of losses shakes them so much that, no matter how much happiness and stability they manage to create for themselves in the decades to come, the two of them keep returning to sit together across the street from the Dutch House every time they see each other. What follows is a sweeping family story about loss, growing up, and finding your place in the world.
2) Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, narrated by Nicole Lewis
This thoroughly modern novel revolves around Emira, a 25-year-old Black woman desperately trying to make ends meet, and Alix, her peer by age but not by social status. Alix — white, married, successful in a private blogging enterprise — hires Emira to be a regular babysitter of her two kids. One night, in an effort to keep Alix’s daughter out of the house during a family emergency, Emira takes young Briar to the grocery store, where they’re confronted by a security guard wanting to know what this Black woman is doing with a white child.
Thus begins a plot that could only happen in the present day, as Emira struggles to navigate racial issues and potential social media scandals, all while trying to hold together a job, a social life, and some semblance of sanity. Narrated in Nicole Lewis' confident (and confidential) tone, Such a Fun Age is one of those best audiobooks that feels like listening to a friend confess the latest details of their own life.
⭐ For more books that discuss race, check out our guide to African American Literature.
3) Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, narrated by Jennifer Lim
Whether you’ve already binged the compelling Hulu adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere, or are just looking for an incredibly engaging story of family drama, Celeste Ng has got you covered. This story is about the Richardsons — a picture-perfect family from the picture-perfect suburban community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, whose lives are turned upside down when Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl, move into the Richardsons’ rental property. These free spirits set off a chain reaction of events that will forever change how the Richardsons think about life, and the assumptions we make about what it means to do the right thing.
4) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, narrated by Davina Porter
Time travel, the romance of the Scottish Highlands, and dashing men in kilts? It’s no wonder Outlander has been a bestseller since its introduction in the 1990s — and now gone on to become a hit TV series!
If you'd like to go back to the series roots, the Outlander books aren’t one to be missed — and that includes this audiobook. Starting when Claire Randall is thrown back in time to 18th-century Scotland, these books are equal parts sweeping romance and gripping time-travel fantasy. Spicy, sweet, and more than a little twisty-turny, these books will wrap you up in their world to the point where you’ll be sorely reluctant to leave.
5) Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, narrated by Nick Offerman et al.
You may well have heard people sing the praises of Lincoln in the Bardo before, and rightly so. This 2017 release swept across the stage with its fascinating exploration of the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie. Imaginative, supernatural, and a deeply compelling look at the loss of a child, this novel hit countless “best of” lists and took home the coveted Man Booker Prize.
However, if you’ve never experienced the audiobook version of it, it’s safe to say that you still have plenty more to discover about this book. Packed with an absolutely stunning array of 166 narrators (including such blockbuster names as Julianne Moore, Nick Offerman, Don Cheadle, and Susan Sarandon), this audiobook changes what it means to use a full cast. Breathtaking in its scope and brilliantly executed, Lincoln in the Bardo will stand as a pinnacle of audiobook performances for decades to come.
6) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, narrated by David Pittu
In this coming-of-age novel by literary powerhouse Donna Tartt, we’re introduced to Theo, a 13-year-old boy who’s suffered a tragic loss. In the wake of this, he becomes fixated with a painting — an obsession that will ultimately lead him toward a whole new trajectory in life. The Goldfinch follows Theo into adulthood, and the seedy underbellies of the art world. Note that the audio version is a hefty time commitment, clocking in at over 32 hours — but the intricate character details, spellbinding language choices, and deeply personal suspense will make it feel much shorter.
7) Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Written by a real-life zoologist, Where the Crawdads Sing tells the story of Kya Clark, a girl who raised herself in a North Carolina marsh after her father abandoned her. Kya has lived in isolation for years, surrounded by and learning from nothing but the wilderness around her. But her life is upended by different men, and what follows is a riveting mystery of new lessons, heartbreak, and even suspected murder. Filled with rich environmental details, this novel will immediately transport you to the untamed world of the marshlands, surrounding you with all the suspense and wonder they possess.
8) The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, narrated by Shayna Small
In The Vanishing Half, the Vignes twins split apart at age 16, each of their lives going in a very different way: one runs away and sets up a life far away from the small town she grew up in, passing herself and her daughter off as white; the other marries the darkest man she can find, and, years later, is still in the same town where she spend her childhood years. The story of what happens when these two sides of the family finally come together again is intense and compelling, ultimately deeply interrogating race relations in the second half of the twentieth century. All that would be reason enough to read this already! But this audiobook version is the cherry on top, especially thanks to Shayna Small’s rich, no-nonsense voice, which carries this multi-generational family saga forward with grace and pizzazz.
9) Milkman by Anna Burns, narrated by Bríd Brennan
As we all know, the best audiobooks are the ones with a unique voice — both from the author and the narrator. Milkman has both of these in spades.
The story itself is pretty straightforward: a coming-of-age tale, it's centered around an unnamed young woman living in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles.” But her character is unforgettable, as she tells us about her world through the lens of someone who manages the fine line of being distinct enough to remain compelling but relatable enough to feel like her experiences could belong to anyone. Tack on the biting insight and the beautifully authentic accent in which it's narrated, and you have an audiobook that's the sort you’ll want to lavish in, doling it out over multiple days so that your experience isn’t over too soon.
10) Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, narrated by Almarie Guerra et al.
This emotional collection of short stories brings to the forefront voices that are often overlooked — specifically, those belonging to indigenous Latinas living in the American West. Centered in Denver, Colorado, author Kali Fajardo-Anstine brings to life eleven women, each with their own unique challenges and strengths. Yet through her words, she manages to capture a universality as the women in her collection struggle with abandonment, family, and their attempts to belong. With each story read by a different narrator, Sabrina & Corina is sure to captivate audiences, letting them see a piece of themselves even in difference.
11) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, narrated by Dominic Hoffman
Sweeping across two continents, 300 years, and eight generations, Homegoing is a remarkable display of the power of narrative form. Starting in the 1700s, it tells first the story of two half-sisters: one, married off to a British slaver; the other, sold into slavery. Readers then watch (or listen, in this case) as this one decision plays out over centuries to come, shaping and impacting generation’s worth of lives and experiences. With Dominic Hoffman's expert narration guiding the way, this audiobook experience is not one you want to miss.
12) Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, narrated by Jennifer Beals et al.
Some stories just beg to be audiobooks, and Daisy Jones and the Six is one such book. Told through a series of Behind the Music-style interviews, this full-cast narration quickly brings you into the whirlwind history of the (sadly fictional) band Daisy Jones and the Six. From their chance formation when a music producer throws them all together, to the heyday of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, all the way to their sudden and dramatic split, this book will have you bobbing your head to songs that don’t actually exist, desperately wishing they did.
13) Circe by Madeline Miller, narrated by Perdita Weeks
They say history is written by the victors, but what women everywhere know is that it’s also largely been written by men.
Circe aims to change that — at least for one woman from Greek mythology. Considered a “minor goddess,” Circe is known mostly from Homer’s Odyssy, as the enchantress who turned his crew into pigs and then births him two sons. She’s often depicted as distant, cold, and fickle — but that’s only because you never got a chance to really know her. This powerful, fiercely feminist novel will cast its own special spell on you, as you dive deep into a world of gods and mortals, and the dividing line that isn’t always as clear as we’re taught to believe.
14) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Polly Stone
Another novel that seeks to center women in a narrative too-often overshadowed by men, The Nightingale tells the story of two sisters during World War II. One is a mother, forced to house a Nazi officer in her occupied French home; the other, a brash young woman who suffers a terrible betrayal and joins the Resistance movement.
Through beautiful yet accessible prose that's accentuated by Polly Stone's rich voice, Kirstin Hannah weaves a tale of two women struggling to survive a situation under almost impossible odds. With no good options before them, they must each dig deep and make the best choices they can under the circumstances — and the strength and resilience that fills this book will bolster your own spirits, reminding you of the courage you sometimes need to move forward.
15) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, narrated by Allan Corduner
Listen, when you tell us that a book is narrated by Death, we’re going to sit up and take notice. And we’re happy to say this modern classic rises up to the challenge with flawless grace, humor, and poignancy.
Set in World War II Germany, The Book Thief tells the story of a young girl named Liesel. In the midst of the horrors of the war, Liesel scrapes together a meager life, stealing books and sharing them with her neighbors during bombing raids. But through Death’s pointed observations and Allan Corduner's unforgettable narration, we’re given a story of heartache and hope, one that will forever impact all those who read it.
16) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, narrated by Zach Appelman
A brilliant, beautiful novel, All the Light We Cannot See takes us once again behind the scenes of World War II, this time centering on a pair of children. Blinded at age six, Maurie-Laure’s father built her a scale model of the town they live in so that she can learn to navigate the city. Now, at twelve, she finds herself fleeing to a citadel to avoid the war.
Meanwhile, a boy from a mining town finds a valued place among the Hitler Youth for his ability to repair broken radios. What starts as two separate and harrowing stories eventually blends together in a single thread that's at once thought-provoking and heartwarming.
17) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, narrated by Clare Corbett et al.
The runaway hit of 2015, Girl on the Train is a edge-of-your-seat thriller that follows Rachel: a commuter, taking the same route every morning, watching the same couple have breakfasts on their deck.
Sounds like a routine that could lull anyone to sleep, right? That is, until one day she witnesses something out her little window — something so disturbing she feels compelled to bring her knowledge to the police. What ensues is a haunting, engrossing story that will grip you until the end. Told by three outstanding narrators who perfectly encapsulate the suspense of this infamous story, the audio edition is definitely the way to go with this one.
18) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, narrated by Julia Whelan et al.
If you thought this book was electrifying the first time you read it, just wait until you hear it in the character’s own voices.
Gone Girl took the literary world by storm in 2012, but let's rewind just in case you somehow missed the hype: this psychological thriller tells the story of Amy and Nick Dunne, opening on their 5th anniversary when Amy goes missing. Told from both Nick’s point of view in the present and Amy’s diary entries over the last 5 years, Gone Girl is an unforgettable story full of twists, turns, and breathless realizations. And whether you love the controversial ending or not, this book certainly gives you plenty to talk about!
19) Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, narrated by Jason Reynolds
Speaking of shocking twists, think poetry can’t be as heart-poundingly tense as a good thriller? If so, you’ve clearly never read — or listened to — Long Way Down. This novel-in-verse, narrated by author Jason Reynolds, grabs you from the first line and holds your heart hostage until its breathless conclusion.
Our protagonist is Will, a young Black man whose brother was just murdered on his way home from the store. Will is convinced that he knows who did it, and according to The Rules, there’s only one way to respond: by taking his dead brother’s gun, and killing the killer. What follows is a 60-second ride down the elevator that sends Will on a riveting journey through his past — one that will forever change how he sees The Rules of the street, and his own place within them.
20) The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo
Another novel-in-verse, this dazzling debut by Elizabeth Acevedo is also not afraid of tough subjects. Xiomara, a young Dominican woman living in Harlem, is unsure how to navigate the world ever since her body developed curves. Turning to rage and poetry instead, Xiomara pours her feelings into her notebook — it’ll be fine, she thinks, so long as her extremely religious mother doesn’t find out about her feelings for a boy in her biology class.
Delving into divided feelings on faith, the pull of young romance, and Xiomara’s place in a world that she doesn’t seem to fit into, The Poet X is already a book that pulls you in and won’t let go. But when narrated in the author’s own voice, this story takes on a whole new level that you won’t soon forget.
21) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, narrated by Bahni Turpin
Since bursting onto the literary stage in 2017, The Hate U Give has become the go-to book for young adults dealing with racial issues in the US today. And it’s easy to see why: following the life of 16 year old Starr, the story begins when a cop murders one of her oldest friends right in front of her. Now Starr is put in the painful position of either staying quiet and letting the horrible assumptions people are making about her friend stand — or step into the spotlight, and become fodder for accusations hurtled at her own character. A poignant inquisition of gentrification, interracial relationships, and of course police brutality, The Hate U Give is a sadly timeless tale in both novel and audiobook form that will remain an important part of the literary canon for decades to come.
22) Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente, narrated by Heath Miller
What happens when you cross the sci-fi wackiness of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with the glam rock lifestyle of Eurovision? You get the delightful, bouncing disco ball of a novel, Space Opera! Revolving around has-been rockstar Decibel Jones, Space Opera opens with the collective lifeforms of the galaxy making first contact with Earth — specifically, with Decibel, who they have selected to represent humanity in a high-stakes, intergalactic musical contest. How high stakes? Oh, just determining whether the human race will be welcomed into the universe or wiped from existence. No pressure.
Thus begins Decibel’s journey as he navigates the narrowing rules of the contest, but also his efforts to tackle his own self-doubt and the many (many) scars from his past. It’s a touching, deeply universal story of connection, perseverance, and what it means to be human. It’s also a story of aging punk rock stars, wildly imagined aliens, and the beauty and stupidity of life as we know it. In short, it’s everything you could ask for in a book.
23) A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine, narrated by Amy Landon
Mahit is an ambassador to the Teixcalaanli Empire — a newly minted diplomat, out on her first assignment. The only problem? Her assignment is to find out what happened to the previous ambassador, who died under, well, less-than-usual circumstances. What's more: her “imago," a sort of digital memory that each ambassador is supposed to pass on to the next, is missing.
Thrown into a city she doesn’t understand and surrounded by cutthroat, unreliable diplomats, Mahit finds herself in the middle of a political uprising, a murder mystery, and intrigue on all fronts. This stunning debut manages to balance all those threads with effortless grace, making A Memory Called Empire a must-read for any fan of politically-driven science fiction — and a must-listen for any fan of best audiobooks.
24) The Martian by Andy Weir, narrated by Wil Wheaton
Astronaut Mark Watney has a big problem: after being abandoned by his crew, he’s stuck on Mars, with limited supplies and no way to contact Earth to let them know he’s still alive. He’s already claimed the honor of being one of the first people to walk on the planet, but now it’s looking more and more likely he’ll become the first person to die on it. Not exactly the legacy he had in mind when he signed up.
And so begins a harrowing journey of survival and sheer stubborn-minded determination. Though narrator Wil Wheaton’s pitch-perfect blend of honesty and snark, you’ll find yourself completely engrossed as Mark encounters (and deals with) one disaster after another, the tension mounting at every turn, until finally….
What, you didn’t think we were going to spoil the ending, did you?
25) The Poppy War: A Novel by R. F. Kuang, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller
A brilliant and brutal fantasy grounded in Chinese history, The Poppy War tells the tale of Rin, a young girl from a poor province who shocks everyone (including herself) by landing a spot in her country’s elite military academy. As The Poppy War reveals the grim truth of war with unflinching realism, the internal and external struggles Rin faces will hold you hostage as she learns what it means to be a soldier, a person, and a woman.
26) The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi, narrated by Wil Wheaton
From science fiction powerhouse John Scalzi and acclaimed narrator Wil Wheaton, The Collapsing Empire is the first book in a series where humanity has long since abandoned Earth and set up an interstellar empire connected by something called the Flow. This natural phenomenon is what makes faster-than-light travel possible — but when humanity realizes that the Flow is shifting its location in a way that will cut us off not only from the rest of the galaxy, but each other, it’s up to a starship captain, a scientist, and the Empress herself to charge into space and figure out how to hold our species together.
27) A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, narrated by Roy Dotrice
This epic fantasy series needs no introduction these days. Following the lives of the Starks, the Lannisters, and the Targaryans as they fight for control of the Iron Throne of Westeros, this brutal series takes no prisoners. With its extensive cast, numerous weaving plot threads, and enough feasts and political intrigue to keep a kingdom busy, it’s no wonder this series has become synonymous with epic fantasy. And since the audiobook for the first book alone clocks in at a whopping 33 hours, there’s definitely no shortage of adventure to be found here.
28) The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, narrated by Robin Miles
N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth fantasy trilogy does not mess around. Each book in the series won the Hugo award for “Best Novel” — the first time any author can claim that particular feat — and, listening to this gem of an audiobook, it’s easy to see why. The plot is engrossing and intricate (and impossible to condense into a paragraph summary), the characters are compelling and nuanced, and the prose is second to none. With multiple points of view, including one in second person, and a uniquely unconventional structure, The Fifth Season is so complex in its vision and execution, and yet so masterfully put together, that it will leave even the most jaded fantasy reader in awe of Jemisin’s skill.
29) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett, narrated by Martin Jarvis
For a devilishly good time, you need look no further than Good Omens. This delightfully funny fantasy novel from the minds of Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett has it all: life and death, prophecies and chosen ones, angels and demons, witches and witch finders. When the Antichrist is born, demon Crowley is given orders to swap it with the son of a diplomat — however, Crowley quite likes Earth and would rather not see the End Times, so he convinces the angel Aziraphale to help him influence the child’s development. However, in a twist of fate, the Antichrist is mixed up at the hospital, and the boy they think is destined to end the word is, in fact, an ordinary child; meanwhile, the real Antichrist grows up in obscurity. It’s a topsy-turvy journey that only the keen prophetic eyes of Agnes Nutter, witch, could have foretold!
Best audiobooks in nonfiction and memoir
31) Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, narrated by Trevor Noah
Long before he became the host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah was a young boy growing up in apartheid South Africa. However, Trevor wasn’t just any boy: with a Black mother and a white father, Trevor’s very existence in that time and place was illegal.
His childhood, then, became a delicate balancing act, one that would have brought devastating consequences if they’d messed it up. Under a brutal regime, intense poverty, and the constant need to look over his shoulder, it would have been understandable if Trevor Noah had grown into a suspicious and bitter man — however, as his memoir shows, he’s anything but. Full of warmth, humor, and the best of humanity, this endearing personal account — read in his own voice — will make you laugh, cry, and think, but most of all: hope.
32) Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by Michelle Obama
We know her, we admire her, we love her — and now, Michelle Obama invites the American people into her heart once more by taking us step-by-step through the events that took her from a young girl growing up in her parents modest apartment to one of the most influential First Ladies in history. Narrated in Michelle’s own warm voice, Becoming feels less like a memoir and more like listening as a wise and dear friend shares her life with you. If you’ve ever wondered what it took to do such a demanding series of jobs under the worst public scrutiny, while still maintaining your marriage, your sanity, and your unflappable grace, this book will show you the struggle that went into it. Uplifting, inspiring, and mesmerizing all at once, this book, like Michelle Obama herself, is a triumphant tour de force, and one of the best audiobooks out there.
33) A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by Barack Obama
Turning from the wife to the husband, now we can hear in Barack Obama’s own words exactly what it was like to become the first Black President of the United States. But before A Promised Land gets into that, he sets the stage by giving you insightful details about his life as a young man, tracing back to the first time he felt a calling toward politics. This groundwork is not only fascinating in its own right, but makes the achievements that follow all the more impressive. With wise and detailed accounts, we’re taken on a journey inside the Oval Office like we’ve never seen, witnessing historic moments and the daily impact living such an historic life has on both him and his family. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in politics, American history, or civic responsibility — and, combined with Michelle Obama’s own memoir, makes for an intense double feature that you won’t ever forget.
34) Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller, narrated by Chanel Miller
If you’ve ever heard people wondering why sexual assault survivors didn’t step forward sooner (or never stepped forward at all), feel free to shove this book into their hands. Chanel Miller’s case should have been open-and-shut: she had all the “right” evidence she needed, and yet, as Know My Name reveals, her journey toward justice was anything but easy. For fellow survivors, this memoir may well be the voice they need in order to heal; someone strong, wise, and vulnerable, who tells a story so much like their own, who makes them feel seen, heard, and understood. For everyone else, they’ll learn what it’s like for these brave women, and the horrors they are often forced to endure in order to find peace. Haunting, honest, and real, it’s safe to say this memoir is one of the most important books to be published in the last few years.
35) Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay, narrated by Roxane Gay
Women everywhere understand (or, as is often the case, struggle to understand) the complex relationship between themselves and their bodies — so it’s no wonder that Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body is so easy to relate to. Even if you don’t see yourself exactly in Gay’s journey, there will still be pieces of it that resonate with anyone. With heartbreaking honesty and a beautiful author voice, Gay takes readers through every turn of her relationship with food, weight, and her own self-image. One of our picks for the best memoirs of all time, it’s a book about losing and finding yourself, about the balance of self-comfort and self-care, and about the deeply personal ways that weight impacts a person’s life and relationships.
36) Untamed by Glennon Doyle, narrated by Glennon Doyle
It’s fair to say that most women can relate to the feeling of being trapped in who they are. Society drills a set of instructions into them from day one: sit up straight, be a good girl, don’t make noise, smile, find a good husband, raise a perfect family, handle it all with no apparent effort. And while it’s true that some women find happiness in this route, for many, it becomes a trap in a world that ignores whether this path is something they want.
In Untamed, we find the story of a woman who followed it for years, only to realize one day that it wasn’t making her as happy as it could. And so, with courage and a fierce desire to reclaim her own life, Glennon Doyle decided to start making her own rules for herself. Part memoir and part rallying cry, this book will comfort and inspire women all over the world who are longing for something more.
37) Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover, narrated by Julia Whelan
This uniquely fascinating memoir swept the literary scene upon its release in 2018. Born in rural Idaho to survivalist parents, Tara Westover did not set foot into a classroom until she was seventeen — but once she got a taste of education, it launched a thirst that sent her to Cambridge, Harvard, and all over the world in search of knowledge. Throughout her journey, Westover manages to make her unique circumstances deeply relatable, harkening to feelings and experiences that anyone can understand. Whether you’re looking for a powerful insight into someone else’s life, inspiration to pursue your dreams, or simply want to read a great story about one woman’s quest to improve herself, Educated will deliver.
38) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling, narrated by Mindy Kaling et al.
Combining Mindy Kaling’s signature humor with surprisingly deep insights for a comedic memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? offers a little bit of everything. In this collection, you’ll find random lists, tales of Mindy’s childhood and formative years, and a wide range of her opinions, including what makes a good best friend and what it means to be famous. Listeners will laugh and cry (and often, laugh until they cry) as Mindy takes them on a whirlwind journey through her life and her mind. If you’ve ever wished you knew Mindy Kaling better after seeing her shows, this is an auditory experience not to be missed.
39) Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, narrated by David Sedaris
This collection of personal essays is pretty much a classic in the genre of humor writing these days. Covering everything from Sedaris’s childhood, to his attempts at being a performance artist, his time as a writing teacher, and even through a move to France despite not actually speaking French, Me Talk Pretty One Day is another brilliant example of why Sedaris is the king of his field. Each essay by itself provides enough laughs and insights to leave you both smiling and mulling over the story for days — add Sedaris' exquisite, wonderfully dry narration into the mix, and you have a one of the best audiobooks in nonfiction on your hands. Together, they create an experience that is uniquely Sedaris. The only downside is that you’ll wish this slim, 6-hour audiobook was at least twice as long.
40) Bossypants by Tina Fey, narrated by Tina Fey
What could be better than reading the hilarious, often outlandish memoir of the one and only Tina Fey? Listening to it narrated in her own voice, of course!
Bossypants tells the zigzagging story of a multi-faceted woman. Broken into a series of bitingly funny essays, it covers everything from her childhood, through her marriage and the arrival of her children, and dives deep into all the behind-the-scenes details from her time on 30 Rock and SNL. It’ll teach you about life, love, and what it means to be a boss. Women will relate so much it’ll often be painful, while men will hopefully get a glimpse into what it’s really like for women to live and work in a male-dominated world. But most of all, you’ll laugh. A lot. Seriously, this book is not something to read while recovering from surgery. For everyone else, turn up the volume and prepare to be entertained!
41) This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins, narrated by Morgan Jenkins
There are few identities that get dealt a harder hand to play than Black women. If you don’t immediately believe that, considering giving This Will Be My Undoing a listen — in it, Morgan Jerkins takes you behind the scenes into the daily lives, struggles, and fears of Black women in America. This unflinching account is not afraid to show you what it’s really like or tackle controversial subjects. It’s the perfect balance of honesty and humor, perfect for Black women to nod along to enthusiastically, and for everyone else to sit back and see what Black women have been trying to tell you. It’s a vital listen for anyone in America today.
43) At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, narrated by Bill Bryson
After 2020, so much of us have spent more time at home than ever before — but have you ever stopped to wonder what really goes into the choices behind what we consider a “home”? From living rooms to bathrooms to kitchens, Bill Bryson takes us on a whirlwind tour of both his home and ours, as he reveals all the social-political, cultural, and practical considerations that lead to the rooms and fixtures we’re most familiar with. At Home: A Short History of Private Life will bring a deeper appreciation for your home, and forever change the way you view the walls that protect you.
44) Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, narrated by Robin Miles
Maybe you’ve already seen and loved the movie, or maybe you’re just interested in knowing more about the early history of space travel. Maybe you’re looking for the nearly-forgotten story of women whose voices were repeatedly silenced. Maybe you’d just like a really good book about a fascinating time and place. Regardless of your reasons, Hidden Figures has got your back. In this fascinating account, Shetterly lifts a curtain many of us never even noticed was there, revealing the hidden secrets of the women who held up the burgeoning space age without a lick of recognition or thanks. By turns inspiring and a call to do better, this book will entertain and educate all at once.
45) Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou, narrated by Will Damron
Everyone knows that the world of startups is a wild ride, but few companies follow as shocking a trajectory as the one documented in Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.
Originally, CEO Elizabeth Holmes was seen as something of a female Steve Jobs, launching a company with such a unique and revolutionary vision that surely it was a guaranteed success. Promising a technology that would vastly improve the process of testing blood, her company quickly grew to a worth of $9 billion dollars. The only problem? The technology didn’t actually work. Bad Blood takes readers along the entire journey, tracking the most rollercoaster scandal this side of Enron.
47) The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson, narrated by Scott Brick
Speaking of gruesome murders, a world-renowned 1893 fair known as “The White City” was built in Chicago’s swampy Jackson Park… and Dr. Henry H. Holmes used the appeal of this magical world of wonders to lure in victims and become America’s first serial killer. The proprietor of The White City’s World’s Fair Hotel, Holmes created a horrific building that became a torture chamber with no escape.
In The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson deftly untangles this twisted tale, inviting readers back in time as the architects of The White City race to both complete construction, and stop a killer before the masses truly start pouring in.
48) How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, narrated by Ibram X. Kendi
Even long before the Black Lives Matter movement, Black activists have been struggling for centuries to bring not only awareness, but true and lasting change to America. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi breaks down exactly how systemic racism works: the minor and major effects it has on Black people, the many ways white people are taught to ignore it, and, most important of all, active and concrete steps that people of all colors can take to fight this terrible injustice. Of course, it’ll take a lot more than one book to undo hundreds of years of damage caused by racism (and the damage will never be fully undone), but listening to this book, and taking its message to heart, is undoubtedly a good first step.
49) Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear, narrated by James Clear
Everyone wants to be healthier, happier, and more organized — especially in our social-media-saturated era, when it feels like everyone has their lives more put together than you do. We can all probably think of a dozen different habits we’d like to cultivate that will put us closer to those goals, but how do we go about integrating them into our day?
That’s where Atomic Habits comes in. In James Clear’s refreshingly approachable book, you’ll learn the shockingly easy way that anyone, no matter how busy their life is, can integrate new habits into their routine while excising the ones holding them back. Scientifically proven and loaded with inspiring examples of sports figures, entertainers, and industry-changing professionals, this audiobook will give you all the tools you need to craft your best life.
50) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, narrated by Derek Perkins
Not a science book and not strictly a history book, Sapiens breaks the mold by being a little bit of both. In this fascinating look into humanity, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari takes us back 70,000 years, and covers extraordinarily broad terrain: from our species’ rise to dominance over our closest cousins, to the development of civilizations and empires, all the way up to a time when we can begin to manipulate our own genetic future. Through this uniquely overarching view, readers will gain a deeper insight into who we are as a people, as well as what our species may become in the future.
Evergreen classics audiobooks
51) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, narrated by Sissy Spacek
Some books have such an iconic setting that the accent of the location seems to waft up from the text. To Kill a Mockingbird is one such example — set in rural Alabama in the 1930s and centered on the unjust trial of a Black man, it would be impossible to imagine this book in anything other than the rustic cadence of the deep South. Luckily the narrator of this edition, Sissy Spacek, gets the voice of this story so perfectly, you’d swear you were listening to Scout herself. If you’re ready to fall in love with this classic novel all over again, you’d do well to pick up this audiobook. Listening to Scout tell you all about the noble efforts of Atticus Finch will have you fired up to fight for justice and equality in your own life, whenever there’s a voice that needs lifting.
52) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, narrated by Rosamund Pike
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a reader in possession of an audiobook app, must be in want of a Jane Austen classic. What better one to start with than (almost) everybody’s favorite, Pride and Prejudice? True, the audiobook does lack the Colin-Firth-coming-out-a-lake appeal, but in this edition Rosamund Pike’s nuanced narration illuminates so many hidden layers, and brings the characters to life so well, that you’ll find yourself not even missing it — or at least, not too badly. At any rate, you could always pull up an animated gif on your phone to keep you company as you lose yourself in the many dramatic twists and turns of the Bennett sisters’ achingly romantic troubles.
53) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, narrated by Bryony Hannah et al.
Unlike most of the best audiobooks, this edition isn’t quite a straight-forward copy of the original, with a narrator reading straight from the book. Instead, BBC Radio produced a full-cast audio drama of Little Women; but the resulting story is so engrossing, so thoroughly enjoyable, that we can heartily recommend the slightly abridged adaptation for those looking for a uniquely audio experience of this classic novel. Set against the backdrop of crackling hearths, merry singing, and any other ambient sounds that exist in the room with the characters, this fully-immersive edition will transport you away from the stress and busyness of 21st-century life to the simpler, quieter struggles and dramas of the March sisters.
(Want the full text? Many sites offer classic novels as free books online!)
54) Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, narrated by Stephen Fry
Is there anyone more suited to narrate a Sherlock Holmes audiobook than Stephen Fry? We think not. With his droll wit and the rich, rolling tones of his voice, Fry brings a distinguished air to these classic mysteries that would fit right in to the drawing room at 221B Baker Street.
Including not only the complete set of Sherlock Holmes stories, this special audiobook edition contains nine fascinating, insightful, and deeply personal introductions to some of the most iconic Holmes tales. Truly, we can think of no better way for new readers to familiarize themselves with the Sherlock Holmes stories — and for long-time fans, the extra insight is merely icing a cake you already know will be delicious.
55) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, narrated by Dan Stevens
The original queen of intrigue and suspense, it’s hard to go wrong with any novel by Agatha Christie. But for audiobook fans specifically, we’d recommend And Then There Were None, narrated by Dan Stevens. Considered to be the best-selling crime novel of all time, this mystery centers on eight visitors who’ve all been invited to a small island off the Devon coast. The hosts are not in attendance, but have left strict instructions for how the days are to proceed. When an audio recording accuses each of the guests of murder, and then one by one they start being killed, it’s a race to figure out who is ultimately behind this vigilante-justice bloodbath — and why.
56) Beloved by Toni Morrison, narrated by Toni Morrison
It’s hard to imagine that anyone other than Toni Morrison could have handled such an emotionally fraught book with even half the skill she brings to the table. Telling the story of Sethe, a formerly enslaved woman who made the impossible choice to kill some of her younger children in her escape rather than allow them to fall back into a slaver’s hands, Beloved is a read that is equal parts painful and necessary. With a nuanced hand, Morrison captures the horrors enslaved people faced, the thought processes and decisions that no one should ever have to make, and the haunting effect that lingers in people’s hearts and lives even after their trauma has “ended.” Beloved is one of the best books of all time — fittingly, its audiobook is also one of the best audiobooks of the past few decades.
57) The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, narrated by Kenneth Branagh et al.
There are few children’s tales quite as enchanting as The Chronicles of Narnia. From the instant Lucy steps through those wardrobe doors onto the soft snow, readers everywhere find themselves transported. And it’s no wonder: a world full of wonder, magic, and adventure, who wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their lives in Narnia? And with an audiobook, you can get the extra comfort of sitting back and reliving the early childhood experience of being read to, when the world seemed to fall away and the thrill of a story took the place of ordinary life. This full box set contains the complete series, and features such notable narrative talent as Kenneth Branagh, Michael York, and even Sir Patrick Stewart himself. Talk about magical!
58) The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien, narrated by Rob Inglis
Speaking of all things magical, no list of best audiobooks would be complete without The Lord of the Rings. This time-honored fantasy story set the stage for the genre, though few books manage to meet the impossibly high bar it left behind. If you’ve ever wanted to escape the real world for a while, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than this. With the first book clocking in at a svelte 19 hours, there’s more than enough time in this trilogy to lose yourself in the wilds of Middle Earth. Just be sure to pack a bagged lunch, as well as an elevenses, a nap cake, and a night lunch. After all, better safe than hungry!
Want to read even more of the best audiobooks without breaking the bank? Check out our guide to using Kindle Unlimited audiobooks!