What Are the Best Audiobooks of All Time?
The 20 Best Audiobooks of All Time
Whether you’re doing the dishes, running errands, or taking a long walk, audiobooks are a great way to keep your mind and body active. Audiobooks are more popular than ever, especially in today’s hectic and stressful world, where there isn’t always time to sit down and read a physical book.
If you’ve never listened to an audiobook before, you might be wondering where to begin. You could start by listening to some free audiobooks to see if you like the audio experience — or you could let us do the legwork for you! We’ve compiled a list of 25 of the best audiobooks available, ranging from classics and old favorites to new releases that every book club will be talking about. There’s something here for everyone, whether you like fiction or nonfiction. So make sure your earbuds are fully charged because once you start listening, you won’t be able to stop!
Best Fiction Audiobooks
Time travel, Scottish Highland romance, and dashing men in kilts? It’s no surprise that Outlander has been a best-seller since its release in the 1990s — and has now been adapted into a hit TV series!
If you want to go back to the series’ beginnings, the Outlander books — including this audiobook — are not to be missed. These books, which begin when Claire Randall is thrown back in time to 18th-century Scotland, are equal parts sweeping romance and gripping time-travel fantasy. Spicy and sweet, these books will engulf you in their world and make you reluctant to leave.
This stunning blend of historical romance and time travel adventure has captivated millions of readers worldwide and propelled author Diana Gabaldon to the top of the New York Times best seller list. Outlander introduces a thrilling world of heroism and breathtaking thrills as one woman is torn between the past and the present, passion and love.
Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, returns from World War II and joins her husband for a second honeymoon in 1945. When she touches a boulder in an ancient stone ruin, she is instantly transported to 1743 Scotland, a place torn apart by war and raiding border clans. Will Claire be able to return to her own time, or will her fate be forever linked with Clan MacKenzie and the valiant James Fraser?
The Dutch House follows Danny Conroy’s life and is expertly narrated by Tom Hanks’ iconic voice. After a series of tragic events, Danny and Maeve are evicted from the opulent Dutch House, which their father had purchased several years before. This series of losses has shaken them so much that, no matter how much happiness and stability they manage to create for themselves in the coming decades, the two of them keep returning to sit across the street from the Dutch House every time they see each other. What follows is a sprawling family saga about loss, maturation, and finding one’s place in the world.
At the end of WWII, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single astute investment to launch an enormous real estate empire that propels his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to purchase the Dutch House, an opulent estate in the Philadelphia suburbs. The house, intended as a surprise for his wife, sets in motion the undoing of everyone he cares about.
Cyril’s son Danny tells the story as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from their childhood home by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty from which their parents had fled, and all they have to rely on is one another. This unbreakable bond between them both saves their lives and jeopardizes their futures.
Whether you’ve already finished watching Celeste Ng’s compelling Hulu adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere or are looking for an incredibly engaging story of family drama, Celeste Ng has you covered. This is the story of the Richardsons, a picture-perfect family from 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 in motion a chain of events that will forever alter the Richardsons’ perspective on life and the assumptions we hold about what it means to do the right thing.
Everything in Shaker Heights, a peaceful, progressive Cleveland suburb, is planned, from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses to the successful lives its residents will lead. Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is following the rules, epitomizes this spirit.
Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist, and single mother arrives in this idyllic bubble with her adolescent daughter, Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Mia and Pearl quickly become more than just tenants; all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter duo. Mia, on the other hand, has a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
Such a Fun Age is a bighearted story about race and privilege, set around a young Black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both. It’s a striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice.
This thoroughly modern novel follows Emira, a 25-year-old Black woman struggling to make ends meet, and Alix, her age but not social status peer. Alix, a white, married woman with a successful private blogging business, hires Emira to be a regular babysitter for her two children. Emira takes young Briar to the grocery store one night to keep Alix’s daughter out of the house during a family emergency, where they are confronted by a security guard who wants to know what this Black woman is doing with a white child.
Thus begins a plot that could only happen now, as Emira struggles to navigate racial issues and potential social media scandals, all while juggling a job, a social life, and some semblance of sanity. 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, narrated in Nicole Lewis’ confident and confidential tone.
Where the Crawdads Sing, written by a real-life zoologist, tells the story of Kya Clark, a girl who raised herself in a North Carolina marsh after her father abandoned her. Kya has spent years alone, surrounded by and learning from nothing but the wilderness around her. But her life is turned upside down by two men, and what follows is a riveting mystery filled with new lessons, heartbreak, and even suspected murder. This novel, rich in environmental detail, will immediately transport you to the untamed world of the marshlands, enveloping you in all the suspense and wonder they possess.
For years, rumors of the «Marsh Girl» have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.
Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
You’ve probably heard people sing Lincoln’s praises in the Bardo before, and rightly so. With its fascinating exploration of the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie, this 2017 release swept across the stage. This novel hit countless «best of» lists and won the coveted Man Booker Prize for its imaginative, supernatural, and deeply compelling look at the loss of a child.
However, if you’ve never listened to the audiobook version, it’s safe to say that you still have a lot to learn about this book. This audiobook redefines what it means to use a full cast, with 166 narrators (including blockbuster names like Julianne Moore, Nick Offerman, Don Cheadle, and Susan Sarandon). Lincoln in the Bardo, with its breathtaking scope and brilliant execution, will be remembered as the pinnacle of audiobook performances for decades to come.
February 18, 1862, The Civil War has only been going on for about a year. The fighting has intensified, and the country is beginning to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved 11-year-old son, Willie, is gravely ill upstairs in the White House. Willie dies in a matter of days, despite predictions of a full recovery, and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery.
«My poor boy,» the president says at the time, «he was too good for this earth.» «God has summoned him.» Newspapers report that a bereaved Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his son’s body.
As we all know, the best audiobooks have a distinct voice — both from the author and from the narrator. Milkman possesses both of these qualities in spades.
The plot is straightforward: it’s a coming-of-age story about 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 eyes of someone who manages to be distinct enough to be compelling while also being relatable enough to feel like her experiences could be shared by anyone. Add in the biting insight and the beautifully authentic accent, and you have an audiobook that you’ll want to savor, spreading it out over multiple days so that your experience doesn’t end too soon.
Being interesting is dangerous in this unnamed city. Our protagonist, the middle sister, is preoccupied with keeping her mother from discovering her possible boyfriend and keeping everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when her first brother-in-law discovers her struggle and rumors spread, her middle sister transforms into «interesting» – the last thing she ever wanted to be. Being interesting means being noticed, and being noticed is dangerous. Milkman is a story about gossip and hearsay, silence, and purposeful deafness. It’s a tale of inaction with massive consequences.
We meet Theo, a 13-year-old boy who has suffered a tragic loss, in this coming-of-age novel by literary powerhouse Donna Tartt. Following this, he becomes obsessed with a painting, which eventually leads him down a completely different path in life. The Goldfinch follows Theo through his adolescence and into the seedy underbelly of the art world. The audio version requires more than 32 hours to complete, but the intricate character details, spellbinding language choices, and deeply personal suspense will make it feel much shorter.
It all starts with a boy. A 13-year-old New Yorker named Theo Decker miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. After his father abandons him, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Befuddled by his strange new Park Avenue home, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that eventually draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves effortlessly between the rich’s drawing rooms and the dusty labyrinth of an antique store where he works. He is both alienated and in love, and he finds himself at the center of a dangerously narrowing circle.
Daisy Jones and the Six is one of those stories that begs to be read aloud. This full-cast narration quickly immerses you in the whirlwind history of the (sadly fictional) band Daisy Jones and the Six, told through a series of Behind the Music-style interviews. This book will have you bobbing your head to songs that don’t actually exist, desperately wishing they did, 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.
A riveting novel about the meteoric rise of an iconic 1970s rock band and their stunning lead singer, as well as the mystery surrounding their infamous breakup.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, sneaking into Sunset Strip clubs, sleeping with rock stars, and fantasizing about singing at the Whisky a Go-Go. The sex and drugs are exciting, but her favorite music is rock ‘n’ roll. By the age of 20, her voice is becoming known, and she possesses the kind of reckless beauty that drives people insane. The Six, led by the brooding Billy Dunne, is also gaining traction. Billy’s girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant on the eve of their first tour, and under the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, he goes a little crazy on the road. Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that pairing the two is the key to supercharged success. What happens next will live on in legend.
The Vignes twins split apart at the age of 16, each of their lives taking a very different path: one runs away and establishes 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 is still in the same town where she spent her childhood years later. The story of what happens when these two sides of the family reunite are intense and compelling, ultimately probing race relations in the second half of the twentieth century. All of this would be reason enough to read this right now! But Shayna Small’s rich, no-nonsense voice, which carries this multigenerational family saga forward with grace and pizzazz, makes this audiobook version the cherry on top.
Brit Bennett creates a story that is both a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history passing by weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s. The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past on a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the various reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel drawn to live as something other than their origins.
Brit Bennett’s engrossing pause resister about family and relationships, like her New York Times best-selling debut The Mothers, is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.
Best Nonfiction Audiobooks
In the Promise Land audiobook, we can now hear Barack Obama’s own words about what it was like to become the United States’ first Black President. But, before A Promised Land gets there, he sets the stage by telling you about his life as a young man, beginning with the first time he felt a calling toward politics. This foundation is not only fascinating in and of itself, but it also serves to highlight the accomplishments that follow. We’re taken on a journey inside the Oval Office like we’ve never seen before, witnessing historic moments and the daily impact living such a historic life has on him and his family. This is a must-read for anyone interested in politics, American history, or civic responsibility, and when combined with Michelle Obama’s memoir, it makes for an intense double feature you won’t soon forget.
Barack Obama tells the story of his unlikely journey from a young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world in the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of his historic presidency’s first term – a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.
Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his early political ambitions to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th President of the United States, becoming the nation’s first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.
We know her, admire her, and love her — and now, Michelle Obama invites the American people back into her heart by walking us through the events that propelled her from a young girl growing up in her parents’ modest apartment to one of history’s most influential First Ladies.
Becoming, which is told in Michelle’s warm voice, feels less like a memoir and more like listening to a wise and dear friend share her life with you. If you’ve ever wondered what it took to do such a demanding series of jobs under the most intense public scrutiny while still maintaining your marriage, sanity, and unflappable grace, this book will show you. This book, like Michelle Obama herself, is a triumphant tour de force and one of the best audiobooks on the market.
Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our time, with a life full of meaning and accomplishment. As the first African American first lady of the United States of America, she helped to create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the United States and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lifestyles, and standing alongside her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments.
Along the way, she taught us a few dance moves, dominated Carpool Karaoke, and raised two grounded daughters in the face of an unforgiving media spotlight.
Trevor Noah was a young boy growing up in apartheid South Africa before becoming the host of The Daily Show. Trevor, on the other hand, wasn’t just any boy: with a Black mother and a white father, Trevor’s very existence was illegal at the time and place.
His childhood had thus become a delicate balancing act, with disastrous consequences if they had gotten it wrong. It’s understandable that Trevor Noah would have grown suspicious and bitter as a result of a brutal regime, intense poverty, and the constant need to look over his shoulder, but as his memoir demonstrates, he’s anything but. This endearing personal account — read in his own voice — will make you laugh, cry, and think, but most of all, it will give you hope.
Trevor Noah tells his wild coming-of-age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa in this award-winning Audible Studios production. It’s a story that begins with his mother throwing him from a moving van to save him from a potentially fatal fight with gangsters, and then follows the budding comedian’s journey to self-discovery through poignant and comical episodes.
Noah’s virtuoso portrayal of all the characters from his childhood, as well as his ability to effortlessly perform accents and dialects in English, Xhosa, and Zulu, earned him the Audie Award for Best Male Narrator in 2018. Nonetheless, Noah’s devoted and unwavering mother, as portrayed by her son, steals the show.
It’s no surprise that Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body is so easy to relate to because women everywhere understand (or, as is often the case, struggle to understand) the complex relationship between themselves and their bodies.
Even if you don’t see yourself in Gay’s journey, there will be parts of it that speak to you. Gay takes readers through every turn of her relationship with food, weight, and her own self-image, with heartbreaking honesty and a beautiful author voice. 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 affects a person’s life and relationships. It’s one of our picks for the best memoirs of all time…
Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body in her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, using her own emotional and psychological struggles to explore our shared anxieties about pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health.
Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, self-comfort and self-care, as a woman who describes her own body as «wildly undisciplined» In Hunger, she delves into her past, including a devastating act of violence that served as a watershed moment in her life, and takes listeners on a journey to understand and ultimately save herself.
What could be better than reading Tina Fey’s hilarious and often outrageous memoir? Of course, she was listening to it narrated in her own voice!
The zigzagging story of a multi-faceted woman is told in Bossypants. It’s divided into a series of bitingly funny essays that cover everything from her childhood to her marriage and the arrival of her children, as well as all the behind-the-scenes details from her time on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live. It will teach you about life, love, and being a boss.
Women will often find it painful to relate, while men will hopefully gain an understanding of what it’s like for women to live and work in a male-dominated world. Most importantly, you will laugh. A great deal. Seriously, do not read this book while recovering from surgery. Turn up the volume and prepare to be entertained, everyone else!
These «masterpiece» autobiographical essays from the Emmy Award-winning actress and comedy writer have known for 30 Rock, Mean Girls, and SNL are «spirited and whip-smart.» (From the Sunday Telegraph.)
Tina Fey was a young girl with a dream before Liz Lemon, before Weekend Update, and before Sarah Palin: a recurring stress dream in which she was chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also fantasized about becoming a television comedian. Both of her dreams have come true.
Most women can probably relate to the feeling of being trapped by who they are. From the beginning, society instills in them a set of instructions: sit up straight, be a good girl, don’t make noise, smile, find a good husband, raise a perfect family, and handle it all with no apparent effort. While some women find happiness in this path, for many, it becomes a trap in a world that disregards whether or not this path is something they want.
Untamed tells the story of a woman who followed it for years before realizing one day that it wasn’t making her as happy as it could. Glennon Doyle decided to start making her own rules for herself out of courage and a strong desire to reclaim her own life. This book, which is part memoir and part rallying cry, will comfort and inspire women all over the world who are looking for something more.
Glennon Doyle denied her own dissatisfaction for many years. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked across the room at a woman and fell in love. Three words flashed through her mind: There She Is. Glennon initially assumed these words had come from on high. She soon realized, however, that they had come from within her.
This was her own voice, buried beneath decades of numbing addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl she used to be before the world told her what she should be. Glennon made the decision to stop abandoning herself and start abandoning the world’s expectations of her.
If you’ve ever heard someone wonder why sexual assault survivors didn’t come forward sooner (or never came forward at all), feel free to hand them this book. Chanel Miller’s case should have been simple: she had all of the «right» evidence, but as Know My Name reveals, her path to justice was far from straightforward.
For other survivors, this memoir may be the voice they need to heal; someone strong, wise, and vulnerable, telling a story so similar to their own, making them feel seen, heard, and understood. Everyone else will discover what it’s like for these brave women, as well as the horrors they are frequently forced to endure in order to find peace. This memoir is haunting, honest, and real, and it’s safe to say it’s one of the most important books published in recent years.
When she stunned millions with a letter, she was known around the world as Emily Doe. Brock Turner was sentenced to only six months in county jail after being caught sexually assaulting her on the Stanford campus.
Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed and quickly went viral, with 11 million people viewing it within four days. It was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands of people wrote to say she gave them the courage to share their own assault stories for the first time.
Everyone knows that the startup world is a wild ride, but few companies have followed a more shocking path than the one documented in Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.
Initially, CEO Elizabeth Holmes was viewed as a female Steve Jobs, launching a company with such a unique and revolutionary vision that it was bound to be a success. Her company quickly grew to a $9 billion dollar valuation after promising a technology that would vastly improve the process of testing blood. The only issue? The technology did not function properly. Bad Blood follows readers through the entire journey of the most tumultuous scandal since Enron.
In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes were widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose start-up “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fund-raising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’ worth at an estimated $4.7 billion.
There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work. A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.
Sapiens is neither a science book nor a history book, but it is a little bit of both. Dr. Yuval Noah Harari takes us back 70,000 years in this fascinating look at humanity, covering extraordinarily broad territory: 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. Readers will gain a deeper understanding of who we are as a people and what our species may become in the future as a result of this unique overarching view.
At least six different species of humans lived on Earth one hundred thousand years ago. Today, however, there is only one – Homo sapiens. What became of the others? What might happen to us?
Most books on the history of humanity take either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari deviates from the norm with this highly original book, which begins around 70,000 years ago, with the appearance of modern cognition.
Sapiens integrate history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas, from examining the role of evolving humans in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires.
Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because humans have begun to bend natural selection laws that have governed life for the past four billion years in the last few decades. We are learning to design not only the world around us but also ourselves. Where are we going, and what do we want to become?
Everyone wants to be healthier, happier, and more organized, especially in our social-media-obsessed age, when it seems like everyone else’s lives are more organized than yours. We can probably all think of a dozen different habits we’d like to develop that will help us get closer to our goals, but how do we go about doing so?
This is where Atomic Habits come into play. In James Clear’s refreshingly approachable book, you’ll discover the astonishingly simple way that anyone, no matter how busy their life, can integrate new habits into their routine while eliminating the ones that are holding them back. This audiobook will give you all the tools you need to craft your best life. It is scientifically proven and filled with inspiring examples of sports figures, entertainers, and industry-changing professionals.
Whatever your objectives, Atomic Habits provides a tried-and-true framework for daily improvement. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies for forming good habits, breaking bad ones, and mastering the small behaviors that lead to big results.
If you’re having trouble changing your habits, it’s not your fault. The issue is with your system. Bad habits repeat themselves not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong change system. You do not achieve your objectives. You are reduced to the level of your systems. You’ll find a tried-and-true system that can propel you to new heights.
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