Do you love listening to audiobooks? What is your favorite genre of book to listen to? Do you often find yourself in the car, at work, or just lounging around and want some quality entertainment but don’t have anything loaded on your phone or tablet?
Audiobooks are becoming more and more popular. They’re great for commuters, new moms, or anyone who wants to read but doesn’t have the time. There has never been a better moment to start listening. WIRED has more ideas for reading, including guides to the top sci-fi and best fantasy books.
Below, Penn Book will list the best audiobooks of all time. They range from classics to modern fiction novels and memoirs by some of today’s most popular authors.
Best Audiobooks of All Time You Must Listen
Dune, by Frank Herbert
Best sci-fi audiobooks
WIRED US readers voted Dune as the best science fiction novel in 2012. It is also the best-selling science-fiction novel of all time and has inspired an enormous universe with 18 books that span 34,000 years. The series takes place 20,000 years into the future in galaxies stuck in the feudal age. This is where computers are prohibited for religious reasons, and noble families rule whole planets.
The planet Arrakis is the focus of the series. It holds a rare material that has mind-enhancing abilities and was used throughout the universe as a currency. It would help if you listened to the audio version before you watched the long-awaited movie adaptation. It adds an element of horror and suspense to proceedings.
- Audible Audiobook
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, narrated by Tom Hanks
Best fiction audiobooks
The Dutch House is a story about Danny Conroy’s life, beautifully narrated and narrated perfectly by Tom Hanks. After a series of tragic events, Danny and Maeve are forced to leave the charming home their father bought many years ago, the titular one.
They are so shaken by this series of losses that they continue to see each other across the street from The Dutch House, regardless of how much happiness and stability they create. This is a family story about growing up and losing your place in this world.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama is someone we all know, admire, and love. Now, she invites us to her heart by taking us to step by step through the events that brought her from a small apartment in her parents’ basement to becoming one of the most influential First Ladies ever.
Michelle’s warm voice is used to tell Becoming. It feels less like a memoir and more like listening to a friend share her life, from South Side Chicago to the White House. Michelle narrates this inspiring story of a woman finding her way. It’s almost as if she’s sharing her life story with you over a cup o’ coffee.
This book will explain the struggles it took to complete such demanding jobs while maintaining your marriage, sanity, and calm grace. This book is inspiring, uplifting, and mesmerizing at the same time, just like Michelle Obama. It’s also one of our favorite audiobooks.
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
We can now hear from Barack Obama, the husband, and wife of him, exactly what it was like being the first Black President in the United States. A Promised Land begins with his story as a young man. He explains how he came to feel a call toward politics and gives us insight into his childhood.
This groundwork is fascinating and makes the accomplishments that follow even more remarkable. We are taken on a fascinating journey inside the Oval Office. We witness historical moments and the everyday impact of living such a historical life on him and his family.
This book is essential reading for anyone interested in politics, American history, or civic responsibility. Michelle Obama’s memoir makes it a powerful double feature you will never forget.
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Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, narrated by Nicole Lewis
The novel centers on Emira, a Black 25-year-old woman who is struggling to make ends meet, and Alix, her peer by age, but not social status. Alix, a white married woman who is successful in her private blog venture, hires Emira as a babysitter for her children. Emira takes young Briar with her to the grocery store one night to keep Alix’s child out of the house during an emergency. A security guard wants to see what this Black woman does with a white child.
This is the beginning of a story that can only be told in the present. Emira must navigate racial issues, potential social media scandals while also trying to keep her job, her social life, and some sense of sanity together. Nicole Lewis narrates such a Fun Age in a confident (and confidential!) tone. It’s like listening to a friend share the details of their lives.
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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, narrated by David Pittu
This coming-of-age novel, written by Donna Tartt, introduces us to Theo, a thirteen-year-old boy who has suffered a terrible loss. He becomes obsessed with a painting after his tragic loss. This obsession will eventually lead him to a new path in his life.
The Goldfinch follows Theo through adulthood and into the dark underbelly of the art industry. The audio version takes over 32 hours to complete. However, the rich character details and spellbinding language choices will make it feel shorter.
Calypso, by David Sedaris
If David Sedaris is a favorite author, you can expect to have the most interesting one-sided conversation this year. If you don’t, good luck. This book is not for you if you don’t like to laugh on public transport.
Calypso is Sedaris’s brilliant, witty, and humorous tale. It tells the story of his quest to feed his benign tumor to a snapping Turtle, his disastrous family gatherings at his dream home called The Sea Section, his bizarre obsession to purchase useless fashion (including a toilet brush cap) with his sister in Tokyo. Sedaris’ essays are about the strange and beautiful aspects of everyday life. But with Calypso, he bravely exposes his flaws with as many witticisms as his best jokes. You will be transformed.
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
N. K. Jemisin won the Hugo Award as Best Novel for her fantasy. It’s not surprising that this story was a Hugo Award winner. Her epic tale of The Fifth Season, one of the most devastating environmental disasters in history, tells the story about those who harness the power and potential of the environment but at the expense of their own lives. Jemisin’s world is beautifully described, and the narration is captivating.
The Hunting Party, by Lucy Foley
The Hunting Party is a modern murder mystery that Agatha Christie inspires. It sees a group – including Londoners and Oxford graduates – travel to Scotland for their annual New Year’s Eve party. Things quickly turn dark, and the lodge is cut off from the outside.
It’s up to the two lodge staff members to unravel the mystery while battling their dark secrets. This is a funny, somewhat absurd story. You will probably dislike some characters. However, it works well as an audiobook because the story switches between characters and each own voice actor.
- Audible Audiobook
The Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling
The magical world of Harry Potter captivated a whole generation. From the moment Hagrid saved Harry from the evil Dursleys to the epic battles against Lord Voldemort (fearsome and very evil), the story lasted over a decade. Stephen Fry is a master of sheer entertainment, even though he has read the entire series more than a dozen times since 1997. Each character has its voice, and every line is delivered with passion. This is a great way to revisit and enjoy classics.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay, narrated by Roxane Gay
Every woman understands (or struggles to understand) the complex relationship between their bodies and themselves. It’s no surprise that Hunger: A Memoir (My) Body is so relatable. Even if Gay doesn’t portray you exactly, you will find parts of Gay’s story that resonate with you.
Gay shares her story with readers, sharing her heartbreaking honesty and beautiful voice. It’s one of our top picks for best memoirs, and it’s about losing weight and finding yourself. Also, it discusses self-comfort, self-care, and the profoundly personal effects that weight has on a person’s life and relationships.
The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene
Set during the blitz, Graham Greene’s classic novel is a semi-autobiographical account of an unfaithful man’s jealously toward his lover. He becomes insecure and hires a private detective to investigate the possibility of having an affair with someone else after they break up their relationship. This is a reworking of Greene’s famous affair with Catherine Walston (wife of a Labour MP). The real-life context combined with Greene’s usual skill makes it one of his most admired works.
Colin Firth can portray Maurice Bendrix’s inner monologue and lamentable pettiness perfectly.
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
People may have sung the praises of Abraham Lincoln in the Bardo before. George Saunders, a renowned short-story writer, was hugely successful in his first venture into longer fiction. With its captivating exploration of Willie Lincoln’s death, this 2017 release was a huge success. This novel was imaginative, supernatural, and deeply moving. It won the Man Booker Prize.
- Audible Audiobook
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is a great place to start if you want to explore science fiction. It has been called one of the most outstanding science fiction books ever written. The story depicts a world in which humans are born into artificial wombs and placed in a clinical environment without emotion. Our hero gradually discovers that this is not normal. Michael York is the ideal narrator to this story. He seamlessly switches between characters and uses a variety of accents and inflections that keep readers interested.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Books can change your life, according to bookworms. January Scaller is an example of this. She discovers secrets from a book that could change her life and the lives of others. AudioFile Golden Voice January LaVoy’s unique story makes this story even more powerful. This listen will be hard-pressed to put down.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Galaxy Stern, also known as Alex, has been offered a second chance after dropping out of school and falling into the drug trade. She was the sole survivor of an unsolved mass killing. Alex knows that there is a catch. When she arrives in New Haven, she is assigned to examine Yale’s secret societies.
These are the places of power and influence for future politicians, Hollywood’s elite, as well as Hollywood celebrities. Alex soon discovers that their occult activities may be more sinister and honest than she imagined. This is a perfect place to take a scenic drive along the historic East Coast.
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Sadie’s life is not always easy. But she has worked hard to give her little sister Mattie, whom she raised on her own, an everyday life. Sadie decides to solve the case after Mattie is found dead and the police fail to investigate. West McCray is a radio personality who covers small towns across America.
She hears Sadie’s story and becomes obsessed with solving Mattie’s mystery…before anyone else. This captivating YA mystery alternates between podcast format and Sadie’s narration. It makes an excellent audiobook. This audiobook will keep you engaged until the end.
- Audible Audiobook
Beloved by Toni Morrison, narrated by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison is the only person who could handle such a complex book with the same skill level. The story of Sethe is about a formerly enslaved woman who chose to kill her children to escape from slavery rather than let them fall into the hands of a slaver. Beloved is both painful and necessary.
Morrison’s nuanced voice captures the horrors that enslaved people experienced, the thought processes that led to the decisions made, and the haunting effects that remain in people’s lives long after the trauma is over.
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The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Best audiobook for a road trip
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead is a masterpiece that tells the powerful story of a young girl who was enslaved and her treacherous journey to freedom. Whitehead’s eloquent prose deserves only the best. Hall of Fame narrator Bahni Torpin can deliver just that from Whitehead. Turpin, an internationally acclaimed actress, expertly portrays the complex emotions of Whitehead’s novel and delivers a performance that will keep you thinking about this listen long after it is over.
Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, narrated by Almarie Guerra et al.
This collection of short stories is a poignant collection that brings out often forgotten voices, especially those from indigenous Latinas in the American West. Kali Fajardo–Anstine, a Colorado author, brings eleven women to time, each with her strengths and challenges.
She captures a universality in her writings as the women in her collection deal with abandonment, family, and trying to fit in. Sabrina & Corina will captivate readers with each story, which a different narrator reads. This allows them to see a part of themselves even when they are not there.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, narrated by Jennifer Lim
Celeste Ng is the perfect choice for anyone who has already watched the Hulu version of Little Fires Everywhere or wants to enjoy a story about family drama. This story is about the Richardsons, a picture-perfect family living in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Their lives are turned upside-down when Mia Warren, her daughter Pearl, and their rental property become the Richardsons. This chain reaction of events will forever alter how the Richardsons see history and what it means to do right.
- Audible Audiobook
The Future of Medicine, by James Temperton
James Temperton, WIRED’s medical expert, is available to help you navigate the most recent developments in medicine. The Future of Medicine, part of our series of books published by Penguin Random House, is a fascinating look into some new technologies changing how we treat and look for illness.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
All six of the BBC’s radio adaptations of Douglas Adams’ classic comedy works are available on Audible. Each one is approximately two-and-a-half to three hours long and features brilliant music, sound effects, and a full cast. They’re the perfect way for you to listen to the adventures of the last man on Earth and his alien “friends” through headphones. You can also access all six books with Stephen Fry or Martin Freeman (who played Arthur Dent in the mixed movie adaptation).
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
A poetic YA novel-in-verse that tells the narrative of loss, forgiveness, and family. Carmen Rios waits eagerly for her father’s visit to the Dominican Republic. Then tragedy strikes when Carmen arrives at the airport. Yahaira Rios, Yahaira’s NYC teacher, is summoned to discover that her hero and father have died in a tragic plane accident. With 1,500 miles between them and their father’s secrets, Yahaira Rios and Carmen will need to reimagine their lives and find a new sister after learning about each other. This is a beautiful story, partially told by the author. Keep a stash of tissues in your glove box — just in case.
A Legacy of Spies, by John le Carré
John le Carre wrote A Legacy of Spies. It serves as a prequel and a sequel to his first novel, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. This film, starring Richard Burton, was adapted by John le Carré. A retired intelligence officer is summoned here to defend his actions in a Cold War operation that killed a British agent.
The son of the deceased agent is now suing the British government for wrongful deaths. The bureaucratic apparatus wants to tarnish their legacy and place blame. It’s an absorbing listen thanks to the skill of le Carre in creating character and tension is evident and the engaging narration by actor Tom Hollander.
- Audible Audiobook
Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold, by Stephen Fry
Greek mythology can sometimes feel overwhelming with all the gods, goddesses, and nymphs. There are many great stories about love, wrath, and revenge. Stephen Fry made it easy to understand by picking key events, from the creation of the universe to gods interfering in human affairs and adding dialogue to modernize them. Although the complicated family tree of Greek gods will make your head spin, you’ll also learn about legends that have inspired thousands of writers, including Rick Riordan and Shakespeare. Fry is the audiobook’s narrator, and he gives voices to the characters to bring the book to life.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson, narrated by Scott Brick
Talking of horrific murders, Chicago’s Jackson Park was home to “The White City,” a world-famous 1893 fair that became known as “The White City.” Dr. Henry H. Holmes used this magical world of wonders and lured in victims to become America’s first serial killer. Holmes, the owner of The White City’s World’s Fair Hotel, was responsible for creating a horrible building that would become a torture room with no escape.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou, narrated by Will Damron
While everyone knows the startup world is wild, few companies have a similar path to the one described in Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in Silicon Valley Startups.
Elizabeth Holmes, the CEO, was initially compared to a female Steve Jobs. She launched a company with a unique vision and was sure to succeed. Her company increased to $9 billion after she promised a technology that would significantly improve blood testing. Only problem? The technology didn’t work. Bad Blood follows the narrative of Enron’s most scandalous rollercoaster ride and takes readers on the whole journey.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, narrated by Shayna Small
The Vanishing Half is about the Vignes twins who split at 16 and each has their own life. One runs away from a small town, sets up a new life, passes herself and her daughter off to white, while the other marries the darkest man she can find and still lives in the town where she spent her childhood years.
This narative is riveting and fascinating, and it examines the race relations of the second half 20th century. This alone would be enough reason to start reading it! This audiobook is the cherry on top. Shayna’s clear, unpretentious voice is a highlight. It carries this multigenerational family story forward with grace, charisma, and a lot of fun.
- Audible Audiobook
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Woodson and her cast tell a compelling story about family, community, and time travel in a story that alternates between timelines. Melody, 16, attends Melody’s coming-out party wearing a custom-made dress she made 16 years ago for her mother’s party. It was never to be. We learn about Melody’s grandparents and parents as we follow their lives. This is a poignant story about the difficult decisions young people often have to make (and then live with). You’ll remember this story for years after the voices cease.
How to be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran
This book is essential for women. Caitlin Moran can help you if you don’t have the time. The awkward and autobiographical story of Caitlin Moran discusses getting fat, hair removal, and tiny pants. It is one of the too many siblings and will make you laugh and cringe the next. The audiobook is not for everyone. We recommend reading her columns if you don’t have them. Moran’s voice is primarily dry and humorous. She relates the awkward situations that most women face under 30. Her own stories will help answer the classic question, “What do they want?”
One Two Three by Laurie Frankel
Everyone knows everyone in small-town Bourne. Everyone likes the Mitchell triplets. Mirabel, a genius who can’t talk but can still outwit you, Monday, the town’s defacto bookseller after the library was closed, and Mab, who wants to get good grades to help her get out of Bourne. After their mother’s death, a chemical plant polluted their town and its residents. The sisters watched as they struggled for justice.
However, the new residents realize that there is much more to the past than what they thought. This heartfelt book, which is both funny and tear-jerking at the same time, is perfect for anyone who visits small towns that have a unique story.
Clean Getaway by Nic Stone
A narative about road trips is a better choice than any other narative. William “Scoob,” an 11-year-old boy, cancels his spring road trip and instead sets off on a strange road trip with his grandma. Their guide? His trusted guide, The Green Book. It is his grandma’s trusted companion.
This book holds essential memories and history as well as the route home. Scoob discovers more about his grandma and other things as they travel through the South. This middle-grade story is as entertaining as it is informative. It is recommended for short road trips, especially if you are driving through Scoob and grandma’s same areas.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Polly Stone
Narrated by: Jacqueline Woodson, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Peter Francis James, Shayna Small, and Bahni Turpin
The Nightingale is another novel that focuses on women in a narrative too often dominated by men. It tells the narrative of two sisters who lived through World War II. One is a mother who must house a Nazi officer in France. The other is a young, reckless woman who betrays her family and joins Resistance.
Kirstin Hannah tells the story of two women who have to overcome almost impossible odds through beautiful, accessible prose. They are faced with no other options, so they must each dig deep to make the best decisions possible. This book’s strength and resilience will inspire you and remind you how you can move forward when you need it.
- Audible Audiobook
- Hidden Figures: The American Dream, and the Untold Story Of Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win Space Race by Margot Le Shetterly. Narrated by Robin Miles
- Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, narrated by Trevor Noah
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, narrated by Derek Perkins
- At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, narrated by Bill Bryson
- A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, narrated by Roy Dotrice
- Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller, narrated by Chanel Miller
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, narrated by Bahni Turpin
This list of best audiobooks is a compilation of some of the most popular and critically acclaimed books ever recorded. The list includes fiction, non-fiction, children’s literature, and more. If you are looking for your next great read or want to hear something new that will keep you hooked from beginning to end, these titles should be at the top of your queue! Which title on this list do you think would make an excellent book?
Last update on 2021-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API