30 of the Best Audiobooks to Listen to Right Now
Stuck at home (or somewhere else)? You won't mind so much when you're listening to something terrific.
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People throughout the country and world are confined to their homes due to social distancing, and they're looking for ways to pass the time. Well, there aren't many things that can make time pass faster than getting engrossed in a book. Sadly, the spread of COVID-19 has forced many libraries and bookstores to close, limiting your options for obtaining physical books. (If you want to help support a local bookstore, Bookstorelink.com has some great options.) But, fortunately, reading books isn't the only way to consume them. You can access these engaging, unique, and critically acclaimed audiobooks through Amazon (for free with a free Audible trial) and/or e-reading platform Libby by OverDrive. And there are plenty of other ways to listen to free audiobooks (legally), too!
Lincoln in the Bardo
This is the first novel by acclaimed short story writer George Saunders. He reads it, with the help of such big names as Nick Offerman, Julianne Moore, and Don Cheadle, in this 2018 winner of the Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year. It's a groundbreaking work of historical fiction that explores a lesser-studied period of Honest Abe's life: during the first year of the Civil War, Lincoln was dealing with a far more personal tragedy—the death of his 11-year-old son, Willie.
The former First Lady sold-out stadiums for her book tour when she rolled out this memoir at the end of 2018. If by chance you haven't read it yet, now could be the time. Michelle Obama narrates her own story, from growing up in Chicago to her time at Harvard Law School to her eight years as First Lady. Not to mention, the audiobook for Becoming won the Grammy in 2020 for Best Spoken Word Album. Is there anything she can't do?! In addition to these best audiobooks, here are some more ideas for what to do when your whole life gets canceled.
His Dark Materials
If you picked up these considerably-sized young-adult fantasy novels—The Golden Compass and its two sequels—in high school, maybe it's time to do so again with this wealth of free time. "Pullman plays the narrator, but every character is played by a different actor and the audiobook is like watching a movie in your head," said one Libby user. But, of course, listening to these three audiobooks will take up more time than any movie. Far more time—listening to all three will consume more than 34 hours! Talk about useful things to do when you're stuck indoors.
It's Not What It Looks Like
There's a reason It's Not What It Looks Like is on the top of our list of best audiobooks. This audiobook, written and read by blind YouTuber Molly Burke, is somehow both deeply inspirational and still lighthearted, fun, and full of laughs, not unlike the writer herself. Molly Burke is a motivational speaker, YouTube personality, and now author, all at the age of 25. This book covers topics like how and why a blind girl loves makeup and tattoos she can't see, as well as her ideas on the current social model of disability. This audiobook will open your eyes and make you laugh, and it will do it in just ten short chapters. Here are our choices for the funniest books of all time.
We’re willing to bet that you’ve heard of one of Margaret Atwood's books. The Handmaid’s Tale has been turned into an international phenomenon with the Hulu adaptation, and Netflix came out with its own series adaptation of Atwood's Alias Grace. Each short story in this collection of nine, all by Atwood, is read by a different voice actor but each story demonstrates her literary genius and will keep you desperate for more.
If you liked the Netflix movie (or even if you didn’t) you may want to check out the book that started it all, Bird Box by Josh Malerman. This riveting story is all about something you can’t look at without going crazy, and as a result, the narration and characters are all focused on sound rather than sight. Listening to this story rather than watching or physically reading it will help you dive into the narrative and truly experience this literary masterpiece.
Tara Westover's memoir was named one of the best of 2018 by the Washington Post, the New York Public Library, TIME Magazine, and countless others. If you haven’t read it yet, now is a great time to listen to actress Julia Whelan tell this story of overcoming some of life's biggest obstacles all in the name of getting an education. If you're a fan of these best audiobooks, you'll love the city that is transforming its subway cars into moving audiobook libraries.
The Trial of Lizzie Borden
If you think you know anything about Lizzie Borden, think again. Author Cara Robertson dives into over 20 years of research and newly unearthed evidence into the crime that enthralled the world. This story is hailed as a “definitive account to date of one of America’s most notorious and enduring murder mysteries” by Publishers Weekly, starred review, and allows the listener to act as judge to the infamous Lizzie Borden. Here are some more true crime books that will keep you up at night.
Daisy Jones & the Six
This 2019 book by Taylor Jenkins Reid tells the fictional story of a hugely successful '70s band that broke up for unknown reasons. Reading it is a rich experience, but listening to the audiobook might be even more so, because the narrators (including Benjamin Bratt and Judy Greer) perform original songs and conduct "interviews" to bring the story to life. And now's the time to listen to it before it becomes an Amazon TV series! Here are some more of the books that inspired your favorite TV shows.