There is a bit of a debate amongst readers about whether audiobooks actually count as reading. In my opinion, they absolutely do! You are listening to the book, yes, but you are still receiving and retaining the story or information just as you would with a physical book. I didn’t start getting into audiobooks until a few years ago, and now they comprise a large portion of my reading each year!
If you are new to audiobooks, or are just looking for new ones to listen to, then this list is a good place to start! These are some of my favorite audiobooks that I have ever read:
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.
So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.
Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
~Really, I could put any of Elizabeth Acevedo’s books here, as all of her audiobooks are fantastic. Acevedo is the narrator for her audiobooks, most of which are novels written in verse. Being able to hear the author herself read the books as they were intended to be read is such an amazing experience! The Poet X was my first book of hers, and she has quickly become one of my auto-buy authors.
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous break up.
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the real reason why they split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go-Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Another band getting noticed is The Six, led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
~ Reading this book on audio is absolutely essential in my opinion. It has a full cast (which, for audiobook newbies, means that each character is voiced by a different voice actor). I love full cast audiobooks as it really feels like the characters are interacting with each other, and with you. Also, there are occasional clips of music, which in a mock-rock documentary is pretty cool.
The Mystwick School of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury
Amelia Jones always dreamed of attending the Mystwick School of Musicraft, where the world’s most promising musicians learn to create magic. So when Amelia botches her audition, she thinks her dream has met an abrupt and humiliating end—until the school agrees to give her a trial period. Amelia is determined to prove herself, vowing to do whatever it takes to become the perfect musician. Even if it means pretending to be someone she isn’t. Meanwhile, a mysterious storm is brewing that no one, not even the maestros at Mystwick, is prepared to contain. Can Amelia find the courage to be true to herself in time to save her beloved school from certain destruction?
~ This is a middle grade novel that I did not expect to grab me the way that it did. The book is filled with music. Each one of the characters plays a different instrument to produce their magic. In the audiobook, each time one of the characters is playing their instrument in the story, an actual instrumentalist from a youth orchestra plays in the background of the narration. It made the book such a treat to listen to!
The Diviners by Libba Bray
SOMETHING DARK AND EVIL HAS AWAKENED… Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries her uncle will discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho is hiding a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened…
~I am such a huge fan of this series on audio! The narrator, January LaVoy, is supremely talented. I will listen to anything this woman narrates. She has such distinct voices for each of the characters, which is no easy feat as this is a very wide and diverse ensemble cast. I love that you can always tell which character is speaking. She becomes these characters, which only made me love the books more! The entire four book series is amazing, and all read by LaVoy.
Circe by Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child – not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power – the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
~ This story was so well written and heartbreaking. The audiobook only heightened this as the narrator, Perdita Weeks, did such an amazing job. I loved her voice and all of the emotion she brought to this poignant story.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
While the Titanic and Lusitania are both well-documented disasters, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history is the little-known January 30, 1945 sinking in the Baltic Sea by a Soviet submarine of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner that was supposed to ferry wartime personnel and refugees to safety from the advancing Red Army. The ship was overcrowded with more than 10,500 passengers — the intended capacity was approximately 1,800 — and more than 9,000 people, including 5,000 children, lost their lives.
Sepetys (writer of ‘Between Shades of Gray’) crafts four fictionalized but historically accurate voices to convey the real-life tragedy. Joana, a Lithuanian with nursing experience; Florian, a Prussian soldier fleeing the Nazis with stolen treasure; and Emilia, a Polish girl close to the end of her pregnancy, converge on their escape journeys as Russian troops advance; each will eventually meet Albert, a Nazi peon with delusions of grandeur, assigned to the Gustloff decks.
~This book is told from the perspective of four different characters, and each one has a different narrator in the audiobook. I love when audiobooks utilize a full cast recording as it makes the reading experience so much more immersive. This book is beautiful and heartbreaking. It was one of my first experiences with full cast narration and I have never looked back!
Sadie by Courtney Summers
A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.
Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.
But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.
When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.
~ This book absolutely cannot be experienced well in any other form. The format of the story was just created for audio. The story of Sadie’s disappearance is told in the form of a podcast that is looking into the mysterious circumstances behind her disappearance. There are more than 30 voice actors involved in this audiobook, which features a lot of interviews, much like the true-crime podcast, Serial. Listen to this book on audio, you will not be disappointed.
Lovely War by Julie Berry
It’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep–and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.
Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.
Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.
~ Another book that features a full cast, Lovely War was such a wonderful read. Each of the gods and goddesses that are telling the story, Aphrodite, Ares, Apollo and Hades, are voiced by a different narrator. This story of four individuals whose lives are tied together during WWI is, indeed, lovely.
What are some of your favorite audiobooks? Have you read any of these books? Are you against audiobooks? If so, why? Let’s chat in the comments!
Love and happy reading,