Do we even have to mention our busy schedules in today’s world? There’s hardly time to eat or sleep, let alone read books. Not many of us find the time or inclination to pick up a book even though we’ve been avid readers once upon a time. Of course, time alone is a deciding factor. Our eyes take more than enough strain, no thanks to the computer and smartphone screens we have to stare at all day.
Elders with decreased eyesight also find reading books hard, especially print copies with tiny fonts. However, there’s one simple yet effective solution for all book lovers. What’s that? Audiobooks, of course!
An audiobook is the audio version of a book narrated by professional voiceover artists and actors. While these have been in the market for a long time, it’s only during the last few years that more and more people began shifting to audio versions of books. Do you know that the first-ever audiobook was produced in 1932 by The American Foundation of The Blind? These were on vinyl records. The trend continued to cassettes and CDs.
However, the first digital audiobooks were on Overdrive and Libro.fm. In 1997, audible.com introduced a portable digital audio player. It introduced the subscription model in 2000, and as they say, the rest is history. We now have a range of platforms offering free and paid audiobooks from all genres. The collection is so vast that you’ll have a hard time choosing a book to listen to.
Thus, we reach the crux of this post. Yes! We’ve got the list of thirty best audiobooks to listen to in 2023. The list includes some popular titles that ruled the charts for a considerable time. Book lovers will already be familiar with some of them and can use this as an opportunity to add/read books from the never-ending TBR list. Newbies will find this list a great way to enter the world of reading (listening).
As avid readers and audiobook lovers, we created the list from our experiences. So why wait any longer?
Hey! In case you aren’t still convinced, read the next section to understand why you should listen to audiobooks and revive your love for books.
Round up of the Best Audiobooks
|Best Audiobooks for Road Trips||Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens||Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds||American Gods by Neil Gaiman|
|Best Horror Audiobooks||Home Before Dark by Riley Sager||The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson||Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia|
|Best Crime Audiobooks||The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides||And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie||The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz|
|Best Kids Audiobooks||The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis||The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story by Rudyard Kipling||Matilda by Roald Dhal|
|Best Audiobooks for Self Improvement||Essentialism by Greg McKeown||The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman||The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale|
|Best History Audiobooks||The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson||Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari||The Dutch House by Ann Patchett|
|Best Fantasy Audiobooks||The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman||A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin||The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow|
|Best Audiobooks for a Summer Vacation||Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid||Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir||Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand (Summer of ’69)|
|Best Audiobooks for Teenagers||Geekerella by Ashley Poston||Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston||A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson|
|Best Romance Audiobooks||Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert||Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen||The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang|
Why You Should Listen to Audiobooks
Listening to audiobooks is not cheating. And yes, it does count as reading. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
They Let Your Eyes Rest
Honestly, guys. Are there any other reasons you need to try the audio formats of books? Podcasts became famous and are competing with blogs for the same reason, right? Give your eyes much-needed break by switching over to audiobooks. We know that finding the right one to start your journey can be tricky, but be persistent, and you’ll fall in love with the beauty of audiobooks.
They Help You Sleep Better
The blue light from screens disturbs our sleep patterns. However, audiobooks are soothing, comfortable, and help you sleep better. Guess what? If a genre makes you sleepy, you’ve found the best way to have a good night’s sleep.
They Are Great for Time Management
The advantage of audiobooks is that you can listen to them when hard-pressed for time. Listen to the best narrations when doing chores, walking, exercising, and bathing. That’s an effective way to multitask without feeling overwhelmed. If you miss a page or two, simply rewind and play it again.
They Can Be a Perfect Choice for People with Learning Disabilities
Audiobooks are narrated by real people. The voices are alive with emotions in the book. This makes it easy for people with learning disabilities to grasp the intent of the content by listening to audiobooks. Moreover, you can listen to the audiobook while reading the physical/electronic copy. Some people find it easier to learn that way.
They Help in Better Retention
You may not believe it, but listening to an audiobook can actually help you retain the content longer than when you read the text format. The only problem is that this isn’t applicable to everyone. Yet, there’s a good chance that it’ll work the same way for you.
They Are an Epitome of Convenience
Can you deny that audiobooks are super convenient? You can listen to them anywhere! Plugin your headphones and escape to another land as the narrator’s voice flows into your ears. You don’t have to carry physical books or your Kindle wherever you go. You don’t have to disturb your family either.
They Deliver a Great Listening Experience
An audiobook with the right narrator is heaven. We aren’t exaggerating, folks. You need to listen to it to know what we mean. Moreover, listening to an audiobook narrated by the author who wrote it is a lovely experience. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is a wonderful example of this.
Top 30 Audiobooks for One and All
The following are some of the best audiobooks currently available on the market:
Best Audiobooks for Road Trips
Road trips don’t have to be boring, even if you get stuck in the back with kids. Pick up an audiobook and enjoy the ride!
1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell, the book is the debut novel of Delia Owens set in a small town in North Carolina. The lyrical prose paints vivid imagery of the setting. The book is a blend of genres, though it is primarily a coming of age story of Kya Clark, the Marsh Girl. Cassandra Campbell does a wonderful job of narrating the book in perfect South accents and transporting us to the setting.
If you fall in love with Cassandra’s voice, check out Sunflower Sisters, When Breath Becomes Air, and The Help. We love them all!
2. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
We picked Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds for a shorter road trip with our teen kids. The book is a young adult (YA) novel of a teen boy with a gun, riding an elevator, and intent on revenge. It’s poignant and deals with complex societal issues without overwhelming the reader. It’s a good book to discuss with your teen during road trips. That’s two advantages, right? Shall we add another reason to listen to the book? It’s narrated by the author himself.
3. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
You can’t go wrong with a Gaiman book for a road trip. It was like experiencing two adventures at the same time and having the best of both worlds (past and present). American Gods is a mix of satire and epic saga where traditional Gods find it a struggle to compete with media, money, and new Gods. George Guidall is the narrator, and his voice brings alive the characters, sweeping you into a different world.
On a contrasting note, check out Becoming by Michelle Obama if you want a non-fiction book for a road trip. Featuring the former First Lady herself as the narrator, the memoir is a must-read for teens and adults alike.
Best Horror Audiobooks
Hey, fans of horror books, we’ve got some noteworthy recommendations for you. The books tend to mix genres, but that’s what makes the horror even scarier. Brr!
4. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Creepy is the word to describe Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. The story gave us chills. Narrated by Cady McClain and Jon Lindstrom, the book is about Maggie Holt, who goes back to Baneberry Hall to find out if it’s really haunted or not. The chapters alternate between Maggie’s investigation and her father’s memoir about the place. If you love believable horror stories with mind-blowing endings, search no more.
5. The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
The Year of Witching is the first book in the Bethel series by Alexis Henderson. Brianna Colette’s narration lures us into the dark world of Bethel and the lives of witches. The story is dark and terrifying. What does Immanuelle Moore, our young adult protagonist, do when she enters the forbidden world of the Darkwood? What happens when she knows the brutal truth of the land and decides to change things for the better? Hear to find out!
6. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
How can we not have a Gothic book in the best horror audiobooks? Mexican Gothic by Moreno-Garcia took the world by storm when it was released in 2020. It is a combination of mystery, historical, gothic, family drama, and gore. Rubbing your hands in glee? The audiobook is narrated by Frankie Corzo and works great for fans of atmospheric horror. What happens to Noemí Taboada in the High Place, and how does she deal with the family? Listen to find out.
Best Crime Audiobooks
From psychological thrillers to cozy mysteries and suspense novels, the world of crime fiction has multiple subgenres. Let’s look at the top three books we enjoyed.
7. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Do you love twists as we do? What an ending that comes out of nowhere? The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is a wow psychological thriller about a celebrity artist who seems to have murdered her husband. When a new doctor tries to get her to talk about it, we know there are twists aplenty. Louise Brealey and Jack Hawkins take over the narration with perfection and pull you into a world of twisted make-believe.
8. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Christie is the Queen of Crime Fiction. As life-long fans of the dear lady, how can we not recommend her best novel to our readers? And Then There Were None has all we want from a mystery – a strange island, unrelated characters, and mysterious deaths. No wonder various contemporary authors still use the same trope. Dan Stevens (from Downtown Abbey) seamlessly uses his voice to narrate the audiobook and take us to the strange island. It’s a classic in every sense.
9. The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
The first publication in the Hawthorne and Horowitz Mystery #1 is The Word is Murder. Hawthorne calls Horowitz, the author, to join him investigate the death of a woman who recently gave her funeral instructions. What follows is a delicious mystery with hints of Holmes-Watson style. It is narrated by Rory Kinnear, and boy, we couldn’t have asked for any better. His voice slips right into our minds and elevates the book like no other.
Best Kids Audiobooks
Isn’t it good to instill a love of reading at a young age? Kids grow up listening to parents and nannies read bedtime stories.
10. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
Narrated by Maurice Denham, Fiona Shaw, Timothy Spall, and many others, The Complete Chronicles of Narnia takes kids into the world of winter and spins tales of friendship, courage, love, and kindness. CS Lewis has written a masterpiece with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and how can we not add the entire set to our list? Michael York was fabulous and made us forget everything else.
11. The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story by Rudyard Kipling
Kids and animals are a great combination. Tales set in jungles are famous for the same reason. The Jungle Book by Kipling is an all-time classic in the kids’ category. Published more than a century ago, the story speaks to every little one who wants an adventure of a lifetime in the forest. The narration by Bill Bailey, Martin Shaw, Richard E. Grant, Colin Salmon, Celia Imrie, Tim McInnerny, and Bernard Cribbins. The book is small enough to keep kids interested and engaged.
12. Matilda by Roald Dhal
If there’s one story that should be on the must-read list irrespective of age, it’s Matilda by Roald Dhal. The movies and plays are fun but don’t ignore the book. We paired up the audiobook with the illustrations and had such a lovely time! Matilda is ready to save the day using her special talents. After all, she can’t let the evil headmistress get her way, right? Guess who gave voice to the book? Kate Winslet. Yeah!
Best Audiobooks for Self Improvement
We agree that self-help books aren’t for everyone. But we do admit that they work for those who believe in the power of self-help books. Here’s our list of the top three.
13. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
The audiobook of Essentialism by Greg McKeown is narrated by the author himself. Greg talks to listeners about streamlining and rearranging priorities in life to get rid of the excess and focus on what’s important to us. The book is often recommended in business and corporate circles. However, we can say for sure that Essentialism is a book for everyone.
14. The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
The Confidence Code is the third book by two women Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. It is for girls and women looking to build a career in the male-dominated world. The audiobook is narrated by Sandy Rustin in a steady voice that matches the tone of the book. The authors don’t simply share principles and concepts. They give practical advice that can be implemented in real life.
15. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
Norman Vincent used his vast knowledge of Christianity and understanding of human psychology to come up with The Power of Positive Thinking. The famous clergyman gave voice and soul to this audiobook. The book has been in demand for more than five decades and translated into forty languages. It is a book that can make a difference in your life.
Best History Audiobooks
History books don’t have to be boring. Historical fiction is a favorite genre in the market. Though WWII seems to be a predominant theme (given the number of books in 2023), there’s a lot more to history books.
16. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
The Warmth of Other Suns is an epic masterpiece about the migration of black citizens from the South to the North and West for a better life. It’s a piece of American history that’s not talked about. Isabel Wilkerson is a Pulitzer Prize-winner. She details the exodus from 1915 to 1970, bringing to light the neglected stories of millions of black people. Robin Miles’ voice makes us weep at their plight.
Beloved by Toni Morrison (narrated by the author and a must-listen) and Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett are other recommendations for authentic black voices.
17. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Yuval Noah Harari covers around 100,000 years of history in a single book, Sapiens. The prose is just brilliant and made even more effective by Derek Perkins. Narrating such a book is no easy task, but Derek pulls it off with his patient voice and clear diction that make even the complex terminology and the past sound surprisingly easy. Start this book when you have the time and energy to absorb the information.
18. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett gave us a story spanning five decades. The book takes place at the end of WWII. The Dutch House is located in the suburbs of Philadelphia and belongs to Cyril Conroy. The story is presented to us by Danny and Mauve, Cyril’s son and daughter in exile. As the book blends genres, we find ourselves immersed in the beautiful narrative voiced by none other than Tom Hanks. Grab the novel for his voice!
If you want a combination of history and supernatural with wonderful storytelling, check out Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.
Best Fantasy Audiobooks
The fantasy genre takes us into new worlds with unique and intriguing characters. From middle grade to adult fiction, fantasy has a range of books to choose from.
19. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Well, Gaiman tops our list for several reasons. He writes dark fantasy for kids and adults. How cool is that! He has narrated The Graveyard Book, adding extra allure to the already gripping story of Nobody Owens, aka Bod. Imagine a boy being raised by a ghost in a graveyard. Needless to say, we love his tale. Don’t forget to listen to Good Omens by the same author. This one is narrated by Martin Jarvis, who gets it spot on every time.
20. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
To those of you who are blissfully unaware of the madness surrounding GoT (Game of Thrones), A Song of Ice and Fire is the first book in the series. You might have watched the seasons on HBO, but nothing meets the beauty of the book. If there’s one novel we wouldn’t mind listening to multiple times, it’s this one, or rather the entire collection. Of course, we need more than one read to keep track of the characters and complex story. Roy Dotrice (Hallyne from the Pyromancer TV series) lent his voice to the narrative.
21. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Do you know that The Ten Thousand Doors of January is narrated by January Lavoy? The book won the Hugo Award in 2020 and is the coming of age story of a young woman from the 1900s, who goes on a self-discovering journey. The protagonist in the book is named (wait for it) January Scaller. This debut novel received great praise for its lyrical prose. It’s one of our favorite books too!
Greek mythology has been a favorite of many authors in the fantasy genre. Be it Mythos by Stephan Fry or Circe and Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, the retellings have mesmerized the readers and reignited the love for Greek mythology. Perdita Weeks did a fab job with the narration of both books by Miller.
Best Audiobooks for a Summer Vacation
Summer vacations are the time to sunbathe at the beach, travel to other countries, and have a gala time. However, summer vacations are also the time to tick off a few books on the TBR list.
22. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy Jones by Taylor Jenkins Reid was quite a name when it was released. The author is back again with her next novel Malibu Rising, where we go back to California in 1983 and watch the annual summer bash by the rock-royalty Riva family. What unfolds next is for you to read and enjoy. We loved the narration by Julia Whelan, another author, actress, and famous audiobook narrator. If you want more books in Julia’s voice, check out The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Gone Girl.
23. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Wondering why we listed a Sci-fi book for summer vacation reading? Project Hail Mary has found its place on countless must-read lists of 2023 and will soon be adapted to the big screens. Ryland Grace, a middle-aged school teacher, becomes an astronaut in a spaceship and has no idea why he is floating in outer space. The book follows his journey as he recollects the past and understands his mission. The novel is narrated by Ray Porter, who gets every emotion spot on.
24. Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand (Summer of ’69)
Elin Hilderbrand is famous for writing beach-read kinds of books. That makes her audiobooks a perfect choice for summer vacations. Golden Girl is the story of an author, Vivian Howe. When she is granted a gift after her death to watch her family from above for one last summer, Vivian knows she must have a careful choice among her three children who are busy with their own lives. The book is narrated by Erin Bennett. Another popular book by Hilderbrand, Summer of ’69 is also narrated by her.
Best Audiobooks for Teenagers
YA and NA are teen genres, though NA straddles the border between YA and adult fiction. There’s been an increase in YA books, with readers of all ages falling in love with the genre. No upper age limit for YA books, we say!
25. Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Do you love fairytale retellings? We do, and that’s why Geekeralla is our first choice of an audiobook for teens. Ashley Poston presents us with a geek girl and a teen actor in this super cute retelling. The novel is brought to life by Eileen Stevens and Tristan Morris, who take over the characters with ease and make the story more enjoyable. The letter-writing bits are rather cute.
26. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Yeah, we know. Red, White & Royal Blue is an adult novel. But hey, many older teens love this book, and we think it’s a good one with LGBT+ romance. Alex and Henry are American and British royalties, who don’t seem to like each other. But when they are forced to form a fake friendship, they realize that they have much deeper feelings. But can the royal families agree to their relationship? Ramon de Ocampo is the narrator of the novel.
27. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
Pip chooses to unearth the mystery behind the murder of Andie Bell as her high school project. With her quirky sense of humor, amateur investigation skills, and meticulous note-making habit, Pip finds several loopholes in the original investigation. Sal Singh could be innocent, and Pip is determined to prove it. The novel is narrated by Bailey Carr and the full cast to do justice to the plot. Needless to say, Pip has what it takes to become a detective. You can read the rest of the series to read more about Pip’s investigations.
If you are still craving for a YA detective, albeit in a different style, A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro is a perfect choice. We have a girl teen Holmes and a boy teen Watson (yeah, you get the drift) meeting on campus and solving crimes. It’s a 3-book series.
Best Romance Audiobooks
We are never too old to read romance books and wish for a happy ever after. Our top favorites for romance novels belong to three subgenres.
28. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Get a Life, Chloe Brown is the first book in The Brown Sisters series by Talia Hibbert. Chloe is chronically ill and decides to create a Get a Life list. She meets Red Morgan, a sexy tattooed motorbiker who paints at night. They couldn’t be more different. But hey, when did that stop love from happening? Adjoa Andoh is the narrator. She gave new life to the characters. We could’ve listened to her voice on loop.
29. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Austen fans, we weren’t going to disappoint you. Pride and Prejudice is a classic with almost a cult following. There have been numerous fan fiction stories and novels published by Austen’s fans. We listened to a few narrators before zeroing in on Rosalyn Landor. She’s the same narrator who lent her voice for Julia Quinn and Mary Baloch’s books. Lizzy and Darcy had found the perfect person to voice their dialogues!
30. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Kiss Quotient is the very first book in the series and deals with the story of Stella Lane, who loves algorithms more than romance. But when she hires Michael Phan, an escort, to help her learn how to kiss (among other things), the duo end up with more than they bargained for. Carly Robins’ clear voice flows with the exact emotions the characters feel. Stella’s Asperger’s syndrome makes the book special.
An engaging voice and smooth narration with accents play a vital role. Your listening experience will depend as much on the narrator as on the story. Rather, many readers have rated a book higher because they loved the narrator’s voice and presentation.
If you are just starting in the audiobook world, make sure to take your time before selecting the first book. Classics and slow-paced books may not be the right choice for beginners. Also, stay away from books with too many POVs and timelines.
We’ll end our list with a few more recommendations of the best audiobooks (we just can’t help it!).
- Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief narrated by Allan Corduner
- Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood written and narrated by Trevor Noah
- A Promised Land written and narrated by Barack Obama
- Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover and narrated by Julia Whelan
- Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle and narrated by Stephen Fry