I grew up surrounded by books—and even more memorably, by the sound of books. I did my math homework while playing Harry Potter audiobooks, fell asleep to the sound of my mother reading aloud, and listened to countless mystery novels on tape during family road trips. To this day, I’m hard-pressed to think of an experience as simple yet as satisfying as listening to a beautiful story read aloud. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but judging by the immersive experience these eleven audiobooks give us, a sound can be worth a whole lot more.
If you loved this list, check out our previous list for more audiobook recommendations you’ll love!
When Oprah speaks, you listen. Her uniquely soothing voice will make you want to soak up all of her story’s power and wisdom in one sitting, and since the audiobook clocks in at just under four hours, you’re likely to do just that.
Narrated by Oprah Winfrey
The lives of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy become intertwined amidst the devastation of World War II in this stunningly intricate exploration of heartbreak, morality, and survival. Through simple yet tender narration, the audiobook highlights the profound humanity of the story.
Narrated by Zach Appelman
When a murderous reader takes his obsession with a reclusive author too far, a trio of unlikely heroes must work together to rescue his newest targets. Stephen King’s mastery of suspense is on full display thanks to the vocal talents of beloved narrator Will Patton.
Narrated by Will Patton
At once beautiful and terrifying, this extraordinary debut is a vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer’s. The audiobook is made even more moving by the fact that the author herself narrates, lending an intimate note of compassion to the tale.
Narrated by Lisa Genova
This dazzling book charts the secrets and desires of a California family over the course of five decades. One by one, the family’s children take turns telling the story—and in the audiobook adaptation, so do the narrators, drawing you ever deeper into the life of the novel.
Narrated by Cotter Smith, Frederick Weller, Thomas Sadoski, Marin Ireland, Santino Fontana
In this sweeping family saga, an Irish-American family chases the American Dream even as tragedy threatens to undermine the life they have worked so hard to achieve. Oscar-nominated actress Mare Winningham’s melodic narration captures the powerful love at the novel’s core.
Narrated by Mare Winningham
Cannie Shapiro’s life is forever changed when she discovers that her ex-boyfriend has penned a column chronicling their sex life. Narrator Laura Hicks brings dry humor to Cannie’s courageous journey of self-discovery and self-love.
Narrated by Laura Hicks
Scientists around the world are currently monitoring our planet’s sixth mass extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In this vitally important work, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before, and compels us to rethink what it means to be human.
Narrated by Anne Twomey
When Amy Poehler announces that she’s recording from her “own personal audio booth that [she] built at the base of Mount Rushmore fifteen years ago,” it’s clear that this is no ordinary audiobook. Featuring guest appearances from Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even Amy’s parents, Poehler’s recording of her first book is a riotous party from start to finish.
Narrated by Amy Poehler
Celebrated actor Alan Cumming’s brave account of his difficult childhood all but demands to be listened to in the author’s very own Scottish brogue. It is a deeply moving and triumphant story of overcoming the obstacles of the past.
Narrated by Alan Cumming
If you’re intimidated by reading 800 pages of history, give it a listen instead. Theodore Roosevelt’s tumultuous relationship with his chosen successor William Howard Taft is brought to life through the winning combination of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s lively prose and the narrator’s engaging delivery.
Narrated by Edward Herrmann