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As anyone whose commute is longer than 20 minutes can attest, podcasts are game-changers for passing the time productively, but we're looking for new ways to make the most of our commutes. Enter audiobooks. Offering hours of entertainment, these narrated novels are so good, you might find yourself hoping for traffic jams. Yes, really. Ranging from classic bookshelf staples such as The Handmaid's Tale and To Kill a Mockingbird to modern memoirs such as Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Hunger, these audiobooks are must-listens. Here are our picks for the best audiobooks.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
In case you missed it, Becoming is on track to being one of the best-selling memoirs of all time. Even if you've already read the book, the audiobook, which is narrated by Michelle Obama herself, is well worth a listen.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
In his list of summer books to read in 2018, Barack Obama described Jones' novel as "a moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple." Told from the perspective of the husband and wife, the audiobook lends two voices to the haunting and poignant narrative.
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
In Jasmine Guillory's best-selling book, a woman grapples with the aftermath of refusing a very public proposal. When you finish with it, you can check out her third book, The Wedding Party (view on Amazon).
On the Come up by Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas, the author of the New York Times best-seller The Hate U Give, is back with a highly anticipated second novel, On the Come Up. Narrated by Bahni Turpin, the audiobook version of the novel, which is an ode to hip hop and a story of fighting for your dreams, will give you goosebumps.
Educated by Tara Westover
In this buzzed-about memoir (recommended by Barack Obama), a woman recounts her experience of being raised in a survivalist family in Idaho and diverging from her upbringing in order to seek an education.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
You can't go wrong with Gabriel García Márquez's timeless classic about the trials and tribulations of love set in Colombia at the turn of the 20th century. This audiobook is also available in Spanish (view on Audible).
Everything’s Trash, but It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson
In Everything's Trash, but It's Okay, Phoebe Robinson, co-host of the hit podcast 2 Dope Queens, narrates her latest collection of essays on the topic of feminism. Her candid opinions and personal anecdotes will have you laughing out loud (and perhaps cringing a bit, too).
How to Not Get Shot by D. L. Hughley
In How to Not Get Shot, legendary comedian D.L. Hughley offers a "satirical but apt addition to the culture’s fraught conversation about race," writes the New York Times Book Review. The audiobook version is narrated by the activist and comedian himself.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Colin Farrell lends his voice (and Irish accent) to Joyce's classic novel. The novel is about the religious and intellectual awakening of Joyce's fictional alter ego. If you've never read A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man, let Farrell give you the excuse to.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Deemed The Handmaid's Tale for a new generation, this dystopian novel is set in a future in which in vitro fertilization is banned and every embryo is granted the rights to life, liberty, and property. It's not a light-hearted listen, but it is certainly a powerful and riveting one.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
If you haven't read this Mark Twain classic (or haven't revisited it since high school), download this audiobook immediately. Nick Offerman lends his signature comedic storytelling abilities to this wildly entertaining narration of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
In Born a Crime, Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, narrated his memoir about growing up in South Africa during apartheid as the son of a white man and a black woman (which, as the title explains, is considered a crime.) It's filled with the sharp social commentary and comical wit Noah is known for.
The Nix by Nathan Hill
While Nathan Hill's novel about the complicated relationship between an aspiring writer and his estranged mother is a must-read in its own right, it was also named the best audiobook of 2016 by Audible. Narrator Ari Fliakos nails the balance between heart and humor in his performance.
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Deemed the best thriller and mystery audiobook of 2017 by Audible, Behind Her Eyes is the perfect audiobook for fans of psychological thrillers. Even Steven King called Sarah Pinborough's mystery about a modern-day love triangle "bloody brilliant."
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Narrator Sissy Spacek brings Harper Lee's Pulitzer-winning masterpiece about a rebellious six-year-old girl in the American South to life in this audiobook. If you need some convincing before downloading this pick, the audiobook for this beloved novel has over 10,000 reviews and an overall rating of 4.8 stars.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
We're big Joan Didion fans, so it should come as no surprise that we fully endorse the audiobook version of Slouching Towards Bethlehem, which is a series of essays about Didion's experiences in 1960's California. The fact that this one is narrated by Diane Keaton gets us even more excited.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
When it comes to ranking books that make us ugly-cry, Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is definitely a contender for the top of the list. The story of a young boy who gets mixed up in the dangerous world of selling art on the black market is beautifully narrated by David Pittu, who won the 2014 Audie Award for the best male narrator for his standout performance.
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Hulu's critically acclaimed adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale, a novel about subjugated women in a patriarchal society, has catapulted Margaret Atwood's classic dystopian novel to the top of best-seller lists all over the world. Audible's original audiobook, narrated by Claire Danes, is the perfect refresher before moving on to later seasons.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
The audiobook version of McNamara's is a compulsively readable investigation into the Golden State Killer, a serial rapist and murderer who committed crimes up and down the California coast for over a decade. It includes an introduction by best-selling thriller author Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt.