The Best Audiobooks of All Time Might Actually Have You Hoping for a Traffic Jam

Updated 04/15/19
best audiobooks
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As anyone whose commute is longer than 20 minutes can attest, podcasts are game changers for passing the time productively. While I'd never dream of unsubscribing from This American Life, I'm always looking for new ways to make the most of my commute. Enter audiobooks. Offering hours of entertainment, these narrated novels are so good that I've actually found myself hoping for traffic jams on numerous occasions. 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. Convinced to queue up a book on tape to make the most of your commute tomorrow morning? Keep scrolling to download the best audiobooks of all time (in this writer's humble opinion) to get started. Trust me, you'll be hooked.

Becoming

Becoming
Written and narrated by Michelle Obama

In case you missed it, Becoming is on track to being one of the best-selling memoirs of all time—the former first lady's memoir has sold close to 100 million copies. 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

An American Marriage
Written by Tayari Jones
Narrated by Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis

In his list of summer books to read in 2018, Barrack 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.

Emma

Emma
Written by Jane Austen
Narrated by Emma Thompson, Joanne Froggatt, Isabella Inchbald, Aisling Loftus, Joseph Millson, and Morgana Robinson

Narrated by an ensemble cast—including the incomperable Emma Thompson—this reimagined take on Austen's classic novel about miscontrued romance set in early 19th century England is a must-listen for any fan of Austen's work.

The Proposal

The Proposal
Written by Jasmine Guillory
Narrated by Janina Edwards

In Jasmine Guillory's best-selling book, a woman grapples with the aftermath of refusing a very public proposal. Listen to it now in anticipation of the release of her third book, The Wedding Party, as an audiobook on July 16. (ICYM: Listen to her charming first book, The Wedding Date.

Bad Blood

Bad Blood
Written by John Carreyrou
Narrated by Will Damron

If you've watched HBO's documentary The Inventor and listened to ABC Radio's hit podcast The Dropout, you'll love this thrilling audiobook about the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her now-defunct company Theranos.

On the Come Up

On the Come Up
Written by Angie Thomas
Narrated by Bahni Turpin

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 will give you goosebumps.

Educated

Educated
Written by Tara Westover
Narrated by Julia Whelan

In this buzzed-about memoir (recommended by Barrack Obama), a woman recounts her experience of being raised in a survivalist family in Idaho and diverting from her upbringing in order to seek an education.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera
Written by Gabriel García Márquez
Narrated by Armando Durán

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. (Psst... this audiobook is also available in Spanish.)

Everything's Trash

Everything’s Trash, but It’s Okay
Written and narrated 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 lauging out loud (and perhaps cringing a bit too).

How to Not Get Shot

How to Not Get Shot
Written and narrated 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, narrated by the activist and comedian himself, boasts over 1113 five-star reviews.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man
Written by James Joyce
Narrated by Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell lends his voice (and Irish accent) to Joyce's classic novel. If you've never read A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man, let Farrell give you the excuse you were looking for to download the audiobook version of the timeless tome.

Red Clocks

Red Clocks
Written by Leni Zumas
Narrated by Karissa Vacker and Erin Bennett 

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 Sun Does Shine

The Sun Does Shine
Written by Anthony Ray Hinton, Lara Love Hardin, and Bryan Stevenson
Narrated by Kevin R. Free

In this audiobook, Kevin R. Free narrates the harrowing memoir pennded by Anthony Ray Hinton, a man wrongfully convicted at the age of 29 who spent 27 years in prison on Death Row for a crime he did not committ—and yet, he didn't despair.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Written by Mark Twain
Narrated by Nick Offerman

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

Born a Crime
Written and narrated 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 (or, as the titel explains, a crime.) It's filled with the sharp social commentary and comical wit Noah is known for.

Nix

The Nix
Written by Nathan Hill
Narrated by Ari Fliakos

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.

Argonauts

The Argonauts
Written and narrated by Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson narrates her genre-bending novel that's part memoir, part social commentary in this audiobook. A must-listen for insight into love, marriage, motherhood, and more from one of the most important writers of our time.

Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes
Written by Sarah Pinborough
Narrated by Josie Dunn, Anna Bentinck, Bea Holland, and Huw Parmenter

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."

Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo
Written by George Saunders
Narrated by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Carrie Brownstein, Miranda July, and a full cast

Arguably the most anticipated audiobook of all time, the narrated version of Saunders's novel about the relationship between President Lincoln and his beloved son features a star-studded cast with some of our favorite actors reading alongside some of our favorite authors.

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Written by Harper Lee
Narrated by Sissy Spacek

Narrator Sissy Spacek brings Harper Lee's Pulitzer-winning masterpiece to life in this audiobook. If you need some convincing before downloading this pick, the audiobook for this beloved novel has over 20,990 reviews on Audible and an overall rating of 4.8 stars.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Written by Joan Didion
Narrated by Diane Keaton

You've probably already noticed that we're big Joan Didion fans here at MyDomaine, so it should come as no surprise that we fully endorse the audiobook version of Slouching Towards Bethlehem, narrated by Diane Keaton, no less.

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give
Written by Angie Thomas
Narrated by Bahni Turpin

Audible's pick for 2017 audiobook of the year is a poignant novel that's especially relevant given the current social climate. Narrator Bahni Turpin gives voice to this must-read book inspired by Black Lives Matter.

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch
Written by Donna Tartt
Narrated by David Pittu

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.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
Written and narrated by Mindy Kaling

In this audiobook, Mindy Kaling narrates her hilarious and relatable memoir about her life, from growing up as a daughter of immigrants to cementing her place as one of the best comedians of our time.

The Nightingale

The Nightingale
Written by Kristin Hannah
Narrated by Polly Stone

Audible named Kristin Hannah's best-selling novel about two sisters tragically separated during World War II audiobook of the year in 2015. Polly Stone's narration of this heartwrenching and beautiful novel is flawless.

Homegoing

Homegoing
Written by Yaa Gyasi
Narrated by Dominic Hoffman

Yaa Gyasi's tour de force debut traces two branches of a family tree over the course of 300 years, from slavery to modern day and from Ghana to the United States. Last year, the audiobook version of the novel received an Audie Award in the literary fiction category.

Me Talk Pretty One Day

Me Talk Pretty One Day
Written and narrated by David Sedaris

The hilarious and insightful David Sedaris narrates his memoir Me Talk Pretty One Day and talks about his attempts to learn French, performs a surprisingly great Billie Holiday impression, and discusses his childhood.

The Testament of Mary

The Testament of Mary
Written by Colm Tóibín
Narrated by Meryl Streep

Yes, you read that correctly. Meryl Streep narrates Colm Tóibín's critically acclaimed novel The Testament of Mary that presents Mary as an aging woman who's still grappling with the death of her son, Jesus, and the concept of religion more generally.

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
Written by Margaret Atwood
Narrated by Claire Danes

Last year, Hulu's critically acclaimed adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale 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 just the refresher you need before season two premieres this spring.

Bossypants

Bossypants
Written and narrated by Tina Fey

Tina Fey narrates her laugh-out-loud funny and insanely quotable memoir. From a self-professed nerd to an incredibly successful comedian and actor, listen to Fey tell her own story in this must-download audiobook.

Sula

Sula
Written and narrated by Toni Morrison

In the audiobook version of one of our favorite novels of all time, the incomparable Toni Morrison narrates her own story about two childhood best friends who navigate their friendship after their lives take drastically different turns in adulthood.

The Sellout

The Sellout
Written by Paul Beatty
Narrated by Prentice Onayemi

A 2016 Audie Award finalist in the fiction category, Prentice Onayemi narrates Paul Beatty's novel about life as a black man in a fictional Los Angeles suburb. It's hilarious; it's thought-provoking; it's a must-listen.

Just Kids

Just Kids
Written and narrated by Patti Smith

Trust us, Patti Smith's narration of her memoir Just Kids deserves a spot in your audiobook queue. Her firsthand account of her friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe is honest and moving to say the least.

Hunger

Hunger
Written and narrated by Roxanne Gay

The New York Times best-selling author Roxanne Gay narrates her thought-provoking memoir. The honest discussion of her relationship with food and her self-image results in a candid and vulnerable performance that's not to be missed.

Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential

Written and narrated by Anthony Bourdain

Accurately described as a "deliciously funny and shockingly delectable" audiobook, Anthony Bourdain takes listeners into the underbelly of the culinary world in this narration of his acclaimed memoir. And you'll savor every second of it. 

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

I'll Be Gone in the Dark
Written by: Michelle McNamara
Narrated by: Gabra Zackman, Gillian Flynn, and Patton Oswalt

The audiobook version of McNamara's compulsively readable investigation into the Golden State Killer, a serial raper, and murderer who committed crimes up and down the California coast for over a decade, includes an introduction by best-selling thriller author Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt.

Up next, we asked our editors for their best nonfiction audiobook suggestions.

This story was originally published on January 22, 2018, and has since been updated.

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