Have you ever downloaded an audiobook only to realize that the voice of the narrator is unbearable, but you're already invested, so you feel like you need to stick through it? We've been there too. The narrator's voice can make or break an audiobook experience. Which is why nonfiction books and memoirs are often best experienced in audiobook format—especially when read by their charismatic author.
In our time-starved world, nonfiction audiobooks are instrumental in ensuring that we keep up good reading habits and consistently educate ourselves without always having our noses stuck in a physical book (or a Kindle). Just like we do podcasts, we listen to audiobooks while brushing our teeth, commuting to work, and even cooking dinner.
Convinced you need to add audiobooks to your morning routine? We asked our editors to recommend the best nonfiction audiobooks they've ever listened to. From Barack Obama himself to Diane Keaton and Tina Fey, these narrators will keep you hooked and entertained.
"As a diehard fan of The Daily Show, I downloaded Trevor Noah's Born a Crime without really knowing what to expect. While it offered all the social and political commentary I've come to expect of the late-night talk show host, it also offered so much more than that. Noah delves into his journey of self-discovery from growing up in South Africa to 'making it' in America. It's a must-listen."
Narrated by: Trevor Noah
Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
"True Story: I was listening to this audiobook while commuting to work one morning and ended up laugh-crying so hard that a fellow driver on the road rolled down her window at a red light to ask me if I was okay. Needless to say, Fey's narration of her best-selling book is side-splittingly hilarious."
Narrated by: Tina Fey
Length: 5 hrs and 35 mins
"I had no idea what I was about to hear when I downloaded the audiobook by Bruce. I knew nothing about his life, and I wasn't a huge fan of his music either, but I just had a good feeling about it. I was also interested to learn more about the blue-collar history of America he was raised in and the often dark and challenging times he faced as a Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey. Aside from the fact that you get to listen to Bruce's awesome gruffly voice as he recounts the story of his life, the writing is also incredibly poetic and sometimes it feels as though he is reading the lines from one big song.
It's a fascinating journey from humble and very poor beginnings to playing the half-time show at the Superbowl. I was enthralled and loved every minute of this 18-hour story."
Narrated by: Bruce Springsteen
Length: 18 hrs and 16 mins
"Is there anything more poetic than listening to the iconic Patti Smith reading to you? Not really. I loved reading the book, so I knew the audio version would be even better through Patti's classic voice. Just Kids tells the story of Smith's relationship with the iconic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, from their auspicious first encounter to how they fell in love and how they pursued their artistic crafts without compromise in the height of the Andy Warhol's Factory era. If you've ever been fascinated by the art scene at the Chelsea Hotel in the late '60s and '70s or just want to know more about these two incredibly talented and transformative artists, then download it today.
I promise you will leave inspired, wanting to write poetry, and leaving your 9-to-5 to pursue art for a living."
Narrated by: Patti Smith
Length: 9 hrs and 54 mins
"This collection of short stories and essays is like stepping right into past. Who better to narrate Didion's poignant writing about the 1960s than the legendary Diane Keaton? This audiobook delivers the perfect dose of history paired with beautiful descriptions for an educational and soothing way to brave your commute or zone out at home."
Narrated by: Diane Keaton
Length: 6 hrs and 57 mins
"I'm not one for 'self-help' books, but I can say, without exaggeration, this audiobook about the importance of everything you do in your 20s changed my life. Written and narrated by Meg Jay, PhD, it's equal parts objective advice and actual stories of missteps made by real 20-somethings. It covers everything from career to relationships, and it definitely made me rethink how I approach all aspects of my life."
Narrated by: Meg Jay
Length: 5 hrs and 28 mins
"This book had been on my reading list for quite a while, but it wasn't until a friend told me that Barack Obama himself was the narrator of the audiobook version that I knew I had to download it. Truly, there is no other way to consume this powerful memoir. Obama's voice is soothing, and his stories are both compelling and heartbreaking. I was already crying in the prologue."
Narrated by: Barack Obama
Length: 7 hrs and 13 mins
"I swear I didn't mean for my two audiobook recommendations to be Obama-themed, but I recently finished this memoir by David Litt, one of the youngest presidential speechwriters in history. Much more than just a book on politics, it's a coming-of-age story of a young man finding his calling in an era when hope inspired a generation. Litt was Obama's go-to comedy writer, so expect a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. In the book, he tells tales of how he almost lit the president's hair on fire or how he found himself almost naked in a closet on Air Force One.
Of course, as you would expect from a presidential speechwriter, the writing is stellar."
Narrated by: David Litt
Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
"The lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers delivers a detailed account of both his rise to fame and the band's tumultuous history. While the story is told from a distinctly male perspective, any RHCP fan will find it interesting."
Narrated by: Rider Strong
Length: 14 hrs and 55 mins
"Sonic Youth fans will be gripped by Kim Gordon's first-person account of her 30-something years spent being a 'girl in a band.' It touches on the fascinating world of New York City in the '80s and '90s, plus the gender dynamics at play in the band and the music scene at large."
Narrated by: Kim Gordon
Length: 7 hrs and 14 mins
Next up: Check out the seven best books on Audible for people who don't have time to read!
This story was originally published on May 10, 2018, and has since been updated.