With elaborate storytelling, immersive worlds, and an enthusiastic fandom hyping it up, getting into a new book can be an exciting and fun moment. And with the rich, vivid narration of audiobooks (some even with a full cast), you can sink ever deeper into that experience. But with so many audiobooks and so little time, knowing where to start can be tricky.
From high-fantasy adventures and gripping thrillers to works from masters of horror and science, here are nine audiobooks to start you on your literary listening.
The Fifth Season
Written by N. K. Jemisin
Narrated by Robin Miles
The first book in the highly acclaimed Broken Earth Trilogy, N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season takes readers to the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the Earth is wielded as a weapon.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, the mighty empire Sanze collapses, and most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing enough ash to darken the sky for years or even centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Essun doesn’t care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization
Written and narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Bringing his cosmic perspective to civilization on Earth, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Starry Messenger shines new light on the crucial fault lines of our time—war, politics, religion, truth, beauty, gender, and race—in a way that stimulates a deeper sense of unity for us all.
In a time when our political and cultural views feel more polarized than ever, Tyson provides a much-needed antidote to what divides us, while making a passionate case for the twin chariots of enlightenment: a cosmic perspective and the rationality of science.
With crystalline prose, Starry Messenger walks us through a scientific palette that sees and paints the world differently. From insights on resolving global conflict to reminders of how precious it is to be alive, Tyson reveals an array of brilliant and beautiful truths that apply to us all, informed and enlightened by knowledge of our place in the universe.
The Fellowship of the Ring
Written by J.R.R. Tolkien
Narrated by Andy Serkis
J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved Lord of the Rings trilogy comes to life in this unabridged recording, with its first installment, The Fellowship of The Ring, narrated by acclaimed actor, director, and author Andy Serkis, who played the creature Gollum in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation.
In a quiet village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins is about to receive a gift that will change his life forever.
Thought to be lost centuries ago, the One Ring, an object of terrifying power once used by the Dark Lord Sauron to enslave Middle-earth, has been found. Now darkness is rising, and Frodo must travel deep into the Dark Lord’s realm of Mordor to the one place the Ring can be destroyed: Mount Doom.
And so starts an incredible journey through Middle-earth that will test Frodo’s courage, his friendships, and his heart. But the Ring corrupts all who bear it. Can Frodo destroy it, or will it destroy him?
The Hate U Give
Written by Angie Thomas
Narrated by Bahni Turpin
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas‘ searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty.
The Hate U Give introduces us to 16-year-old Starr Carter as she moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death becomes a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. But what everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or doesn’t say could upend her community and even endanger her life.
Demon in the Wood
Written by Leigh Bardugo
Narrated by Ben Barnes, Benjamin Valic, Cassandra Morris, Eason Rytter, James Fouhey, Mary McCartney, Matt Leisy, Salli Saffioti, Sean Gormley, and Tom Bromhead
In Leigh Bardugo’s Demon in the Wood, discover the origin story of one of the most memorable characters in the Shadow and Bone trilogy in this fully cast, first-ever Grishaverse graphic audiobook.
Before he led Ravka’s Second Army, before he created the Fold, and long before he became the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy burdened by an extraordinary power.
Eryk and his mother, Lena, have spent their lives on the run. But they will never find a safe haven. They are not only Grisha—they are the deadliest and rarest of their kind. Feared by those who wish to destroy them and hunted by those who would exploit their gifts, they must hide their true abilities wherever they go. But sometimes deadly secrets have a way of revealing themselves.
Written by Paulo Coehlo
Narrated by Jeremy Irons
With more than 2 million copies sold worldwide, Paulo Coelho‘s The Alchemist tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found.
The narrative of the treasures Santiago does find along the way teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and above all, following our dreams.
Written by Stephen King
Narrated by Michael C. Hall
Pet Sematary is the bone-chilling classic from master of horror Stephen King that brings with it the lesson that sometimes dead is better.
When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic rural town of Ludlow, Maine, the new beginning seems just a little too good to be true. But despite Ludlow’s tranquility, there’s an undercurrent of danger that lingers from the graveyard in the woods near Creed’s home, where generations of children have buried their beloved pets.
Behind the “pet sematary,” there is another burial ground, one that lures people to it with seductive promises…and ungodly temptations.
Then She Was Gone: A Novel
Written by Lisa Jewell
Narrated by Helen Duff
From New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell, Then She Was Gone is a chilling novel that delves into the lingering aftermath of a young girl’s disappearance.
Fifteen-year-old Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from summer vacation with her whole life ahead of her.
And then she was gone.
Now, 10 years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed, her mother, Laurel Mack, is trying to put her life back together. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a cafe, she is surprised at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes her breath away. Looking at her is like looking at Ellie.
And now, the unanswered questions she has tried so hard to put to rest haunt her anew . . . as well as some new ones about Floyd and Poppy.
The Lion’s Game
Written by Nelson DeMille
Narrated by Scott Brick
Filled with unrelenting suspense and surprising plot twists at every turn, The Lion’s Game is a heartstopping race against time and one of Nelson DeMille‘s most riveting thrillers.
Detective John Corey now faces his toughest assignment yet: the pursuit and capture of the world’s most dangerous terrorist—a man known as “The Lion” who has baffled a federal task force and shows no signs of stopping in his quest for revenge against the American pilots who bombed Libya and killed his family.
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