Put The Paperback Down: 12 Books That Are Better As Audiobooks

written by FARRAH PENN

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Source: Pixabay | Pexels and Social Squares
Source: Pixabay | Pexels and Social Squares

As a self-proclaimed audiobook girlie, let me just tell you that I’ve spent hundreds of hours listening to some of the greatest narrators to ever walk the earth. Whenever I burn out on listening to my favorite podcasts, I turn to audiobooks as a familiar comfort. The best part is that I’m always discovering something new—something that’s sure to make me weep like I’ve just watched the end of A Star is Born or make me laugh so loud I draw unwanted attention from the general public. Basically, I’m saying you can trust me. If you’re looking for an outstanding audiobook, you’re in good hands. 

Whether you’re gearing up to take a six-hour road trip to San Francisco or you’re looking for a compelling tale to listen to while you do the dishes, I’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find a few books that are, in my opinion, better as audiobooks. But if you don’t want to take it from me, feel free to judge a book by its narrator—all of whom have 10/10 stars in my book.

Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy Jones and the Six

Imagine an unputdownable music-centric book that reads like a VH1 'Behind the Music' interview and you’ve got Daisy Jones and the Six. This is one of my favorite audiobooks ever and once you become immersed in the story you’ll have a hard time putting it down. Set during the late ‘60s and spanning into the ‘70s, readers follow singers Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne on their rise to fame during an era of rock and roll. The transcript-style novel is narrated by the talented Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer, and Pablo Schreiber and 100% worth listening to before the television adaptation releases on Prime in March.

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Prince Harry

This is one of the most anticipated memoirs of 2023 and has been somewhat of an audio sensation on TikTok, but it’s well-worth listening to Prince Harry narrate his own story. Even if you’re not a die-hard royals enthusiast, I promise this memoir will keep you captivated. With compassion and raw honesty, Prince Harry recalls his grief over the passing of his mother, Princess Diana, his time in the British Army, his struggles with mental health, and how he came to meet his wife, Meghan Markle.

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Jennette McCurdy
I’m Glad My Mom Died

If you’re looking for a book that’s sure to hit you square in the feelings, do not miss the audiobook version of I’m Glad My Mom Died. While it’s a fast listen, it’s an equally emotional and humorous exploration of Jennette McCurdy’s life as a child actor, where she played the role of Sam on iCarly. Readers might be shocked by how crass the title sounds, but McCurdy empathetically, and with unflinching honesty, reveals the truth about her tumultuous relationship with her mother, her body, and the entertainment industry as a whole.

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Jessica George

My 2023 started on an outstanding note because I listened to the audiobook of Jessica George's debut novel, and I'm pleased to report, the book is a star. The voice is hilarious and candid, the insights are sharp and smart, and the story is fresh and powerful. Set in London, Maddie is a twenty-something trying to figure life out. While her mother spends time in Ghana, she becomes the primary caretaker of her father, who has an advanced stage of Parkinson’s. She doesn’t feel like she has a strong handle on how to do things perfectly, but when tragedy strikes, she’s forced to face her own vulnerabilities that come with opening up to others. The audiobook is read by Heather Agyepong, who truly brings the character Maddie to life.

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Chanel Miller
Know My Name

I was prepared to cry when I first started listening to Chanel Miller narrate her own story, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the powerful, resilient, emotional gut-punch of a book that sat with me long after I finished listening. Chanel Miller’s identity-protected victim statement to Brock Turner, the Stanford student who sexually assaulted her in public, went viral online, led to changes within California law and recalled the judge of her trial. In her book, Chanel reclaims her identity and shares her insights and vulnerable feelings with readers, proving that she’s not only an incredibly talented writer, but someone who continues to fight to instill hope and justice into a broken world.

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Bolu Babalola
Honey and Spice

If you love rom-coms as much as I do and are into anything involving the enemies-to-lovers trope, you’ll immediately want to run to your app of choice and get Babalola’s delightfully charming romance. It’s narrated by the brilliant Weruche Opia who absolutely kills it. Kiki is the host of a popular student radio show at Whitewell University. After she uses her platform to call out Malakia as a player, and then gets caught publicly kissing him, they embark on a fake relationship to save both of their reputations.

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Mackenzi Lee
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

I promise I’m not leading you astray with this queer historical fantasy YA novel, especially because Christian Coulson—known for his portrayal as young Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets—narrates the audiobook version. It. Is. Outstanding. Sharp and funny and filled with wild antics, this book follows Monty, a young bisexual British lord, and his best friend Percy as they begin their grand tour of Europe. There are just two problems: 1) Monty is secretly in love with Percy and 2) one of his decisions transforms the tour into a dangerous manhunt.

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Tegan and Sara
High School

This is one of the most unique audiobook memoirs I’ve ever listened to. You may know the twin sister band Tegan and Sara, but this combined recollection of their early years as teen artists (and two people just trying to survive high school in the ‘90s) is full of raw honesty. Told from alternating points of view, Tegan and Sara share what it was like figuring out their identity and sexuality, discovering their love for music, and trying to make it in the industry at a young age. It also includes musical recordings of their first rough demos, which is a delight to hear. And once you’re done listening, you can check out the series adaptation on Peacock.

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Talia Hibbert
Act Your Age, Eve Brown

I absolutely love The Brown Sisters series but found Eve’s story in particular to be laugh-out-loud funny to listen to on audio. Ione Butler does a spectacular job with this one, so if you love rom-coms with the grumpy/sunshine trope you won’t want to miss out. Eve is the youngest in her family and is struggling to figure out what she really wants to do in life, so when she stumbles across a bed and breakfast to interview for a chef position, she meets Jacob Wayne. He’s the owner, and he’s certainly not impressed by her general chaotic state of being. But when Eve accidentally hits him with his car, she offers her assistance around the B&B, allowing the two to inevitably become closer.

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Jenny Han
The Summer I Turned Pretty

If you’ve watched the adaptation of Summer on Prime, then you’ve already been introduced to the incredibly talented Lola Tung, who truly brings the character Belly to life. Lola also narrates the audiobook, and she does a stunning job. I promise you’re going to love it. This contemporary YA novel follows 15-year-old Belly during her recurring summers in Cousins Beach, but this summer is different. As Belly experiences a plethora of emotions aligned with coming of age, she finds herself navigating crushes, losses, and heartache.

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Michelle Obama

I’m telling you right now, do not be intimidated by this 19-hour audiobook because it is worth every second. Michelle Obama opens up about her time as the First Lady of the United States and what it was like to be the first African American woman to step into this position. From growing up in Illinois, to pursuing a legal career, to meeting President Barack Obama, to becoming a mother and a strong advocate for women and girls, Michelle writes from a place of authenticity, warmth, and strength that makes this one of the greatest memoirs in recent years.

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Ottessa Moshfegh
My Year of Rest and Relaxation

My favorite audiobook narrators of all time are Julia Whelan and Stephen Fry (for real, they are so brilliant), so while you cannot go wrong with choosing any title they narrate, I’m going to specifically highlight Whelan’s narration of My Year of Rest and Relaxation. The story is dark, satirical, and bitingly witty, and Whelan manages to capture that essence perfectly as our unnamed Columbia graduate narrator living in New York. She’s trendy, pretty, and unhappy—so she decides to spend a year blocking the world out by sleeping under the influence of prescribed medication from a wacky therapist. Overall, it’s an intriguing exploration of alienation.

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