Audiobooks

10 of the Best Audiobooks of 2023

It was a year of exceptionally strong performances by narrators in the world of audiobooks. Some of those, like the work of the always brilliant Barbra Streisand and Meryl Streep, were not surprising, but others were unexpected discoveries that left us mesmerized and moved. From fiction to history to poetry, and, of course, a few memoirs, we hope you enjoy exploring our list of ten of the best audiobooks of 2023.

Spare

Audiobook $29.88 $36.00

Spare

Spare

By Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex
Narrated by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex

In Stock Online

Audiobook $29.88 $36.00

This much-hyped memoir became one of the bestselling books of all time for good reason—it promised to spill lots of juicy secrets of a famous family’s dysfunction. And it delivers! The audiobook is particularly gripping because Prince Harry narrates. Depending on your POV, you may view his account—an intricately woven mix of laments, lessons learned, dirty laundry, and hopes for the future—as a theatrical drama or a soap opera. Either way, to hear him give literal voice to his own story with a combination of stoicism and emotion adds a nuanced dimension to what, in the end, is a very personal story of a son, brother, husband, father, and “spare” member of a public family trying to be heard on his own terms.

This much-hyped memoir became one of the bestselling books of all time for good reason—it promised to spill lots of juicy secrets of a famous family’s dysfunction. And it delivers! The audiobook is particularly gripping because Prince Harry narrates. Depending on your POV, you may view his account—an intricately woven mix of laments, lessons learned, dirty laundry, and hopes for the future—as a theatrical drama or a soap opera. Either way, to hear him give literal voice to his own story with a combination of stoicism and emotion adds a nuanced dimension to what, in the end, is a very personal story of a son, brother, husband, father, and “spare” member of a public family trying to be heard on his own terms.

Tom Lake

Audiobook $24.29 $26.99

Tom Lake

Tom Lake

By Ann Patchett
Narrated by Meryl Streep

In Stock Online

Audiobook $24.29 $26.99

A Barnes & Noble Book Club Pick

This partnership between Ann Patchett, one of the queens of fiction, and Meryl Streep, the indisputable queen of stage and film, is a gift to listeners who want to disappear into a story. Patchett’s sentimental family tale of a mother and her adult daughters seems tailor-made for Streep, who uses just her voice, in lieu of her usual much fuller bag of tricks, to deliver a performance that’s as fully invested as any of her theatrical work. She conjures whatever the emotion or character demands at any given moment. You’ll likely pause the book several times simply to appreciate this perfectly matched pairing of story and performer.

A Barnes & Noble Book Club Pick

This partnership between Ann Patchett, one of the queens of fiction, and Meryl Streep, the indisputable queen of stage and film, is a gift to listeners who want to disappear into a story. Patchett’s sentimental family tale of a mother and her adult daughters seems tailor-made for Streep, who uses just her voice, in lieu of her usual much fuller bag of tricks, to deliver a performance that’s as fully invested as any of her theatrical work. She conjures whatever the emotion or character demands at any given moment. You’ll likely pause the book several times simply to appreciate this perfectly matched pairing of story and performer.

Wild and Precious: A Celebration of Mary Oliver

Audiobook $28.80 $32.00

Wild and Precious: A Celebration of Mary Oliver

Wild and Precious: A Celebration of Mary Oliver

By Mary Oliver , Sophia Bush , Busy Philipps , Carmen Maria Machado , Claire Bidwell Smith , Rainn Wilson , Ross Gay , Samin Nosrat , Susan Cain
Narrated by Sophia Bush

In Stock Online

Audiobook $28.80 $32.00

Even if you don’t usually lean towards poetry, we enthusiastically encourage you to give this beautifully produced ode to Mary Oliver a try. Only available as an audiobook and only four hours long, this is a uniquely accessible gentle study of Oliver’s award-winning work, as well as of the poet herself. Structured like a podcast and gracefully hosted by actress Sophia Bush, the chapters interweave poems with personal commentary by assorted guests who befriended Oliver, worked with her, or were taught by her. All of them continue to be inspired by her, and so may you be after listening. A special treat: Oliver, who died in 2019, reads some of the poems herself.

Even if you don’t usually lean towards poetry, we enthusiastically encourage you to give this beautifully produced ode to Mary Oliver a try. Only available as an audiobook and only four hours long, this is a uniquely accessible gentle study of Oliver’s award-winning work, as well as of the poet herself. Structured like a podcast and gracefully hosted by actress Sophia Bush, the chapters interweave poems with personal commentary by assorted guests who befriended Oliver, worked with her, or were taught by her. All of them continue to be inspired by her, and so may you be after listening. A special treat: Oliver, who died in 2019, reads some of the poems herself.

My Name Is Barbra

Audiobook $45.00 $50.00

My Name Is Barbra

My Name Is Barbra

By Barbra Streisand
Narrated by Barbra Streisand

In Stock Online

Audiobook $45.00 $50.00

Yes, this is over 48 hours long, but the author/narrator is one of the most lauded entertainers in. . .ever?, and she has a lot of life to share. It took her 40 years to contemplate a memoir and another ten to write it, but it was worth the wait. From the very first line (“An amiable anteater?”), her tone is conversational, funny, personable, opinionated, and even relatable. Maybe that’s because her motivation to finally put pen to paper was to “dispel the myths” she has spent a lifetime reading about herself. “I think I’m rather ordinary,” she states in the prologue, but every word after that contradicts that notion (How many of us are EGOTs who also dated a prime minister and directed films?). We can’t think of a better way to enjoy Streisand’s genius, gumption, and gossip than to listen to her confide in us, but if you need more incentive, the audiobook also includes music excerpts and some extra anecdotes not found in any other format.

Yes, this is over 48 hours long, but the author/narrator is one of the most lauded entertainers in. . .ever?, and she has a lot of life to share. It took her 40 years to contemplate a memoir and another ten to write it, but it was worth the wait. From the very first line (“An amiable anteater?”), her tone is conversational, funny, personable, opinionated, and even relatable. Maybe that’s because her motivation to finally put pen to paper was to “dispel the myths” she has spent a lifetime reading about herself. “I think I’m rather ordinary,” she states in the prologue, but every word after that contradicts that notion (How many of us are EGOTs who also dated a prime minister and directed films?). We can’t think of a better way to enjoy Streisand’s genius, gumption, and gossip than to listen to her confide in us, but if you need more incentive, the audiobook also includes music excerpts and some extra anecdotes not found in any other format.

King: A Life

Audiobook $44.99

King: A Life

King: A Life

By Jonathan Eig
Narrated by Dion Graham

In Stock Online

Audiobook $44.99

This monumental and enlightening 688-page biography is enhanced by Dion Graham, an award-winning narrator of over 300 audiobooks and multiple Earphones and Audie Awards. Graham is to the audiobook world what James Earl Jones is to film—when you hear his majestic voice, you can’t help but listen more attentively. Here, Graham is at the height of his talent in portraying America’s recognized single greatest orator, and yet the brilliance of his performance comes in his equally committed rendering of Martin Luther King, Jr’s non-public moments, as well as of the many people who surround and inform King’s legacy. This isn’t just an audiobook—it’s a revelation, not only of the many facets of King but also of how a sensitive and intelligent audio interpretation can substantively augment understanding.

This monumental and enlightening 688-page biography is enhanced by Dion Graham, an award-winning narrator of over 300 audiobooks and multiple Earphones and Audie Awards. Graham is to the audiobook world what James Earl Jones is to film—when you hear his majestic voice, you can’t help but listen more attentively. Here, Graham is at the height of his talent in portraying America’s recognized single greatest orator, and yet the brilliance of his performance comes in his equally committed rendering of Martin Luther King, Jr’s non-public moments, as well as of the many people who surround and inform King’s legacy. This isn’t just an audiobook—it’s a revelation, not only of the many facets of King but also of how a sensitive and intelligent audio interpretation can substantively augment understanding.

Weyward: A Novel

Audiobook $26.99

Weyward: A Novel

Weyward: A Novel

By Emilia Hart
Narrated by Aysha Kala , Helen Keeley , Nell Barlow

In Stock Online

Audiobook $26.99

Three distinct women, individually narrated by Aysha Kala, Helen Keeley and Nell Barlow, from three distinct time periods complete this enthralling feminist tale. They may have lived centuries apart from one another, but their struggles in life remain eerily similar. With magical realism elements invoking Alice Hoffman vibes, the Weyward women prove to be resilient in a world that wishes to contain them. The engaging narration by all three voice actors will leave your heart singing, “down with the patriarchy!”

Three distinct women, individually narrated by Aysha Kala, Helen Keeley and Nell Barlow, from three distinct time periods complete this enthralling feminist tale. They may have lived centuries apart from one another, but their struggles in life remain eerily similar. With magical realism elements invoking Alice Hoffman vibes, the Weyward women prove to be resilient in a world that wishes to contain them. The engaging narration by all three voice actors will leave your heart singing, “down with the patriarchy!”

Pageboy: A Memoir

Audiobook $15.99 $19.99

Pageboy: A Memoir

Pageboy: A Memoir

By Elliot Page
Narrated by Elliot Page

In Stock Online

Audiobook $15.99 $19.99

Told as only he could, actor Elliot Page narrates his story masterfully. At turns heartbreaking and uplifting, this is an intimate memoir that is “shaped by devastation” but also reveals and celebrates hard-won triumphs along his tortuous path to his life now as a trans man. Untangling early trauma, ongoing challenges, and the mess that life can become is a journey we all go through in different ways and to varying degrees. Listening to Page’s non-linear story told with a raw honesty and combination of vulnerability and empowerment as he reveals his authentic self is powerful. In an era of increasing anti-trans hate, it is also necessary.

Told as only he could, actor Elliot Page narrates his story masterfully. At turns heartbreaking and uplifting, this is an intimate memoir that is “shaped by devastation” but also reveals and celebrates hard-won triumphs along his tortuous path to his life now as a trans man. Untangling early trauma, ongoing challenges, and the mess that life can become is a journey we all go through in different ways and to varying degrees. Listening to Page’s non-linear story told with a raw honesty and combination of vulnerability and empowerment as he reveals his authentic self is powerful. In an era of increasing anti-trans hate, it is also necessary.

None of This Is True

Audiobook $21.24 $24.99

None of This Is True

None of This Is True

By Lisa Jewell
Narrated by Kristin Atherton , Ayesha Antoine , Louise Brealey , Alix Dunmore , Elliot Fitzpatrick , Lisa Jewell , Thomas Judd , Dominic Thorburn , Nicola Walker , Jenny Walser

In Stock Online

Audiobook $21.24 $24.99

It’s our team’s POV that every “best of list” should include something that is purely entertaining, and that’s what bestselling author Lisa Jewell and a team of accomplished narrators achieve here. The premise of two strangers meeting serendipitously on their shared birthday is intriguing from the get-go, but the real mystery in this quiet thriller is whose voice is to be believed, and once you decide who’s lying, should you distrust everything they claim? One of the two lead characters is a podcast host, and what makes the audio version extra compelling is the integration of transcripts from her early research interviews with her “birthday twin” into the main story narrative after most of the facts have already unfolded. This plot device adds new layers to what you thought you already knew. A multi-narrator cast and effective sound design also contribute to why this our favorite “one sitting” listen of the year.

It’s our team’s POV that every “best of list” should include something that is purely entertaining, and that’s what bestselling author Lisa Jewell and a team of accomplished narrators achieve here. The premise of two strangers meeting serendipitously on their shared birthday is intriguing from the get-go, but the real mystery in this quiet thriller is whose voice is to be believed, and once you decide who’s lying, should you distrust everything they claim? One of the two lead characters is a podcast host, and what makes the audio version extra compelling is the integration of transcripts from her early research interviews with her “birthday twin” into the main story narrative after most of the facts have already unfolded. This plot device adds new layers to what you thought you already knew. A multi-narrator cast and effective sound design also contribute to why this our favorite “one sitting” listen of the year.

Leslie F*cking Jones

Audiobook $38.99

Leslie F*cking Jones

Leslie F*cking Jones

By Leslie Jones
Narrated by Leslie Jones , Chris Rock

In Stock Online

Audiobook $38.99

Between the energetic opening and Chris Rock reading the foreword (where Jones interjects her thoughts throughout)—from the moment we hit play on this memoir, it was clear this was something special. You’ll laugh plenty (and probably shed some tears) as you listen to these hysterical and heartwarming stories. And how could anyone resist spending more time with Leslie Jones, thanks to the audiobook’s extra five hours of bonus material not found in the print edition? “There’s nobody like Leslie Jones. Leslie Jones is hilarious,” iconic comedian Chris Rock says—and he’s 100% correct.

Between the energetic opening and Chris Rock reading the foreword (where Jones interjects her thoughts throughout)—from the moment we hit play on this memoir, it was clear this was something special. You’ll laugh plenty (and probably shed some tears) as you listen to these hysterical and heartwarming stories. And how could anyone resist spending more time with Leslie Jones, thanks to the audiobook’s extra five hours of bonus material not found in the print edition? “There’s nobody like Leslie Jones. Leslie Jones is hilarious,” iconic comedian Chris Rock says—and he’s 100% correct.

For Lamb

Audiobook $17.99

For Lamb

For Lamb

By Lesa Cline-Ransome
Narrated by Tyla Collier , Kevin R. Free , Angel Pean , Dion Graham , Jaime Lincoln Smith , Rebecca Lee

In Stock Online

Audiobook $17.99

In a year of new discoveries, this was our favorite. A YA historical fiction novel set in the 1940s, this is a story of the tragic repercussions of an interracial teen friendship on a family and a community in the Jim Crow south. Read by an exceedingly stellar cast (including Dion Graham, narrator of another one of our Top 10 selections, King) who offer different perspectives on the events that transpire, the audiobook doesn’t hold back in its honest and emotional depiction of the brutality of racism and violence that were realities of the era. The story is challenging because it’s sad and sobering, but its characters and their incarnations by this cast also make it unforgettable.

In a year of new discoveries, this was our favorite. A YA historical fiction novel set in the 1940s, this is a story of the tragic repercussions of an interracial teen friendship on a family and a community in the Jim Crow south. Read by an exceedingly stellar cast (including Dion Graham, narrator of another one of our Top 10 selections, King) who offer different perspectives on the events that transpire, the audiobook doesn’t hold back in its honest and emotional depiction of the brutality of racism and violence that were realities of the era. The story is challenging because it’s sad and sobering, but its characters and their incarnations by this cast also make it unforgettable.