The Ultimate List Of The Best Audiobooks For 2021

Looking for a great new audiobook to help the time pass during a plane ride, to entertain you during your commute, or to give you food for thought during your morning “quiet time”?

We’re so glad you’re here!

We’ve looked over lists of favorites and top sellers — on Audible, on various blogs, and elsewhere in the connected universe — to create this condensed master list of the top audiobooks for 2021

While Audible is still the king of the online audiobook stores, it does have some notable competitors:

  • Kobo (Rakuten): Probably Audible’s (and Amazon’s) biggest rival, Kobo has a subscription program of its own, offering one audiobook a month at a lower monthly price. As of yet, it doesn’t have as many titles as Audible but it continues to grow and is another prime venue for published authors.
  • This is another audiobook subscription service, similar to Audible in price but with fewer titles available.
  • Downpour titles are DRM free, which means the audiobooks are really and truly yours to keep. The monthly subscription rate is a little lower than that of Audible and
  • Overdrive: This service allows you to borrow audiobooks from your local public library network, using the Libby app. You don’t get to keep the audiobooks indefinitely, but if you’re looking to save money while devouring your favorite audiobooks, this is a great option.

The audiobook links in this article will take you to their pages on Amazon, but you’re also free to look them up on other sites.

The important thing is that you buy your next audiobook with confidence, knowing it’s one of the best audiobooks ever and that you enjoy every minute of it.

The Big List of 59 of the Best Audiobooks

We’ve divided the list to make it less overwhelming and to make it easier for you to zero on your favorite genres.

woman listening, best audiobooks

Whether you’re looking for a heart-pounding thriller, a heartwarming story, or something that will help you become the person you want to be, we hope you find something that will make life richer and maybe even introduce you to a new favorite author (or narrator).

Best Audiobooks of All Time

The first list focuses on audiobooks that have remained popular for years, now, and that continue to attract new listeners.

Try something new (to you) that thousands of other listeners have loved enough to review and recommend.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, narrated by Dan Stevens (6 hrs 1 min)

Described as “the world’s best-selling mystery,” this one is a classic by the best-selling author of all time.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (8 hrs 33 min)

The first book in the Harry Potter series, this one introduces us to Harry as a neglected ten-year-old orphan who starts receiving magical invitations to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland, narrated by Simon Vance (16 hrs 19 mins)

The first of Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, this one introduces you to the crusading journalist and gifted hacker in a genre-blending masterwork involving mystery, intrigue, family drama, and love.

Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, narrated by Roy Dotrice (33 hrs 46 mins)

This first volume introduces us to Daenerys, whose innocence is in stark contrast to the world she’s thrown into by her ambitious brother.

Violent and jarring at times, this is not something to play within earshot of your children.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, narrated by Davina Porter (32 hrs 38 mins)

In 1945, a former combat nurse touches a boulder in an ancient stone ruin and is suddenly transported to 1743 Scotland where her only chance at survival is with gallant Scotsman James Fraser.

Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, narrated by Stephen Fry (62 hrs 52 mins)

This contains all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories involving Sherlock Holmes – including four novels and five collections of short stories.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, narrated by Kate Rudd (7 hrs 14 mins)

This funny, poignant, and heartbreaking story follows two teens with cancer who meet in a support group and fall in love.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, narrated by Bahni Turpin (11 hrs 40 mins)

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Thomas’s debut novel is essential reading for anyone who would understand the movement and the people behind it.

Best Fantasy Audiobooks

Whatever comes to mind when you hear the word “fantasy,” you’ll find an overwhelming variety of great audiobooks in this genre on Audible and other sites.

Give one the following a try to mix it up a little and learn what all the fuss is about.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, narrated by Bahni Turpin (17 hrs 44 mins)

This is the first of Adeyemi’s fantasy series, Legacy of Orisha, involving a young African girl, Zélie Adebola, and the consequences to her homeland when a ruthless king does everything he can to eradicate magic to solidify his reign.

The Graveyard Book: Full Cast Production by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Neil Gaiman, Derek Jacobi, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, and Julian Rhind-Tutt (8 hrs 24 mins)

A boy named Nobody Owens – Bod for short – lives in a graveyard and is raised and educated by ghosts. This captivating story by Gaiman is narrated by a star cast.

11-22-63 by Stephen King, narrated by Craig Wasson (30 hrs 40 mins)

King’s intense, time-traveling fantasy involves a 35-year old English teacher who goes 50 years into the past to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl (27 hrs 55 mins)

Released in 2009, this thrilling and addictive fantasy has earned praise from millions of devoted fans, including George R.R. Martin and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, narrated by Robin Miles (15 hrs 27 mins)

This is the first of Jemisin’s The Broken Earth dystopian fantasy series with carefully developed characters, impeccable writing, and superior narration.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, narrated by the author (13 hrs 48 mins)

Gaiman blends the stuff of dreams and nightmares in a hidden world peopled by characters who “fall through the cracks.” One act of kindness takes the main character to this world, and survival is not a guarantee.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, narrated by Jennifer Ikeda (23 hrs 59 mins)

Enjoy this grown-up fantasy involving a family of witches, a mysterious alchemical manuscript, a fantastical underworld, and a leading man who’s a vampire geneticist.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini, narrated by Gerard Doyle (16 hrs 22 mins)

Perfect for Tolkien, this first book in Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle series introduces us to Eragon, a fifteen-year-old poor farm boy who discovers his destiny as a dragon rider.

Best Sci-fi Audiobooks

If you’re fed up with earth people and looking to spend some time in a different universe, enjoy your mini vacation with one of these audiobooks.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton (15 hrs 40 mins)

This dystopian fantasy centers around a boy named Wade Watts, who escapes his dismal reality by immersing himself in a virtual one with hidden puzzles that might just lead him to massive fortune and power beyond his imagining.

World War Z: The Complete Edition (Movie Tie-in Edition) by Max Brooks, narrated by an all-star cast (12 hrs 9 mins)

This is a new version of Brooks’ zombie novel, containing the abridged versions of the original stories and unabridged recordings of episodes not included in the original.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, narrated by Stephen Fry (5 hrs 51 mins)

Friends Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect narrowly survive the obliteration of planet Earth, hitching a ride on a spaceship and beginning a journey through space with a small group of unusual companions.

Galaxy Outlaws: The Complete Black Ocean Mobius Missions, 1-16.5 by J.S. Morin, narrated by Mikael Naramore (85 hrs 6 mins)

This is the complete collection of all 16 Black Ocean missions of the Starship Mobius and her crew, starring an ex-Earth fighter pilot and a group of misfits and refugees – outlaws with a conscience.

Related: 20 Best Audiobooks For A Road Trip

woman listening, best audiobooks

The Worldship Humility by R.R. Haywood, narrated by Colin Morgan (13 hrs 58 mins)

Fifty or so worldships contain what’s left of Earth’s population. A petty thief and an airlock operative are thrown together in a dangerous game involving a stolen code that could lead them all to a habitable planet.

We are Legion (We are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor, narrated by Ray Porter ( )

Launched in 2016, this remains a popular sci-fi adventure involving a cryogenically-preserved man whose consciousness is uploaded to a sentient space probe on a mission to find new homes for humanity.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, narrated by Jon Lindstrom (10 hrs 8 mins)

The main character, Jason Dessen, wakes up to a different world, where he’s recognized for his gifts but doesn’t have the family he loves. Which world is real, and can he get back to the one that means more to him?

The Martian by Andy Weir, narrated by R.C. Bray (10 hrs 53 mins)

Astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars, and his prospects are grim. One crisis at a time, though, he uses his ingenuity to survive in spite of his odds. But will it be enough to get him home?

Related: 20 Books You Can’t Put Down

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison, and Gabrielle de Cuir (11 hrs 57 mins)

Ender Wiggin is six years old when he begins training at Battle School. He and his brothers, all of them results of genetic experimentation, have the combined ability to remake the world – if it doesn’t destroy itself first.

Columbus Day: Expeditionary Force, Book 1 by Craig Alanson, narrated by R.C. Bray (16 hrs 23 mins)

The first of its series, the story begins with the Ruhar invasion on Columbus Day and the subsequent UN military attacks on the Ruhar – who, it turns out, were never our real enemies.

Dune by Frank Herbert, narrated by Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton, Simon Vance, and Ilyana Kadushin (21 hrs 2 mins)

Though the author of this story died in 1986, fans of this classic have called it “one of the monuments of modern science fiction.

Best Fiction Audiobooks

From mystery audiobooks to literary fiction, the gems in this list have earned their status as bestsellers, and several have been made into films or TV series.

If you want the stories but don’t have time to read them or watch them on a screen, audiobooks are the way to go.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett, narrated by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and Cassandra Campbell (18 hrs 16 mins)

Fresh out of college, a 22-year-old socialite is inspired to write stories that share the experiences of black maids – two in particular – in 1962 Mississippi.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, narrated by David Pittu (32 hrs 24 mins)

Theo Decker survives an accident that kills his mother and is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. As an adult, he still clings to a small painting that reminds him of her and that pulls him into the dangerous underworld of art.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, narrated by Susan Lyons, Anna Bentink, Steven Crossley, Alex Tregear, Andrew Wincott, and Owen Lindsay (14 hrs 40 mins)

Louisa Clarke takes a job tending a wheelchair-bound Will Traynor, who, before a devastating accident, had been master of his own universe. When she learns he’s planning his own death, she tries to change his mind.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Polly Stone (17 hrs 19 mins)

This is a story of two sisters, separated by their experiences and ideals during the German occupation of France during World War II.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, narrated by Martin Jarvis (12 hrs 32 mins)

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett join forces for a book about the end of the world and a missing Antichrist, pairing an angel and a demon who aren’t keen on Armageddon.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, narrated by Allan Corduner (13 hrs 56 mins)

It’s 1939 in Nazi Germany, and Liesel Menninger is a foster girl scratching out a meager existence for herself just outside Munich. She steals books and shares them with her neighbors and the Jewish man hiding in her basement.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan, narrated by Will Damron (17 hrs 43 mins)

Pino Lella is a normal Italian teenager and wants nothing to do with the Nazis, but when his life of innocence ends, he joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape and ends up falling in love with a young widow.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, narrated by Mozhan Marno, Jennifer Ikeda, Edoardo Ballerini, Suzanne Toren, and Fred Berman (18 hrs 13 mins)

Sage Singer befriends Josef Weber a man beloved by his community who harbors a terrible secret. He asks Sage to kill him. She listens to his story and understands but still asks herself whether killing him would be justice or murder.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld (15 hrs 7 mins)

This historical novel takes place in 1947 in the immediate aftermath of World War II and explores the intersecting lives of two very different women.

The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, narrated by Jeremy Irons (4 hrs)

This fable explores the transformative power of our dreams as it follows the journey of an Andalusian boy and the companions he meets on his quest.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, narrated by Cathleen McCarron (11 hrs 2 mins)

Three unlikely friends meet and rescue one another from the isolated lives they’d been living. Big-hearted and deeply unhygienic Raymond upends Eleanor Oliphant’s solitary, regimented life, ultimately for the better.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, narrated by Cassandra Campbell (12 hours 12 mins)

Kya Clark, known as the “Marsh Girl” is a beautiful, sensitive, and intelligent recluse suspected of murder when two young men from town take an interest in her – and one of them ends up dead.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, narrated by Caroline Lee (15 hrs 55 mins)

Three women with very different personalities and backgrounds become friends whose family secrets lead up to a shocking death at the end of the annual Trivia Night at their local school.

Best Non-fiction Audiobooks

Whatever your specific interests, if you’re looking for bestselling nonfiction titles, enjoy these audiobook recommendations:

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes, narrated by the author (7 hrs 1 min)

Cary Elwes, the actor who played Westley in The Princess Bride, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, which – for the cast – was more than just an acting gig.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, narrated by the author (8 hrs 44 mins)

In this award-winning production, Trevor Noah shares a lively and engaging coming-of-age tale from his South African childhood, earning an Audie award for Best Male Narrator in 2018.

A Mind of Her Own by Paula McLain, narrated by Hilary Huber (1 hr 15 mins)

This is the story of the unconventional life of Marie Curie – a young woman torn between married love and the chance to live her dreams as a scientist.

Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by the author (19 hrs 3 mins)

Coming from the first African American first lady – and a legend in her own right – this thoughtful and addictive memoir has captured the attention and earned the admiration of legions in the U..S. and all over the world.

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, narrated by the author and Adam Skolnick (13 hrs 37 mins)

Childhood, for David Goggins, was a nightmare, but as an adult he became the only man in history to complete elite training in three different military branches, then went on to earn the title, “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.”

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, narrated by the author (7 hrs 35 mins)

Is it possible to destroy doubt and transform your life in five seconds? Mel Robbins says yes and shows you exactly why and how.

Atomic Habits by James Clear, narrated by the author (5 hrs 35 mins)

Whatever your goals, James Clear can teach you how to master tiny behaviors that yield transformative results.

Related: 27 Of The Top Life-Changing Books To Inspire You

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, narrated by the author (6 hrs 29 mins)

Neil Gaiman worked on this for seven years, and from his narration, you can sense his passion and his commitment to breathing life into each character from the oral traditions.

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A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle, narrated by the author (9 hrs 12 mins)

The purpose of this book is to lead us from our current ego-based state of consciousness to a new consciousness that will enable us to create a new, saner, and more loving world.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt, narrated by the author (11 hrs 1 min)

Few things divide people as quickly and powerfully as politics and religion. The author explains why and offers a different approach that makes the most of each camp’s different insights.

Best Horror Audiobooks

If you’re looking for something that will keep you awake and on the edge of your seat, you can’t go wrong with one of these. Maybe don’t read them too close to bedtime, though.

Bird Box by Josh Mailerman, narrated by Cassandra Campbell (9 hrs 8 mins)

Something is out there that no one can see without turning to deadly violence. A young mother and her two young children with their eyes covered journey to what might be a safe haven, but something is following them.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, narrated by Helen Duff (10 hrs 12 mins)

The beautiful 15-year-old daughter of Laurel Mack disappears, and 10 years later, her mother meets a charming man, and their flirtation quickly develops into something more. Then she meets his daughters, one of whom strongly resembles her own.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, narrated by Georgia Maguire (8 hrs 23 mins)

Jack and Grace seem to have everything, including the perfect marriage. They’re inseparable. But something is off with Grace, and you start to wonder about the high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King, narrated by Michael C. Hall (15 hrs 41 mins)

King knows how to take the ordinary and make it terrifying, and this is one of his best.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, narrated by Julia Whelan (11 hrs 13 mins)

This one explores the secret complexities of a marriage that seems perfect on the outside – getting into the heads of two women who love the same man and what each is willing to do to have him to herself.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, narrated by Ann Marie Lee (9 hrs 34 mins)

Flynn’s gift for storytelling and character development are in peak form with this story about a young woman with a haunting secret and a half-sister whose grip on the town unsettles her.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine, narrated by Suzanne Elise Freeman, and Meghan Wolf (12 hours )

A fast-paced psychological thriller about a manipulative woman who worms her way into the lives of a wealthy couple from Connecticut to gain the privileged life she desires.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, narrated by Ann Marie Lee (12 hrs )

Amber Patterson has set her sights on a better life – the kind her target takes for granted. But her own secrets may catch up with her before she can make her final move.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, narrated by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher (13 hrs 42 mins)

In a novel described by Stephen King as “Unputdownable,” recluse Anna Fox spends the day drinking, watching movies, and spying on her neighbors. But while watching the new neighbors – a seemingly perfect family – she sees something she shouldn’t.

What are the best audiobooks for you?

Whatever your preferences, we hope you find a new favorite.

Once you’ve finished enjoying one, do the author and narrator a solid and leave a thoughtful and encouraging review. It seems like such a little thing, but it matters.

Think back to a review you read for a book, an audiobook, or something else that made you think, “Now I want to buy this!”

If you think others would enjoy the audiobook you just listened to, you’re doing them a favor by leaving a review. You could also write a review on your blog or share links to it on social media to get the word out.

Not all reviews will be positive, of course.

Even the best audiobooks out there — with thousands of reviews (or even tens of thousands) — have a few that say something like, “I don’t get why there are so many positive reviews for this. The author probably paid for them.”

I’m paraphrasing, but nobody benefits from a review like that.

If there’s something you strongly disliked about an audiobook, and you want to warn others who would also be put off by it, be specific.

That way, you let the author know exactly what you think would have made your experience better.

Keep it classy and considerate, and everybody wins. The author and narrator get a boost, and your day gets better, too.

So, let your curiosity and thoughtfulness influence your choice of audiobook and everything else you do today.

We’ve looked over lists of favorites and top sellers -- on Audible, on various blogs, and elsewhere in the connected universe -- to create this condensed master list of the top audiobooks for 2019. #books #mentalhealth #mindfulness #personalgrowth #happiness