12 Audiobooks So Good You’ll Forget You’re Working

June 11, 2024
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In almost every video I share of working on projects, I’m wearing my noise-cancelling headphones. One, this is great because I always have ear protection on when I’m using my power tools. But two, I’m almost always listening to something to keep me entertained. Sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s podcasts, but 90% of the time, it’s an audiobook.

Sanding patches

People ask me all the time how I don’t get bored when I work for hours on end on projects. And the answer is audiobooks! When I find a book that sucks me into the narrative, time flies by and I end up breezing through projects. It’s like binge watching TV… while being productive!

If you think audiobooks just aren’t for you, I strongly encourage you to try one of these listens first. Like with movies, TV shows, and plays, a great audiobook relies on the perfect combination of a compelling script, quality production, and talented actors. So here is a list of 12 audiobooks WITH NO SPOILERS in a variety of genres that will completely suck you in…

1. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

If you think you don’t like audiobooks, this one will change your mind. It’s a production. 21 different actors perform Daisy Jones & The Six, including a few names you may recognize like Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality), Judy Greer (13 Going on 30), and Jennifer Beals (Flashdance). Whenever an audiobook has this many narrators, you know the publisher spent good money on it and the production value is going to be top notch. You may already be familiar with the Prime Video adaptation of this book, but I highly suggest you listen to the audiobook, too!

2. The Thursday Murder Club Series by Richard Osman

If you’re a fan of cozy mysteries with unpredictable twists and turns and excellent witty dialogue, this series for you! The first two books, The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice, are narrated by English actress Lesley Manville, who sets the tone of the books perfectly. Even in the midst of chaos and murder, her narration keeps things upbeat and witty. I also enjoyed Fiona Shaw’s performance of the third and fourth books, The Bullet That Missed and The Last Devil to Die, but her narration can be a little more serious and melancholy, and I miss Manville’s levity.

3. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

If you like a good mystery thriller, The Silent Patient is probably a book you’ve heard of before. But the audiobook performance is exceptional and I think really sells the story as it unfolds. I don’t want to give away too much because it’s a mystery, so you can of course expect some twists and turns, but just know that this is a super gripping read. I vividly remember painting my front porch columns as I was listening to this and powering through the entire eight and a half hours in one go because I couldn’t press pause.

4. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Yes, we have another TJR book here, but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is my favorite of hers. The old Hollywood setting is fantastic, and the voice performances are perfect. Again, we have multiple narrators here, including my favorite audiobook narrator, Julia Whelan. She has a beautiful voice and is a highly skilled voice actor—she’s won over a dozen Audies (the Oscars for audiobooks)—and I’ll happily listen to anything she narrates. She’s also highly sought after by several best-selling authors, so you’ll find that she narrates most books by Emily Henry, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Kristin Hannah.

5. Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan

Speaking of Julia Whelan… she’s also an author! And, of course, she narrates her own books. If you like thoughtful, witty romances like Emily Henry’s, you will love Thank You for Listening. Whelan’s main characters are audiobook narrators themselves (how very meta), and it’s really interesting to get an inside look into the narration business as well. If you like this book, I also recommend that you listen to her first novel, My Oxford Year.

6. Book Lovers by Emily Henry

If you like a romantic comedy with meat on its bones, Emily Henry novels are for you. They’re my personal favorite in the genre. She gives readers satisfying romance without it feeling too breezy, hollow, or beach read-y (even though, ironically, she wrote a book called Beach Read). Her stories have substance, her characters have realistic back-stories and motivations, and the absolute best part is her dialogue. If you love the witty banter of Gilmore Girls, you will love Emily Henry novels. Even better, they’re all narrated by Julia Whelan. Book Lovers is my favorite of the bunch, but I enjoy them all.

7. Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

I put off listening to Seven Days in June for so long because I was scared it was going to take a sad, dramatic turn. There’s nothing wrong with a more dramatic book if that’s what you’re looking for, but when I’m promised a romance steeped in Black joy, I want there to be a happy ending—no trauma, no tragedy. And unfortunately, that can be hard to find sometimes. But thankfully, this book did not disappoint! So delightful, so smart, so romantic… in my opinion, the perfect summer read.

8. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

If you’re looking for a novel with more literary depth and weight, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is my favorite book that I’ve read in the past five years. The writing, the character building, the nerdy setting, the narration, the structure of the narrative… everything did it for me. Just be aware that this book is incredibly moving and, like me, you may find yourself listening and suddenly ugly crying as you drive down the freeway. You’ve been forewarned.

9. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Switching gears, let’s dive into fantasy. As a child who grew up devouring Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Lemony Snicket, Philip Pullman, and anything involving a strong heroine with supernatural powers, you can bet I’m all about Fourth Wing. Whenever I start listening to a book and it’s not narrated by Julia Whelan, I get sad, but I have to admit that Rebecca Soler’s voice and performance are perfect for this series. If you’re a fan of Stephanie Garber’s books like Caraval, Soler narrates those as well.

10. Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

I don’t see Iron Widow get talked about enough. Not only is it an excellent debut novel, but the world Zhao builds is also so unique and immersive. She blends Chinese history with mecha science fiction (robots), and the protagonist is an absolute baddie. This book won a GoodReads Choice Award and a Nebula Award, so you know that both readers and critics love it. Now is a good time to get onboard, too, because the sequel finally comes out at the end of this year!

11. The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

If you’re more of a nonfiction reader, The Anthropocene Reviewed is for you. John Green—yes, the same John Green who once wrote YA bestsellers—started writing short essays that review different facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale. He turned those essays into a podcast, then turned that podcast into a book, and then narrated the audiobook. It may sound like a silly concept, but the essays are witty, interesting, and poignant. Be prepared to laugh and cry and feel a deeper connection to our planet and humanity once you’re done with this one. I just love it. Also, refer to his essay Googling Strangers and Kentucky Bluegrass if you ever want to know why I hate grass.

12. Bossypants by Tina Fey

Yes, I was that girl in high school who loved The Office but was also trying to convince everyone that 30 Rock was the superior show. And I think 90% of that was just because I loved Tina Fey and her whacky sense of humor so much. I feel like Bossypants was also a cultural turning point. I remember that after the success of this book, every celebrity—and especially comedians—started penning and narrating their own memoirs. And when you listen to your favorite comedian narrate their own audiobook, it’s like hearing them do standup for hours on end. What’s not to love?

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I hope you find some books you love in here! And please, please, please let me know in the comments if you have more recommendations for me. I’m always on the lookout for my next favorite listen!

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