The best books to listen to on audio

Listening to a book read aloud can bring the story to life in a whole new way. Here’s our edit of the best audiobooks.

20/05/2020

'Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.'  – Francis Bacon

If he’d been living in the era of the audiobook, Francis Bacon may also have said some books are to be listened to. Often you may not have time to sit down with a book, sometimes you don’t want to carry a weighty tome around with you, and sometimes a good narrator can bring a book on audio to life in a special way. Here’s our edit of the best audiobooks. 

 

Crime and thriller audiobooks

A Nearly Normal Family

by M. T. Edvardsson

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A Nearly Normal Family is the must-read thriller that everyone is talking about this summer. Told from three different perspectives – father, mother and daughter – this psychological thriller asks: ‘what would you do if your child was suspected of murder?’ The three sections of the audiobook are read by different narrators – Richard Armitage, who has starred in Hannibal, The Hobbit and Spooks, award-winning actress Emily Watson and Georgia Maguire – bringing to life each character’s story.

 

Part One: The Father

Part Two: The Daughter

Part Three: The Mother

Read an extract from A Nearly Normal Family.

 

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Redemption

by David Baldacci

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Redemption is the fifth book in David Baldacci’s Amos Decker series, and sees the memory man returning to his hometown to commemorate the birthday of his daughter Molly, who was brutally murdered along with his wife and brother-in-law. While in town, he is tracked down by Meryl Hawkins, the first man he ever arrested for homicide more than twelve years ago. Meryl has always maintained his innocence, so could Decker have made a fatal mistake? The novel sees Amos reunited with his former partner Mary Lancaster, a partnership that is thrillingly brought to life in the audiobook by narrators Kyf Brewer and Orlagh Cassidy.

 

Read an extract from Redemption.

Discover all of David Baldacci's books in order.

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Science fiction and fantasy audiobooks

Salvation Lost

by Peter F. Hamilton

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Salvation Lost is the second book in Peter F. Hamilton’s bestselling science fiction series, The Salvation Sequence. The comparatively utopian world of 23rd century Earth is about to change forever, as the alien race the Olyix, previously thought to be benign, plan to harvest humanity as an offering to their god at the end of the universe. With almost no time to fight back, some want to flee, but others refuse to back down. John Lee’s reading vividly brings the Salvation Sequence universe to life.

 

Here, Peter F. Hamilton introduces The Salvation Sequence

 

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The Unspoken Name

by A. K. Larkwood

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The first book in The Serpent Gates series, The Unspoken Name is an epic coming-of-age tale that follows Csorwe, who, on her fourteenth birthday will be sacrificed by the death cult who raised her. Offered a chance to escape her fate by a sorcerer who wants her as his assistant, sword-hand and assassin, Csorwe spends years living on a knife-edge until she is forced to confront her past . . . Let narrator Avita Jay transport you to a world of magic and danger.

 

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Historical fiction audiobooks

Only Time Will Tell

by Jeffrey Archer

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In this thrilling episodic saga of love, loss, betrayal and ambition, you will be taken on an exhilarating journey from the back alleys of Bristol to the teeming streets of New York City and the gulags of Stalinist Russia. Its memorable cast of characters has captured the imaginations of readers across the globe. The audiobook is read by Emilia Fox, star of Silent Witness, and Roger Allam.

 

Discover all the books in Jeffrey Archer's Clifton Chronicles series here.

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Dissolution

by C. J. Sansom

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Dissolution is the first in the phenomenal Shardlake series, and features mystery, murder and political wrangling all set against the backdrop of the glamorous Tudor court. Immerse yourself in Tudor Britain with the audiobook read by award-winning narrator Steven Crossley.

 

Discover all the books in the Shardlake series here.

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Literary fiction audiobooks

Burial Rites

by Hannah Kent

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Burial Rites is one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever done,’ says Picador's Audio Publishing Director Rebecca Lloyd. It's incredibly atmospheric and reader Morven Christie completely inhabits the character of Agnes Magnusdottir. For a novel which is so much about storytelling, audiobook has to be the best way to experience this heartbreaking true story of a woman accused of murdering her lover and condemned to die.

 

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Patrick Melrose Volume 1

by Edward St Aubyn

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Alex Jennings, who starred as Prince Charles in the film The Queen, reads Edward St Aubyn's dark and ironic novels with a pitch-perfect tone. In this extract from the first book, Never Mind, he describes Patrick Melrose's father, David, callously drowning some ants with a hose, and perfectly captures the cruelty of literature's nastiest father.

 

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Autobiography audiobooks

Gotta Get Theroux This

by Louis Theroux

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This funny and heartfelt account of Louis Theroux’s life and weird times in TV is a must-read for any fans of the acclaimed documentary maker, and the audiobook is read by the mn himself. Filled with wry observations and self-deprecating humour, this is Louis at his best. If you need another incentive the audiobook edition contains an exclusive additional chapter.

 

Watch us put Louis to the test in our ‘Did I really say that?’ quiz. 

Don’t miss Louis Theroux’s top five documentaries.

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Yes Please

by Amy Poehler

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Read by the Parks and Recreation star herself, the audiobook of Yes Please has guest appearances from Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner and many others who stroll into the studio. Listening to the audiobook is like hanging out at your hilarious best friend's house and Poehler's wisdom is delivered brilliantly. 

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