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Tune Out the Noise with These 6 Must-Listen Audiobooks

by  | April 7
Woman laying on bed listening to headphones

There’s nothing like a good audiobook to transport you to another world, whether you are cleaning your room, working out, or, my new favorite activity during shelter-at-home, lying on your bed and staring at the ceiling. The right blend of story and performance can add layers to an already great text, helping readers (or should I say listeners?) better engage with the book or providing them with a whole new perspective. So whether you’re a die-hard audiobook fan or just sick of listening to the same playlist for the 100th time, here are six incredible listens you should tune in to.

Fight of the Century

Fight of the Century

by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman

On January 19, 1920, a small group of idealists and visionaries, such as Helen Keller and Jane Addams, founded the American Civil Liberties Union. For 100 years, the organization has been fighting for the rights of Americans, taking on important legal battles. This book collects essays about the landmark cases of the last century, including Brown v. Board of EducationRoe v. Wade, and Miranda v. Arizona, from the perspectives of a number of famous writers. So why listen to it as well as read it? Well, Fight of the Century is narrated by an equally impressive cast. Matt Bomer, John Cho, Neil Gaiman, Samuel L. Jackson, Lucy Liu, Alison Pill, Billy Porter, Zachary Quinto, Tony Shalhoub, and Sir Patrick Stewart are some of the stars who lend their voices to reading the essays. Enjoy the dulcet tones of these seasoned performers while appreciating the history of one of the most influential legal groups of the last century.

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The Only Plane in the Sky

The Only Plane in the Sky

by Garrett M. Graff

Audiobooks amplify their written counterparts by lending a voice to the words on the page. What The Only Plane in the Sky does is lend voices to the transcripts, interviews, and other documents from the 500 government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The 2020 Audie Award Audiobook of the Year winner, this audiobook collects the stories—ones of hope, loss, and sacrifice—of an extraordinary moment in history, in the voices of the people who lived through it. It provides a unique and in-depth perspective on one of the darkest days in the 21st century, and one that will completely draw you in from the start.

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Idiot

Idiot

by Laura Clery

Have you ever called a friend just to hear them talk? Some people have the gift of gab and can make even the dullest conversations or topics interesting by their mix of wit and charm. Laura Clery is one of those people, and she brings that talent to the audiobook version of her recent book, Idiot. And believe me when I say the book itself is a wild ride. In her collection of autobiographical essays, Clery recounts how she went from (in her words) a "dangerously impulsive, broke, unemployable, suicidal, cocaine-addicted narcissist" to a social media success story who specializes in quirky, fun content. So tune out the world and let Clery, in hilarious detail, take you through her life story. You’ll feel like you're sitting down to have coffee with a friend.

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milk and honey

milk and honey

by Rupi Kaur

No modern poet is as beloved and revered as Rupi Kaur. Even if you've never heard her name, you've definitely seen her short verses floating around on Instagram, and for good reason. Her work connects with people no matter where they're from or what they’ve experienced, with elegant and concise turns of phrase. So fans will be happy to hear that one of Kaur's most popular collections, Milk and Honey, is available as an audiobook, and that the poet reads her own work. Listening to a poet recite their own verses helps the listener better connect with the poems' intended cadence and flow, not to mention that Kaur's performance is soothing and powerful.

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Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

by George Saunders

If you’ve never heard of the bardo, it’s a Tibetan concept of a transitional state of existence after death but before the next life. When Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie dies in 1862, the president, in despair, ends up in this spiritual in-between, grappling with a world beyond the war, or so imagines author George Saunders. While in the bardo, Lincoln encounters various ghosts who gripe, mourn, and fight among each other, with Willie’s spirit trapped in there as well due to his father’s overwhelming grief. Winner of both the 2017 Man Booker Prize and the Audie Awards’ 2018 Audiobook of the Year, Lincoln in the Bardo boasts some fantastic audio talent. And by some, I mean a lot—the audiobook features 166 people in its cast. Actors such as Nick Offerman, Lena Dunham, Bradley Whitford, Susan Sarandon, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Megan Mullally, and Kat Dennings lend their voices to the various characters. And at under eight hours in length, you’ll be able to power through this engaging and fully produced tale in the same amount of time you’d likely spend bingeing a Netflix documentary series.

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Moon Over Soho

Moon Over Soho

by Ben Aaronovitch

The Rivers of London series is beloved by fantasy fans for lots of different reasons—great characters, urban fantasy setting, witty and fun dialogue—but fans of its audiobooks additionally love the series for the fantastic production values of each book. Every book in the series is read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, a master of accent and tone, lending the audiobooks consistency and keeping listeners coming back for more. But the productions also have fun touches depending on their subject murder…I mean matter. Moon Over Soho, which is the second book in the series and features a death in a jazz club, includes jazz music as part of the production, a touch appreciated by critics and fans alike. If you’re looking for a fantastical escape, take an audio trip to London and tag along with Constable Peter Grant—your ears (and mind) will thank you for the experience.

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com