The 8 Best Audiobooks
These fantastic books are even better when you listen to them
In the land of the literary, fancy digital devices get a bit of a bad rap. But while we appreciate that there’s nothing like hunkering down with a fresh-smelling library book, we’ve got commutes, workouts and a whole pile of dishes in the sink. Enter the audiobook: letting us keep up with our to-do lists and our reading lists at the same time. Plus, with the right person reading (we’re looking at you, Meryl Streep), some can be--gasp--even better than the written version. Here are eight of our favorites.
“Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari (read by Aziz Ansari)
For his first book, the stand-up comic and Parks & Rec alum teamed up with an NYU sociologist to explain the crazy world of dating in the digital age. Ansari is so funny that we’d pretty much listen to him read the phone book, but we also got into the content of this data-driven look at modern social interaction.
“The Testament of Mary” by Colm Toibin (read by Meryl Streep)
We’ve long considered Meryl Streep a kind of deity, and here she proves us right, giving voice to Jesus’ mother in Tóibín’s haunting novella about the Virgin Mary. We get that the subject matter might be a bit austere for some, but it’s worth a little perseverance. Streep’s performance is exquisite--and short, clocking in at just three hours and seven minutes!
“Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris (read by David Sedaris)
Before we read our way through the full Sedaris oeuvre, we fell in love with the nasal, neurotic storyteller on his frequent contributions to This American Life. Listening to him read this--our favorite of his essay collections--is like going back to those days.
“Go the F--- to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach (read by Samuel L. Jackson)
If you’re a parent, you already know and love this hilarious take on bedtime. But no one’s quite qualified to whip those tiny little dictators into shape like Samuel L. Jackson. (You remember Pulp Fiction, no?)
“Bossypants” by Tina Fey (read by Tina Fey)
OK, we’re sure you get the message by now. Funny books by funny people are better when those funny people read themaloud. Tina Fey is kind of the gold standard here. Caution:You will laugh out loud, so if you’re listening in public, get ready for some skeptical side-eye.
“Just Kids” by Patti Smith (read by Patti Smith)
Listening to Patti Smith read her memoir feels like having a drink with an old friend--that is, if your friend had the best, craziest stories about the New York punk-rock scene. This book is great no matter how you ingest it, but there’s something about Smith’s grainy, smoky voice that makes the audio version feel all the more intimate.
“Slouching Towards Bethlehem” by Joan Didion (read by Diane Keaton)
How is it that it took a humble audiobook to combine the cosmic forces that are Diane Keaton and Joan Didion? We don’t know, and we don’t care. We’ll happily sit back and let the aura of strong, fearless, generally kick-ass womanhood wash over us.
“The Middlesteins” by Jami Attenberg (read by Molly Ringwald)
Attenberg’s novel is full of warmth and honesty--just like we remember our favorite '80s-movie heroine. Fiction can be hard to follow in audio form, but Ringwald’s charming delivery makes this one a pleasure.