Readers list 10 favorite audiobooks

These all look like great options.

The top audiobooks of the last year, according to our readers

By Stephanie MerryApril 4, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. EDT

Last month, the Audio Publishers Association announced the best audiobooks of 2020 during its virtual Audie Awards ceremony. The 25 winners included “Piranesi,” written by Susanna Clarke and narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, which won Audiobook of the Year, and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told to Alex Haley,” narrated by Laurence Fishburne, which took home the prize for autobiography or memoir.

The best audiobooks of the year

We wondered how those accolades aligned with our own readers’ preferences, so we polled our Book Club newsletter subscribers about their favorite audiobooks of the past year. Here are their top 10 picks, in alphabetical order.

“Anxious People,” by Fredrik Backman, narrated by Marin Ireland

This funny, poignant novel, by the author of “A Man Called Ove,” takes advantage of Ireland’s impeccable comic timing with the story of a bank robber who accidentally takes a group of wacky people hostage during an apartment open house.

“Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” by Isabel Wilkerson, narrated by Robin Miles

Wilkerson, a Pulitzer winner and author of “The Warmth of Other Suns,” had an instant bestseller with this detailed examination that compares America’s racial hierarchy to the rigid caste systems in India and Nazi Germany.

‘I can write the words. He supplies the melody’: The harmonious bond between authors and audiobook narrators

“Deacon King Kong,” by James McBride, narrated by Dominic Hoffman

The popularity of McBride’s novel was assured with the one-two punch of an Oprah Book Club pick and a spot on Barack Obama’s list of favorite 2020 books. (“Caste,” incidentally, got the same treatment.) The book is set in a New York housing project during the 1960s, where an elderly man jump-starts the plot by shooting a drug kingpin.

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(Random House Audio)

“Hamnet,” by Maggie O’Farrell, narrated by Ell Potter

By far the most popular pick from our readers was this historical novel about the death of Shakespeare’s only son. The novel, which was one of The Post’s 10 best books of 2020, recently won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

“The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue,” by V.E. Schwab, narrated by Julia Whelan

Whelan — a fan favorite who won an Audie in 2019 for her narration of Tara Westover’s “Educated” — brings her talent to Schwab’s story of a woman who makes a deal with the devil in the 1700s to avoid getting married and winds up, centuries later, questioning that decision.

Yes, audiobooks are books. But too many voices can muddle the experience.

“Klara and the Sun,” by Kazuo Ishiguro, narrated by Sura Siu

While this is a 2021 release — so not eligible for an Audie Award until next year — we had to include it because of the large number of recommendations. The new novel by Ishiguro, a Nobel Prize winner, concerns a robot who begins caring for a sickly girl.

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(Penguin Audio)

“Memorial Drive,” written and narrated by Natasha Trethewey

Authors don’t always excel at narrating their own books, but no one could have done justice to Trethewey’s affecting memoir about her mother’s murder other than the former poet laureate herself.AD

“The Midnight Library,” by Matt Haig, narrated by Carey Mulligan

Mulligan is up for an Academy Award for “Promising Young Woman,” but she’s already a winner with our readers, who enjoyed her rendition of Haig’s novel about a woman who attempts suicide and finds herself able to relive different versions of her life had she made other choices.

15 feel-good books guaranteed to lift your spirits

“The Only Good Indians,” by Stephen Graham Jones, narrated by Shaun Taylor-Corbett

Part horror novel, part social commentary, Jones’s book follows a group of Native American friends haunted — literally — by killing a pregnant elk years earlier.

“Tokyo Ueno Station,” by Yu Miri, narrated by Johnny Heller

The winner of the 2020 National Book Award for translated literature is a ghost story, of sorts, about a dead man haunting a railway station and looking back at his tortured life.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that Isabel Wilkerson narrated “Caste.” Robin Miles is the narrator.

Stephanie Merry is editor of Book World.

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