20 best audiobooks of all time to add to your reading list

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best audiobooks of all time

Whether I’m listening to gripping audiobooks, relaxing audiobooks, or anything in-between, I love having a good audiobook on the go.

I’ve shared some of my favourites before, but I also wanted to bring the best audiobooks of all time together for a bucket list of five-star listens.

Some of these you’ll be able to find for free on Libby if you have a local library card, otherwise they’re all on Audible. (You can also enjoy a 30-day free trial of Audible Plus here).

Read on for my collection of bestselling and top-rated audiobooks to add to your to-listen list, featuring the best audiobook narrators, production, and stories…

The best audiobooks of all time that everyone should listen to

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Listen to Unbroken for… a moving testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit that’s just as compelling as the cinematic adaptation. (4.9 stars on Audible)

In this gripping non-fiction book, Laura Hillenbrand shares the story of Louis Zamperini, a delinquent who channeled his defiance into running and discovered a talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics.

But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, leading him to a doomed flight in 1943, the limits of human endurance, and hope in the face of unimaginable suffering.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Listen to The Hobbit for… the classic story of heading out on an adventure and not quite knowing what you’ll find. (4.9 stars on Audible)

The Hobbit is one of the best-narrated audiobooks of all time, read by Andy Serkis who’s best known for his performance of Sméagol / Gollum in the bestselling screen adaptation.

In the audiobook, Andy Serkis narrates an incredible 132 characters, which he described as “one of the most draining and mentally exhausting” roles he’s ever played.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Listen to Project Hail Mary for… 16 hours of non-stop action in outer space, as read by five-star narrator Ray Porter. (4.8 stars on Audible)

In one of the best audiobooks of all time (and a gripping audiobook for road trips), Ryland Grace, the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission to save both humanity and the earth, is left to complete the mission alone.

Just like Andy Weir’s previous bestseller, The Martian, this is a fantastically well-researched, nerdy, and often laugh-out-loud treat for your ears.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Listen to Pride and Prejudice for… a real comfort read that’s one of the best classic books ever written for a reason. Love stories don’t get more timeless than this. (4.8 stars on Audible + included for free in Audible Plus)

With captivating narration from Rosamund Pike, retreat into the pages of this classic feel-good book for the first time or the fiftieth time and let it warm your heart.

Endurance by Alfred Lansing

Listen to Endurance for… one of the greatest adventure stories ever written, about the harrowing and miraculous voyage that has defined heroism for the modern age. (4.9 stars on Audible)

This New York Times bestseller is the unbelievable tale of explorer Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole in a near-impossible journey. It’s an incredible story – and one of the best books to enjoy as an audiobook.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Listen to A Game of Thrones for… George R. R. Martin’s immensely popular fantasy series that’s perfect to listen to as an audiobook, especially here as narrated by veteran British actor Roy Dotrice. (4.7 stars on Audible)

You’ve probably watched the show, or at least heard of it. But have you read A Game of Thrones? Immerse yourself in the gripping story of the battle for the Iron Throne through brutal seasons, cultures that are oceans apart, and reigning families at odds.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Listen to Atomic Habits for… one of the most inspiring books you can read about changing habits and making life changes. (4.8 stars on Audible)

If you haven’t read Atomic Habits yet, the audiobook is the perfect way to let it inspire big changes in your life. Give it a listen and learn from James Clear how to introduce failproof systems that will transform your habits.

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Listen to The Parable of the Sower for… an influential modern classic that’s perfect to read next if you loved The Handmaid’s Tale. (4.6 stars on Audible)

Octavia E. Butler wrote about race and gender at a time when science fiction was almost exclusively the domain of men. She also crafted a world that’s eerily similar to our own.

In this influential modern classic, the badass protagonist is a teenager who spends most of the story disguised as a man while the world around her crumbles.

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry

Listen to Mythos for… a perfect imagining of the Greek myths for the modern age in all their rich, timeless, and human relevance. (4.8 stars on Audible)

When discussing the best audiobook narrators of all time, you have to mention Stephen Fry. Mythos is one of his most iconic performances, sharing his own work with wonderful narration. (I especially love this book as a bedtime audiobook.)

This is a world of magic, mayhem, monsters, and maniacal gods, delivered in a vivid retelling to immerse yourself in.

Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

Listen to Can’t Hurt Me for… one of the most motivating self-improvement books you can read when you want to change your life. (4.9 stars on Audible)

If you’re stuck in a rut and want a jump start, listen to David Goggins. His first book, Can’t Hurt Me, is a great book that will motivate you to make big changes in your life. It won’t be gentle and there will be cursing, but it’ll get you moving.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes by Stephen Fry

Listen to Sherlock Holmes for… a whopping 72 hours of audio in just one audiobook, offering Stephen Fry’s iconic narration of Conan Doyle’s classic detective stories. (4.8 stars on Audible + included for free in Audible Plus)

This Audible edition won the AudioFile Earphones Award with this glowing comment: “Fry’s Holmes is crisp and high-handed, his Watson enthusiastic and bemused, and the rest of the narration colorful without being mannered. Have fun.”

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Listen to The Kite Runner for… one of the best novels of the twenty-first century – and absolutely one of the most emotional. (4.7 stars on Audible)

This bestseller and top audiobook is Khaled Hosseini’s story of Amir, a young boy from Kabul, and his relationship with his friend and servant, Hassan, against the backdrop of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Listen to Hamnet for… one of the best historical fiction books of the last few years, featuring an incredible retelling of the loss of Shakespeare’s only son by one of the finest writers today. (4.7 stars on Audible)

In this magnificent story of love, loss, and two extraordinary people, Maggie O’Farrell masterfully reimagines the story of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

Still Life by Sarah Winman

Listen to Still Life for… an intoxicating, sun-kissed, and eccentric story of love, hope, and new beginnings in Florence. (4.7 stars on Audible)

Sarah Winman’s Still Life is a real delight to listen to as an audiobook for summer (or any time you crave sunshine).

In 1944, sheltering from the war in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, a young British soldier and a 64-year-old art historian living life on her terms share an extraordinary evening that will change everything.

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Listen to Daisy Jones and the Six for… a full-cast production of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s bestselling novel that will grab your attention from the beginning. (4.6 stars on Audible)

Daisy Jones and the Six is the closest a book can get to a music documentary you can’t stop watching, sharing the story of one fictional band’s legendary rise and fall, friendship and rivalry, ambition and heartbreak.

With incredible production, the story is told by the intertwining voices of the band’s members in this gripping audiobook.

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

Listen to The Sandman for… one of the very best books on Audible for 2023. It’s dark, literary, and absolutely not for children or if you’re easily offended. (4.7 stars on Audible)

Hailed “the greatest epic in the history of comic books”, The Sandman original comic by Neil Gaiman and DC Comics introduced a wonderfully unique, dark world of fantasy and horror.

Now you can listen to the first-ever audio protection of the series, written and co-produced by Neil Gaiman. As you listen, you’ll get to enjoy an all-star cast including James McAvoy, Michael Sheen, and Andy Serkis.

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson

Listen to The Body for… an audiobook that will have you marvelling at the form you occupy and celebrating the genius of your existence, described by The Guardian as “a directory of wonders”. (4.7 stars on Audible)

In a collection of the best audiobooks ever, how could I not mention Bill Bryson? The Body is one of Bryson’s best books, as well as an especially wonderful audiobook to listen to before sleep: let the interesting tidbits wash over to you as you drift off to peaceful slumber.

Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes

Listen to Unmasked for… a non-fiction bestseller from 2022 that’s darker and more gripping than any true crime movie or podcast. (4.7 stars on Audible)

In this author-narrated 9-hour audiobook you won’t be able to stop listening to, Paul Holes wants to tell you about a lifetime of solving cold cases.

With dark suspense and twists and turns, Paul shares a first-person account of solving some of America’s most perplexing cases, and asks himself: at what cost?

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham

Listen to Midnight in Chernobyl for… an unputdownable audiobook that shares the real story of the 1986 nuclear accident through the eyes of the men and women who saw it firsthand. (4.8 stars on Audible)

From the beginning, what happened at Chernobyl was clouded by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation. However, Adam Higginbotham’s impeccable research changes that.

Here in one of the best non-fiction books of all time, Higginbotham weaves a story that reads like a script for a movie and is perfect to enjoy as an audiobook. (Afterwards, I’d also highly recommend the fantastic HBO TV adaptation.)

For more of the best audiobooks on Audible or wherever you find your books, you might also like my collections of…

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