Today I’m happy to share the top 10 audiobooks I listened to this year! In a year where reading was incredibly difficult, audiobooks were one of the only ways I was able to read! Without further ado (in no particular order) here are my 10 favorites of the year!
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Summary: Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret.
When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
Thoughts: This had been long on my TBR, as I love Jane Austen and Captain Wentworth has long been my favorite Austen man. I picked up the audiobook as my Valentine’s Day read, and this one delivered a comforting HEA I was desperately in need of. The longing portrayed in this one was beautiful and frustrating, and the narrator was perfect for this title. Hopefully she does more Austen titles, because this one was a perfect experience.
Readalikes: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman
Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
Summary: Hazel knows a lot about the world. That’s because when she’s not hanging with her best friend or helping her two moms care for the goats on their farm, she loves reading through dusty encyclopedias.
But even Hazel doesn’t have answers for the questions awaiting her as she enters eighth grade. How can she make friends in a new school where no one seems to understand her? What’s going to happen to one of her moms who’s pregnant again after having two miscarriages? Why does everything have to change when life was already perfectly fine?
As Hazel struggles to cope, she’ll come to realize that sometimes you have to look within yourself—instead of the pages of a book—to find the answers to life’s most important questions.
Thoughts: I picked this one up for the Ace Race readathon in October, and honestly it was a true delight. I saw a lot of myself in Hazel- not just an aspec identity, but also a middle schooler trying desperately to discover themselves and adjust in a fast-paced, ever-changing world. Truly this book was gift to read, and the audiobook narrator was divine.
Readalikes: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake, Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart, Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Summary: In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka’s teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett’s family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett’s life. His father is a mystery — Jarrett doesn’t know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents — two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.
Jarrett goes through his childhood trying to make his non-normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through drawing even as so little is being said to him about what’s going on. Only as a teenager can Jarrett begin to piece together the truth of his family, reckoning with his mother and tracking down his father.
Hey, Kiddo is a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive.
Thoughts: Hey, Kiddo is the first graphic novel to win the Odyssey Award, which honors the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States. I was curious how a graphic novel could translate into an audiobook, so I decided to give it a try! It was an incredible full cast audio, and so deserving of the award. The people in the book reminded me of my family, so listening in made me feel like I was home. I grabbed the book afterwards to look at the art, and despite the dark topic I was surprised by the dark color palette. I’m happy I started with audio because if I had started with the physical book, I may not have enjoyed it as much.
Readalikes: Free Lunch by Rex Ogle, Stitches by David Small, Blankets by Craig Thompson
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
Summary: Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream.
There are some differences. This America been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day.
Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect facade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family.
Thoughts: Ace and indigenous MC? Yeah, I had to get my hands on this one immediately after it released. I’m not normally a fantasy person but the world that Darcie Little Badger created in Elatsoe is lush, detailed, and also realistic, and I love the genre-bending achieved in this one. Truly a masterpiece, and an excellent audiobook!
Readalikes: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi, A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow, How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Summary: For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship.
In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.
Thoughts: I checked this out on Hoopla on a whim on a day off, as my supervisor at work had just read it and could not stop singing its praises. What resulted was a non-stop listen-a-thon, as I could NOT put this one down. As someone who has endured gaslighting, verbal and emotional abuse, and assault in past relationships, I identified so much with Carmen’s story and experiences. This book is difficult at times, obviously, but is so needed and the way in which Carmen unfolds the story is unique, lyrical, and downright brilliant- she even reads it herself in this audiobook, which makes it feel like a more intimate conversation. This needs to be on your TBR friends.
Readalikes: Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Díaz, How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeannette Winterson
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
Summary: In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.
At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.
On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.
But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.
Thoughts: A girl obsessed with soccer? Sign me the heck up! I checked this one out also on a whim from Hoopla and wow- it packed a real punch. I easily fell in love with Camila, stepped as best I could in her shoes to experience her world. This one is also difficult to process, as there are topics of poverty and abuse, but it is a beautiful story of a young woman finding her voice and her place in this world, and doing what she loves in the process. The narrator had a beautiful way of reading the story that transported me there, and I’d love to hear more read by her!
Readalikes: Color Me In by Natasha Diaz, Exposure by Mal Peet, Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz
Summary: Isabel has one rule: no dating. It’s easier—It’s safer—It’s better—
—for the other person.
She’s got issues. She’s got secrets. She’s got rheumatoid arthritis.
But then she meets another sick kid. He’s got a chronic illness Isabel’s never heard of, something she can’t even pronounce. He understands what it means to be sick. He understands her more than her healthy friends. He understands her more than her own father who’s a doctor. He’s gorgeous, fun, and foul-mouthed. And totally into her.
Isabel has one rule: no dating. It’s complicated—It’s dangerous—It’s never felt better—
—to consider breaking that rule for him.
Thoughts: Hallie (@bookloaner) raved about this one at the end of the year last year so once I saw it was available as an eAudiobook, I had to check it out from my library. The tagline really is what sold it for me- they don’t die in this one! This love story was sweet, realistic, and heart-wrenching- this is what actual teens experience, and it was so lovely to see on the page without making one of them die or miraculously get cured. Truly this one, in my opinion, has not been appreciated fully both on Bookstagram and by librarians alike so I hope this convinces more people to pick it up!
Readalikes: Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali, Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, It’s My Life by Stacie Ramey
We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Summary: Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña have no false illusions about the town they’ve grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Though their families–both biological and found–create a warm community for them, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the three teens know they have no choice but to run: for the border, for the hope of freedom, and for their very lives.
Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico with their eyes on the U.S. border, they follow the route of La Bestia, a system of trains that promise the hope of freedom–if they are lucky enough to survive the harrowing journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and the desperation that courses through their very veins, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know that there’s no turning back, dangerous though the road ahead might be.
Thoughts: I’m not going to lie to you, this is a difficult read. Not because it’s poorly-written; no, in fact it is beautifully penned. But the experiences that these characters, and many other teens like them, go through are visceral and painful. I had to stop the audio to cry, to digest, and to gain a greater understanding of their journey- and I think that’s exactly what is needed for this one. It is a masterpiece that I think should be read by all.
Readalikes: Beast Rider by Tony Johnston, We Are Here to Stay by Susan Kuklin, American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Summary: Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.
When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.
But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.
In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.
Thoughts: I was skeptical about this retelling after the disaster that was Pride & Prejudice & Mistletoe in December, but I really ended up enjoying it. I feel it really captured the essence of Pride and Prejudice, but also modernized it in a way that is relatable to teens today. I listened to it on audio, and it’s narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo (can she pls narrate my life?) so it’s absolutely beautiful! Overall, it was good (but not great).
Readalikes: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Summary: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
Thoughts: I selected this book for a monthly reading challenge my library is doing, and I utterly consumed it. It was a lovely audiobook, and the writing was just gorgeous. I didn’t love the ending- to me, it felt abrupt and truly I was sad it ended at all- but overall, I loved this title and the words and the characters are going to be with me for some time.
Readalikes: Lovely War by Julie Berry, Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit, Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
What audiobooks made you wish the listening would never have to end this year? Share them in the comments below!
Tomorrow I hope to share my top 10 LGBTQIAP+ books, so until next time…