The Best Audiobooks in Each Major Category

Let’s face it: With the hyperactivity of today’s busy lifestyles, more people have difficulty finding the time to simply read for pleasure. Between work, school and extracurricular activities, the downtime necessary to enjoy a good book has become necessary for completing all those other pressing tasks that fill our daily schedules. But, there is an option for those who want to get more reading done, without trying to find that extra hour in the day: audiobooks (formerly known as books on tape for all you b-boomers out there).

Skip to: Top Rated Books

Or get two free audio books plus an audible free trial through Amazon.

How Audiobooks Work

These are the same books that are in print in a format that is more convenient for many people. After a book is written, the publisher records the book in the same manner that music is recorded, then offers it to the public in several different formats to cover the listener’s chosen means of playback.

Audiobooks are produced in either abridged or unabridged formats. Abridged audiobooks have the story shortened in a manner that leaves out none of the important information but offers all the flavor of the unabridged edition, as in the Reader’s Digest condensed books of years past. Listeners may want to take this into consideration when choosing an audiobook; because these are spoken, the same book that might take a few hours to read or that makes a two-hour movie can take seven hours or more to listen to.

Playback Devices

Audiobooks may be found as CDs, MP3s, or M4Bs, making playback easy. Computers, tablets, MP3 players, and smart phones all offer advantages, with the situation the user is in often being key to which device is best to use at the time.

  • Computers offer the most diversity and storage space for audiobooks, but tie the user to one position while listening and may disturb others in the room if headphones are not used.
  • Tablets offer some flexibility for location, but can be bulky to carry around.
  • Smartphones and MP3 players offer the greatest flexibility in where users can listen, but battery life is an issue; users may not get more than an hour at a time listening before the device needs recharging.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Formats

CDs

  • Audiobooks on CDs offer flexibility, at the cost of physical space.
  • Most cars and computers are equipped with CD players, so users can take their audiobooks from home to their car with little difficulty. Available in cases that copy the printed book’s cover, CDs offer a chance to display the user’s library for others to see. But, they require shelf space for storing. While CDs hold a lot of information, a typical best seller can run five discs or more, depending on the length of the book, taking up as much space on a shelf as a printed copy of the same book.
  • The cost to buy them may also put people off; CDs are more expensive to produce than printed books.>

MP3s

  • MP3s are audio files that are compatible with most portable music players, making them ideal for those who want to listen while away from their car or their home, or for those who want to listen without disturbing others. File sizes vary; a 120 megabyte file is the rough equivalent of a five CD book, about the same space as 30 song files, so space could be a premium.
  • An advantage to MP3s is that users who buy the book in this format may also burn it to CDs, giving them the added protection of physical backup to their purchase, another format to listen on and a physical library of their favorite books.

M4B

  • M4B is a format designed specifically for audiobooks. This format allows users to bookmark where they are in a book, turn off their devices and come back later to the same spot without having to search for it. The problems with this format is that it may not be compatible with every playback device, and the file sizes are too large for users to burn to CDs.

Why AudioBooks?

Audiobooks are what they sound like: books that are listened to rather than read. This offers users advantages over printed books or e-readers.

Who Benefits From Audiobooks

Audiobooks let users get more done while enjoying a great book.

  • Driving to work becomes an opportunity to catch up on the latest best sellers.
  • That workout in the gym or evening run is a chance to revisit a favorite old book.
  • Housework doubles as reading time.
  • Waiting in the doctor’s office becomes an occasion to explore new ideas.
  • Travelers and those who drive long distances for a living will find audiobooks a convenient way to keep entertained while on the move. With hours of material at hand, an audiobook becomes the perfect resource for non-stop listening. Users can catch the latest best seller or learn a new subject while the miles pass by.

Those with physical issues can enjoy great reading with audiobooks.

  • For older people or those with poor eyesight, an audiobook is the perfect way to keep up with the hottest titles without the need for large-print books.
  • Those who have difficulty holding a physical book will also find audiobooks a great way to catch up on their reading, without putting strain on their body.
  • Those who have difficulty reading or just don’t like to read, can get into the debate over whether the book or the movie was better.

Students seeking to keep up, catch up, get ahead have great options with audiobooks.

For students, audiobooks are a great way to:

  • Reinforce classroom lectures.
  • Get that summer reading done.
  • Study for the SAT.

But, the learning does not stop there: With everything available from Machiavelli’s “The Prince” to Stephen Hawking’s “Universe in a Nutshell,” there is an audiobook that will expand the student’s mind, spark interest, and ignite a search for knowledge.

Types of Books Available

With thousands of books available, everyone is sure to find books in their favorite genres, and new books are released every week. Here is just a selection of the thousands of books available for users’ listening pleasure:

Top Rated Books

Top
Pick

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle Audio Book

“The Glass Castle: A Memoir,” Jeannette Walls: Unconditional love and personal determination fill the biography of a woman who went from living as a nomad in the American Southwest to a successful career in New York.

Top
Pick

A House in the Sky

by Amanda Lindhout

A House in the Sky Audio Book Cover

“A House in the Sky,” Amanda Lindhout: The true story of a Canadian woman kidnapped in Somalia and held captive for 460 days.

Comanche Moon

by Larry McMurtry

Comanche Moon Audio Book Cover

“Comanche Moon,” Larry McMurtry: This novel, set in the American West, completes the series begun with “Lonesome Dove”.

Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyrie Audio Book Title

“Jane Eyre,” Charlotte Bronte: Standing the test of time, this book changed how heroines were portrayed in literature.

Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy

by Jostein Gaardner

Sophie's World Audio Book

“Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy,” Jostein Gaardner: A young girl discusses philosophy with a stranger while trying to solve a mystery.

The Elegant Universe

by Brian Greene

The Elegant Universe Audio Book Cover

“Elegant Universe,” Brian Green: The mystery of string theory is made understandable.

No god but God

by Reza Aslan

No god but God Audio Book Cover

“No god but God,” Reza Aslan: This work examines the religion of Islam from inception through its fight to balance the teachings of the quran with modern ideals of human rights.

“Rich Dad Advisors: Start Your Own Corporation

by Garrett Sutton

Start Your Own Corporation Audio Book Cover

“Rich Dad Advisors: Start Your Own Corporation,” Garrett Sutton: Reasons why you should start a corporation to protect your assets and the steps to take to do so.

The Richest Man in Babylon: The Success Secrets of the Ancients

by George Samuel

The Richest Man in Babylon The Success Secrets of the Ancients Audio Book Cover

“The Richest Man in Babylon: The Success Secrets of the Ancients,” George Samuel: Use lessons taught by the ancients to build success in the modern world.

Shelter Mountain

by Robyn Carr

Shelter Mountain Audio Book Cover

“Shelter Mountain,” Robyn Carr: Romance blooms between a Marine veteran and an abused young mother.

Midnight’s Children

by Salman Rushdie

Midnights Children Audio Book Cover

“Midnight’s Children,” Salman Rushdie: A tale of the transition from Colonial British rule to India’s independence.

Wild at Heart

by John Eldredge

Wild at Heart Audio Book Cover

“Wild at Heart,” John Eldredge: This book on Christianity invites men to rediscover their masculinity in God.

New York Times Best Sellers

Last Mile

by David Baldacci

The Last Mile Audio Book Cover

“Last Mile,” David Baldacci: Amos Decker returns to work with a convicted murderer whose life eerily echoes his own.

The Obsession

by Nora Roberts

The Obsession Audio Book Cover

“Obsession,” Nora Roberts: A photographer finds herself facing the sins of her father as she searches for happiness.

Girl on the Train: A Novel

by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on The Train Audio Book Cover

“Girl on the Train: A Novel,” Paula Hawkins: A psychological thriller of what happens when a girl riding a train sees something that changes the lives of everyone.

One with You

Silvia Day

One with You Audio Book Cover

“One With You,” Silvia Day: The final book in the “Crossfire” series that captured the attention of millions.

The Nest

by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeny

The Nest Audio Book Cover

“The Nest” Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeny: A funny look at a dysfunctional family after the death of a parent and the dynamics of how people interact.

Me Before You: A Novel

by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You Audio Book Cover

“Me Before You: A Novel,” Jojo Moyes: This lovely romance brings together two people who have nothing in common, except each other.

Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice

by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice Audio Book Cover

“Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice,” Curtis Sittenfeld: Take a classic story, retell it with a modern setting to get this tale that shows that certain themes are eternal.

Fool Me Once

by Harlan Coben

Fool Me Once Audio Book Cover

“Fool Me Once,” Harlan Coben: A haunting tale of suspense that will make the reader question whether seeing really is believing.

Jewels of the Sun

by Nora Roberts

Jewels of the Sun Audio Book

“Jewels of the Sun,” Nora Roberts: This tale takes the reader to Ireland, a land of myth and legend — and a chance at love.

Dirty: A Dive Bar Novel

by Kylie Scott

Dirty Little Liar Audio Book

“Dirty: A Dive Bar Novel,” Kylie Scott: Finding the groom is cheating on their wedding day leads a young woman to look for a different kind of love.

Best Fiction

Gunslinger

by Stephen King

The Gunslinger Audio Book Cover

“Gunslinger,” Stephen King: The first of the critically acclaimed “Dark Tower” series.

Sharp Objects

by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects Audio Book Cover

“Sharp Objects,” Gillian Flynn: A reporter goes home to cover two murders and ends up facing her own demons.

The Goldfinch: A Novel

by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch Audio Book Cover

“The Goldfinch: A Novel,” Donna Tartt: The Pulitzer Prize winning story of love, loss and the twists of fate.

Invention of Wings: A Novel

by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings Audio Book

“Invention of Wings: A Novel,” Sue Monk Kidd: The author of “The Secret Life of Bees” brings to life the story of two early American women.

Inferno

by Dan Brown

Inferno Audio Book Cover

“Inferno” Dan Brown: Brown’s Robert Langdon returns to Italy to find the secrets hidden in Dante Alighieri’s magnificent poem, “The Inferno.”

The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden Audio Book Cover

“The Secret Garden,” Frances Hodgson Burnett: The classic children’s tale of two cousins who discover hope for the future in a garden locked by its past.

An Echo in the Bone: A Novel

by Diana Gabaldon

An Echo in the Bone Audio Book Cover

“An Echo in the Bone: A Novel,” Diana Gabaldon: The seventh book in the wildly popular “Outlander” saga takes readers back to 1777, where a father and son are on opposite sides of the battle for American Independence.

Now You See Her

by James Patterson

Now You See Her Audio Book Cover

“Now You See Her,” James Patterson: Patterson hits again with a story that brings a woman back to Florida to confront the evil she left behind years before.

East of Eden

by John Steinbeck

“East of Eden,” John Steinbeck: Perhaps Steinbeck’s greatest work; the story of two families, deeply interwoven in a re-enactment of the story of Genesis in the Salinas Valley, California’s own Eden.

The Witching Hour

Anne Rice

The Witching Hour Audio Book Cover

“The Witching Hour,” Anne Rice: A story of the Mayfield witches that travels across the world and through time in a way only Anne Rice can tell.

Best Nonfiction

Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love and Loss

by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

The Rainbow Comes and Goes Audio Book Cover

“Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love and Loss,” Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt: Journalist Anderson Cooper and his mother offer a look into their relationship after her illness.

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time

by Arrianna Huffington

The Sleep Revolution Audio Book Cover

“The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time,” Arrianna Huffington: No; people do not get enough sleep and it affects their entire lives. Here is how to take back those restful hours.

When Breath Becomes Air

by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air Audio Book Cover

“When Breath Becomes Air,” Paul Kalanithi: A neurosurgeon faces terminal cancer and tries to discover what makes life worth living.

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

by Brian Kilmeade

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates Audio Book Cover

“Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates,” Brian Kilmeade: The true story of how the United States, as a new country, stood up to the power of four Muslim countries during the administration of the third President.

Alexander Hamilton

by Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton Audio Book Cover

“Alexander Hamilton,” Ron Chernow: How did an orphan from the Caribbean rise from obscurity to become one of the founding fathers of the United States.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

by Erik Larson

Dead Wake Audio Book Cover

“Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania,” Erik Larson: The sinking of the Lusitania brought the United States into World War I; here is the story of that fateful incident.

The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future

Steve Case

The Third Wave Audio Book Cover

“The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future,” Steve Case: From the man who brought the world AOL comes a prediction of the third wave of online: the Internet of things.

Hamilton: The Revolution

by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter

Hamilton The Revolution Audio Book Cover

“Hamilton: The Revolution,” Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter: How a musical about a Founding Father became a Broadway hit and showed that Americans still love their outsiders.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat Audio Book Cover

“The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics,” Daniel James Brown: The true story of how the sons of common workers in America’s North-West came from nowhere to win the gold medal at the 1936 Olympics.

Lab Girl

Hope Jahren

Lab Girl Audio Book Cover

“Lab Girl,” Hope Jahren: Part botany, part memoir, this book is a journey into the discovery of who someone is meant to be.

Educational Books

30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary: The 500 Words You Need to Know to Transform Your Vocabulary…and Your Life

by Dan Strutzel

Powerful vocabulary Audio Book

“30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary: The 500 Words You Need to Know to Transform Your Vocabulary…and Your Life,” Dan Strutzel: Improving vocabulary raises intelligence, attracts wealth and success, and leads to happiness. Here is how to add new words to your vocabulary over the next 30 days.

Character Building

by Booker T. Washington

Character Building Audio Book

“Character Building,” Booker T. Washington: Timeless advice designed to focus the listener on building up the self while never letting go of personal responsibility toward others.

Immigration Naturalization Test

Deaver Brown

Immigration Naturalization Audio Book

“Immigration Naturalization Test,” Deaver Brown: Teachers will find this book useful in preparing students for the responsibilities of citizenship. For those seeking to attain citizenship, this book covers all the questions examiners ask during the test.

Barron’s EZ101 Study Keys: Psychology

Donald Baucum

Barron's EZ-101 Study Keys Audio Book

“Barron’s EZ101 Study Keys: Psychology,” Donald Baucum: Compatible with standard psychology textbooks, this book offers an overview of the college-level course.

Kant in 90 Minutes

by Paul Strathern

Kant in 90 minutes Audio Book

“Kant in 90 Minutes,” Paul Strathern: Insight into the philosopher who set out to restore metaphysics.

Barron’s EZ101 Study Keys: Biology

Eli C. Minkoff

Barron's EZ-101 Study Keys Biology Audio Book

“Barron’s EZ101 Study Keys: Biology,” Eli C. Minkoff: Another in a line of guides designed to work with standard textbooks. Biology covers topics like genetics, evolution, cells and tissues and more.

The Lord of the Flies

by Maureen Kelly

Lord of The Flies Audio Book

“The Lord of the Flies,” Maureen Kelly: The CliffsNotes study guide helps students who have read the book to expand their comprehension of the subject matter.

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

Mortimer Jerome Adler, Charles Van Doren

How to Read a Book Audio Book Cover

“How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading,” Mortimer Jerome Adler, Charles Van Doren: This book teaches readers to do more than just read at a basic level. Improve comprehension and speed, with different techniques geared toward different types of books.

Our Picks

A House in the Sky

by Amanda Lindhout

A House in the Sky Audio Book Cover

“A House in the Sky,” Amanda Lindhout: The true story of a Canadian woman kidnapped in Somalia and held captive for 460 days.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle Audio Book

“The Glass Castle: A Memoir,” Jeannette Walls: Unconditional love and personal determination fill the biography of a woman who went from living as a nomad in the American Southwest to a successful career in New York.

Speaker for the Dead

by Orson Scott Card

Speaker For The Dead Audio Book

“Speaker for the Dead,” Orson Scott Card: In the second of the Ender series, Card points out that we never know a person until we have heard their full story, the good and bad together.

Black Beauty

by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty Audio Book

“Black Beauty,” Anna Sewell: The classic tale of a horse’s downward spiral from being the epitome of breeding to a broken nag. Anna Sewell used this tale to bring attention to the abuse horses suffered in their daily work.

Katherine: The Classic Love Story of Medieval England

Anya Seton

Katherine Audio Book

“Katherine: The Classic Love Story of Medieval England” Anya Seton: This is the story of how the love affair of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, changed history.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Audio Book

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Douglas Adams: A trip around the galaxy needs the advice of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, that book that eases your way through every situation.

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 Audio Book

“Fahrenheit 451,” Ray Bradbury: The classic tale in which firemen start fires, books are the fuel and only the outcasts question the way things are.

Martin the Warrior

by Brian Jacques

Martin The Warrior Audio Book

“Martin the Warrior,” Brian Jacques: When a mouse with a warrior’s heart decides to be free, not even the most evil stoat can keep him a slave.

Nicomachean Ethics

by Aristotle

Nicomachean Ethics Audio Book

“Nicomachean Ethics,” Aristotle: The student of Plato answers the question of the best way for men to live to attain happiness in this work that is a cornerstone of Western philosophy.

Where to Get Audiobooks

Finding audiobooks is as simple as listening to them; the biggest decision is whether to buy or rent.

  • Buying an audiobook allows the purchaser to listen to it as often as desired. In the case of MP3s, the purchaser can make a CD copy for back up and can listen to it on any playback device, including transferring it from a computer to an MP3 player and back. The purchase is a one-time thing; once done, the purchaser has no need to buy anything else. Audiobooks, like print books, range in price by both format and size, with the average cost being around $20.00, although popular new releases can be much higher.
  • Renting an audiobook requires a subscription service with a company like Audiobooks.com. The advantage to renting is that the user is guaranteed a minimum of one book a month for the subscription fee, depending on the rental agreement, may be able to stream the book instead of downloading it, saving disc space and the cost, compared to buying twelve audiobooks a year, is lower. For those who want more than one book a month, rental companies offer options that may equal to or less than the standard subscription price.
  • Of course, the best price is always free, and there are plenty of places to find free audiobooks. One is the local library. Users should remember that their library will have its own rules about how audio books may be checked out, may require specific devices, may not have a wide variety of titles and may not be as convenient as renting through an online service or buying the book outright.

  • There are also online sites that offer free audiobooks, such as the LibriVox free audiobook Collection. One disadvantage here is that these books are going to be ones that are in the public domain (outside their copyright), and that are read by volunteers. While this is not really a disadvantage to those who are interested in classic literature, listeners who are seeking the latest best sellers will be disappointed to find that those books are not available.

With all the benefits that audiobooks offer, from subject matter to convenience, the chance to increase the amount of reading in a person’s life is endless and can only grow.