Audiobook.com’s Best Audiobooks of 2019

As 2019 wraps up, Audiobooks.com looks back at a wonderful year of exciting releases. From sensational debuts that have launched the careers of budding writers to veterans who have returned with triumphant follow-ups, 2019 in books has captured the love, heartbreak, frustration, and hope that has swept the world. Here are Audiobook.com’s best books of 2019 and staff favorites.

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M Y S T E R Y
& T H R I L L E R

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H O R R O R

N O N – F I C T I O N

B I O G R A P H Y
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H E A L T H
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H I S T O R Y

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Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad, narrated by Euan Morton

Bangkok Wakes to Rain is an elegy for what time erases and a love song to all that persists, yearning, into the unknowable future.

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The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware, narrated by Imogen Church

A simple nannying job that Rowan Caine takes up turns into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and her in prison awaiting trial for murder.

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Eve of Man by Tom Fletcher and Giovanna Fletcher, narrated by Josh Dylan and Charlotte Ritchie

As the only girl born in fifty years, Eve is sheltered away until she is ready to meet the world. Then, she meets Bram, and everything changes.

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Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton, narrated by Stig Wemyss

A story of brotherhood, true love, family, and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe is the tale of an adolescent boy on the cusp of discovering the man he will be.

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Normal People by Sally Rooney, narrated by Aoife Mcmahon

Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation, something life-changing begins.

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Me: Elton John Official Autobiography by Elton John, narrated by Elton John and Taron Egerton

In his first and only official autobiography, music icon Elton John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life, from his rollercoaster lifestyle to becoming a living legend.

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Life Will Be the Death of Me: . . . and you too! by Chelsea Handler, narrated by Chelsea Handler

Thrillingly honest, insightful, and deeply, darkly funny, Chelsea Handler’s memoir keeps readers laughing, even as it inspires us to look within and ask ourselves what really matters in our own lives.

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The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher, narrated by Hillary Huber

The Blair Witch Project meets The Andy Griffith Show in T. Kingfisher’s latest listen. When a young woman clears out her deceased grandmother’s home in rural North Carolina, she finds long-hidden secrets about a strange colony of beings.

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Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow, narrated by Ronan Farrow

In this instant New York Times bestselling account of violence and espionage, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ronan Farrow exposes serial abusers and a cabal of powerful interests hell-bent on covering up the truth, at any cost.

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Recursion by Blake Crouch, narrated by Abby Craden and Jon Lindstrom

At first, it looks like a disease. An epidemic that spreads through no known means, driving its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. But, as Detective Barry Sutton and neuroscientist Helena Smith will discover, what’s in jeopardy is not our minds but the very fabric of time itself.

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The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, narrated by Tom Hanks

From the bestselling author of Commonwealth and Bel Canto comes a richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go.

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Dark Age by Pierce Brown, narrated by a full cast

For a decade Darrow led a revolution against the corrupt color-coded Society. Now, outlawed by the very Republic he founded, he wages a rogue war on Mercury in hopes that he can still salvage the dream of Eo.

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Staff Pick: Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad

Post by Bora Pleasance

Title: Bangkok Wakes to Rain
Author: Pitchaya Sudbanthad
Narrator: Euan Morton

Through following the threads of different lives, Pitchaya Sudbanthad creates a tapestry of Bangkok — past, current, and potential future.

Although there is a narrative, it is secondary — an undulating foundation for the emotional and sensory story Sudbanthad was weaving of a city on which you can feel his complex yet complete love. The characters are a sample of diversity, both human and animal. Their only commonality is the city — whether they inhabit it, mourn it, choose it, or choose to keep it at a distance. Through them, you get to feel its pulse. You see its borders shift, its mentality divide. You see its history embed itself into reluctant inhabitants, you see it slip slowly into its next chapter. You feel the pain of loss, not of a person but of a place, because we all have a Bangkok somewhere.

The novel feels like looking at someone else’s photo album. You see snapshots of people you don’t know, of places you have never been, yet somehow it is familiar. This loose form allows Sudbandthad to cover a breadth of topics not normally found in one novel. It’s hard to put it into a genre. Science fiction, socio-political commentary, family drama, romance, poetry? It’s a bit of everything. Yet, somehow, it doesn’t read like a series of short stories. Whether it’s his consistent writing style or the varying connections between the characters or the constant theme of Bangkok, the audiobook feels very much like one (albeit incomplete) story.

One of the central pillars of the audiobook is a building — one that connects many of the characters and gives a visual metaphor for Bangkok that is easier to conceptualize than a sprawling metropolis. However, in order to fully appreciate the novel, you have to be willing to let go of the concrete and take the leaps Sudbandthad puts in your way. The further you get, the more you feel the historical energy of Bangkok itself, one of spirits and fevers and emotion over logic. Facts are exchanged for hints, answers for questions, and dangling threads are left as rags. There is no satisfying ending because cities rarely have endings. Instead, they are reinvented again and again by its inhabitants and its ghosts.

Euan Morton brings the flavor of Thai to his narration, seamlessly putting on an accent where needed without distracting the listener. His tone and depth capture the shifting moods and show respect for the characters and culture to which he is giving a voice. In Bangkok Wakes to Rain, we walk through this city, meeting people for brief moments and never seeing them again, we watch them impact each other in ways we will never know, we wonder about ghosts that might not exist. If that makes you uncomfortable, so will this audiobook. But if that makes you want to dive in and explore, you will have plenty to discover.


Publisher Summary:

A missionary doctor pines for his native New England even as he succumbs to the vibrant chaos of nineteenth-century Siam. A post-World War II society woman marries, mothers, and holds court, little suspecting her solitary fate. A jazz pianist in the age of rock, haunted by his own ghosts, is summoned to appease the house’s resident spirits. In the present, a young woman tries to outpace the long shadow of her political past. And in a New Krungthep yet to come, savvy teenagers row tourists past landmarks of the drowned old city they themselves do not remember.

Time collapses as these lives collide and converge, linked by the forces voraciously making and remaking the amphibious, ever-morphing capital itself. Bangkok Wakes to Rain is an elegy for what time erases and a love song to all that persists, yearning, into the unknowable future.

Read more and sample the audio →

New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection when you sign up for our one-month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!

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