The Best Audiobooks of 2018

As 2018 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, 2018 in books has captured the love, heartbreak, frustration, and hope that has swept the world. Here are Audiobook.com’s best books of 2018 and personal staff favorites.

FICTION

NON-FICTION

BIO & MEMOIR

MYSTERY & THRILLER

ROMANCE

POLITICS

SELF-HELP

TRUE CRIME

HORROR

SCIENCE FICTION

FANTASY

HISTORY

SCIENCE & TECH

YOUNG ADULT

KIDS

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle, narrated by Eric Idle

From the ingenious comic performer, founding member of Monty Python, and creator of Spamalot, comes an absurdly funny memoir of unparalleled wit and heartfelt candor.

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Educated by Tara Westover, narrated by Julia Whelan

Heartbreaking and moving, Educated is about Tara Westover’s quest for knowledge that transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents. Only when she had traveled too far would she wonder if there was still a way home.

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Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, narrated by Barbara Kingsolver

Brilliantly executed and compulsively listenable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts.

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Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc. by Jeff Tweedy, narrated by Jeff Tweedy

The singer, guitarist, and songwriter, best known for his work with Wilco, opens up about his past, his songs, the music, and the people that have inspired him.

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware, narrated by Imogen Church

When Hal Westaway is mistakenly bequeathed a substantial inheritance, she plots to claim the money for herself only to realize there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

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The Book of M by Peng Shepherd, narrated by Emily Woo ZellerJames Fouhey

Reminiscent of The Passage and Station Eleven, this haunting, thought-provoking, and beautiful novel explores fundamental questions of memory, connection, and what it means to be human in a world turned upside down.

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, narrated by Gillian FlynnGabra ZackmanPatton Oswalt

An atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind.

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You Are a Badass Every Day: How to Keep Your Motivation Strong, Your Vibe High, and Your Quest for Transformation Unstoppable by Jen Sincero, narrated by Jen Sincero

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes bite-sized inspiration and guidance to keep your transformation on track.

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The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: A Oral History by Megan MullallyNick Offerman, narrated by Nick OffermanMegan Mullally

Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman reveal the full story behind their epic romance—presented in a series of hilarious intimate conversations between the couple.

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Enchantments: A Modern Witch’s Guide to Self-Possession by Mya Spalter, narrated by Mya Spalter

A wise, witty, and welcoming guide to modern witchcraft and magic and how you can use it to positively affect your life, from healing herbs to casting love spells.

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7 Audiobooks That Are More Naughty Than Nice

Turn up the heat this winter with erotic audiobooks that guarantee a spicy holiday season.

 

1. Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas by Katie Ruggle, narrated by Vanessa Daniels

Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas.

When firefighter and single dad Steve Springfield moved his kids to a Christmas tree ranch, he intended it to be a safe haven. He never expected danger to follow, or that he would come face-to-face with the one girl he could never forget. It doesn’t take long before she’s in danger of falling for him. But as fires break out across the sleepy Colorado town, they will have to fight if they want their happy family to survive.
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2. A Highlander’s Christmas Kiss by Paula Quinn, narrated by Carrington MacDuffie and Paula Quinn

A Highlander's Christmas Kiss.

Christmas may be coming to Linavar, but Temperance Menzie is far from joyful. Grief stricken over the death of her father, she almost didn’t see the wounded stranger in the woods. And now she’s determined to give this brooding Highlander the help she couldn’t give her father. But there’s a secret lurking in the depths of his blue-gray eyes. And Temperance won’t rest until she uncovers it.
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3. Their Christmas Bride by Vanessa Vale, narrated by Kylie Stewart

Their Christmas Bride.

Allison Travers is in love with two men. Quinn and Porter are both irresistible, and choosing seems impossible. But she fears she’ll lose the chance to decide when a malicious man seeks to force her into marriage with him by spreading rumors.Quinn and Porter aren’t about to buy the lies. They love Allison, and what’s more, they both want to marry her and make her their Christmas bride.
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4. Submitting for Christmas by Em Brown, narrated by Em Brown

Submitting for Christmas.

The Marquess of Alastair has doubled the dowry he is providing Miss Abbott. The sooner she’s married, the sooner she’s out of his care — and his fantasies. All she wants is an encore of her night where Alastair once fulfilled her most wicked desires. When just such an opportunity unexpectedly arises, Alastair concedes to her proposition on one condition: that she never again return.
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5. Christmas with the Marine & Her Naughty Holiday by Candace Havens, narrated by Alexander Cendese and Gabrielle Cendese

Christmas with the Marine & Her Naughty Holiday.

Guys are the last thing on personal shopper Ainsley Garrett’s list. But her icy resolution melts when she sees an incredibly hot Marine toy shopping. A hot man in uniform with a heart of gold? Maybe she can believe in Santa after all… When it comes to Ashley, Major Ben Hawthorne is willing to break his own rules, at least for one night — provided they can get this insanely wicked attraction out of their systems.
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6. Saint Nick’s Naughty Helper by Jeffrey D. Peterson, narrated by Jeffrey D. Peterson and Ali Peterson

Saint Nick's Naughty Helper.

A hot and explicit Christmas Comedy featuring a brave romantic with a warm fire and a hot man on her mind. Carol is alone at Christmas time, and determined not to be. When she lays eyes on a dreamboat named Nick the sparks fly and she’s in over her head… right where she wants to be.
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7. The Christmas Present – A Collection of Four Festive Erotic Stories by Miranda Forbes, narrated by Trixi Godwin

The Christmas Present.

A Good Little Girl: Kay’s girlfriend gets a new job and becomes a sexy Santa.
The Perfect Meal: Emily rushes out to find the perfect pudding and finds the perfect man instead.
Payment In Kind: Kate’s work flirtation goes from innocent to white hot.
The Scent of Pine: Having the in-laws stay puts a damper on Julie and Robert’s sex life, but abstinence has its rewards after Christmas.
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Holiday page to screen

Get even more into the spirit by listening to these classic holiday books that have been turned into classic holiday movies.

1. The Polar Express by Theodor Seuss GeiselRob KapilowChris Van Allsburg, narrated by Nathan GunnIsabel LeonardOlivia LombardiThe Metamorphosis Chamber Orchestra, and The Polar Express Children’s Choir

The Polar Express.

On Christmas Eve, a young boy climbs aboard a magic train filled with other children being treated to goodies while en route to the North Pole, where Santa is to offer the very first Christmas gift to one lucky passenger. This magical Christmas story is one of self-discovery that shows listeners that the wonders of life never fades for those who believe.
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2. How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, narrated by Walter Matthau

How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

The Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, hates Who-ville’s holiday celebrations, and plans to steal all the presents to prevent Christmas from coming. To his amazement, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch discovers the true meaning of the holiday.
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3. The Greatest Gift (film adaptation: It’s A Wonderful Life) by Philip Van Doren Stern, narrated by Edward Herrmann

The Greatest Gift.

Unable at first to find a publisher for his tale of a man named George who ponders suicide until he receives an opportunity to see what the world would be like without him, Stern originally published the story in a small pamphlet and sent it out as his Christmas card for 1943. One of those copies found its way into the hands of a producer, and the film that has become a cherished holiday tradition for many was born.
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4. A Christmas Carol (film adaptation: Scrooge) by Charles Dickens, narrated by Paul Scofield

A Christmas Carol.

“Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding,” says Scrooge. Mean old Scrooge despises Christmas… until Christmas Eve, when a haunted voice from the past changes his life overnight.
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5. A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd, narrated by Dick Cavett

A Christmas Story.

Ralphie Parker is in for a disappointing Christmas: he discovers his decoder ring is really an Ovaltine promotion; his parents battle over a lascivious leg lamp; the savagery of bullies is ripe; and, most crucially, Ralphie’s campaign to get a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle results in the adult world saying, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”
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6. Skipping Christmas (film adaptation: Christmas With The Kranks) by John Grisham, narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris

Skipping Christmas.

Luther and Nora Krank decide to skip Christmas this year. Theirs will be the only house without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. Instead, they’re going on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings consequences.
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7. The Bishop’s Wife by Robert Nathan, narrated by Stephen R. Thorne

The Bishop's Wife.

Bishop Henry Brougham wants to build a new cathedral, but doesn’t know how he’ll find an archdeacon to help fund it. But that’s not his only problem. Him and his wife, Julia, are in a passionless marriage. When the bishop prays for help, it comes in the form of Michael, who takes the position of archdeacon. With the holidays approaching, the bishop senses the attraction between Julia and Michael.
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8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, narrated by Barbara Caruso

Little Women.

Lovely Meg, talented Jo, frail Beth, spoiled Amy: these are hard lessons of poverty and of growing up in New England during the Civil War. Through their dreams, plays, pranks, letters, illnesses, and courtships, women of all ages have become a part of this remarkable family and have felt the deep sadness when Meg leaves the circle of sisters to be married.
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9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert L. May, narrated by Stephen R. Thorne

Rudolph.

Rudolph, loveable and generous, humble and good, embodies the spirit of Christmas, and reminds us of the magical possibilities that exist within us all. In the companion story, “Rudolph Shines Again,” Rudolph loses his light and is certain he is of no use to Santa now; he decides to go far away, where no one knows how bright his nose used to be. But on his journey, something magical happens.
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November’s Top 10 Audiobooks.com Member Downloads

Listen to last month’s roundup of the top fiction and non-fiction titles downloaded by Audiobooks.com members.

 

Fiction

1. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, narrated by Caroline Lee

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. They know they would have to put in some hard work, but it’s not long before every guest begins to question the pristine facade of Tranquillum House and its strange and charismatic owner.
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2. Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly, narrated by Titus Welliver and Christine Lakin

Harry Bosch teams up with LAPD detective Renée Ballard to solve the case of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally killed. Along the way, the two detectives forge a fragile trust, but this new partnership is put to the test when the case takes an unexpected and dangerous turn.
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3. Past Tense: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child, narrated by Scott Brick

Two Canadians trying to get to New York City are stranded at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. Before long they’re trapped in an ominous game of life and death. Meanwhile, Jack Reacher decides to visit the town where his father was born, only to be told no one named Reacher ever lived there. As these two stories begin to entwine, the stakes rise to impossible heights for Reacher.
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4. Fire & Blood 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones (A Targaryen History) by George R. R. Martin, narrated by Simon Vance

Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire & Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.
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5. Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci, narrated by Kyf Brewer and Brittany Pressley

Ever since her twin sister was abducted by a notorious serial killer at age five, Atlee Pine has spent her life hunting down those who hurt others. When she is called in to investigate the mutilated carcass of a mule found in the Grand Canyon and its missing rider, Atlee believes it may just be the key to unraveling a rash of other similar missing persons cases in the canyon.
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Non-Fiction

1. Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by Michelle Obama

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

2. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown, narrated by Brené Brown

When we dare to lead, we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when it’s necessary to do good work. In Dare to LeadBrown shows us how to put those ideas into practice so we can step up and lead.
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3. Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History by Bill O’reillyMartin Dugard, narrated by Bill O’reilly

Killing the SS is the epic saga of the self-styled ‘Nazi hunters.’ Among them were a French husband and wife team, an American lawyer who served in the army on D-Day, a German prosecutor who had signed an oath to the Nazi Party, and a death camp survivor. Over decades, these men and women scoured the world, tracking down the SS fugitives and bringing them to justice.
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4. How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie, narrated by Andrew Macmillan

You can go after the job you want…and get it! You can take the job you have…and improve it! You can take any situation you’re in…and make it work for you! For over 60 years the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this audiobook has carried thousands of now-famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.
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5. Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me by Charlamagne Tha God, narrated by Charlamagne Tha God

Being “shook” is more than a rap lyric for Charlamagne, it’s his mission to overcome. While it may seem like he’s ahead of the game, he is actually plagued by anxieties, such as the fear of losing his roots, the fear of being a bad dad, and the fear of being a terrible husband. Shook One chronicles his journey to beat those fears and shows a path that you too can take to overcome the anxieties that may be holding you back.
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BACKLIST BUMP: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Title: Beartown
Author: Fredrik Backman
Narrator: Marin Ireland

Nestled deep within a lush Swedish forest lies a small town experiencing what feels like an inevitable death. The factory workers who founded the town once had big dreams of Beartown becoming a hockey haven, and with it, an abundance of jobs and a booming economy. But the costs that accompany those dreams are higher than anyone could have anticipated.

The junior ice hockey team is gearing up for the national semi-finals — and they actually have a shot at winning. In one fell swoop, the future of a dying town lies on the shoulders of teenage boys, and in the same breath, threatens to unravel the secrets, violence, and callousness of those we thought we knew, and who we wanted them to be.

Within the first few chapters, Fredrik Backman joined the ranks of being one of my favorite authors. So rarely do I find a book as beautiful as it is devastating, so powerful that I never want it to end, yet so damn satisfied when it does.

Backman’s ability to bring to light the small details about each character, even those in the shadows, allowed me to resonate with the entire town — those who went against the grain, those who created the trauma that ripples throughout, those whose shoes I never hope to be in. In Beartown, no one is unaffected. Everyone’s vulnerability is uncovered, and no small character truly exists in this story.

“small towns need a head start if they’re going to have any chance in the world… people are standing in silent lines with their eyes half opened and their minds half closed, waiting for their electronic punch cards to verify their existence… if they keep quiet, they can hear it in the distance: bang. bang. bang. bang. bang.”

Marin Ireland does a fabulous job of narrating the story in an appropriately moody tone. Her ability to bring out the emotions of the characters transported me into their town, their lives, their dreams, and their demons.

 

Beartown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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STAFF PICK: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Title: Broken Things
Author: Lauren Oliver
Narrators: Sarah DrewSaskia Maarleveld, and Erin Spencer

Five years ago, when Summer Marks was found stabbed to death in a ritualistic killing, suspicion immediately fell on her two best friends, Mia and Brynn, who had described the exact crime in a co-written sequel to a book all three girls were obsessed with, The Way into Lovelorn. Although there wasn’t enough evidence to convict, the town nevertheless pointed fingers at Mia and Brynn, who consequently became ostracized from the community.

In the aftermath, Mia transferred to another school in hopes of outrunning her classmates’ vicious remarks, while Brynn deliberately prolonged her stint in rehab to avoid rejoining society. However, when Mia makes a strange discovery about Summer, she resurrects the mystery of Summer’s death and begins her hunt for answers alongside Brynn, Owen Waldmann—an old friend and Summer’s then-boyfriend, and Abby—a teenage YouTube sensation whose need for homeschooling brought her and Mia together.

Lauren Oliver unfolds her story through alternating chapters from Mia and Brynn’s perspectives that shuffle between ‘then’ and ‘now.’ Slowly, snippets from the past coalesce with the present narrative to form a story of two young girls brought together by the enigmatic Summer Marks, who had always seemed undeniably perfect to Mia and Brynn—until they begin to examine her life in retrospect.

The characters leap off the page with excellent narration from Sarah Drew, Saskia Maarleveld, and Erin Spencer, whose passionate performances kept me captivated and utterly unable to press pause.

Shortly after the novel opens, Mia and Brynn’s hometown, Twin Lakes—a name that conjures the shadowy, atmospheric intensity of Twin Peaks—is ravaged by a hurricane. As the girls meet for the first time since Summer’s murder—in a community on the precipice of chaos and recovery, no less—old wounds and dark memories are dredged up. Before they can begin to heal and stitch their lives back together, Mia and Brynn must unravel the mysterious circumstances of Summer’s murder so they can close this chapter of their lives and clear their names.

The heart of the mystery revolves around fictional author Georgia C. Wells’ The Way into Lovelorn, which inexplicably ends mid-sentence, and its unofficial sequel Return to Lovelorn, which spawned from the girls’ obsession with the original text. In excerpts peppered between chapters, The Way into Lovelorn and Return to Lovelorn unfold like Narnia-esque tales with a sinister undercurrent. As Wells’ fiction creeps into reality, gripping the minds of three young, impressionable girls, I can’t help but recall the Slender Man stabbing in 2014 wherein two girls lured their friend into the woods and stabbed her to impress the fictional Slender Man.

The mystery will keep you hooked, but Broken Things is much more than that. It’s about the complexities of friendship, the meaningful bonds stories can forge, and how long and complicated the road to healing can be. Broken Things is an unmissable entry from one of today’s most prolific voices.

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