The leaves are turning, all things pumpkin spice are back at Starbucks, and with that ushers in the most bountiful harvest yet of the year: fall’s biggest audiobooks.
From triumphant returns from Pulitzer Prize-winning authors to an almost overwhelming number of big-name memoirs, this season’s audiobooks will have you curled up in your blanket for weeks. No matter what you’re in the mood for, there’s something here for everyone. Read on for our 45 most anticipated audiobooks of fall 2021.
For even more audiobooks you won’t want to miss, check out our full Most Anticipated Upcoming Audiobooks book list.
Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they worry about sex and friendship and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another riveting work of psychological suspense about a beautiful young couple’s disappearance on a gorgeous summer night, and the mother who will never give up trying to find them…
From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys comes a gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns, and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s. Harlem Shuffle’s ingenious story plays out in a beautifully recreated New York City of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem.
From the outside, the Delaneys appear to be an enviably contented family. Even after all these years, former tennis coaches Joy and Stan are still winning tournaments, and now they’ve sold the family business they have all the time in the world to learn how to ‘relax’. But now Joy Delaney has disappeared and her four adult children are re-examining their parents’ marriage and their family history with fresh, frightened eyes.
Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke, narrated by Tarana Burke (September 14)
From the founder and activist behind one of the largest movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the ‘me too’ movement, Tarana Burke debuts a powerful memoir about her own journey to saying those two simple yet infinitely powerful words—me too—and how she brought empathy back to an entire generation in one of the largest cultural events in American history.
This brand-new unabridged audiobook of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first part of J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic adventure, The Lord of the Rings, is read by the BAFTA award-winning actor, director and author, Andy Serkis.
When Tribal Police Chief Lolo Long’s niece Jaya begins receiving death threats, she calls on Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire along with Henry Standing Bear as lethal backup. Jaya “Longbow” Long is the athletic phenom of the Lame Deer Lady Stars high school basketball team and is following in the steps of her older sister, who had disappeared a year previously, a victim of the plague of missing Native women in Indian Country. Lolo hopes that having Longmire involved will draw some public attention to the girl’s plight, a maneuver that also inadvertently places the good sheriff in a one-on-one clash with the deadliest adversary he has ever faced in both this world and the next.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.
Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.
But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.
Theo Byrne is a promising young astrobiologist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old. His son, Robin, is funny, loving, and filled with plans. He thinks and feels deeply, adores animals, and can spend hours painting elaborate pictures. He is also on the verge of being expelled from third grade for smashing his friend’s face with a metal thermos.
Set in Constantinople in the fifteenth century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now, Anthony Doerr’s gorgeous third novel is a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring story about children on the cusp of adulthood in worlds in peril, who find resilience, hope—and a book. In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Doerr has created a magnificent tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us, and with those who will be here after we’re gone.
In a boarded-up house on a dead-end street at the edge of the wild Washington woods lives a family of three.
A teenage girl who isn’t allowed outside, not after last time.
A man who drinks alone in front of his TV, trying to ignore the gaps in his memory.
And a house cat who loves napping and reading the Bible.
An unspeakable secret binds them together, but when a new neighbor moves in next door, what is buried out among the birch trees may come back to haunt them all.
Pioneering psychologist William James leads an expedition to a remote isle in search of answers after a family inexplicably vanishes. Was the cause rooted in the physical world . . . or were there forces more paranormal and sinister at work? Available only on audio, because as Larson says, ghost stories are best told aloud. Created specifically to entertain audio listeners, this eerie blend of the ghostly and the real will keep listeners captivated till the blood-chilling end.
Someone is telling the story of the life of Charlie Barnes, and it doesn’t appear to be going well. Too often divorced, discontent with life’s compromises and in a house he hates, this lifelong schemer and eternal romantic would like out of his present circumstances and into the American dream. But when the twin calamities of the Great Recession and a cancer scare come along to compound his troubles, his dreams dwindle further, and an infinite past full of forking paths quickly tapers to a black dot.
Our beloved school does its best to devour all its students—but now that I’ve reached my senior year and have actually won myself a handful of allies, it’s suddenly developed a very particular craving for me. And even if I somehow make it through the endless waves of maleficaria that it keeps throwing at me in between grueling homework assignments, I haven’t any idea how my allies and I are going to make it through the graduation hall alive.
Unless, of course, I finally accept my foretold destiny of dark sorcery and destruction. That would certainly let me sail straight out of here. The course of wisdom, surely.
1996 was the year that changed everything for Maggie Dawes. Sent away at sixteen to live with an aunt she barely knew in Ocracoke, a remote village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, she could think only of the friends and family she left behind . . . until she met Bryce Trickett, one of the few teenagers on the island. Handsome, genuine, and newly admitted to West Point, Bryce showed her how much there was to love about the wind-swept beach town—and introduced her to photography, a passion that would define the rest of her life.
Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes: Essays by Phoebe Robinson, narrated by Phoebe Robinson (September 28)
In her brand-new collection, Phoebe shares stories that will make you laugh, but also plenty that will hit you in the heart, inspire a little bit of rage, and maybe a lot of action. That means sharing her perspective on performative allyship, white guilt, and what happens when white people take up space in cultural movements; exploring what it’s like to be a woman who doesn’t want kids living in a society where motherhood is the crowning achievement of a straight, cis woman’s life; and how the dire state of mental health in America means that taking care of one’s mental health—aka “self-care”—usually requires disposable money.
The Man Who Died Twice: A Thursday Murder Club Mystery by Richard Osman, narrator to be announced (September 28)
Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim—the Thursday Murder Club—are still riding high off their recent real-life murder case and are looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet at Cooper’s Chase, their posh retirement village.
But they are out of luck.
An unexpected visitor—an old pal of Elizabeth’s (or perhaps more than just a pal?)—arrives, desperate for her help. He has been accused of stealing diamonds worth millions from the wrong men and he’s seriously on the lam.
The Owens family has been cursed in matters of love for over three hundred years but all of that is about to change. The novel begins in a library, the best place for a story to be conjured, when beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the deathwatch beetle and knows she has only seven days to live. Jet is not the only one in danger—the curse is already at work.
In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction—to the City of New York.
Leaving behind her husband and their baby daughter, a writer gets on a flight for a speaking engagement in Reno, not carrying much besides a breast pump and a spiraling case of postpartum depression. Her temporary escape from domestic duties and an opportunity to reconnect with old friends mutates into an extended romp away from the confines of marriage and motherhood, and a seemingly bottomless descent into the past.
So, I’ve written a book.
Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities (‘It’s a piece of cake! Just do 4 hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!’) I have decided to tell these stories just as I have always done, in my own voice. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I’ve recorded and can’t wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child.
Stanley Tucci grew up in an Italian American family that spent every night around the kitchen table. He shared the magic of those meals with us in The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table, and now he takes us beyond the savory recipes and into the compelling stories behind them.
Taste is a reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about his growing up in Westchester, New York; preparing for and shooting the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia; falling in love over dinner; and teaming up with his wife to create meals for a multitude of children. Each morsel of this gastronomic journey through good times and bad, five-star meals and burned dishes, is as heartfelt and delicious as the last.
If it’s navel-gazing you’re after, you’ve come to the wrong place; ditto treacly self-examination. Rather, David Sedaris’s observations turn outward: a fight between two men on a bus, a fight between two men on the street, pedestrians being whacked over the head or gathering to watch as a man considers leaping to his death. There’s a dirty joke shared at a book signing, then a dirtier one told at a dinner party—lots of jokes here. Plenty of laughs.
On April 27, 1997, four contestants make it to the final cell of the Quigley House, a full-contact haunted escape room in Lincoln, Nebraska, made famous for its monstrosities, booby-traps, and ghoulishly costumed actors. If the group can endure these horrors without shouting the safe word, “reprieve,” they’ll win a substantial cash prize—a startling feat accomplished only by one other group in the house’s long history. But before they can complete the challenge, a man breaks into the cell and kills one of the contestants.
In the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, there is old magic to be found in the whisper of the wind, the roots of the trees, the curl of the grass. King Cador knew this once, but now the land has turned from him, calling instead to his three children. Riva can cure others, but can’t seem to heal her own deep scars. Keyne battles to be accepted for who he truly is—the king’s son. And Sinne dreams of seeing the world, of finding adventure.
State of Terror follows a novice Secretary of State who has joined the administration of her rival, a president inaugurated after four years of American leadership that shrank from the world stage. A series of terrorist attacks throws the global order into disarray, and the secretary is tasked with assembling a team to unravel the deadly conspiracy, a scheme carefully designed to take advantage of an American government dangerously out of touch and out of power in the places where it counts the most.
Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the city for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian’s evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish émigré living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian’s family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise.
A humorous and rousing set of literal and figurative sojourns as well as a mission statement about comprehending, protecting, and truly experiencing the outdoors, fueled by three journeys undertaken by actor, humorist, and New York Times bestselling author Nick Offerman.
Before Billy Porter was slaying red carpets and giving an iconic performance in the celebrated TV show Pose; before he was the Tony-award winning star of Broadway’s Kinky Boots; and before he was an acclaimed recording artist, actor, playwright, and all-around diva, Porter was a young boy who didn’t fit in. At five years old he was sent to therapy to fix his effeminacy. He was endlessly bullied at school, sexually abused by his stepfather, and came of age in a world where simply being himself was a constant struggle. Unprotected is the story of a singular artist in his own word.
Lucy Barton is a writer, but her ex-husband, William, remains a hard man to read. William, she confesses, has always been a mystery to me. Another mystery is why the two have remained connected after all these years. They just are.
So Lucy is both surprised and not surprised when William asks her to join him on a trip to investigate a recently uncovered family secret—one of those secrets that rearrange everything we think we know about the people closest to us.
In The Whistler, Lacy Stoltz investigated a corrupt judge who was taking millions in bribes from a crime syndicate. She put the criminals away, but only after being attacked and nearly killed. Three years later, and approaching forty, she is tired of her work for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct and ready for a change.
Then she meets a mysterious woman who is so frightened she uses a number of aliases. Jeri Crosby’s father was murdered twenty years earlier in a case that remains unsolved and that has grown stone cold. But Jeri has a suspect whom she has become obsessed with and has stalked for two decades. Along the way, she has discovered other victims.
Reacher goes where he wants, when he wants. That morning he was heading west, walking under the merciless desert sun—until he comes upon a curious scene. A Jeep has crashed into the only tree for miles around. A woman is slumped over the wheel.
Dead? No, nothing is what it seems.
Once an intimate of Mao Zedong and the nation’s most celebrated poet, Ai Weiwei’s father, Ai Qing, was branded a rightist during the Cultural Revolution, and he and his family were banished to a desolate place known as “Little Siberia,” where Ai Qing was sentenced to hard labor cleaning public toilets. Ai Weiwei recounts his childhood in exile, and his difficult decision to leave his family to study art in America, where he befriended Allen Ginsberg and was inspired by Andy Warhol. With candor and wit, he details his return to China and his rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar and international human rights activist—and how his work has been shaped by living under a totalitarian regime.
It’s March 2020 and a calamity is unfolding. A group of friends and friends-of-friends gathers in a country house to wait out the pandemic. Over the next six months, new friendships and romances will take hold, while old betrayals will emerge, forcing each character to reevaluate whom they love and what matters most.
Mitch Albom has written of heaven in the celebrated number one bestsellers The Five People You Meet in Heaven and The First Phone Call from Heaven. Now, for the first time in his fiction, he ponders what we would do if, after crying out for divine help, God actually appeared before us? What might the Lord look, sound and act like.
Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive by Philipp Dettmer, narrated by Steve Taylor (November 2)
Second only to the human brain in its complexity, your immune system is one of the oldest and most critical facets of life on Earth. Without it, you would die within days. In Immune, Philipp Dettmer, the brains behind the most popular science channel on YouTube, takes readers on a journey through the fortress of the human body and its defenses. There is a constant battle of staggering scale raging within us, full of stories of invasion, strategy, defeat, and noble self-sacrifice. In fact, in the time you’ve been reading this, your immune system has probably identified and eradicated a cancer cell that started to grow in your body.
Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer by Rax King, narrated by Rax King (November 2)
Tacky is about the power of pop culture—like any art—to imprint itself on our lives and shape our experiences, no matter one’s commitment to ‘good’ taste. These fourteen essays are a nostalgia-soaked antidote to the millennial generation’s obsession with irony, putting the aesthetics we hate to love—snakeskin pants, Sex and the City, Cheesecake Factory’s gargantuan menu—into kinder and sharper perspective.
Emily Ratajkowski is an acclaimed model and actress, an engaged political progressive, a formidable entrepreneur, a global social media phenomenon, and now, a writer. Rocketing to world fame at age twenty-one, Ratajkowski sparked both praise and furor with the provocative display of her body as an unapologetic statement of feminist empowerment. The subsequent evolution in her thinking about our culture’s commodification of women is the subject of this book.
Never is an extraordinary novel, full of heroines and villains, false prophets and elite warriors, jaded politicians and opportunistic revolutionaries. It brims with cautionary wisdom for our times, and a delivers a visceral, heart-pounding read that transports readers to the brink of the unimaginable.
Louise Erdrich’s latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading ‘with murderous attention,’ must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.
One of the most dynamic and globally recognized entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, in a brave and inspiring book that traces his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had.
A literary alchemist, Ann Patchett plumbs the depths of her experiences to create gold: engaging and moving pieces that are both self-portrait and landscape, each vibrant with emotion and rich in insight. Turning her writer’s eye on her own experiences, she transforms the private into the universal, providing us all a way to look at our own worlds anew, and reminds how fleeting and enigmatic life can be.
Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall were torn apart by the Jacobite Rising in 1746, and it took them twenty years to find each other again. Now the American Revolution threatens to do the same. It is 1779 and Claire and Jamie are at last reunited with their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children on Fraser’s Ridge. Having the family together is a dream the Frasers had thought impossible. Yet even in the North Carolina backcountry, the effects of war are being felt. Tensions in the Colonies are great and local feelings run hot enough to boil Hell’s teakettle. Jamie knows loyalties among his tenants are split and it won’t be long until the war is on his doorstep.
Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown, narrated by Brené Brown (November 30)
In Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown takes us on a journey through eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. As she maps the necessary skills and an actionable framework for meaningful connection, she gives us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances—a universe where we can share and steward the stories of our bravest and most heartbreaking moments with one another in a way that builds connection.
Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s an associate specialist at Sotheby’s now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.
But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind
Looking for Book Recommendations?
• Looking to share your love of books? Our handy Book Clubbin’ questions make it super easy to start a book club. Or, Netflix n’ buddy-read with this year’s book-to-screen adaptations (just be prepared for the perennial debate: is the book better than the movie/show?).
• If you’re looking for something extra, we’ve got author and narrator interviews to give you a gleam inside their worlds.
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