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.

F I C T I O N

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

R O M A N C E

F A N T A S Y

S C I E N C E
F I C T I O N

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
& M E M O I R

H E A L T H
& W E L L N E S S

H I S T O R Y

S C I E N C E
& T E C H

P O L I T I C S

T E E N
F I C T I O N

T E E N
F A N T A S Y

J U V E N I L E

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: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Title: On the Come Up
Author: Angie Thomas
Narrator: Bahni Turpin 

Two years ago, when I was attending a publishing program in New York City with a big group of book-minded people, one debut had made a particularly big splash. Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give dominated conversations amongst professors and classmates alike; I simply couldn’t escape the hype around it. However, it wasn’t until my roommate left several teary Snapchat messages to me a year later praising the book to the heavens that I finally picked it up. Needless to say, I am fully on the Angie Thomas bandwagon now.

The Hate U Give was such an emotional and eye-opening book for me—and many, many others I’m sure—that it almost seems unfair that On the Come Up would have to live in the shadow of Thomas’s phenomenal debut. But, no matter how high expectations were for her follow up novel, Thomas has shattered them again. On the Come Up absolutely stands on its own, and it is already making huge ripples with Fox—the studio that brought The Hate U Give to the big screen—picking up the film rights.

On the Come Up begins after the events of The Hate U Give, with Garden Heights still reeling in the aftermath of protests and riots. Sixteen-year-old Brianna “Bri” Jackson yearns to be a rapper. She breathes flow and rhymes and dreams about her chance to break out when she should be focusing on ACT prep. Bri has lived a life marred by violence and struggles: her father, the legendary underground rapper Lawless, was murdered when she was a child; her mother, who battled addiction and has been eight years clean, just lost her job; and her brother, Trey, can only find menial work at a pizza shop despite graduating from college with honors.

Rapping for Bri is not just an avenue for honest expression, but also a way to lift her family out of poverty. When she is inspired to pen a bitter song after a particularly violent and targeted incident with a security guard at her school, Bri thinks her time in the spotlight has finally come—and it has, but not in the way she expected.

On the Come Up highlights the difficulty and frustrations of speaking the truth, your truth, in a world full of people who are bent on policing your speech. As Bri’s song goes viral, her words are twisted and used as evidence that she really is an aggressive hoodlum—an image that many around her want her to adopt.

This is a book that demands not just to be read, but also to be heard. Narrator Bahni Turpin returns with the same power and passion that she brought to The Hate U Give. Bri’s lyrics, which are already compelling on the page, are simply brought to life with Turpin’s performance. I can almost see myself standing in the garage-turned-recording studio, watching Bri speak her truths into the mic.

Thomas, who herself was a teen rapper, wrote the book for “black girls who are often made to feel as if they are somehow both too much and not enough in a world that makes wrongheaded assumptions about them.” It’s frankly remarkable that a novel so heavily entrenched in the issue of systemic racism can also be lighthearted and, at times, surprisingly funny. So, plug in your headphones, and treat yourself to a compelling, fun, and earnest story of a girl who finally gets to step into the spotlight.

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.

But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons. 

Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.  

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