Books are pure magic: they transport us to other lands, help us learn about the world and ourselves, teach us new skills, and give us an escape from daily life. And thanks to audiobooks, we don't even have to stop what we're doing to enjoy them. You can visit Narnia while washing the dishes, or laugh at a comedian's childhood stories while riding your bike to work.
No matter what you're doing, you can find a listen of any length to go along with it. Long audiobooks are great when you have a long commute or a lazy day around the house, but there's something to be said for short audiobooks too. Audiobooks under five hours are perfect if you're in the mood to listen to a whole book in one sitting, or if you're trying to meet a listening goal and need shorter run times. With this handy list, you already have a head start on finding the best short audiobooks under five hours.
Best Fiction Audiobooks Under Five Hours 0 The Great Gatsby
Let's start off with a classic. Even after 100 years, listeners can't seem to get enough of
The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald's tale of love and decadence during the Roaring Twenties. Nick Carraway is the narrator of the novel, sharing stories about all he sees in West Egg, including the lavish parties thrown by his millionaire neighbor, Jay Gatsby, and Gatsby's love for the beautiful—but married—Daisy Buchanan. Performing the narration for this acclaimed audio version is none other than Academy Award-nominated actor Jake Gyllenhaal. Call for the Dead
Call for the Dead is the fantastic first book in John le Carré's George Smiley series. It's the thriller that launched his career, chronicling the escapades of an intelligence officer with a British overseas intelligence agency. Smiley would go on to be featured in le Carré's most famous novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and all of the George Smiley audiobooks are expertly narrated by English actor Michael Jayston. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
The writings of Muriel Spark are genius, but somehow remain lesser-known classics.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is her most famous work, about a school teacher at an all-girls academy who has a real connection with her students, several of whom form a special group of her prized pupils. Narrating this classic British tale is the always brilliant actress Miriam Margolyes, who won a BAFTA Award for her role in The Age of Innocence and played Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films. The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Author Mohsin Hamid lends his voice to his novel about a young Pakistani immigrant's life in America, and how it changes after the events of September 11th. Changez was pursuing the American dream in NYC, as well pursuing a beautiful American woman, when that national tragedy caused him to lose everything. A story of heartbreak and disillusionment,
The Reluctant Fundamentalist will make listeners think about how some Americans treat other Americans.
Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Audiobooks Under Five Hours 0 Heads Will Roll
Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon and her real-life sister Emily Lynne created this Audible Original about Queen Mortuana of the Night Realm and her clueless minion Jojo, who receive word of a peasant rebellion and set off in search of an artifact that will squash the rebellion and keep the queen on the throne. Yes, Heads Will Roll is as amazing as it sounds, and features all-star guest voices from bazillion-time-award-honoree Meryl Streep and Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage. This Is How You Lose the Time War
This is one of the best sci-fi short stories of the last few years. It's a wonderful novella about the Time War, and two time-traveling rivals, Red and Blue, who start to fall in love despite their loyalty to opposing factions and the danger it brings to their lives. And for two great characters, the audiobook features two great narrators: accomplished voice actors Cynthia Farrell and Emily Woo Zeller.
Best Memoir Audiobooks Under Five Hours 0 Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
The star of
The Office and The Mindy Project has proved herself time and again to be a funny performer, but with her debut memoir, Mindy Kaling also showed the world she is a funny author. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is a delightful collection of stories, from her life as a young child of immigrant professionals to her stint as a Ben Affleck impersonator in an off-Broadway play to her success as a comedy writer and actress. Kaling's distinct voice is the only one who could narrate her story, but she also gets a little help from friends Michael Schur and B.J. Novak. Mom & Me & Mom
Legendary author Maya Angelou wrote many stories about her own life, most famously
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. But in Mom & Me & Mom, one of the best short memoirs available, Angelou puts her relationship with her mother under the microscope, and shares the joys and struggles of their complicated bond. You can practically hear the love in Angelou's voice as she talks about her mother in this author-narrated work. I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are
Ta-da! This is an uproarious collection of personal essays and more from the talented, award-winning star of the musical comedy series,
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Rachel Bloom is known for her honesty, and in I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are, she details what it's like living with OCD and depression while juggling rising fame. Oh, and she tells funny stories about her childhood, made all the more hilarious by her pitch-perfect delivery.
Best Self-Dev Audiobooks Under Five Hours 0 Braving the Wilderness
Brené Brown has become one of the most respected and sought-after speakers, thanks to her lectures and best-selling books about the topics of courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. In
Braving the Wilderness, Brown shares her wisdom about what it means to belong in a society where people are continuing to become more polarized. For Brown, true belonging is a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity—something she believes can be achieved by those brave enough to try. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
This is the self-help book that kicked off a cleaning craze and a Netflix series. In
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo introduces listeners to the KonMari Method, a step-by-step practice to help people declutter their lives. Does that 15-year-old sweater still spark joy? If not, get rid of it. With her easy-to-follow plan, helpfully narrated by Emily Woo Zeller, listeners will be cleaning up their spaces in no time.
Best YA Audiobooks Under Five Hours 0 Dear Martin
This highly lauded novel is one of the best short YA books of the decade, and an important one too. Author Nic Stone delivers a hard, visceral look at American race relations, as young Justyce McAllister tries to live by the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but is still subjected to the difficulties and dangers of being Black in America.
Dear Martin and its follow-up, Dear Justyce, are both expertly performed by The Wire actor and Hall of Fame narrator Dion Graham. Matilda
Of all Roald Dahl's works, this audiobook might be the choice best for young bookworms, as it features a book-loving protagonist. Matilda is a sweet little girl with terrible parents who don't understand her, and a horrible headmistress, Ms. Trunchbull, who is out to get her. But when Matilda fights back, she discovers she has a special superhuman power. This version of the beloved
Matilda is narrated by the acclaimed performer Kate Winslet (who we’d argue could make even the phone book sound amazing). The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
One of the best classic YA short novels of all time,
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe follows four siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—who walk through the back of a wardrobe and discover a magical land called Narnia. Narnia is held captive by the power of the White Witch, but the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, might bring about a change after all this time. Famed actor and OBE recipient Michael York lends his legendary voice to the narration. The Giver
The Giver is another classic work of young adult fiction, written before there really was such a classification. It's about the time of the annual Ceremony, when each 12-year-old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas is given a special assignment, which leads him to a man known only as The Giver, and soon Jonas is left to question the foundations of their very society. Famed character actor Ron Rifkin narrates Lois Lowry's dystopian tale.
Best Nonfiction Audiobooks Under Five Hours 0 Man's Search for Meaning
Internationally renowned psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl spent years in the concentration camps of World War II, where he witnessed unspeakable horrors. It is perhaps because of his suffering that he dedicated his life to helping others with his revolutionary approach to psychotherapy known as logotherapy, in which he teaches that the core belief of life is the search for meaning.
Man's Search for Meaning is one of the best short nonfiction books, voiced by decorated Hall of Fame narrator Simon Vance, who has won 16 Audie Awards. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?
Caitlin Doughty is absolutely hilarious—not a quality you might expect in a mortician. But Doughty has a smart, death-positive take on dying, and she shares it with the world in her books and her YouTube series
Ask a Mortician. In Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, she answers questions she has been asked by children about all kinds of topics surrounding death, because she knows grown-ups are curious about these things too—they're just afraid to ask. What I Talk about When I Talk about Running
Haruki Murakami is most famous for his novels, such as
Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but it’s impossible to forget this short book about his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon. His quest to become an excellent runner takes him (and listeners) from Tokyo to Boston, and he shares insights into his life as they occur to him in his travels on foot. What I Talk about When I Talk about Running is deftly brought to life through the commanding voice of acclaimed audiobook narrator Ray Porter.