Time—there's never enough of it in a day. Most of us wish we had more time to get things done, or more hours to do the things we enjoy—reading a book, for instance. That's what makes audiobooks an excellent option for busy people: they're perfect for multitasking. Many audiobooks are several hours long, but if you're in the mood to listen to a story in one sitting, there are plenty of shorter audiobooks to be found.
Audiobooks under four hours long are the perfect companion for a day at the beach, or to keep you entertained while cleaning your house or working on a craft project. Listens this short aren't hard to find—narrowing them down is the hard part. That's where this list comes in! Here are some of the best audiobooks under four hours to get you started.
Best Fiction Audiobooks Under Four Hours The Alchemist
A list of the best audiobooks under four hours wouldn't be complete without this best-selling modern classic. Beloved worldwide,
The Alchemist is a fable about a young Andalusian shepherd who travels from his home in Spain to the pyramids of Egypt in search of buried treasure. He meets several people along the way who influence his journey, including the Alchemist, who shows him that real treasure lies within himself. The audiobook is narrated by the familiar voice of legendary Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons. Red at the Bone
When a young woman becomes pregnant unexpectedly, it brings together two families of different social classes. Starting with the child's 16th birthday,
Red at the Bone is a poetic look at the people in these families and their lives before this moment. It's told in Jacqueline Woodson's evocative signature style, and the audiobook is wonderfully narrated by a full cast. Convenience Store Woman
Keiko Furukara has never felt like she fits in, not at home or at school. But at 18, she takes a job at the Smile Mart convenience store, and suddenly feels like she belongs. Working there makes her feel good, and 18 years later, she's still happily at the store. Her family and friends wonder when Keiko is going to settle down, find a proper profession, and live the life expected of a woman in Tokyo, but she has a plan to get them off her back. A quirky story,
Convenience Store Woman is expertly narrated by Hong Kong actress Nancy Wu. Passing
Passing is a classic that should always be included not only when recommending short audiobooks, but when discussing excellent and necessary listening in general. Irene Redfield is a light-skinned Black woman who bumps into her old childhood friend, Clare, who is now passing as a white woman. Clare's husband is a racist white man who doesn't know his wife's secret, and as the two friends reconnect, their lives will be tragically changed forever. This is beautifully narrated by Tessa Thompson, who also stars in the new screen adaptation of the novel.
Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Audiobooks Under Four Hours Dead Acre
An Audible Original from an Audible best-selling duo,
Dead Acre is a perfect short listen for fans of The Witcher and The Dresden Files. James Crowley died in a hail of bullets. Now he exists in Purgatory, where he must serve out his time hunting down demons in the mortal realm. His latest assignment brings him to a Western town called Dead Acre, where he must figure out the connection between a missing cobbler and desecrated graves. Esteemed voice actor Roger Clark narrates this action-packed adventure. Riot Baby
Riot Baby is an inventive story of race, family, and history. Ella has had a gift, a Thing, since she was young. She could look at people and see their future. And as Ella grew, so did her powers, making her stronger—and angrier at the world around her. Now her brother, Kevin, has been incarcerated, and the siblings must work hard to find a way to protect each other in their current situations. This excellent, award-winning novella is narrated by its author, Tochi Onyebuchi. Burning Roses
Burning Roses is a fantastic sci-fi short story with a fairy tale twist. It follows Red Riding Hood and the Archer, who would like to live a quiet life and enjoy middle age, but instead must join forces to stop the deadly sunbirds that are destroying their country. Actress Nancy Wu lends her talents to this tale of tough choices, selfless sacrifices, and the quest for immortality.
Best Memoir Audiobooks Under Four Hours Between the World and Me
This much-lauded, author-performed work sees esteemed public intellectual Ta-Nehisi Coates addressing historic racial injustices and the bigotry of the present in the form of an intimate letter to his son. He attempts to answer questions about America's current crisis and explain to his son how he himself became aware of the realities of being a Black man living in America.
Between the World and Me won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction and was called required reading by Toni Morrison. Good Talk
If you love audiobooks with multiple narrators, then
Good Talk is an excellent choice. Artist Mira Jacob wrote this book about identity, family, and race as a series of stories about her experiences with racism and sexism as an Indian American woman, and to answer some of the questions her son asked her after the 2016 election, such as How brown is too brown? The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
In 1995, at age 44, Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor-in-chief of French
Elle and father of two young children, known for his zest for life, when he suffered a rare type of stroke that left him unable to move any part of his body except for his eyelids. Over time, he learned how to communicate by blinking the alphabet to spell out words. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is an inspirational story and one of the best short memoirs ever. And it's read by the amazing René Auberjonois of Benson and Deep Space Nine fame.
Best Self-Dev Audiobooks Under Four Hours The Art of Happiness
His Holiness the Dalai Lama believes that our purpose in life is happiness. Using the wisdom of 2,500 years of Buddhist meditation teachings, the Dalai Lama teaches listeners how to defeat day-to-day depression, anxiety, anger, jealousy, and more through meditation and the meeting of Buddhism and psychology.
The Art of Happiness is narrated by Howard C. Cutler, MD, who worked closely with the Dalai Lama on the book. Forest Bathing
This is the definitive guide to the therapeutic Japanese practice of
shinrin-yoku, the art and science of how trees can promote health and happiness. Forest Bathing teaches you how basking in the glow of nature, really taking time to stop and smell the...well, trees, can reduce your stress levels and blood pressure, strengthen your immune and cardiovascular systems, boost your energy, mood, creativity, and concentration, and even help you lose weight and live longer. Listen along as actor Ramon Tikaram beautifully explains it all. Gmorning, Gnight!
Though this audiobook be small, it is mighty!
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda reads his collection of the tiny tips of encouragement he used to sign on and off Twitter each day, such as Good morning. Do NOT get stuck in the comments section of life today. Make, do, create the things. Let others tussle it out. Vamos! Gmorning, Gnight! is a great pick-me-up for when you need a little extra oomph to get through the day. The War of Art
A classic work,
The War of Art has been inspiring artists of all kinds for two decades. Author Steven Pressfield describes how to get up and get out of your own way when it comes to creativity. He explains how to get past the roadblocks that are keeping you from creating your art, and how to defeat the resistance and negativity that lives within us all.
Best YA Audiobooks Under Four Hours The Poet X
This National Book Award-winning YA novel in verse, beautifully narrated by the author, is already considered one of the greatest books of the 21st century. Xiomara Batista feels invisible in her own life, at school, at home, and in her neighborhood. She pours her feelings into a journal of poetry, never to be seen by other eyes. But when Xiomara is invited to join a poetry slam club at school, she feels seen and heard for the first time. But what will happen if her strict mother finds out?
One of the best classic short stories for kids and teens,
Charlotte's Web has been an American treasure since 1952. Telling the unforgettable tale of a pig named Wilbur and his friend Charlotte, the spider, who teaches him lessons about life, this audiobook is lovingly read by E.B. White himself. This edition also features a retrospective essay by noted scholar Peter F. Neumeyer, offering additional insights into the development and publication of the novel and its creators, which is read by the distinguished George Plimpton. Look Both Ways
Here's another fantastic audiobook recommendation for listeners who love a full cast of narrators. The audiobook features ten Black narrators reading ten interconnected stories about all the different things that can happen as kids walk home from school.
Look Both Ways was a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book and a National Book Award finalist.
Best Nonfiction Audiobooks Under Four Hours Midnight Son
This exciting Audible Original is the true story of Teddy Kyle Smith, an actor-turned-fugitive in Alaska. Smith's life and tragic downfall has haunted James Dommek, Jr., the great-grandson of the last of the Iñupiaq story tellers, so he set out to tell Smith's story.
Midnight Son is powerfully voiced by the author himself. The Fire Next Time
And last but not least: Widely considered the best short nonfiction book of the 1960s,
The Fire Next Time is legendary writer James Baldwin's discussion of his early life in Harlem and the everyday racial injustices in America, making it still a powerful and relevant book today. It is narrated by the talented Jesse L. Martin, who is best known for his work on Law & Order.