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Announcing the Best of the Year!

Every year has its own flavor, but here at Audible we can always count on every year delivering thousands of new must-hear stories.

How do we pick the best? We start with you, the Audible listener. We factor in your ratings and read countless reviews to see what you’ve been loving this year. Then, we listen, and listen some more (and more) before gathering to advocate for our favorites and do some collective soul searching. It’s an annual tradition that begins in January, and that always—eventually!—leads to a list that reflects the very best of the year.

Our 2021 list is big and bold—100 titles from across all genres and multiple formats including audiobooks, audio originals, multi-cast and single-voice productions, and a top pick that has thrilled customers and editors alike. We wish you happy browsing and happy listening, and hope you find many stories to love among these top picks. To save the entire list to your library Collections for reference anytime, click here.

Winner: The Top Listen of 2021

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Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Performed by Ray Porter. This interstellar buddy story is meant to be heard! Not only are its two main characters completely endearing and unforgettable (yes, we want Ryland Grace and Rocky action figures), but the production itself—with a unique audio element that you just have to hear to appreciate—represents a serendipitous convergence of talent and format. Writer Andy Weir and narrator Ray Porter have created something truly special here; the kind of fun, smart, immensely entertaining production that speaks to listeners of all types. It will forever exemplify the best of 2021 listening.

Explore the rest of the year's best listens below.

Beginner's Mind, written and performed by Yo-Yo Ma. The cellist is undeniably a mainstay in classical music. In Beginner's Mind, he tugs at our heartstrings, bringing the endless horizon of passion to his creative expression.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Performed by Caroline Lee. Moriarty's talent is on full display in this delicious domestic drama. Lee, the author's longtime narrator, delivers on the tale's sinister undertones with her raspy Australian timbre.

The Sandman: Act II by Neil Gaiman and Dirk Maggs. Performed by a full cast. This thrilling new entry in the series upped the ante, with new and familiar voices alike, along with unmatched immersive sound design.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. Performed by Sura Siu. This stunning novel takes on the very big themes of consciousness and free will as only Ishiguro can—and Siu is as earnest and engaging as his heroine, Klara.

You Got Anything Stronger?, written and performed by Gabrielle Union. In her follow-up to We're Going to Need More Wine, Union dives even deeper into some of her pivotal life moments. Hearing her narrate daughter Kaavia James's birth story took our breath away.

Death by Unknown Event by Danielle Elliot and Eliza Smith. Hosted by Pamela Adlon. The inimitable Adlon is a compelling guide through one of the most baffling unsolved mysteries, the death of Cindy James. Was it stalking, murder, or a hoax? The sensitive reporting explores all angles.

Yes We Mustard by Ginny Hogan. Performed by a full cast. Perfect for the comedy fan who loves a quick listen full of humor, and delivered with poignant and timely commentary on the tech world that has taken over our lives.

The Coldest Case by James Patterson, Aaron Tracy, and Ryan Silbert. Performed by a full cast. To kick off the first half of 2021, Audible and the thriller extraordinaire Patterson combined talents to bring listeners The Coldest Case, a star-studded scripted audio performance.

Matrix by Lauren Groff. Performed by Adjoa Andoh. How lucky are we to have Groff's imagination and Andoh's voice to help us to color-in the life of Marie de France? This is what historical fiction is supposed to be.

The Angel of Rome by Jess Walter. Performed by Edoardo Ballerini. New listeners and longtime fans (like us) of Walter and Ballerini (Beautiful Ruins) will revel in this trip back to Italy—a heartwarming journey that takes just two hours.

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris. Performed by William DeMeritt. The unlikely alliances formed in Harris's debut novel masterfully represent the Civil War's end as a complex and bloody battle with racism and homophobia. The nuance of DeMeritt's solo narration blows us away.

The Storyteller, written and performed by Dave Grohl. Grohl, of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame, demonstrates the good-naturedness he's known for in this heartfelt standout that explores everything from the loss of Kurt Cobain to the road to fatherhood.

We Should All Be Millionaires, written and performed by Rachel Rodgers. Who doesn't want to be a millionaire? Financial expert Rodgers wants to help everyone get there—especially women and people of color. With her actionable advice we just might.

Unprotected, written and performed by Billy Porter. In his soaring memoir, Porter, a Tony winner, fashion icon, and LGBTQ+ activist, inspires as he touches on his HIV diagnosis and the adversity he faced growing up gay and Black.

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo. Performed by Finty Williams. DiCamillo's books are best listened to; her musical and ornate words ring in the head long after the final chapter. Williams's top-notch narration cements this as a must-listen for all ages.

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz. Performed by Machelle Williams. Depicting the ordinary lives of girls, women, and men across the cities and suburbs of Florida, Milk Blood Heat is a gripping collection of stories and characters that pull you in and keep you close.

Miracle and Wonder by Malcolm Gladwell and Bruce Headlam. Performed by the authors and Paul Simon. What begins as a sharing of anecdotes from Simon's career turns into a deep dive on the sources of creativity and how perspectives change with experience, with the songwriter performing a few of his classics.

My Broken Language, written and performed by Quiara Alegría Hudes. This memoir will take bilingual kids back to their childhoods, stuck between languages and often feeling out of place. Hudes's lyrical writing reminds us weren't not alone. Her journey to find herself should be heard.

Feeding the Soul, written and performed by Tabitha Brown. Brown won our hearts in her latest listen with her signature down-to-earth encouragement and original vegan recipes like "Fried Peaches and Biscuits." Her voice is like one big, comforting hug.

Say You're Sorry by Lux Alptraum. Hosted by Lux Alptraum and Siona Peterous. Nowadays, everyone has something to apologize for. Say You're Sorry breaks this phenomenon down beautifully as the two hosts analyze the finer points of public relations.

Yours Cruelly, Elvira, written and performed by Cassandra Peterson. The horror icon otherwise known as Cassandra Peterson cements her legacy as a comic genius and feminist trailblazer in this deliciously devilish and surprisingly moving memoir.

No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull. Performed by Dion Graham. We were thrilled to see this literary sci-fi writer return to the scene after his 2019 debut—and with a planned trilogy narrated by Dion Graham no less. A dark, frightening entry to a promising new story.

Bewilderment by Richard Powers. Performed by Edoardo Ballerini. Powers takes us to new heights with this poetic story about an astrobiologist who, alongside his neurodiverse son, consults the cosmos for answers to life's big questions after the death of his wife.

Playing Burton by Mark Jenkins. Performed by Matthew Rhys. Rhys steps into the shoes of film and stage legend (and fellow Welshman) Richard Burton in this emotionally complex one-man show. Burton's struggles, addictions, loves, and passions come roaring to life.

Empire of Pain, written and performed by Patrick Radden Keefe. The connection between America's opioid crisis and the self-styled philanthropic Sackler family is well documented, but damned if Keefe doesn't imbue this masterpiece of author-read nonfiction with propulsive suspense.

Billy Summers by Stephen King. Performed by Paul Sparks. This past summer, the king of horror served up some serious heat in this fast-paced thriller packed with amazing storytelling from actor Paul Sparks (Boardwalk Empire).

The Christmas Pig by J.K. Rowling. Performed by a full cast. Rowling's newest tale does not disappoint, thanks to a full cast, 3D audio, and a heartfelt portrayal of a boy struggling with change and loss. Enjoy it with your kids this holiday season.

The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson. Performed by Kathe Mazur. Isaacson unfurls the work of a Nobel-winning geneticist from the moment she fell in love with science through the invention of CRISPR. He makes the nuanced implications of technology personal for us all.

Just as I Am, by Cicely Tyson and Michelle Burford. Performed by Cicely Tyson, Viola Davis, and Robin Miles. The late Hollywood trailblazer offers a testament to her unparalleled tenacity and unshakable faith in this gorgeous memoir that's as nuanced and full of heart as the characters she portrayed.

The Anthropocene Reviewed, written and performed by John Green. Though he's best known for his outstanding YA novels, Green's quirky yet moving essay collection offers an insightful, hopeful take on humanity and our cultural fascinations—from velociraptors to Diet Dr Pepper.

Bath Haus by P. J. Vernon. Performed by Michael Crouch and Daniel Henning. Following a gay power couple in Washington, DC, Bath Haus is a twisty, gritty ride. Performers Crouch and Henning only enhance the experience, adding an extra layer of intrigue.

Beautiful Country, written and performed by Qian Julie Wang. We found the pockets of beauty tucked into Wang's memoir about the harsh ironies of growing up as an undocumented Chinese immigrant in America wholly gorgeous.

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams. Performed by Mela Lee. It took us only one day to fall in love with Williams's sexy sophomore novel. As two reunited lovers explore their second chance, Lee's emotional narration pulled at our heartstrings.

Mind Body Zone, written and hosted by Deepak Chopra. We weren't sure what we loved more about this unique well-being Audible Original podcast: Chopra's soul-soothing meditations or his lineup of guests ranging from yogi instructor Jessamyn Stanley to Oprah Winfrey.

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead. Performed by Cassandra Campbell and Alex McKenna. Strap in for a Maggie Shipstead historical fiction title inspired by pilot Amelia Earhart. This epic spans a century and proves that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. Performed by Dion Graham. Whitehead showcases his range as he swings comedic to celebrate Harlem's dynamic, glamorous history. This quirky yet tender crime novel takes its name from Bob & Earl's '60s R&B song, and demands to be heard.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. Performed by Callie Dalton. This rom-com captured our hearts, as did the debut author. The Love Hypothesis is a smart, well-plotted tale set in STEM academia that nerds everywhere will fall for.

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire-Sáenz. Performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda is back in the highly anticipated follow-up to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. It's a devastatingly heartfelt look at young love and what it takes to form, then keep, a relationship.

Tears of Amber by Sofía Segovia. Performed by Will Damron and Angela Dawe. Translated from Spanish, this breathtaking listen follows the stories of three children caught in the midst of war and offers a new perspective on the horrors of World War II.

Founding Fubu, written and performed by Daymond John. John has been inspiring us to be entrepreneurs for years. In his debut Audible Original, he shares the winding tale of how he turned $40 into a business empire.

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby. Performed by Adam Lazarre-White. With gripping narration from Lazarre-White, Cosby's knockout revenge thriller manages to overdeliver on its splashy premise, with ultra-real characters, propulsive action, and a timeless message of love and acceptance.

The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones. Performed by the author and a full cast. Weaving together essays, poetry, and fiction, the awaited next step in Hannah-Jones's community-driven initiative to center slavery in discussions of our national narrative comes to life. It has been deemed one of the most consequential journalistic events of recent years.

The Orchard by Mike Jones and Mike Cowap. Performed by Eric Bana. Bana mesmerizes in this Audible Original podcast that walks the line between mystery and horror. You won't be able to stop listening as the haunting truth at the center of the tale is slowly revealed.

The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Performed by Adenrele Ojo, Karen Chilton, and Prentice Onayemi. Intimate yet sweeping, literary yet lyrical, and more than impressive, we expect Jeffers's fiction debut, a love song to Black American inheritance, to stand the test of time.

Hot White Heist by Adam Goldman. Performed by a full cast. This outrageous take on the heist genre, performed by a multi-cast of comedy's funniest LGBTQ+ stars of today, was the comedy we didn't know we needed this year.

Oracle by Andrew Pyper. Performed by Joshua Jackson. Oracle was a true top-notch performance and story, so it makes complete sense that it lived on the Audible best-sellers list for some time after its August release.

How the Word Is Passed, written and performed by Clint Smith. Smith comes to narrative nonfiction by way of poetry, and you can feel it through every nuance of his performance. Reflecting on historical sites in the US, he vividly portrays slavery's lasting damage.

What Happened to You?, written and perfomed by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey and Perry explore the lasting effects of childhood trauma. We were floored by their advice for addressing patterns that hold us back as adults.

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera. Performed by Almarie Guerra. Aztec mythology, mystery, and adventure combine in this memorable tale in which young Cece faces criaturas (creatures) and brujas (witches) in her journey to save her kidnapped sister.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. Performed by Julia Whelan. This contemporary friends-to-lovers story is full of whip-smart dialogue (brilliantly performed by Whelan) and was one of our favorite “perfect escapes” when in need of a mental vacation.

He Who Fights With Monsters by Shirtaloon. Performed by Heath Miller. LitRPG fans flocked to the first entry in this new series from Australian writer Shirtaloon (a.k.a. Travis Deverell), loving its unique, relatable main character and strong performance by Miller.

Yearbook, written and performed by Seth Rogen. Rogen and a cast of famous friends lend their voices and comedic timing to this essay collection on the actor's experiences, from his stand-up debut to the wild story behind his film The Interview.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston. Performed by Natalie Naudus. From the author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes the next obsession-worthy story with a cast of endearing friends, a heart-melting romance, and a mystery, all voiced by the talented Naudus.

Lola Chick by Maria Escobedo. Performed by a full cast. An easy balance of English and Spanish dialogue paired with toe-tapping tunes and charming performances combine to create a joyful listen for all ages. You and your kids will love Lola's bite-sized adventures.

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley. Performed by a Isabella Star LaBlanc. LaBlanc's narration is all consuming in this powerful listen about modern Ojibwe life and one young woman's mission to uncover the source of a lethal drug lacing its way through her community.

Call Us What We Carry, written and performed by Amanda Gorman. Gorman moved the nation to tears at President Joe Biden's inauguration with her beautiful poetry. Now, her full collection is finally available, so grab the tissues.

Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo. Performed by Sara Powell. Onuzo's captivating novel follows a biracial British woman on a search for her long-lost father. Powell's nuanced British and West African accents make this a beautifully immersive and transportive listen.

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. Performed by Karen Chilton.This debut author listened to the voices of his ancestors that came to him in a dream—voices that permeate this unforgettable novel and the performance of narrator Chilton.

You Can't Be Serious, written and performed by Kal Penn. Stories from the White House and Harold & Kumar alike shine in Penn's captivating memoir, a bright listen that captures the sting of confronting racism and the joys of following dreams in equal measure.

Streets, Rhymes & Sugar, written and performed by Michael Elliot. Hollywood all-star Elliot spills his guts in this rags-to-riches memoir, inspiring us to never give up on our dreams, no matter how lofty they may seem.

My Body, My Podcast, written and hosted by Elizabeth Banks. There's nothing juvenile about this sex-ed series. Banks wowed us with her relatable anecdotes, expert guests, and powerful insights in her Audible Original podcast about sexual wellness.

The Science of Love, written and performed by Wind Goodfriend, The Great Courses. From the biology of attraction to the theoretical perspectives of behavior, this Audible Original Great Course explores one of strongest and most-talked about facets of the human experience: love.

Be Well, written and performed by Jessica Clemons, MD. With conversations about mental health in the zeitgeist, Clemons's Audible Original struck a nerve. Her educational guide to mental illnesses, treatment options, and ending stigma is a must-listen.

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren. Performed by Patti Murin. Lauren is a perennial favorite at Audible, and their STEM-based hate-to-lovers romance reached perfect combustion this year for listeners and editors alike. Murin narrates, to our undisputed delight.

Men's Health by Daniel Goldfarb. Performed by Santino Fontana and Tony Shaloub. Shaloub promises to unearth your inner 10-year-old (we haven't giggled this much about the word “penis” in years) in this hilarious and heartwarming performance.

E-Day by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. Performed by R.C. Bray. This thrilling and promising start to a brand-new postapocalyptic series from the Hell Divers writer struck quite the chord with our listeners this year—no surprise with Bray narrating.

Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes, written and performed by Phoebe Robinson. The title alone makes it a winner. We also laughed out loud to the 2 Dope Queens comedian's signature snark in essays on everything from wearing her natural hair to deciding to not have children.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton. Performed by a full cast. Walton turns it to 11 in this title exploring a rising rock star in New York's sizzling '70s. Backed by a full cast of vocal talent, this one is a true face-melter.

The Murder of Robert Wone by AYR Media. Hosted by H. Alan Scott. A passionate host, original interviews, and chilling reenactments highlight the complex political and LBGTQ+ issues at play in this notorious unsolved murder, which rocked the queer community in Washington, DC.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao. Performed by Rong Fu. Prepare for the action to explode and never let up in this tense, robot sci-fi reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Evangelion, with one badass hero at the helm and Fu as the performer.

The Stand-In by Lily Chu. Performed by Phillipa Soo. Prepare to have a massive crush on every character in Chu's sparkling romantic debut that has been a listener and editor favorite, narrated to perfection by the one and only Phillipa Soo.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. Performed by Dion Graham. Narrated by Graham, this is Thomas's first novel from a male point of view, but the authenticity in her storytelling remains unmatched and her love for her protagonist shines through.

Class Act by Jerry Craft. Performed by a full cast. This eagerly awaited follow-up to the Newbery Medal-winning New Kid might be Craft's best title yet thanks to the incredible audio production and the returning cast of talented kid voice actors.

Black, White, and The Grey, written and performed by Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano. Part memoir, part business profile, and part cookbook, this listen defies everything we have come to expect from traditional audio storytelling—and we love it!

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed. Performed by Karen Chilton. The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, herself a Texas native, explores the post-Juneteenth impact of slavery in this short but powerful gem.

Sleeping Dogs Lie by Samantha Downing. Performed by Melanie Nicholls-King and Lindsey Dorcus. Downing (My Lovely Wife) delivered the bite-sized mystery of the year. When a dog walker finds one of her (human) clients dead, she's swept into an investigation that left us panting for the final reveal.

Back in the Burbs by Avery Flynn and Tracy Wolff. Performed by Sophie Amoss. Our listeners flocked to this second-chance romance. Wolff and Flynn, along with narrator Amoss, unite to give us a love story we can all relate to when we're down on our luck.

Crying in H Mart, written and performed by Michelle Zauner. The Korean American rock star's evocative exploration of grief, food, culture, and identity is made all the more exceptional thanks to her candid prose and delicate, vulnerable performance.

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon. Performed by Davina Porter. After seven years, the incomparable pairing of Gabaldon and Porter reunites to continue the saga of Jamie and Claire in spectacular fashion. We relished being with these characters once more.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney. Performed by Aoife McMahon. Rooney astounds again with her precise observational eye that peels away the layers of discontent that have built up and threaten to stifle her four dynamic protagonists, all just emerging into adulthood.

Bamboozled by Jesus, written and performed by Yvonne Orji. Orji (Insecure) charts her inspiring course from financial struggle to television stardom in this entertaining, faith-based listen. Her honesty, warmth, and humor radiate from every life lesson she shares.

My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones. Performed by Cara Gee. Jones terrified us yet again with the bloody story of a misfit girl whose love of horror hits frighteningly close to home—with skin-crawlingly flawless narration by Ojibwe actor Gee.

Broken Horses, written and performed by Brandi Carlile. Carlile's moving ode to the music that carried her through her tumultuous coming out and coming-of-age, with its raw renditions of “Hallelujah” and “Honky Cat,” sings to our hearts.

This Is Your Mind on Plants, written and performed by Michael Pollan. Pollan never fails to make us think in unexplored ways. This year, we're grateful he donated his mind to science to tackle the taboos of experimenting with psychoactive plants.

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters. Performed by Renata Friedman. Come for the juicy premise (a man, who formerly lived as a trans woman, asks his trans ex-girlfriend to help parent the child of his cis, pregnant partner); stay for the gender insights and narration.

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean. Performed by Ali Ahn. When Izumi discovers her long-lost father is the Crown Prince of Japan, she gets tangled up in an adventure to uncover her heritage in this effervescent coming-of-age narrative that has us impatient for the sequel.

The High 5 Habit, written and performed by Mel Robbins. The queen of self-help returns! Robbins writes and voices a fantastic follow-up to her smash hit The 5 Second Rule that will help you reflect on your routines.

You Are Your Best Thing by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown. Performed by the authors and a full cast. We were floored by Burke and Brown's anthology of essays from incredible talents about vulnerability and shame resilience in Black experiences.

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. Performed by a full cast. We couldn't imagine a better duo to perform Pride and Piazza's timely exploration of race. Narrators Shayna Small and Marin Ireland illuminate the heartbreak and pain of a lifelong friendship tested by unspeakable tragedy.

Somebody's Daughter, written and performed by Ashley C. Ford. Ford's debut memoir—a reflection on family, adversity, selfhood, and love that muses on the complexities of a childhood spent longing for her incarcerated father—is raw, beautifully written, and astonishingly tender.

Four Hundred Souls, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain. Performed by a full cast. Performed by a full cast and written by more than 90 contributors, this sweeping “community” history showcases the variety of challenges, triumphs, and experiences of Black Americans throughout history.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. Performed by Julia Whelan. Narrator Whelan brilliantly embodies our heroine, Elsa Wolcott—plus an array of Texans, Italian immigrants, and a host of unforgettable characters—in Hannah's epic Dust Bowl-era story.

The Riddle of Emmon Bodfish by Paul Holes, Peter McDonnell, and Josh Sanburn. Hosted by Paul Holes and Jim Clemente. True crime icon Holes recounts his most personal case—the unsolved death of a trans man in Orinda, California—with haunting diaries, occult elements, and competing theories to keep listeners rapt.

Four Thousand Weeks, written and performed by Oliver Burkeman. Tired of optimizing each day for productivity? Burkeman captured our attention with his approach to time management: We have less time than we think so seek joy above all else.

Trejo, written and performed by Danny Trejo. From one of cinema's most notorious character actors comes this poignant memoir. In his own voice, Trejo takes us on a trip from his wild youth, through prison, and ultimately redemption.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. Performed by Edoardo Ballerini, Marin Ireland, and Dion Graham. This gloriously performed road-trip tale is both rich in Americana and an ode to Homeric epics. You'll be on the edge of your seat as each character searches for a north star in an ever-shifting landscape.

The Cinnamon Bear by Eric Gilliland. Performed by a full cast. Featuring a star-studded lineup, including Marcia Gay Harden, Alan Cumming, and Ryan Reynolds, each episode revives a nostalgic holiday classic radio show that the whole family will fall in love with.

Unbound, written and performed by Tarana Burke. The activist and creator of the "Me Too" movement opens up about her experiences with abuse, trauma, and vulnerability in this heart-wrenching and inspiring memoir about healing through empathy.

Fuzz, written and performed by Mary Roach. It's a treat to hear Roach explain, with hilarious, spot-on delivery in her first self-narrated audiobook, the hairy truth of what makes an animal a law-abiding citizen.

Beginner's Mind, written and performed by Yo-Yo Ma. The cellist is undeniably a mainstay in classical music. In Beginner's Mind, he tugs at our heartstrings, bringing the endless horizon of passion to his creative expression.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Performed by Caroline Lee. Moriarty's talent is on full display in this delicious domestic drama. Lee, the author's longtime narrator, delivers on the tale's sinister undertones with her raspy Australian timbre.

The Sandman: Act II by Neil Gaiman and Dirk Maggs. Performed by a full cast. This thrilling new entry in the series upped the ante, with new and familiar voices alike, along with unmatched immersive sound design.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. Performed by Sura Siu. This stunning novel takes on the very big themes of consciousness and free will as only Ishiguro can—and Siu is as earnest and engaging as his heroine, Klara.

You Got Anything Stronger?, written and performed by Gabrielle Union. In her follow-up to We're Going to Need More Wine, Union dives even deeper into some of her pivotal life moments. Hearing her narrate daughter Kaavia James's birth story took our breath away.

Death by Unknown Event by Danielle Elliot and Eliza Smith. Hosted by Pamela Adlon. The inimitable Adlon is a compelling guide through one of the most baffling unsolved mysteries, the death of Cindy James. Was it stalking, murder, or a hoax? The sensitive reporting explores all angles.

Yes We Mustard by Ginny Hogan. Performed by a full cast. Perfect for the comedy fan who loves a quick listen full of humor, and delivered with poignant and timely commentary on the tech world that has taken over our lives.

The Coldest Case by James Patterson, Aaron Tracy, and Ryan Silbert. Performed by a full cast. To kick off the first half of 2021, Audible and the thriller extraordinaire Patterson combined talents to bring listeners The Coldest Case, a star-studded scripted audio performance.

Matrix by Lauren Groff. Performed by Adjoa Andoh. How lucky are we to have Groff's imagination and Andoh's voice to help us to color-in the life of Marie de France? This is what historical fiction is supposed to be.

The Angel of Rome by Jess Walter. Performed by Edoardo Ballerini. New listeners and longtime fans (like us) of Walter and Ballerini (Beautiful Ruins) will revel in this trip back to Italy—a heartwarming journey that takes just two hours.

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris. Performed by William DeMeritt. The unlikely alliances formed in Harris's debut novel masterfully represent the Civil War's end as a complex and bloody battle with racism and homophobia. The nuance of DeMeritt's solo narration blows us away.

The Storyteller, written and performed by Dave Grohl. Grohl, of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame, demonstrates the good-naturedness he's known for in this heartfelt standout that explores everything from the loss of Kurt Cobain to the road to fatherhood.

We Should All Be Millionaires, written and performed by Rachel Rodgers. Who doesn't want to be a millionaire? Financial expert Rodgers wants to help everyone get there—especially women and people of color. With her actionable advice we just might.

Unprotected, written and performed by Billy Porter. In his soaring memoir, Porter, a Tony winner, fashion icon, and LGBTQ+ activist, inspires as he touches on his HIV diagnosis and the adversity he faced growing up gay and Black.

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo. Performed by Finty Williams. DiCamillo's books are best listened to; her musical and ornate words ring in the head long after the final chapter. Williams's top-notch narration cements this as a must-listen for all ages.

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz. Performed by Machelle Williams. Depicting the ordinary lives of girls, women, and men across the cities and suburbs of Florida, Milk Blood Heat is a gripping collection of stories and characters that pull you in and keep you close.

Miracle and Wonder by Malcolm Gladwell and Bruce Headlam. Performed by the authors and Paul Simon. What begins as a sharing of anecdotes from Simon's career turns into a deep dive on the sources of creativity and how perspectives change with experience, with the songwriter performing a few of his classics.

My Broken Language, written and performed by Quiara Alegría Hudes. This memoir will take bilingual kids back to their childhoods, stuck between languages and often feeling out of place. Hudes's lyrical writing reminds us weren't not alone. Her journey to find herself should be heard.

Feeding the Soul, written and performed by Tabitha Brown. Brown won our hearts in her latest listen with her signature down-to-earth encouragement and original vegan recipes like "Fried Peaches and Biscuits." Her voice is like one big, comforting hug.

Say You're Sorry by Lux Alptraum. Hosted by Lux Alptraum and Siona Peterous. Nowadays, everyone has something to apologize for. Say You're Sorry breaks this phenomenon down beautifully as the two hosts analyze the finer points of public relations.

Yours Cruelly, Elvira, written and performed by Cassandra Peterson. The horror icon otherwise known as Cassandra Peterson cements her legacy as a comic genius and feminist trailblazer in this deliciously devilish and surprisingly moving memoir.

No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull. Performed by Dion Graham. We were thrilled to see this literary sci-fi writer return to the scene after his 2019 debut—and with a planned trilogy narrated by Dion Graham no less. A dark, frightening entry to a promising new story.

Bewilderment by Richard Powers. Performed by Edoardo Ballerini. Powers takes us to new heights with this poetic story about an astrobiologist who, alongside his neurodiverse son, consults the cosmos for answers to life's big questions after the death of his wife.

Playing Burton by Mark Jenkins. Performed by Matthew Rhys. Rhys steps into the shoes of film and stage legend (and fellow Welshman) Richard Burton in this emotionally complex one-man show. Burton's struggles, addictions, loves, and passions come roaring to life.

Empire of Pain, written and performed by Patrick Radden Keefe. The connection between America's opioid crisis and the self-styled philanthropic Sackler family is well documented, but damned if Keefe doesn't imbue this masterpiece of author-read nonfiction with propulsive suspense.

Billy Summers by Stephen King. Performed by Paul Sparks. This past summer, the king of horror served up some serious heat in this fast-paced thriller packed with amazing storytelling from actor Paul Sparks (Boardwalk Empire).

The Christmas Pig by J.K. Rowling. Performed by a full cast. Rowling's newest tale does not disappoint, thanks to a full cast, 3D audio, and a heartfelt portrayal of a boy struggling with change and loss. Enjoy it with your kids this holiday season.

The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson. Performed by Kathe Mazur. Isaacson unfurls the work of a Nobel-winning geneticist from the moment she fell in love with science through the invention of CRISPR. He makes the nuanced implications of technology personal for us all.

Just as I Am, by Cicely Tyson and Michelle Burford. Performed by Cicely Tyson, Viola Davis, and Robin Miles. The late Hollywood trailblazer offers a testament to her unparalleled tenacity and unshakable faith in this gorgeous memoir that's as nuanced and full of heart as the characters she portrayed.

The Anthropocene Reviewed, written and performed by John Green. Though he's best known for his outstanding YA novels, Green's quirky yet moving essay collection offers an insightful, hopeful take on humanity and our cultural fascinations—from velociraptors to Diet Dr Pepper.

Bath Haus by P. J. Vernon. Performed by Michael Crouch and Daniel Henning. Following a gay power couple in Washington, DC, Bath Haus is a twisty, gritty ride. Performers Crouch and Henning only enhance the experience, adding an extra layer of intrigue.

Beautiful Country, written and performed by Qian Julie Wang. We found the pockets of beauty tucked into Wang's memoir about the harsh ironies of growing up as an undocumented Chinese immigrant in America wholly gorgeous.

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams. Performed by Mela Lee. It took us only one day to fall in love with Williams's sexy sophomore novel. As two reunited lovers explore their second chance, Lee's emotional narration pulled at our heartstrings.

Mind Body Zone, written and hosted by Deepak Chopra. We weren't sure what we loved more about this unique well-being Audible Original podcast: Chopra's soul-soothing meditations or his lineup of guests ranging from yogi instructor Jessamyn Stanley to Oprah Winfrey.

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead. Performed by Cassandra Campbell and Alex McKenna. Strap in for a Maggie Shipstead historical fiction title inspired by pilot Amelia Earhart. This epic spans a century and proves that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. Performed by Dion Graham. Whitehead showcases his range as he swings comedic to celebrate Harlem's dynamic, glamorous history. This quirky yet tender crime novel takes its name from Bob & Earl's '60s R&B song, and demands to be heard.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. Performed by Callie Dalton. This rom-com captured our hearts, as did the debut author. The Love Hypothesis is a smart, well-plotted tale set in STEM academia that nerds everywhere will fall for.

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire-Sáenz. Performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda is back in the highly anticipated follow-up to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. It's a devastatingly heartfelt look at young love and what it takes to form, then keep, a relationship.

Tears of Amber by Sofía Segovia. Performed by Will Damron and Angela Dawe. Translated from Spanish, this breathtaking listen follows the stories of three children caught in the midst of war and offers a new perspective on the horrors of World War II.

Founding Fubu, written and performed by Daymond John. John has been inspiring us to be entrepreneurs for years. In his debut Audible Original, he shares the winding tale of how he turned $40 into a business empire.

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby. Performed by Adam Lazarre-White. With gripping narration from Lazarre-White, Cosby's knockout revenge thriller manages to overdeliver on its splashy premise, with ultra-real characters, propulsive action, and a timeless message of love and acceptance.

The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones. Performed by the author and a full cast. Weaving together essays, poetry, and fiction, the awaited next step in Hannah-Jones's community-driven initiative to center slavery in discussions of our national narrative comes to life. It has been deemed one of the most consequential journalistic events of recent years.

The Orchard by Mike Jones and Mike Cowap. Performed by Eric Bana. Bana mesmerizes in this Audible Original podcast that walks the line between mystery and horror. You won't be able to stop listening as the haunting truth at the center of the tale is slowly revealed.

The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Performed by Adenrele Ojo, Karen Chilton, and Prentice Onayemi. Intimate yet sweeping, literary yet lyrical, and more than impressive, we expect Jeffers's fiction debut, a love song to Black American inheritance, to stand the test of time.

Hot White Heist by Adam Goldman. Performed by a full cast. This outrageous take on the heist genre, performed by a multi-cast of comedy's funniest LGBTQ+ stars of today, was the comedy we didn't know we needed this year.

Oracle by Andrew Pyper. Performed by Joshua Jackson. Oracle was a true top-notch performance and story, so it makes complete sense that it lived on the Audible best-sellers list for some time after its August release.

How the Word Is Passed, written and performed by Clint Smith. Smith comes to narrative nonfiction by way of poetry, and you can feel it through every nuance of his performance. Reflecting on historical sites in the US, he vividly portrays slavery's lasting damage.

What Happened to You?, written and perfomed by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey and Perry explore the lasting effects of childhood trauma. We were floored by their advice for addressing patterns that hold us back as adults.

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera. Performed by Almarie Guerra. Aztec mythology, mystery, and adventure combine in this memorable tale in which young Cece faces criaturas (creatures) and brujas (witches) in her journey to save her kidnapped sister.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. Performed by Julia Whelan. This contemporary friends-to-lovers story is full of whip-smart dialogue (brilliantly performed by Whelan) and was one of our favorite “perfect escapes” when in need of a mental vacation.

He Who Fights With Monsters by Shirtaloon. Performed by Heath Miller. LitRPG fans flocked to the first entry in this new series from Australian writer Shirtaloon (a.k.a. Travis Deverell), loving its unique, relatable main character and strong performance by Miller.

Yearbook, written and performed by Seth Rogen. Rogen and a cast of famous friends lend their voices and comedic timing to this essay collection on the actor's experiences, from his stand-up debut to the wild story behind his film The Interview.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston. Performed by Natalie Naudus. From the author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes the next obsession-worthy story with a cast of endearing friends, a heart-melting romance, and a mystery, all voiced by the talented Naudus.

Lola Chick by Maria Escobedo. Performed by a full cast. An easy balance of English and Spanish dialogue paired with toe-tapping tunes and charming performances combine to create a joyful listen for all ages. You and your kids will love Lola's bite-sized adventures.

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley. Performed by a Isabella Star LaBlanc. LaBlanc's narration is all consuming in this powerful listen about modern Ojibwe life and one young woman's mission to uncover the source of a lethal drug lacing its way through her community.

Call Us What We Carry, written and performed by Amanda Gorman. Gorman moved the nation to tears at President Joe Biden's inauguration with her beautiful poetry. Now, her full collection is finally available, so grab the tissues.

Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo. Performed by Sara Powell. Onuzo's captivating novel follows a biracial British woman on a search for her long-lost father. Powell's nuanced British and West African accents make this a beautifully immersive and transportive listen.

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. Performed by Karen Chilton.This debut author listened to the voices of his ancestors that came to him in a dream—voices that permeate this unforgettable novel and the performance of narrator Chilton.

You Can't Be Serious, written and performed by Kal Penn. Stories from the White House and Harold & Kumar alike shine in Penn's captivating memoir, a bright listen that captures the sting of confronting racism and the joys of following dreams in equal measure.

Streets, Rhymes & Sugar, written and performed by Michael Elliot. Hollywood all-star Elliot spills his guts in this rags-to-riches memoir, inspiring us to never give up on our dreams, no matter how lofty they may seem.

My Body, My Podcast, written and hosted by Elizabeth Banks. There's nothing juvenile about this sex-ed series. Banks wowed us with her relatable anecdotes, expert guests, and powerful insights in her Audible Original podcast about sexual wellness.

The Science of Love, written and performed by Wind Goodfriend, The Great Courses. From the biology of attraction to the theoretical perspectives of behavior, this Audible Original Great Course explores one of strongest and most-talked about facets of the human experience: love.

Be Well, written and performed by Jessica Clemons, MD. With conversations about mental health in the zeitgeist, Clemons's Audible Original struck a nerve. Her educational guide to mental illnesses, treatment options, and ending stigma is a must-listen.

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren. Performed by Patti Murin. Lauren is a perennial favorite at Audible, and their STEM-based hate-to-lovers romance reached perfect combustion this year for listeners and editors alike. Murin narrates, to our undisputed delight.

Men's Health by Daniel Goldfarb. Performed by Santino Fontana and Tony Shaloub. Shaloub promises to unearth your inner 10-year-old (we haven't giggled this much about the word “penis” in years) in this hilarious and heartwarming performance.

E-Day by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. Performed by R.C. Bray. This thrilling and promising start to a brand-new postapocalyptic series from the Hell Divers writer struck quite the chord with our listeners this year—no surprise with Bray narrating.

Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes, written and performed by Phoebe Robinson. The title alone makes it a winner. We also laughed out loud to the 2 Dope Queens comedian's signature snark in essays on everything from wearing her natural hair to deciding to not have children.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton. Performed by a full cast. Walton turns it to 11 in this title exploring a rising rock star in New York's sizzling '70s. Backed by a full cast of vocal talent, this one is a true face-melter.

The Murder of Robert Wone by AYR Media. Hosted by H. Alan Scott. A passionate host, original interviews, and chilling reenactments highlight the complex political and LBGTQ+ issues at play in this notorious unsolved murder, which rocked the queer community in Washington, DC.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao. Performed by Rong Fu. Prepare for the action to explode and never let up in this tense, robot sci-fi reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Evangelion, with one badass hero at the helm and Fu as the performer.

The Stand-In by Lily Chu. Performed by Phillipa Soo. Prepare to have a massive crush on every character in Chu's sparkling romantic debut that has been a listener and editor favorite, narrated to perfection by the one and only Phillipa Soo.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. Performed by Dion Graham. Narrated by Graham, this is Thomas's first novel from a male point of view, but the authenticity in her storytelling remains unmatched and her love for her protagonist shines through.

Class Act by Jerry Craft. Performed by a full cast. This eagerly awaited follow-up to the Newbery Medal-winning New Kid might be Craft's best title yet thanks to the incredible audio production and the returning cast of talented kid voice actors.

Black, White, and The Grey, written and performed by Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano. Part memoir, part business profile, and part cookbook, this listen defies everything we have come to expect from traditional audio storytelling—and we love it!

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed. Performed by Karen Chilton. The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, herself a Texas native, explores the post-Juneteenth impact of slavery in this short but powerful gem.

Sleeping Dogs Lie by Samantha Downing. Performed by Melanie Nicholls-King and Lindsey Dorcus. Downing (My Lovely Wife) delivered the bite-sized mystery of the year. When a dog walker finds one of her (human) clients dead, she's swept into an investigation that left us panting for the final reveal.

Back in the Burbs by Avery Flynn and Tracy Wolff. Performed by Sophie Amoss. Our listeners flocked to this second-chance romance. Wolff and Flynn, along with narrator Amoss, unite to give us a love story we can all relate to when we're down on our luck.

Crying in H Mart, written and performed by Michelle Zauner. The Korean American rock star's evocative exploration of grief, food, culture, and identity is made all the more exceptional thanks to her candid prose and delicate, vulnerable performance.

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon. Performed by Davina Porter. After seven years, the incomparable pairing of Gabaldon and Porter reunites to continue the saga of Jamie and Claire in spectacular fashion. We relished being with these characters once more.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney. Performed by Aoife McMahon. Rooney astounds again with her precise observational eye that peels away the layers of discontent that have built up and threaten to stifle her four dynamic protagonists, all just emerging into adulthood.

Bamboozled by Jesus, written and performed by Yvonne Orji. Orji (Insecure) charts her inspiring course from financial struggle to television stardom in this entertaining, faith-based listen. Her honesty, warmth, and humor radiate from every life lesson she shares.

My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones. Performed by Cara Gee. Jones terrified us yet again with the bloody story of a misfit girl whose love of horror hits frighteningly close to home—with skin-crawlingly flawless narration by Ojibwe actor Gee.

Broken Horses, written and performed by Brandi Carlile. Carlile's moving ode to the music that carried her through her tumultuous coming out and coming-of-age, with its raw renditions of “Hallelujah” and “Honky Cat,” sings to our hearts.

This Is Your Mind on Plants, written and performed by Michael Pollan. Pollan never fails to make us think in unexplored ways. This year, we're grateful he donated his mind to science to tackle the taboos of experimenting with psychoactive plants.

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters. Performed by Renata Friedman. Come for the juicy premise (a man, who formerly lived as a trans woman, asks his trans ex-girlfriend to help parent the child of his cis, pregnant partner); stay for the gender insights and narration.

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean. Performed by Ali Ahn. When Izumi discovers her long-lost father is the Crown Prince of Japan, she gets tangled up in an adventure to uncover her heritage in this effervescent coming-of-age narrative that has us impatient for the sequel.

The High 5 Habit, written and performed by Mel Robbins. The queen of self-help returns! Robbins writes and voices a fantastic follow-up to her smash hit The 5 Second Rule that will help you reflect on your routines.

You Are Your Best Thing by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown. Performed by the authors and a full cast. We were floored by Burke and Brown's anthology of essays from incredible talents about vulnerability and shame resilience in Black experiences.

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. Performed by a full cast. We couldn't imagine a better duo to perform Pride and Piazza's timely exploration of race. Narrators Shayna Small and Marin Ireland illuminate the heartbreak and pain of a lifelong friendship tested by unspeakable tragedy.

Somebody's Daughter, written and performed by Ashley C. Ford. Ford's debut memoir—a reflection on family, adversity, selfhood, and love that muses on the complexities of a childhood spent longing for her incarcerated father—is raw, beautifully written, and astonishingly tender.

Four Hundred Souls, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain. Performed by a full cast. Performed by a full cast and written by more than 90 contributors, this sweeping “community” history showcases the variety of challenges, triumphs, and experiences of Black Americans throughout history.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. Performed by Julia Whelan. Narrator Whelan brilliantly embodies our heroine, Elsa Wolcott—plus an array of Texans, Italian immigrants, and a host of unforgettable characters—in Hannah's epic Dust Bowl-era story.

The Riddle of Emmon Bodfish by Paul Holes, Peter McDonnell, and Josh Sanburn. Hosted by Paul Holes and Jim Clemente. True crime icon Holes recounts his most personal case—the unsolved death of a trans man in Orinda, California—with haunting diaries, occult elements, and competing theories to keep listeners rapt.

Four Thousand Weeks, written and performed by Oliver Burkeman. Tired of optimizing each day for productivity? Burkeman captured our attention with his approach to time management: We have less time than we think so seek joy above all else.

Trejo, written and performed by Danny Trejo. From one of cinema's most notorious character actors comes this poignant memoir. In his own voice, Trejo takes us on a trip from his wild youth, through prison, and ultimately redemption.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. Performed by Edoardo Ballerini, Marin Ireland, and Dion Graham. This gloriously performed road-trip tale is both rich in Americana and an ode to Homeric epics. You'll be on the edge of your seat as each character searches for a north star in an ever-shifting landscape.

The Cinnamon Bear by Eric Gilliland. Performed by a full cast. Featuring a star-studded lineup, including Marcia Gay Harden, Alan Cumming, and Ryan Reynolds, each episode revives a nostalgic holiday classic radio show that the whole family will fall in love with.

Unbound, written and performed by Tarana Burke. The activist and creator of the "Me Too" movement opens up about her experiences with abuse, trauma, and vulnerability in this heart-wrenching and inspiring memoir about healing through empathy.

Fuzz, written and performed by Mary Roach. It's a treat to hear Roach explain, with hilarious, spot-on delivery in her first self-narrated audiobook, the hairy truth of what makes an animal a law-abiding citizen.

Our editors on the top listens of 2021

Video Our editors on the top listens of 2021

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