You may pick a book based on its genre, title, synopsis, or some other criteria. But it’s only while you’re listening that you find all the ways that a book can go beyond your expectations. So much so that it’s not enough to simply say it was great — you have to highlight the unique ways it stands out, like this list of 2017 books that we simply can't forget.

Books Most Likely to Make You Ugly Cry

Books that Hit New Heights on Audio

Lincoln in the Bardo By: George Saunders
“A cast of 166 individual narrators (led by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, and author George Saunders) came together to voice this wildly surreal audiobook. It might sound like a production stunt, but the voices create an immersive cacophony effect—a Greek chorus of Americana.”
Emily C.
See You in the Cosmos By: Jack Cheng
“I’m enamored with Voyager II’s golden record, so I loved this story about a science-obsessed kid who launches his own golden iPod into space. Told through a series of sound recordings, this book is PERFECT for the audio format.”
Rachel S.
Theft by Finding By: David Sedaris
“Over 25 years of diary entries reveal David Sedaris’s most intimate thoughts and experiences in Theft by Finding. Chock full of witticisms and one-liners but also, in turns, vividly real and taut with pain — Sedaris’ anecdotes never lose the tension he is so adept at crafting. And his iconic narration is something I’ll never get tired of.”

Books With the Best First Chapter

What Happened By: Hillary Rodham Clinton
“Like a much less romantic (but almost as devastating) version of the opening montage from Up, chapter one offers a comprehensive preview of HRC’s post-election journey from hope to despair and back to hope again (read: emotional rollercoaster ride).”
— Lavina K.
The Heart's Invisible Furies By: John Boyne
“This book is overall fairly somber, but the first sentence slayed me. It’s the reason why I started listening (and ended up loving) this saga of one man's incredible life in postwar Ireland.”
Laura M.
The Butchering Art By: Lindsey Fitzharris
“Chapter one of this morbidly fascinating book throws the listener headfirst into the gruesome action of an early operating theater. I cringed, groaned, even had to pause compose myself . . . and that’s how I knew I was hooked.”
Sam P.

Most Au-Courant Books This Year

The Hate U Give By: Angie Thomas
“Few books took over 2017 the way The Hate U Give did. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’ debut follows Starr Carter as she attempts to balance two very different worlds: the "ghetto" where she lives, and the affluent prep school she attends nearly an hour away. Consider this required listening.”
Katie O.
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? By: Alyssa Mastromonaco, Lauren Oyler
“Alyssa is equal parts wise owl and laugh-out-loud hilarity, penning a standout in a sea of political memoirs. Who else could make meetings with the Department of Defense and OEM as compelling as run-ins with the Pope, the Queen, and Mr. Darcy himself?”
— Lavina K.
Refugee By: Alan Gratz
“The plight of refugee children is one of the leading humanitarian crises of our time, but it is not a recent phenomenon. This heart-wrencher chronicles the journeys of three children as they flee home, with each taking you into the heart of these moments in a way that news reports and history books never can.”
Emily C.

Fiction Authors Most Likely to Win an Award for Narrating Their Own Book

The Changeling By: Victor LaValle
“I have so much love for this tale about a devoted dad who chases trolls through NYC to save his family. Author Victor LaValle has the voice of a natural-born storyteller, and I can’t imagine anyone else narrating this book.”
Rachel S.
Exit West By: Mohsin Hamid
“Mohsin Hamid offers a beautifully measured performance—perfectly capturing his novel’s spare, yet richly descriptive language in a fanciful, yet scarily realistic depiction of refugee life in a not-so-far-fetched future world.”
Tricia F.
4 3 2 1 By: Paul Auster
“Paul Auster takes a trip down multiple memory lanes. Listening to him narrate is like having the author in my car’s passenger seat, with the open book on his lap as he calmly reads aloud. Perfectly imperfect. ”
Tricia F.