The best audiobooks of 2020

What. A. Year. Our editors present the most diverting, inspirational, and entertaining listens of 2020.

The act of listening has always been virtual—it's something we can take with us and build into our day-to-day no matter how much things change. It's a constant, and something we've leaned into in new ways this year—a year of challenges, yes, but also a year of unforgettable listens!

We as editors thrive on shared experience, when we gather in conference rooms, or simply bump into each other while fixing our morning java, and talk about our favorite listens—the ones we passionately advocate for, encourage others to try, or discover anew based on a co-worker's trusted recommendation. We've moved these conversations to chat rooms, video calls, and email chains—but the end result is much the same.

After thoughtful review, deep discussion, and lots and lots of listening, we're sharing our picks for the top 10 from 2020 plus our favorites in key categories listeners seek out the most. We hope you’ll love this list as much as we do.


The Sea in the Sky by Jackson Musker

Performed by Octavia Chavez-Richmond, James Ludwig, Pun Bandhu, Lizan Mitchell, a full cast
This deep-space adventure is like no sci-fi listen we've heard before. It's at turns heartfelt and haunting—with just enough humor to break up the tense claustrophobia.

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

Performed by Robin Miles
In a year rocked by America’s reckoning with racism, Pulitzer winner Wilkerson delivers a lucid and necessary reframing of the conversation, rich with historical significance, revealing anecdotes, and standout narration by Miles.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Performed by Shayna Small
A stunningly nuanced and moving novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds—one Black and one White.

Performed by James Taylor
Break Shot is a portrait of a once-in-a-lifetime artist as a young man, told in Taylor's timeless and singular voice; an elder statesman of pop music looks back at how he found his way.

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, Dirk Maggs

Performed by Riz Ahmed, Kat Dennings, Taron Egerton, Neil Gaiman, James McAvoy, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis, Michael Sheen
This epic production of The Sandman is a completely immersive audio experience with dynamic sound design and A+ performances from a star-studded cast of brilliant voices.

Donor 9623 by Dov Fox

Performed by Dov Fox
This compulsive true crime series examines the strange and shocking case of a prolific sperm donor from all angles, resisting easy conclusions and becoming the most provocative yet bingeable podcast of the year.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Performed by Avi Roque
This buzzy debut, from an #ownvoices author and narrator, is jam-packed with creative storytelling. Cemetery Boys combines the paranormal with romance, LGBTQIA+ heroes, Latinx culture, and themes of acceptance and identity in a wholly original way.

The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

Performed by Mariah Carey
We discovered that many of Mariah's songs we know by heart described her real pain of isolation and strife within her broken, mixed-race family. We cried, laughed, and could not stop listening.

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Performed by Dominic Hoffman
McBride's brilliant use of dialogue is heightened by Hoffman's inspired performance. This is the ultimate in literary, historical, satirical, and hysterical storytelling.

Why Fish Don't Exist by Lulu Miller

Performed by Lulu Miller
Miller’s history in the world of audio storytelling comes through immediately in the narration. Why Fish Don’t Exist is an important reminder that even though there’s so much we can’t control ourselves, that isn’t always a bad thing.

Scenes from Our Listening Lives

The audio must go on. That's the mind of Audible editors. Watch them in action in everyday life, during a year like no other.