The summer season is upon us and you know what that means. Vacations, long walks on the beach, lounging in hammocks with a cold drink in your hand… Not to get too distracted though, here’s a list with the top 21 best audiobooks to entertain yourself with this summer. Some of them are new releases, some of them are best sellers, fiction and non-fiction but all are excellent listens. Without further ado and in no particular order here are our handpicked 21 great audiobooks for the summer of 2013.
1. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, narrated by Mike Chamberlain
Change is hard, or is it? In The Power of Habit, New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg examines just how people and institutions undergo transformation: by changing habits. Narrator Mike Chamberlain (Moonwalking with Einstein) brings just the right mix of objectivity and conviction for a fascinating, life-changing look on how to change. A perfect pick to start your great audiobooks summer list.
2. Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis, narrated by Dylan Baker
The tsunami of cheap credit that rolled across the planet between 2002 and 2008 was more than a simple financial phenomenon: it was temptation, offering entire societies the chance to reveal aspects of their characters they could not normally afford to indulge. Lewis’s investigation of bubbles beyond our shores is so brilliantly, sadly hilarious that it leads the American listener to a comfortable complacency: Oh, those foolish foreigners. But when Lewis turns a merciless eye on California and Washington DC, we see that the narrative is a trap baited with humor, and we understand the reckoning that awaits the greatest and greediest of debtor nations. One of the top audiobooks if you’re interested in finance.
3. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, narrated by Malcolm Gladwell
In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.
Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate. A perfect addition to every best audiobooks type of list.
4. Dracula [Audible Edition] by Bram Stoker, narrated by Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren, Susan Duerden, John Lee, Graeme Malcolm, Steven Crossley
Bram Stoker’s classic is an epistolary novel – a story constructed through collected written accounts, letters, and newspaper articles. The very structure, lacking any one reliable narrator, lends hugely to the creep factor and the brilliance of this tale – something that is often lost in the myriad modern interpretations. This multi-cast rendition is not only performed by the best in the business, but it really brings the listener back to the original text, and it is without a doubt the best version in the store and is certainly worthy to be on our best audiobooks list.
5. Solaris: The Definitive Edition by Stanislaw Lem , Bill Johnston (translator), narrated by Alessandro Juliani
In Solaris, Kris Kelvin arrives on an orbiting research station to study the remarkable ocean that covers the planet’s surface. But his fellow scientists appear to be losing their grip on reality, plagued by physical manifestations of their repressed memories. When Kelvin’s long-dead wife suddenly reappears, he is forced to confront the pain of his past – while living a future that never was. Can Kelvin unlock the mystery of Solaris? Does he even want to? A sci-fi classic that’s on our top audiobooks ever list for sure.
6. Who Moved My Cheese?: The 10th Anniversary Edition by Spencer Johnson, narrated by Tony Roberts, Karen Ziemba
The simple story of Who Moved My Cheese? reveals profound truths about change that give people and organizations a quick and easy way to succeed in changing times. Who Moved My Cheese? is an enlightening story of four characters who live in a “Maze” and look for “Cheese” to nourish them and make them happy. Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry, and two are mouse-size people named Hem and Haw. Eye-opening and fun listen that deserves a high place in our top audiobooks list this summer.
7. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel by Rachel Joyce, narrated by Jim Broadbent
Why did I love this book so much? The answer to that question is as complicated as trying to explain why you love a particular person. Because that’s what this book is – an entire life encapsulated and explored through the thoughts and encounters of a man on an unexpected journey. The story slowly grows and unfolds until the full picture is before you – blooming and beautiful and completely irreplaceable. Jim Broadbent’s narration is so utterly real it breaks your heart.
8. The Name of the Wind: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1 by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl
“My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I have burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to God’s, loved women and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.”
So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature – the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend. One of the best audiobooks in the fantasy genre.
9. City of Thieves by David Benioff, narrated by Ron Perlman
Two unlikely young men charged with desertion and facing execution in the besieged city of Leningrad are charged with an impossible task: they can have their freedom if they can find a dozen eggs for the wedding cake of a powerful colonel’s daughter. The two make an odd couple: one a scrawny Jewish outsider, the other an erudite charmer, and their journey takes them from the war-torn city to the snow-covered countryside. Sound like the basis of a classic movie? That might be because the author, David Benioff, is a successful screenwriter, and City of Thieves is halfway between movie-script and roman-a-clef, between airport blockbuster and serious literature.
10. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, narrated by Lauren Fortgang
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves her life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha… and the secrets of her heart. Great audiobooks aren’t abundant in that genre but this one makes up for it.
11. Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn, narrated by Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
Marriage can be a real killer. One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times best seller Gillian Flynn, takes that statement to its darkest place in this unpausable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn. One of the few great audiobooks in the crime genre we’d actually recommend to people.
12. Day By Day Armageddon by J. L. Bourne, narrated by Jay Snyder
Start intercept: Sporadic reports indicate chaos and violence spreading through U.S. cities. An unknown evil is sweeping the planet. The dead are rising to claim the Earth as the new dominant species in the food chain. Intercept complete.
In your hands is the handwritten journal depicting one man’s struggle for survival. Trapped in the midst of global disaster, he must make decisions; choices that ultimately mean life, or the eternal curse to walk as one of them. Enter, if you will, into the world of the undead.
13. Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi, narrated by Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi
Jack Holloway works alone for reasons he doesn’t care to talk about. On the distant planet Zarathustra, Jack is content as an independent contractor for ZaraCorp, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, that’s not up for discussion.
Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.
14. Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs: Jane Jameson, Book 1 by Molly Harper, narrated by Amanda Ronconi
Maybe it was the Shenanigans gift certificate that put her over the edge. When children’s librarian and self-professed nice girl Jane Jameson is fired by her beastly boss and handed $25 in potato skins instead of a severance check, she goes on a bender that’s sure to become Half Moon Hollow legend. On her way home, she’s mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead. And thanks to the mysterious stranger she met while chugging neon-colored cocktails, she wakes up with a decidedly unladylike thirst for blood.
15. Inferno by Dan Brown, Narrated by Paul Michael
In his international blockbusters The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown masterfully fused history, art, codes, and symbols. In this riveting new thriller, Brown returns to his element and has crafted his highest-stakes novel to date. In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.
16. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Narrator: Alan Cumming
It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. The Leviathan is a living airship, the most formidable airbeast in the skies of Europe.
17. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, narrator: Anthony Heald
Jay Gatsby is still in love with Daisy, whom he met when he was penniless. Now rich, he is determined to win her as his mistress, even though she has married another man for his money. When Daisy causes a fatal accident and Gatsby covers for her, a disaster results which reveals the failure of money to buy love or happiness.
18. I Funny: A Middle School Story (Book one of the I Funny Series) by: James Patterson, Chris Grabenstein, narrator: Frankie Seratch
Jamie Grimm is a middle schooler on a mission: he wants to become the world’s greatest standup comedian–even if he doesn’t have a lot to laugh about these days. He’s new in town and stuck living with his aunt, uncle, and their evil son Stevie, a bully who doesn’t let Jamie’s wheelchair stop him from giving Jamie a good pounding every once in awhile. But Jamie doesn’t let his situation get him down. He practices his craft every day on friends, family, and the willing customers at his Uncle Frankie’s diner. When Uncle Frankie mentions a contest called The Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic, Jamie knows he has to enter. But are the judges only rewarding him out of pity because of his wheelchair, like Stevie suggests?
19. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, narrator: Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison
A full-cast production of the science fiction classic featuring original recordings of Orson Scott Card. In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine.
20. Joyland by: Stephen King, narrator: Michael Kelly
“Joyland is a breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking book….Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved” (Charles Ardai, Edgar- and Shamus Award-winning editor of Hard Case Crime). Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. Joyland is a brand-new novel and has never previously been published.
21. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, narrator: Neil Gaiman
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet sitting by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean), the unremembered past comes flooding back. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie, magical, comforting, wise beyond her years, promised to protect him, no matter what.