20 of the Best Audiobooks in 2022, Fiction and Nonfiction




Basic

Run out of great podcasts to listen to? Looking for something a bit weightier? Audiobooks could be the perfect solution. Whether you’re driving to work or wandering the streets, this selection will keep you entertained. With A-list actors providing the narration and a large number of new productions of old favorites, there’s never been a better time to start listening. Should you want to read actual pages, give WIRED’s guides to the best sci-fi books and the best fantasy books a try.

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps sustain our journalism. Learn more.

Basic

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

The Emperor of All Maladies

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

You may think a book subtitled “A Biography of Cancer” would not be the lightest of listens, and you would be right, but that doesn’t make it any less bright. Siddhartha Mukherjee‎ does a exceptional job of charting the history of this complicate disease, weaving together the narrative with stories from his own experience as an oncologist. It’s a triumph precisely because it never loses sight of the people at the heart of the story: the researchers who pushed forward and found treatments in uncommon places and the patients and their families who faced losing everything.

Basic

Courtesy of Mudlark

Tremors in the Blood

By Amit Katwala

Penned by WIRED’s Amit Katwala, with spine-tingling narration by Matt Reeves, Tremors in the Blood tells the true story of two murders—one in San Francisco in 1922, the other in Chicago in 1935—and how they intersect with the creation of the polygraph machine. The book combines true crime elements, tense gunfights, and courtroom drama with science and history as it explores how the inventors of the lie detector—a rookie cop, a teenage magician, and a visionary police chief—ended up unleashing a strength they couldn’t control. 

Basic

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Cloud Atlas 

By David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas is a difficult book to get by, there’s no doubt about that. But the beauty of audiobooks is that they make getting by such novels a breeze. Cloud Atlas spans a number of centuries and is told from the perspective of six interconnected characters. The tonal shift from flowery 19th-century prose to the incomprehensibly simplistic final chapter comes across beautifully in audio form. Best of all, each tale is read by a different narrator, bringing the book to life better than the novel’s polarizing film adaptation ever could. 

Basic

Courtesy of Harper Collins

The Hunting Party

By Lucy Foley

A modern murder mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie, The Hunting Party sees a group of friends—Londoners, Oxford graduates, just the worst people—heading up to a far away lodge in Scotland for their annual New Year’s Eve get-together. Things quickly take a dark turn, and with the lodge cut off from the outside world, it’s up to the place’s only two staff members to piece together what happened, all while battling dark secrets of their own. It’s a fun, slightly ridiculous story—and you will probably hate some of the main players, but it works well for audiobook because the story switches between different characters, each with their own voice actor. Just don’t listen if you’re somewhere far away.

Basic

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold

By Stephen Fry

Greek mythology can at times feel a little impenetrable. There are just too many gods, goddesses, and nymphs—all with countless stories of love, wrath, and revenge. Stephen Fry makes it easily digestible by picking out meaningful events and adding dialogue to modernize them. Though your head will boggle at the complicate family tree of the Greek deities, you’ll learn about the legends that inspired millennia of writers, from Shakespeare to Rick Riordan.

Basic

Courtesy of Audible

The End of the Affair

By Graham Greene

Set during the blitz, Graham Greene’s typical novel is a semi-autobiographical account of an adulterous man’s jealousy toward his lover. When she breaks off their tryst, he’s consumed by insecurity and hires a private investigator, suspecting she is seeing someone else. It’s based in no small part on a notorious affair Greene himself conducted with Catherine Walston, the wife of a noticeable Labour MP. This real-life context and Greene’s customary skill combine for one of his most highly regarded works. It’s narrated expertly by Colin Firth, who is perfectly cast to voice the inner monologue and lamentable pettiness of Maurice Bendrix.

Basic

Courtesy of Harper Collins

How to Be a Woman 

By Caitlin Moran

If you are a woman, you should have already read this book. But if you don’t have time to read it right now, let Caitlin Moran do it for you. Her awkward, autobiographical account tackles hair removal, getting fat, tiny pants, and being one of too many siblings in a way that will leave you cringing one minute and laughing the next. 

Basic

Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Calypso 

By David Sedaris

If you’re a fan of David Sedaris’ past books and podcasts, strap in: You’re about to have (possibly) the best one-sided conversation of the year. But if you don’t want to hoot with laughter on public transport, this is not the book for you. In Calypso, Sedaris delivers a barrage of sheer radiance with his remarkably deadpan voice. A quest to satisfy his benign tumor to a snapping turtle; disastrous family gatherings at his dream holiday home, dubbed the Sea Section; and his wildly inappropriate compulsion to buy useless fact (including a toilet brush hat)—all of these stories are here. Sedaris has built his essays on the weird and wonderful things of everyday life, but with Calypso he bravely exposes ugly flaws with the same panache as his finest quips. You’ll walk away transformed.

Basic

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

I Am C-3PO: The Inside Story

By Anthony Daniels

Since Star Wars first premiered in 1977, millions of people have met, loved, and loathed the now-iconic golden droid C-3PO from a galaxy far, far away. Inside the minute hinges of C-3PO’s suffocatingly tight metal costume was Anthony Daniels, who acts as a soft-spoken guide with a rare backstage pass to the complicate world unveiled on screen. In a deeply personal account of the personalities behind the iconic movie series, Daniels unveils how he became an accidental star of the franchise, the pain and challenges of being retained in a golden cage, and the friendships he made along the way. 

Basic

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

The Body

By Bill Bryson

Travelogue master Bill Bryson has retired to the library in recent years, and his gentle Midwestern tones are perfect for audiobooks. In his latest book, The Body, Bryson takes a characteristic approach familiar to his readers, unearthing fascinating, disgusting, and hilarious nuggets of information about our bodies. He explores everything from genetics to our immune system, all in a soothing voice that will keep you calm while you panic-Google various ailments.

Basic

Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

This Is Going to Hurt

By Adam Kay

This diary of life on the medical frontlines by junior-doctor-turned-comedian Adam Kay sold more than a million copies in print and shone a light on the disorganized and compassionate world of the UK’s NHS. The audiobook is read by Kay—who first came to fame in the mid-2000s with a Tube-strike-inspired parody of “Going Underground” by The Jam that he made while part of comedic musical duo Amateur Transplants. The audio version includes additional diary entries about Kay’s life in the hospital ward.

Basic

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

La Belle Sauvage Series

By Philip Pullman

The long-awaited follow-up to Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy shows the protagonist of those books, Lyra Belacqua, much earlier in life. The action of the first part of this new trilogy, The Book of Dust, follows Malcolm Polstead—an 11-year-old living on the outskirts of Oxford—as he’s swept away in a flood of biblical dimensions while trying to protect the infant Lyra from mysterious assailants. The audiobook is read by Michael Sheen, who brings his customary energy to Pullman’s wild tale.

Basic

Courtesy of Gollancz

Rivers of London Series

By Ben Aaronovitch

Set in modern-day London, the series follows copper Peter Grant as he’s slowly introduced to the world of magic lurking beneath the city’s streets. If you’re reluctant to dive into a tale of wizard’s hats and magic wands, don’t worry—author Ben Aaronovitch approaches the assumption like a scientist, and Grant conducts controlled experiments that would put the stars of CSI to shame. The audiobooks, expertly narrated by Kobna-Holdbrook Smith, are a pleasure, particularly when the series ventures into the jazz world in book two, Moon Over Soho.

Basic

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders

Acclaimed short story writer George Saunders’ first foray into long fiction was a huge basic success. He won the 2017 Man Booker prize for his portrayal of a grieving Abraham Lincoln, harangued by ghosts after his son’s death. The audiobook has a suitably stellar cast, featuring Susan Sarandon, Lena Dunham, Ben Stiller, and a large number of other famous—and slightly less famous—actors. There are 166 cast members in total.

Basic

Courtesy of Harper Collins

Solo: A James Bond Novel 

By William Boyd

If you’re after an easy listen, William Boyd’s James Bond novel Solo fits the bill. In a fictional African nation, an aging Bond goes undercover as a journalist in an attempt to foil a separatist movement. Read skillfully by actor Dominic West, the novel is set in 1969 and offers a pleasant antidote to the modern Bond movies while benefiting from an excellent villain in Kobus copy, a ruthless mercenary on whom Bond seeks revenge.

Basic

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 

By Douglas Adams

The BBC’s radio adaptations of Douglas Adams’ seminal comedy works are mythical and all six series—one for each book—are obtainable on Audible. With each clocking in at around two-and-a-half to three hours, complete with bright music, sound effects, and complete cast, they’re the perfect way to enjoy the adventures of the last surviving man from Earth and his alien “friends” by your headphones. If you’d rather experience the books in complete, all six are also obtainable with narrations from Stephen Fry and Martin Freeman, who played Arthur Dent in the movie adaption. 

Basic

Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Handmaid’s Tale

By Margaret Atwood

Narrated by Elizabeth Moss, the star of the current television adaptation, The Handmaid’s Tale is an increasingly powerful reminder of the thin ice the modern, comparatively liberal society we live in rests upon. Margaret Atwood’s novel has spawned countless imitators since it was first published in 1985, but its description of Offred’s life in Gilead and the slow ratcheting back of progress that led society to that point remains chilling.

Basic

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

A Legacy of Spies 

By John le Carré

Written by John le Carré, A Legacy of Spies acts as both prequel and sequel to one of his earliest novels, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold—famously alternation into a film starring Richard Burton. Here a now-retired intelligence officer is summoned to London to defend his actions during a Cold War operation in which a British agent was killed. Decades later, the agent’s son is suing the British government for wrongful death, and the bureaucratic apparatus is desperate to shift the blame. It’s an absorbing listen, thanks to le Carré’s skill in building character and tension, and it’s further enhanced by the deft narration of actor Tom Hollander.

Dune

By Frank Herbert

In 2012, WIRED readers voted Dune the best science-fiction novel of all time. It’s also the best-selling of all time and has inspired a huge universe, including 18 books set over 34,000 years. The series takes place 20,000 years in the future in galaxies stuck in the feudal ages, where computers are banned for religious reasons and noble families rule whole planets. Frank Herbert focuses on the planet Arrakis, which holds a material used as a money throughout the universe for its rarity and mind-enhancing powers. 

Neverwhere

By Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere is a tale of London—not the city you know, but the London Below, a city unseen by the majority in addition no less real, populated by the ignored, lost, and forgotten. It’s a world that Richard Mayhew, a Scottish expatriate to the Big Smoke, slips into when he helps Door, a young woman on the run from unstoppable assassins who have killed her complete family. Now invisible and forgotten by London Above, Richard and Door—along with the trickster Marquis de Carabas and the stoic Hunter—must travel across Night’s Bridge, seek an audience at the Earl’s court, and acquire a scarce meaningful from the Black Friars for the angel Islington if either of them has a hope of returning to their former lives. Gaiman’s urban fantasy takes the metropolis of London and rebuilds it into a rare vicinity of mythology, one that will leave you wondering what’s really happening, a half-to peek briefly out of sight, the next time you find yourself wandering around the city. The audiobook is read by Gaiman himself, while a complete-cast audio drama offers a more immersive journey by London Below. 

More Great WIRED Stories

Click: See details




leave your comment

Top