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The 10 Best Audiobooks of 2020

If you missed these favorites, it’s not too late to give them a listen.

Audiobooks are always such a treat. Whether read by the author or a full cast, we’re always ready for a good story. Press play, and cross a few of this year’s best audiobooks off your to-listen list.

By Jessica Dukes

Saint X

By Alexis Schaitkin, narrated by Alex Hyde-White, et al. 12 hours, 25 minutes

Emily lives in a quickly gentrifying neighborhood of Brooklyn. Her world is turned upside down when she spots one of the men suspected in the death of her older sister years ago on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Emily was still very young on that fateful family vacation, and she grows up never knowing her sister. So the pull toward this man is strong, as are the many ways that race and privilege collide when Emily thinks of how to approach him. Not only could he answer questions about Alison’s death, but perhaps he could answer questions about who she really was.

The Shadows

By Alex North, narrated by Hannah Arterton and John Heffernan. 9 hours, 5 minutes

Paul Adams would rather not go home again. His mother is ill, he has to be by her side, but the horrible murders that took place when he was a teenager are too painful to relive. He has barely arrived when he learns that a copycat killer is on the loose. Maybe it’s Paul’s imagination, but it all feels too familiar … and now he’s being followed. Then there’s the fact that he was once friends with Charlie Crabtree, the original killer who has since disappeared.

Hamnet

By Maggie O'Farrell, narrated by Ell Potter. 12 hours, 42 minutes

England, late 16th century. A plague rages as life goes on for Agnes who lives in the countryside in Stratford-upon-Avon. Already a feared and respected healer, Agnes balances the demands of her husband’s theater career with those of her family. But when their young son Hamnet dies of fever, the family’s grief and her marriage suffer deeply. A few years later, her husband William writes Hamlet, a small tribute that keeps his name alive for centuries to come.

Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia, narrated by Frankie Corzo. 10 hours, 39 minutes

Noemí isn’t sure what she’s getting herself into when she answers her cousin’s call for help. Once she arrives in the Mexican countryside, her high-society, 1950s glamour is of little use. Instead, she has to plot their escape while she figures out what’s going on with her cousin’s English husband and his overbearing father. Then there’s High Place itself, a house filled with dark secrets that only the youngest son of the family seems to understand.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

By V. E. Schwab, narrated by Julia Whelan. 17 hours, 10 minutes

For Addie LaRue, immortality is both a blessing and a curse. While she avoided her previously scheduled death, she also inherited a curse: She’ll never be remembered by anyone she meets in the future. As decades and centuries go by, Addie wonders if life is worth it if you always have to go it alone. And then, 300 years after becoming immortal, a man in a bookstore seems to know who she is.

Hollywood Park

By Mikel Jollett, narrated by the author. 11 hours, 45 minutes

Born on a commune that evolved into the Church of Synanon, a notorious cult in Northern California, Jollett was separated from his parents at six months old and raised in the cult’s School, which essentially operated as an orphanage. After escaping in the middle of the night with his mother and brother, life did not become easier. Navigating a childhood filled with trauma, alcohol and drug abuse, and depression, Jollett reconnects with his once-remote father and works hard to overcome years of emotional abuse. By the time he reaches Stanford University, he starts to develop his voice as a writer and musician.

Not only is this audiobook read by the author, it incorporates songs from Jollett’s band The Airborne Toxic Event and their album also titled Hollywood Park, which acts as a soundtrack to the book.

A Promised Land

By Barack Obama, narrated by the author. 29 hours, 10 minutes

Presidential memoirs run on parallel tracks. On one side is Obama, the father, husband, son, and friend, who has ambition and a vision of what the country he loves could be. On the other is a president, a man with immense powers, even larger responsibilities, and is at the center of some of history’s most memorable events. As only he can, President Obama guides us through the campaign and the ups and downs of his first four years in the oval office.

Untamed

By Glennon Doyle, narrated by the author. 8 hours, 22 minutes

Women have a habit of ignoring their inner voice, often in the name of keeping the peace or taking care of others. As Doyle discovers, it’s a horrible mistake. This is how one woman learned to listen. The first step is to recognize that your inner voice is on, active, and telling you truths about yourself you may be afraid to admit. When Doyle fell in love with a woman after years of unhappiness, she began the work of shedding everyone’s expectations so that she could live the life she was meant to live.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

By Isabel Wilkerson, narrated by Robin Miles. 14 hours, 26 minutes

To truly understand the United States, Wilkerson posits that we need to understand what divides us. Our nation’s unofficial caste system is demonstrated through the stories of people who remain unseen, a condition that sustains an imbalance of power in a society. America’s caste system is put into context against others in the world and across history, and shows us how our class system — lower, middle, and upper — provides the structure for the logic required to allow a caste system to flourish. Thankfully, there are also lessons to learn from history, ways to dismantle the caste and refuse to accept the notions that separate us.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

By Robert Kolker, narrated by Sean Pratt. 13 hours, 8 minutes

In the post-war baby boom, the Galvin family had 12 children. By the 1970s, it was discovered that six of the boys had schizophrenia. Their cases attracted the attention of doctors at the National Institute of Mental Health, intrigued that so many boys in one family would be diagnosed. Hidden Valley Road is two stories in one. It’s a heartbreaking memoir of a family suffering through abuse while trying to keep up appearances. It’s also a history of schizophrenia itself, the Galvin family’s DNA that was taken without their knowledge, and how their illness has informed studies ever since.

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