It’s been another bumper year for fully produced and crisply realised audiobooks from publishers all over the world. From humorous memoirs, to full-cast productions, to expertly performed mysteries full of suspense and tension, there’s never been such interest in the convenience and immersion provided by a good spoken-word book!
As part of our annual revision of Libby’s best titles in 2021, we’ve provided curated lists of our librarians favourite Adult, Children’s and YA titles of the year on our Libby landing page, so maybe we could consider the digital audiobook titles below a wide-ranging Best Of the ‘Best Of’s’? Regardless, these 2021 audiobook titles all come heartily recommended!
Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (Audiobook)
“Klara and the Sun is the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2017. From the bestselling and Booker Prize winning author of Never Let me Go and The Remains of the Day, a stunning new novel that asks, what does it mean to love? A thrilling feat of world-building, a novel of exquisite tenderness and impeccable restraint, Klara and the Sun is a magnificent achievement, and an international literary event.” (Libby description)
One Last Stop, Casey McQuiston (Audiobook)
“For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures. But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train. Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.” (Libby description)
Under the Whispering Door, TJ Klune (Audiobook)
“When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life. When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days. By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune’s signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy.” (Libby description)
1979, Val McDermid (Audiobook) 1979.
“It is the winter of discontent, and reporter Allie Burns is chasing her first big scoop. There are few women in the newsroom and she needs something explosive for the boys’ club to take her seriously. Soon Allie and fellow journalist Danny Sullivan are exposing the criminal underbelly of respectable Scotland. They risk making powerful enemies – and Allie won’t stop there. When she discovers a home-grown terrorist threat, Allie comes up with a plan to infiltrate the group and make her name. But she’s a woman in a man’s world . . . and putting a foot wrong could be fatal. A brilliant novel by a supremo of the genre at the height of her powers. An unmissable new series.” (Libby description)
No One Is Talking About This, Patricia Lockwood (Audiobook)
“This is a story about a life lived in two halves. It’s about what happens when real life collides with the world accessed through a screen. It’s about where we go when existential threats loom and high-stakes reality claims us back. It’s about living in world that contains both an abundance of proof that there is goodness, empathy, and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary. Irreverent and sincere, poignant and delightfully profane, No One Is Talking About This is a meditation on love, language and human connection from one of the most original voices of our time. SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2021; SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2021.” (Libby description)
Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr (Audiobook)
“When everything is lost, it’s our stories that survive How do we weather the end of things? Cloud Cuckoo Land brings together an unforgettable cast of dreamers and outsiders from past, present and future to offer a vision of survival against all odds. Constantinople, 1453: An orphaned seamstress and a cursed boy with a love for animals risk everything on opposite sides of a city wall to protect the people they love. Idaho, 2020: An impoverished, idealistic kid seeks revenge on a world that’s crumbling around him. Can he go through with it when a gentle old man stands between him and his plans? Unknown, Sometime in the Future: With her tiny community in peril, Konstance is the last hope for the human race. To find a way forward, she must look to the oldest stories of all for guidance. Bound together by a single ancient text, these tales interweave to form a tapestry of solace and resilience and a celebration of storytelling itself. Like it’s predecessor All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr’s new novel is a tale of hope and of profound human connection.” (Libby description)
And Away…, Bob Mortimer (Audiobook)
“Bob Mortimer’s life was trundling along happily until suddenly in 2015 he was diagnosed with a heart condition that required immediate surgery and forced him to cancel an upcoming tour. The episode unnerved him, but forced him to reflect on his life so far. This is the framework for his hilarious and moving memoir, And Away…. Although his childhood in Middlesbrough was normal on the surface, it was tinged by the loss of his dad, and his own various misadventures (now infamous from his appearances on Would I Lie to You?), from burning down the family home to starting a short-lived punk band called Dog Dirt. As an adult, he trained as a solicitor and moved to London. Though he was doing pretty well (the South London Press once crowned him ‘The Cockroach King’ after a successful verdict), a chance encounter in a pub in the 1980s with a young comedian going by the name Vic Reeves set his life on a different track. And now, six years on, the heart condition that once threatened his career has instead led to new success on BBC2’s Gone Fishing. Warm, profound, and irrepressibly funny, And Away… is Bob’s full life story (with a few lies thrown in for good measure.)” (Libby description)
Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner (Audiobook)
“In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humour and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian-American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food. As she grew up, moving to the east coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, performing gigs with her fledgling band – and meeting the man who would become her husband – her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her. Vivacious, lyrical and honest, Michelle Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage.” (Libby description)
Four Thousand Weeks, Oliver Burkeman (Audiobook)
“The average human lifespan is absurdly, outrageously, insultingly brief: if you live to 80, you have about four thousand weeks on earth. How should we use them best?
Of course, nobody needs telling that there isn’t enough time. We’re obsessed by our lengthening to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, the struggle against distraction, and the sense that our attention spans are shrivelling. Yet we rarely make the conscious connection that these problems only trouble us in the first place thanks to the ultimate time-management problem: the challenge of how best to use our four thousand weeks. Four Thousand Weeks is an uplifting, engrossing and deeply realistic exploration of this problem that draws on philosophy, literature and psychology to cover the past, present and future of our battles with time.” (Libby description)
This Is Your Mind On Plants, Michael Pollan (Audiobook)
“Of all the many things humans rely on plants for, surely the most curious is our use of them to change consciousness: to stimulate, calm, or completely alter the qualities of our mental experience. In This Is Your Mind On Plants, Michael Pollan explores three very different drugs – opium, caffeine and mescaline – and throws the fundamental strangeness of our thinking about them into sharp relief. Exploring and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these drugs, while consuming (or in the case of caffeine, trying not to consume) them, Pollan reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants, and the equally powerful taboos. In a unique blend of history, science, memoir and reportage, Pollan shines a fresh light on a subject that is all too often treated reductively.” (Libby description)
The Storyteller, Dave Grohl (Audiobook)
“So, I’ve written a book. Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities (‘It’s a piece of cake! Just do four hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!’), I have decided to tell these stories just as I have always done, in my own voice. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I’ve recorded and can’t wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child. This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it’s like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician.” (Libby description)
All In, Billie Jean King (Audiobook)
“An inspiring and intimate self-portrait of the champion of equality that encompasses her brilliant tennis career, unwavering activism, and an ongoing commitment to fairness and social justice. In this spirited account, Billie Jean King details her life’s journey to find her true self. She recounts her groundbreaking tennis career — six years as the top-ranked woman in the world, twenty Wimbledon championships, thirty-nine grand-slam titles, and her watershed defeat of Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes.” She poignantly recalls the cultural backdrop of those years and the profound impact on her worldview from the women’s movement, the assassinations and anti-war protests of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, and, eventually, the LGBTQ+ rights movement.” (Libby description)