June is Audiobook Appreciation month, and while I tend to appreciate audiobooks year round (seriously, my phone battery dies every day because I have it projecting my latest favorite while I do everything from cooking to showering), here are few award-winning audiobooks that you might want to take note of….
David Sedaris is—if you’ll pardon the pun—audiobook royalty in my book. In his collection of personal essays, he spends his time doing normal things like visiting flea markets in Serbia and shooting guns with his sister…and then the pandemic hits. And everything changes. Happy Go Lucky was written with Sedaris’ trademark wit and delivered with impeccable timing as always. This book also won an Audie Award in 2023 for Humor… so you can’t go wrong here. Plus, I like an audiobook that works in segments like personal essays because there are natural pausing points.
This audiobook won a 2023 Audie Award, too, but for fantasy. It blends fantasy seamlessly with historical detail to create a 1920s Washington DC like none you’ve ever experienced. Clara Johnson can talk to spirits, and while that’s often a gift, it’s just as frequently a curse. Such as when one spirit offers her the chance to silence the voice by pulling off a heist: stealing a magical ring from the finger of “the wealthiest woman in the district.” This one’s sure to keep you listening to “one more chapter” until you’ve devoured the whole book.
This audiobook by well-loved author N.K. Jemisin, read by Robin Miles, takes top honor in the Audie Award categories: Fantasy and Best Female Narration. The latter prize is considered one of the “top four” categories, as it celebrates in particular the artistry of the voice actor’s interpretation of the work. Three-time Hugo Award-winning and New York Times bestselling Jemisin crafts her most incredible novel yet, a “glorious” story of culture, identity, magic, and myths in contemporary New York City.
Narrated by Peter Giles and Zach Villa, this thrilling listen won the Audie for best Mystery audiobook. Bestselling author Michael Connelly brings us the story of Jack McEvoy, the journalist who never backs down, tracks a serial killer who has been operating completely under the radar—until now.
If you’re like me, in that the Georgia Public School System failed you a little, you might have thought that the Chernobyl disaster happened a long, long time ago. Like, pre-war long ago—until that HBO series came out and revealed that, no, it happened in 1986. This Baillie Gifford Prize winning book was in fact written by one of its survivors, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy, who draws on new sources to fully expand the history of the disaster. It’s a must read.
In the midst of what we deem to be shortened attention spans and a lack of reading, Professor of English and Chair of the History & Literature program at Harvard gives a different perspective. In her book of nonfiction, she offers that, actually, people have been skimming and multitasking since before literacy was the standard. It’s not as simple as that, of course, but you have to read the book to learn the full scope. What We Talk About When We Talk About Books won the award from the Phi Beta Kappa society’s award for “outstanding works of non-fiction that engage a wide audience with important ideas in science, history and literature.”
Now it’s time to strap on those headphones and get to listening.
Mary Kay McBrayer is the author of America’s First Female Serial Killer: Jane Toppan and the Making of a Monster. You can find her short works at Oxford American, Narratively, Mental Floss, and FANGORIA, among other publications. She co-hosts Everything Trying to Kill You, the comedy podcast that analyzes your favorite horror movies from the perspectives of women of color. Follow Mary Kay McBrayer on Instagram and Twitter, or check out her author site here.