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These Are The Best Audiobooks As Read By The Authors

Some books are just meant to be listened to.

Posted on June 25, 2018, at 4:06 p.m. ET

Some books are meant to be read, others are best listened to. The audiobooks below are all narrated by their authors, adding another form of intimacy to the experience. In their expert voices, they might deliver a great joke, or emphasize a great sentence or two that you otherwise might have skimmed. Here are some of the best books to listen to right now.


1. Creative Quest by Questlove

Ecco, Monte Isom

Although Questlove’s audiobooks may not have the same rhythms as your favorite Roots album, they still might inspire you in a complementary way. His latest book about creativity acknowledges the intersection between art and commerce, and how the best artists are cognizant of both. With help from Robin Thede, Fred Armisen, and more, Quest presents a path toward achievement and fulfillment.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+ or from Barnes and Noble for $30.42.

2. Calypso by David Sedaris

Little, Brown, Ingrid Christie

David Sedaris is the best gateway drug into audiobooks there is, and we’re lucky to have a brand new personal essay collection from him featuring all his hallmarks: charm, dark humor, and plenty of both wonder and disdain for humanity. A meditation on aging and mortality, Calypso reminds us that Sedaris has the kind of singular wit to make even death something to laugh about.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+ or Barnes and Noble for $28.37.

3. Florida by Lauren Groff

Riverhead, Megan Brown

Books of short stories make great audiobook fodder because you can listen in segments or you can take it all in and make the experience more immersive. Either way you go, you can’t go wrong with Lauren Groff, the author of Fates and Furies, who narrates her new collection set in her home state. Her stories are linked by both a reverence and fear of the natural world, and an overtly political tone that feels essential right now.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+ or from Barnes and Noble for $29.83.

4. Cringeworthy by Melissa Dahl

Penguin, Celeste Sloman

What happens when your comfort zones are completely obliterated? Join Melissa Dahl as she takes us on a journey not only of her personal awkward moments, but the ones that haunt us all. In Cringeworthy, Dahl purposely puts herself in fraught positions — improv class, Tinder dates but for friendships — to explore awkwardness as an emotion, and what we gain when we’re most weirded out.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+.

5. Failure Is an Option by H. Jon Benjamin

Penguin, TBS youtube.com

As he's one of the most distinctive voices on television today, you might have heard H. Jon Benjamin voicing animated characters such as Bob Belcher of Bob’s Burgers and Sterling Archer of Archer. So of course he narrates his audiobook with aplomb, and grants us permission to laugh at our failures even before we’re supposed to start learning and growing from them.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+.

You may know Retta from her role as Donna Meagle on Parks & Recreation, but if you think the apex of her career is being the star of a trove of “Treat Yo Self” GIFs then you’re missing out. Her memoir — particularly when she reads it — feels personal and honest and funny as hell, and we’re all lucky that she ditched med school to go to Hollywood to become semi-famous. She might not be a household name just yet, but she should be.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+ or from Barnes and Noble for $25.24.

7. How to American by Jimmy O. Yang

Best known as scene-stealer Jian-Yang on HBO’s Silicon Valley, Jimmy O. Yang is a talented stand-up comedian in his own right. His debut book covers his experience as a Chinese immigrant to America, and the many ways he’s managed to disappoint his parents — namely, by pursuing acting as a career. Yang enacts his father’s disapproval of his life choices with both expertise and affection, and the result is as touching as it is funny.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+ or from Barnes and Noble for $29.

8. Unwifeable by Mandy Stadtmiller

Simon & Schuster, Twitter: @mandystadt

“I was a living ‘don’t,’’’ says former dating columnist Mandy Stadtmiller in her explicitly forthright memoir about surviving the trainwreck of her love life and eventually getting married. Named for her popular column for the Cut about wedded bliss and TMI, Unwifeable is a must-read (or must-listen) for anyone who has ever felt overexposed.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+ or from Barnes and Noble for $39.99.

9. The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Scribner, Lucy Raven

A novel about a woman serving a near-life sentence in prison could make for a difficult read, but not in Rachel Kushner’s more than capable hands (and voice!). As harrowing as The Mars Room is, it’s also utterly captivating, and Kushner does the voices of her characters with exactly the right hint of performance but not much more. Added bonus: The audiobook includes music by Kim Gordon.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+ or from Barnes and Noble for $28.02.

10. The House of Broken Angels by Luís Alberto Urrea

Simon & Schuster, Nicole Waite Photography

The latest novel from the Pulitzer Prize finalist follows the members of a Mexican American family who gather for a birthday party-slash-funeral over a single epic weekend. As they trade tales of family lore, we learn about their triumphs and struggles; we witness their laughter and tears. Urrea is an excellent storyteller, both on the page and in his charismatic audiobook narration.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+ or from Barnes and Noble for $29.02.

11. God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright

Random House, Kenny Braun

You can detect just the tiniest bit of twang in Lawrence Wright’s speaking voice, so it’s fitting that he’s the narrator of his book about his home state and its contradictions. Texas is a red state where minorities have already become the majority; its cities are diverse, and its major revenue streams come from both oil and technology. Wright does an excellent job of criticizing Texas and its cultural history even while celebrating it.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+.

12. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

Simon & Schuster, Facebook: TiffanyHaddish

There is perhaps no performer around today who gives off more infectious, joyful energy than Tiffany Haddish. Whether she’s telling a hilarious story about her time as a bar mitzvah dancer or talking candidly about the more painful moments of her life, her essay collection is a delight to read but even better to listen to.

Get it from Amazon for $15.95.

13. Motherhood by Sheila Heti

Macmillan, sheilaheti.com

Blurring the line even more between fiction and nonfiction, author Sheila Heti narrates her own novel about a nameless Canadian woman who is ambivalent about the prospect of having children. Given that Motherhood is more about a woman’s thoughts and less about conventional plot structure, Heti’s voice adds a layer of intimacy to this lovely book.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+ or from Barnes and Noble for $32.99.

14. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Random House, By Peabody Awards - Anthony Bourdain and Charlie Rose, CC BY 2.0, commons.wikimedia.org

A lovely way to honor the memory of one of our greatest chefs, writers, and raconteurs is to go back and listen to his classic tell-all about working in the restaurant business.

Get it from Amazon for $14.95+.


Maris Kreizman's writing has appeared in the New York Times, the LA Times, Vanity Fair, Vulture, Esquire, GQ, OUT Magazine, and more.

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