In this post, I am sharing with you this collection of the best audiobooks of 2023, according to Audible’s official classification. Each of these titles has been carefully selected for its unique narrative, exceptional narration, and the ability to transport listeners into different worlds. Whether you’re a long-time audiobook enthusiast or just starting to explore this format, these books are sure to provide hours of engaging listening.
And if you’re hungry for more literary adventures, don’t forget to check out our ‘Best of 2023 in Books‘ section. Here, you’ll find a broader selection of this year’s top reads across various genres and formats. It’s a treasure trove for book lovers, offering something for everyone’s taste. So,
Best Audiobooks of 2023
Let’s dive into this collection of best audiobooks of 2023 and discover the stories that have resonated with audiences this year.
1. Michelle Rojas Is Not Okay, by Ashley Soto Paniagua, Guillermo Zouain, Wendy Muniz, Jaime Fernandez
In “Michelle Rojas Is Not Okay,” we dive into the life of Michelle Rojas, a Dominican psychologist from Washington Heights with an impressive background, including a PsyD from Yale. However, her life takes a dramatic turn when she’s fired from her Connecticut therapy practice for unprofessional conduct. Returning to her roots, Michelle, voiced by Dascha Polanco, embarks on a deceptive yet bold venture: opening a therapy practice in a local bodega under false pretenses.
The story, rich in cultural nuances and emotional depth, explores Michelle’s struggle to break through the community’s resistance to therapy, supported by her cousin Dora and childhood friend Niño. This Audible Original captures the essence of identity struggles and the journey towards self-acceptance and community healing, making it a compelling listen for anyone interested in contemporary social issues and personal transformation.
2. Spare, by Prince Harry
“Spare” offers an intimate and unflinchingly honest narrative from Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, detailing his life in the royal spotlight. This memoir begins with the haunting image of young Harry and William at their mother’s funeral, setting the stage for a life shaped by grief, public scrutiny, and a relentless media. Harry’s journey from a carefree child to a troubled young man grappling with his mother’s loss, his struggles in school, and his eventual path to the British Army is laid bare.
The book takes a turn with his meeting Meghan, exploring their high-profile romance, marriage, and the intense media scrutiny that followed. Harry’s decision to leave the Royal Family, a move echoing his mother’s footsteps, is portrayed with raw honesty, offering insights into the challenges of royal life and the power of love over grief. This memoir is not just a royal tell-all; it’s a story of personal struggle, love, and finding one’s own path against all odds.
3. Pageboy: A Memoir, by Elliot Page
“Pageboy: A Memoir” is a profound and moving account of Elliot Page’s journey of self-discovery and authenticity. Known for his breakout role in “Juno,” Page’s memoir delves into the complexities of his life in Hollywood, where he was thrust into the limelight and struggled with his identity amidst the industry’s rigid expectations.
The book captures Elliot’s internal battle, from the highs of cinematic success to the lows of personal repression, and his courageous journey towards embracing his true self as a queer and trans person. It’s a narrative that not only sheds light on Elliot’s personal struggles and triumphs but also offers a broader commentary on societal norms, the pressures of fame, and the courage it takes to live authentically.
4. Breakthrough, by AT WILL MEDIA
“Breakthrough” is a groundbreaking Audible Original that redefines the singing/songwriting competition genre. This audio-only series, narrated by Daveed Diggs, focuses on the essence of pure talent, stripping away the superficial elements of appearance and connections. Celebrity judges Kelly Rowland and Sara Bareilles guide and evaluate five undiscovered artists through a series of intense challenges, focusing solely on their vocal and songwriting abilities.
This series is a celebration of artistic uniqueness and musical gift, offering each contestant a chance to shine based solely on their talent. It’s a refreshing take on the competition format, emphasizing the power of music and the importance of authenticity in an industry often overshadowed by visuals and connections. “Breakthrough” is a must-listen for anyone who believes in the pure talent and transformative power of music.
5. Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game, by Colin Kaepernick, Eve L. Ewing
“Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game” is a compelling graphic novel memoir that delves into the formative years of Colin Kaepernick, a high school star athlete faced with a pivotal decision about his future. Known for his later activism and NFL career, this story focuses on a younger Colin, torn between a promising baseball career and his true passion for football.
The narrative explores themes of identity, choice, and self-discovery, as Colin grapples with societal expectations and his own aspirations. This graphic novel is not just about sports; it’s a story of a young man learning to stay true to himself in a world that often demands conformity. It’s an inspiring tale for anyone at a crossroads, reminding us that the path less traveled can lead to the most rewarding journeys.
6. The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen, Dina Gregory
This Audible Original production of “The Little Mermaid” brings a fresh and immersive listening experience to Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale. Narrated by Leigh-Anne Pinnock and produced in Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, this version features a captivating retelling that breathes new life into the beloved story. The youngest mermaid, known for her enchanting voice, dreams of a life beyond the ocean’s depths.
Her journey to the surface and encounter with a brown-eyed prince sets off a series of events that lead her to make a monumental choice. This production is not just a story; it’s an auditory journey that transports listeners to the magical underwater world, making it an ideal listen for those who cherish fairy tales and imaginative storytelling. It’s a reminder of the power of dreams, sacrifice, and the enduring nature of love.
7. Chain-Gang All-Stars, by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
“Chain-Gang All-Stars” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is a riveting and thought-provoking novel set in a dystopian near-future America. The story revolves around a controversial and highly popular program within the private prison system, where prisoners compete in gladiatorial-style contests for the ultimate prize: their freedom. The narrative focuses on Loretta Thurwar and Hamara ‘Hurricane Staxxx’ Stacker, both teammates and lovers, who navigate this brutal world in pursuit of liberation.
This novel is a powerful commentary on the prison system, societal entertainment, and the human cost of freedom. Adjei-Brenyah’s storytelling is both electrifying and deeply human, making “Chain-Gang All-Stars” a compelling read for fans of dystopian narratives and social commentary. It’s a story that challenges readers to consider the moral implications of our entertainment choices and the value of human life in a system designed to profit from its degradation.
8. Better Living Through Birding, by Christian Cooper
In “Better Living Through Birding,” Christian Cooper shares his unique journey as a Black gay man deeply engaged in birdwatching. This memoir intertwines the infamous Central Park incident, where Cooper’s birdwatching experience was disrupted by racial tensions, with his broader life story. Cooper, self-described as a “Blerd” (Black nerd), delves into how birdwatching has been a constant in his life, offering insights from his youth to his days at Marvel Comics. The book is a rich tapestry of memoir, travelogue, and a guide to birding, reflecting on how observing birds has shaped his understanding of identity and space in America.
9. I Have Some Questions for You, by Rebecca Makkai
Rebecca Makkai’s “I Have Some Questions for You” is a compelling novel centered around Bodie Kane, a film professor and podcaster. Bodie’s past, marked by a family tragedy and her time at a New Hampshire boarding school, resurfaces when she revisits the school. The murder of her former roommate and the questionable conviction of the school’s athletic trainer propels Bodie into a deep investigation. This story is a mesmerizing blend of mystery and a profound exploration of memory, identity, and the quest for truth, showcasing Makkai’s talent for creating unforgettable narratives and characters.
Related: 20 Best Science Books of 2023
10. Something Ain’t Right, by Roger Stringer and Zachary Stringer
“Something Ain’t Right” is a gripping memoir by Roger and Zachary Stringer, recounting a tragic family incident that altered their lives forever. The book delves into the aftermath of a shooting in rural Mississippi, where Roger’s son Justin was accidentally shot by his brother Zac. This narrative moves between the perspectives of father and son, exploring themes of betrayal, redemption, and a confrontation with corporate corruption. It’s a raw and intimate account of a family navigating through unimaginable circumstances, highlighting the complexities of familial bonds and the pursuit of justice.
11. All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me, by Patrick Bringley
Patrick Bringley’s “All the Beauty in the World” offers an enchanting glimpse into the Metropolitan Museum of Art through the eyes of one of its guards. After leaving a promising career at The New Yorker due to a family tragedy, Bringley finds solace in the museum’s corridors. His memoir is a journey through the museum’s vast collections and hidden corners, reflecting on the artworks, the diverse community of guards, and his personal growth. This book is a beautiful exploration of art, human connection, and finding one’s place in the world, akin to other classic workplace memoirs.
12. King: A Life, by Jonathan Eig
“King: A Life” by Jonathan Eig is a comprehensive biography of one of the most influential figures in American history, Martin Luther King Jr. Eig delves into King’s complex life, from his formative years to his rise as a civil rights leader, offering new insights into his personal and public struggles. The book is a deep exploration of King’s ideologies, leadership, and the impact he had on the civil rights movement and American society. Eig’s meticulous research and compelling narrative provide a fresh perspective on King’s legacy, making it a must-read for anyone interested in American history and social justice.
13. The Nigerwife, by Vanessa Walters
Vanessa Walters’ “The Nigerwife” is a captivating novel set in the vibrant city of Lagos. It follows Nicole Oruwari, a woman who seemingly has it all – a wealthy husband, a luxurious lifestyle, and a place in the exclusive community of Nigerwives. However, Nicole’s sudden disappearance reveals the cracks in her perfect life. The story unfolds through her aunt Claudine’s investigation, uncovering dark secrets and a complex web of personal and societal issues. Walters’ novel is a sharp and observant tale that delves into themes of identity, family, and the impact of secrets, offering a unique glimpse into the lives of foreign women in Nigeria.
Related: 20 Best Nonfiction Books in 2023
14. Maame: A Today Show Read With Jenna Book Club Pick, by Jessica George
Jessica George’s “Maame” is a heartwarming and humorous novel about Maddie, a young Black woman navigating life in London. Struggling with familial responsibilities and a lackluster career, Maddie’s life takes a turn when she decides to move out and experience life on her own terms. The novel beautifully captures Maddie’s journey through various “firsts,” from career advancements to the complexities of internet dating. George skillfully addresses themes of family, race, love, and belonging, making “Maame” a relatable and uplifting story about finding one’s place in the world and the power of resilience.
15. The House of Eve, by Sadeqa Johnson
“The House of Eve” by Sadeqa Johnson is set in the 1950s and tells the intertwining stories of two young women, Ruby Pearsall and Eleanor Quarles, as they navigate the complexities of love, ambition, and societal expectations. Ruby, a 15-year-old aspiring college student from Philadelphia, finds her path threatened by a forbidden love affair, while Eleanor, arriving in Washington D.C. with secrets and ambitions, seeks acceptance and a sense of belonging within her partner’s elite Black family. Their decisions and experiences poignantly illustrate the struggles and resilience of women in their era.
16. Love at First Psych, by Cara Bastone
In “Love at First Psych” by Cara Bastone, a unique and humorous story unfolds around a group project in a psychology class. The narrative centers on the dynamic between two students, one an eternal optimist and the other more skeptical, as they explore the concept of ‘meet-cutes’ and relationships. Their journey of interviewing couples leads to unexpected self-discoveries and a reevaluation of their own beliefs about love and happy endings, challenging the notion that first impressions are always right.
17. The Will of the Many: Hierarchy, Book 1 by James Islington
James Islington’s “The Will of the Many: Hierarchy, Book 1” is a gripping fantasy tale of intrigue and rebellion. The protagonist, Vis Telimus, poses as a student at a prestigious academy, hiding his true mission to solve a murder, find an ancient weapon, and uncover secrets that could destabilize the Republic. As he navigates this dangerous world, he must conceal his identity and intentions from those who would kill him if they discovered his true purpose, making for a thrilling and suspenseful read.
18. Yours Truly, by Abby Jimenez
“Yours Truly” by Abby Jimenez is a heartwarming and humorous romance novel. Dr. Briana Ortiz’s life is at a crossroads, dealing with a pending divorce and her brother’s urgent need for a kidney donor. Enter Dr. Jacob Maddox, who initially seems like a thorn in her side but surprises her with a heartfelt letter. Their relationship evolves from exchanging letters to sharing lunches, leading Briana to question her initial judgments and opening her heart to unexpected possibilities, including a life-changing gift from Jacob.
19. Yellowface, by R. F Kuang
R. F Kuang’s “Yellowface” is a provocative and timely novel that delves into themes of identity, cultural appropriation, and the complexities of the literary world. The story follows June Hayward, who, after witnessing the death of a fellow author, Athena Liu, makes a drastic decision to claim Athena’s work as her own. June’s journey through the consequences of her actions and the unraveling of her secret offers a sharp commentary on the ethics of storytelling and the boundaries of cultural identity.
20. The Creative Act: A Way of Being, by Rick Rubin
“The Creative Act: A Way of Being” by Rick Rubin is more than just a book; it’s an exploration into the essence of creativity. Rubin, a renowned music producer, shares his insights on the creative process, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and connection to one’s true self. His reflections on helping artists transcend their limitations offer readers a unique perspective on creativity, not just as an artistic output but as a fundamental relationship with the world. This book is a guide to expanding one’s creative capacity and embracing the potential for moments of exhilaration and transcendence.
Related: Best Biographies and Memoirs of 2023
From the deeply personal memoirs that offer a window into the lives of notable individuals, to the imaginative works of fiction that transport us to other worlds, each audiobook on this list has the power to engage, enlighten, and entertain.
Remember, the world of audiobooks is vast and constantly growing, offering endless opportunities for discovery. Whether you’re looking to be inspired, entertained, or simply to find a companion in your daily commute, there’s an audiobook out there waiting for you.