Sometimes you don’t have the time to sit down and read a book—but that doesn’t detract from the desire to read. It happens to me all the time. I want to settle in with the latest pick from my TBR pile, but I have work, or laundry, or dishes calling my name. Sometimes it’s a toss up between having the time to read, and having the time to go for a walk.
Other times, I have a book with me, but public transportation is so packed, there’s no room for me to comfortably hold it! And of course, if you commute by car, you can’t use that time to read a book—but you can listen to a top audiobook!
Audiobooks have been a blessing, allowing me to indulge in my love of literature while taking care of the other things on my plate.
Is listening to audiobooks still reading?
It depends. According to a 2016 study, people who listen to books absorb the material just as well as people who read ebooks. And in fact, some works like plays are easier to understand when listening—intonation can add a lot of information!
But the jury is still out on whether audiobooks fully provide all the benefits of reading beyond retention. After all, the physical act of reading uses very different parts of the brain than listening does, so it stands to reason that you’re not getting quite the same workout.
Of course, if you simply don’t have time to read a book or want to use your housework or commute time to pare down your TBR list, audiobooks fit the bill just fine! With that in mind, check out this list of the best audiobooks in 2023.
The Five-Star Weekend
When we put ourselves out into the world, we tend to put our best selves forward. Acting that our lives are perfect is something that’s become more and more prevalent with the rise of social media. But despite this façade, everyone has battles that they fight in their own lives.
Hollis Shaw is no different. Despite projecting that her life is perfect, she has a number of personal problems—all of which become more apparent after her husband suddenly passes away in a car accident.
Trying to put the pieces of her life back together, Hollis hears about an interesting trip type: a Five-Star Weekend. The trip centers around her dearest friends from different phases of her growth, from her teenage years, to middle age. It sounds like a darling idea, and something that Hollis can use to bring together the discordant parts of her life. But what should be a relaxed weekend in Nantucket quickly becomes weighed down by the attendant’s baggage.
Going through a breakup can be difficult—even more so when you haven’t actually told anyone that you’ve broken up. Wyn and Harriet were considered the picture-perfect couple by all of their friends, and they’re absolutely determined to keep that image up despite the fact that they’ve been broken up for the past five months. Unwilling to discuss the problems that they had, they plan on faking their relationship while with their friends on their annual summer trip.
This summer’s getaway may be the last of its kind for a while, in more ways than one. Not only are Wyn and Harriet going through the motions, but the cottage that they always stay in is being sold, and may not be available in the future. With just one too many things changing in their lives, Wyn and Harriet force themselves to grin and white-knuckle their way through the weekend, examining their pasts and considering their futures.
The Maid's Diary
As a cop working in the homicide unit, Mallory Van Alst has seen some stomach-turning and perplexing situations in her day. But the crime scene at a lavish home known as the Glass House is unlike any that she’s seen before. There are clear signs of a struggle, a smashed pie, and a lot of blood—but there isn’t a body to be found. Stranger still, all of the inhabitants of the house are all missing.
Mal is forced to put the pieces together with scant evidence. The missing residents include the Rittenbergs, a well to do couple that’s expecting, and their maid, Kit Darling. An elderly neighbor was the last person to see the maid alive, and was awoken by horrific screams before she called the police. As Mal and her team investigate what happened at the Glass House, they discover that the Rittenbergs are hiding scandalous secrets—and that the maid knows more than she ought to.
Now That You Mention It
In just a short span, Nora’s plans and life have taken a tumble. The scholarship that she’s received to become a gastroenterologist has been overshadowed by the sudden car accident. Licking her emotional wounds and trying to heal, Nora returns to the town that she left over a decade ago.
Scupper Island is a small, reclusive island three miles off of the coast of Maine. Despite its beauty, it holds little joy for Nora. She isn’t particularly happy to be back—and the townspeople aren’t particularly happy to see her. Even Nora’s family holds her at an arm’s length. As Nora heals, she struggles to put her life back together, and to find her place in her hometown.
Bad Summer People
Many of us have favorite summer getaways (and favorite beach reads to bring along). For my family, it’s Cape Cod; for Jen Weinstein and Lauren Parker, it’s Fire Island. Their husbands, Sam and Jason, are best friends. By extension, Jen and Lauren are well-funded frenemies.
When the summer starts, it seems as if it’ll be just like any other—until a dead body is found on the boardwalk. The news of the murder spreads like wildfire, and any facts accumulated about the case are quickly morphed and obscured by the town gossip.
The Secrets We Left Behind
We all have secrets, but for some, the secrets are more life-changing than others. One woman has fought to keep the life that she’s built for herself in one piece. She has a loving husband and a brilliant daughter. But a single phone call shatters her illusion.
The secrets of 1976 are abruptly brought into her idyllic existence, with the threat of exposing the mess of her past into her present. Leaving Cornwall as an aimless, motherless teenager, she traveled to Hastings, carving out a less-than perfect life and beginning to build her new life in a web of lies.
If you had the opportunity to find out when your life would end, would you take it? What would you do with the time you had left? Would the knowledge drive you to fear, or to seize every day while you still can? These are the questions faced by the characters in The Measure. One morning, everyone in the world receives a box containing both their name, and a piece of string that represents how long they’ll live.
No one knows the origins of the boxes, or why they were sent out in the first place. As people come to understand the strings, it begins to warp the choices that they make. Do they open the box, or do they live without knowing when they may die? Is it worth marrying and having children with someone that has a shorter string than yours? This personal truth becomes a hinging point in people’s decisions, and plunges the world into chaos.
This Reese's Book Club pick follows budding author June Hayward, who is envious of a far more successful writer of her generation, Athena Liu. June initially bemoans her lack of prospects, but finds the chance to change that on the heels of a tragedy.
Athena’s death leaves her most recent work unpublished, and June makes the decision to take it for herself. She tweaks it and sells it, and under the advice of her publisher, takes on the persona of Juniper Song. June initially has a burst of success, but that joy is soon marred by suspicion, fearing that someone will out her as a thief.
Going through a divorce puts strain on every member of the immediate family, and picking up the pieces is never easy. Three decades after their arranged marriage, Suresh and Lata Raman are trying to understand who they are outside of their relationships, and their son and daughter, Nikesth and Priya, are grappling with these changes in their family structure as well.
Each of the Ramans work on sorting out their difficult love lives, while struggling to relate to one another. Priya is disgusted by her father’s online dating endeavors, and hides her affair with a married man. Nikesh struggles to be truthful about his relationship with his girlfriend and their child. Lata struggles to put herself first for the first time in a long time, and takes a tentative step toward dating a professor at the university where she works.
The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise
When Louise slips on the rug in her home, her daughter insists that she have a caretaker around to keep an eye on her. Louise abhors the idea, insisting that she doesn’t need a babysitter. She doesn’t want anyone to look after her—and Tanner Quimby doesn’t particularly want to look after anyway. But, Tanner needs somewhere to live. With no cash, no credit, and no prospects, she doesn’t have any other viable options.
Tanner and Louise are happy to live with one another as roommates, rather than as a caretaker and someone being taken care of. Despite this, it’s not long before the two unwittingly become entangled in one another’s lives—especially when Louise insists on an abrupt, late-night road trip.