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The Angel of Rome by Jess Walter, read by Edoardo Ballerini & Julia Whelan

Ballerini and Whelan infuse Walter’s engaging, heartwarming stories with warmth and surprise.

The Angel of Rome audiobook cover

Gathering Blossoms Under Fire by Alice Walker, edited by Valerie Boyd, read by Aunjanue Ellis & Janina Edwards

Gathering Blossoms Under Fire makes for an insightful and intriguing audiobook. The best part: Walker reads the postscript, emphasizing the personal nature of publicizing her journals.

Gathering Blossoms Under Fire audiobook

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston, read by Natalie Naudus

Naudus voices more than a half-dozen significant characters in McQuiston’s young adult debut, imparting individuality and personality to teens embracing a variety of identities.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler audiobook cover

In Love by Amy Bloom, read by the author

Bloom’s narration of her memoir is simple and even-keeled, except for small cracks in her voice during the narrative’s most harrowing moments.

In Love audiobook cover

Inciting Joy by Ross Gay, read by the author

Gay reads his book in a comforting, softly gravelly voice, inviting us to consider not only joy but also every emotion around it, including sorrow and rage. 

Inciting Joy audiobook cover

Liberation Day by George Saunders, read by a full cast

Through the triumphant performances of an all-star cast of comedians and actors, Saunders’ short story collection transforms into a darkly funny audiobook with a satirical yet redemptive twist. 

Book jacket image for Liberation Day by George Saunders

The Milky Way by Moiya McTier, read by the author

McTier’s down-to-earth style makes science approachable, giving listeners the opportunity to form their own romance with the Milky Way.

Book jacket image for The Milky Way by Moiya McTier

Run, Rose, Run by James Patterson & Dolly Parton, read by a full cast

With narration from country stars Dolly Parton and Kelsea Ballerini, Run, Rose, Run is a must-listen ensemble audiobook.

Run Rose Run audiobook cover

This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch by Tabitha Carvan, read by Tanya Schneider

Voice actor Schneider convincingly articulates Carvan’s argument that women need to share their passions publicly. Both funny and profound, this is a deeply enjoyable audiobook.

This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch audiobook cover

Discover more of BookPage’s Best Books of 2022.

This was an outstanding year for audiobooks, from seamless cast productions to heartfelt performances by author-narrators.

Actor Constance Wu (known for her lauded roles in “Fresh Off the Boat,” Crazy Rich Asians and Hustlers) narrates her thoughtful and revealing memoir in essays with an endearing blend of passion and playfulness. 

Throughout her career, Wu has learned that life is a series of scenes that shape us; we don’t shape the scenes. She shares memories of people and events that have influenced who she is, including humorous and heartwarming tales of her parents’ assimilation into American culture, humbling mistakes she’s made in love and work, an unexpectedly touching goodbye to her black Toyota Prius and insightful commentary on technology, American culture and Asian diaspora.

Evocative, provocative and always heartfelt, Making a Scene (8 hours) is worthy of an encore. It’s a great match for fans of Michelle Zauner’s Crying in H Mart.

Evocative, provocative and always heartfelt, Constance Wu’s Making a Scene is worthy of an encore.

Two of the weepiest BookPage editors share a few of their favorite 2022 audiobooks, read masterfully by the authors, that deliver all the emotion.

★ Inciting Joy

For readers invested in learning more about communities of care—informal collectives centered on the praxis of love—Ross Gay’s sixth book, Inciting Joy (Hachette Audio, 8.5 hours), is essential. The poet and essayist reads his own book in a comforting, softly gravelly voice, inviting us to consider not only joy but also every emotion around it, including sorrow and rage. Such wholeness is a matter of survival, Gay urges, and to allow for it is an elemental act of care both for ourselves and the people we love.

—Cat, Deputy Editor

Read more: Ross Gay shares how he hopes Inciting Joy will make you feel.


★ In Love

What a gift it is when writers transform their sorrow into art. In Love (5 hours), Amy Bloom’s memoir of her marriage, is just such a gift. The book moves back and forth between her initial years of boisterous happiness with her husband, Brian, and later, Brian’s diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. 

As Bloom narrates the process of helping Brian seek a medically assisted suicide before his mental faculties had fully declined, you can feel the urgency bound up with the author’s grief. The prose is restrained, creating a sturdy foundation for the memoir’s emotional heft. Likewise, Bloom’s narration is simple and even-keeled, except for small cracks in her voice during the narrative’s most harrowing moments. In Love shows, more powerfully than any other memoir this year, that love and grief are two sides of the same coin.

—Christy, Associate Editor

Read our starred review of the print edition of In Love.


I’m Glad My Mom Died

Before her confessional memoir became an instant bestseller, Jennette McCurdy was best known for her role as a child star in Nickelodeon’s “iCarly.” In I’m Glad My Mom Died (Simon & Schuster Audio, 6.5 hours), she offers an honest look at how her mom coerced her into entering the acting world at only 6 years old—and how this was only one of many deeply damaging manipulations. As McCurdy unpacks years of childhood abuse, her narration moves along at quite a clip—at several points, I double-checked to make sure I wasn’t playing the book at 1.5 speed—but is still crystal clear. This swift pacing brings an almost upbeat, childlike (and thus, profoundly heartbreaking) spirit to the telling. It also makes the moments when she slows down to conjure the volatile voices of her mother and other characters all the more crushing.

—Cat, Deputy Editor

It’s an unavoidable fact that sometimes listening to an outstanding audiobook means crying in public with your headphones in.
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The nine short stories in George Saunders’ Liberation Day (7 hours) prowl a spectrum of dystopian premises and fall into two categories: tales about families, co-workers and neighbors navigating their relationships amid troubling current events; and stories about future humans who are reprogrammed as automatons (with the robotic voices to match) under other people’s command.

In these disorienting worlds, downtrodden people who have become petty and grotesque find not revenge but poetic justice. After writing an essay that inspires a crime, the titular mother of “Mom of Bold Action” runs through a list of good deeds she would be likely to do, such as step into slush on someone else’s behalf. In “Ghoul,” an employee at an underground Hell-themed amusement park realizes that he’s in love and ready to die for his beloved. 

And yet, understated goodness shines through, and we witness victories both quotidian and experimental. Stories are narrated by Saunders and an all-star cast of comedians and actors: Tina Fey, Stephen Root, Michael McKean, Edi Patterson, Jenny Slate, Jack McBrayer and Melora Hardin. Saunders’ biting, clipped writing style, paired with these narrators’ parodying voices, results in a dark comedy triumph with a satirical yet redemptive twist.

Read our starred review of the print edition of Liberation Day.

George Saunders’ short story collection, narrated by an all-star cast of comedians and actors, is a dark comedy triumph with a satirical yet redemptive twist.

Who would have thought a discussion about the intelligence (or lack thereof) of humans and animals could be so fascinating and fun? Such is the case in If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal: What Animal Intelligence Reveals About Human Stupidity (7 hours), thanks to the conversational prowess and keen (I’ll go ahead and say it) intellect of behavioral scientist Justin Gregg.

Gregg excels as both author and narrator, laying out arguments for and against humankind’s intellectual advancements in concise, accessible language. With witty commentary and humorous anecdotes, he draws comparisons to our counterparts in the animal kingdom, who appear to be doing just fine without technology, political discourse or overriding ambitions for power, wealth or popularity. 

Each of the seven chapters starts with a thought-provoking passage from German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche, whose criticisms of the human condition laid the groundwork for modern thinkers. In whimsical fashion, Gregg breaks down Nietzsche’s arguments into easily digestible chunks of information. All in all, it’s a joy for listeners.


Image of author Justin Gregg

Read more: Justin Gregg, author of If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal, extols the virtues of stupid animals.

Behavioral scientist Justin Gregg excels as both author and narrator, laying out arguments for and against humankind’s intellectual advancements in concise, accessible language.
Review by

All hell broke loose when Casey Parks came out to her family. But amid all their weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, there was a bright spark that came to dominate Parks’ personal and professional life for over a decade, which she recounts in Diary of a Misfit (14.5 hours). Parks’ stern, conservative grandmother took her aside and told her a secret: “I grew up across the street from a woman who lived as a man.” Parks’ search for this person sent her back to her childhood homes in Louisiana and Mississippi, and her investigation becomes entwined with her own story of growing up gay in the Deep South.

Parks has been deeply wounded by her family and her church, and as both author and narrator, she tells her story at some remove, as if she’s faithfully recounting it to a friend or therapist while trying not to relive her pain. Ironically, her restraint makes the scars she bears more evident—but it also makes her reconciliation with her past more triumphant.

Read our starred review of the print edition of Diary of a Misfit.

As both author and narrator, Casey Parks’ restraint makes the scars she bears more evident—but it also makes her reconciliation with her past more triumphant.
Review by

From childhood, death neither repulsed nor frightened Hayley Campbell but instead spurred her curiosity. So it was only natural that Campbell, a freelance journalist based in London, would interview people who make a living from death: not just a funeral director and an embalmer but also a crematorium operator, a crime scene cleaner, an executioner and more.

In All the Living and the Dead: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life’s Work (9 hours), author and narrator Campbell is a probing investigator who elicits honest answers from her subjects. She is also an active observer of their work, even dressing a dead man for his funeral. With each interview, it’s clear she is affected by the presence of death, particularly after witnessing the preparation of a baby’s body for a forensic autopsy. 

Campbell’s voice becomes more introspective as she considers how the actions of death workers enable the living to meet death on their own terms. Though ironic at times, she is never ghoulish. Instead, her tone is always even, quietly emphasizing that death is the most natural thing in the world.

Read our starred review of the print edition of All the Living and the Dead.

As author and narrator, Hayley Campbell’s tone is always even, quietly emphasizing that death is the most natural thing in the world.

Astrophysicist Moiya McTier gives a stellar performance of her book The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy (6.5 hours), a thoroughly entertaining and mind-expanding exploration of our galaxy as told in the first-person voice of the Milky Way itself. McTier’s unique portrayal is refreshing, engaging and funny as she imbues the galaxy with a sassy, grandiose tone—rightly so, given its galactic grandness. 

McTier’s love affair with the universe began when she was a child, and this early appreciation of celestial aesthetics developed into a lifelong devotion to the logical data-driven science of astronomy. McTier’s down-to-earth style makes this science approachable, giving listeners the opportunity to experience a cognitive shift—to form their own romance with the galaxy.

The Milky Way is an out-of-this-world listening experience for anyone who has ever looked up at the sky with wonder.


Moiya McTier

How did an ancient galaxy pen its own autobiography? The Milky Way explains, as dictated to Dr. McTier.

Moiya McTier’s down-to-earth style makes science approachable, giving listeners the opportunity to form their own romance with the Milky Way.
Review by

Patrick Radden Keefe is an expert in long-form journalism, and his particular specialty is the so-called “write around,” in which a journalist constructs a profile of an individual, even if that person can’t or doesn’t want to be interviewed. In Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks (15.5 hours), Keefe compiles 12 such essays, originally published in The New Yorker between 2007 and 2019, with updates appended. Among these are portraits of “Survivor” creator and producer Mark Burnett, food writer Anthony Bourdain and the drug lord Joaquin Guzmán Loera, better known as El Chapo. 

The author reads his own work with care and conviction, giving listeners a good sense of why he’s such an effective interviewer and storyteller. Furthermore, each chapter is about an hour long, which makes this audiobook a particularly good choice for fans of true crime podcasts.

Read our starred review of the print edition of ‘Rogues,’ plus two other true crime masterpieces.

Each chapter of Patrick Radden Keefe’s Rogues is about an hour long, which makes this audiobook a particularly good choice for fans of true crime podcasts.
Review by

Author Elaine Castillo proposes an open-minded and inclusive approach to literature and film in her radical, refreshing book on critical thinking, How to Read Now (9 hours). Castillo urges writers and readers to understand that nonwhite characters don’t exist for the sole purpose of teaching empathy to white people, and that the excuse “it was a different time” holds no water for stories that perpetuate colonialist worldviews, even when written by such cherished literary figures as Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling and Joan Didion. But How to Read Now isn’t just a takedown of outdated concepts; it’s also a celebration of the works that get it right, such as the films of Wong Kar-wai and the poems of Tommy Pico.

As both writer and narrator, Castillo expresses her strong point of view well. She is at her best when recalling personal stories, from growing up Filipina in a majority Asian American community, to attending a lauded graduate program that failed to meet her expectations. This is an audiobook for readers ready to shake things up, to open their eyes and ears, and to grow as lovers of stories.

Read our Q&A with Elaine Castillo on ‘How to Read Now.’

This is an audiobook for readers ready to shake things up, to open their eyes and ears, and to grow as lovers of stories.
Review by

When award-winning health science journalist Linda Villarosa’s New York Times Magazine article on the racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality rates went viral, it was clear her reporting had struck a nerve. In Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation (10 hours), Villarosa expands her research to look more broadly at how systemic racism contributes to health inequities for Black Americans, regardless of income or education levels. She underscores the urgent need for all Americans to understand how this discrimination harms our entire health care system. 

Award-winning narrator Karen Chilton’s serious yet approachable tone strikes just the right balance for Villarosa’s writing, clearly outlining the facts and figures the author uses to build her case while also conveying warmth during the many personal anecdotes Villarosa incorporates throughout. This is essential listening for anyone hoping to understand the roots of health care injustice in America.

Read our starred review of the print edition of ‘Under the Skin.’

Under the Skin is essential listening for anyone hoping to understand the roots of health care injustice in America.

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Leif Enger’s third novel, Virgil Wander, centers on the eponymous protagonist who lives in the quaint, rustic town of Greenstone, Minnesota. By day, Virgil begrudgingly works as the town clerk, but by night, he is the proprietor of the Empress, a fledgling movie theater that specializes in projecting its exclusive and illegal film collection. During a drive one snowy evening, Virgil’s car skids off the road and crashes into Lake Superior. Luckily, he is a saved by Marcus Jetty, the owner of the local junkyard. Virgil emerges from the accident with a fleeting grasp of language and flickering memories of his former life.

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