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American Library Association’s Best Audiobooks

AudiobookerNeed a great listen? Grab these 48 adult audiobooks and 4 youth titles. And more will be announced in a few days!

The very best in recorded literature was recognized at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in snowy Chicago. Both the adult Listen List and the youth Odyssey Awards were announced during the conference, while the 2015 Notable Children’s Recordings list for ages birth–14 and the 2015 Amazing Audiobooks list for ages 12–18 will posted in a few days. Click on the links to see the current and past Odyssey & Listen List recipients and to see the other youth titles as soon as they are posted.

Need a great listen? Grab these
48 adult audiobooks and 4 youth titles.

It was an honor to serve on the committee for the Listen List. It’s a fabulous resource for audiobook fans and librarians looking for listener advisory suggestions. The award recognizes 12 exemplary audios from the previous publication year, along with three “listen-alikes” for each of the 12, which may be current or backlist titles. This award was established in 2010, and I’d love to see more librarians spread the news about the Listen List suggestions to audiobook fans. Check out the full 2015 list copied below.

The Odyssey Award was first presented in 2008 and has become the premier recognition for children’s and young adult audiobooks. Chairing the first Odyssey Award committee was an unforgettable experience, and I am always thrilled to be in the audience at the Youth Media Awards press conference when the crowd erupts into cheers at the announcement of the winner and honor titles. Here are this year’s examples of excellence in audiobook production.

2015 Odyssey Award Audiobook

Audio cover: H.O.R.S.E - A Game of Basketball and Imagination
Live Oak Media has won the 2015 Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production for H.O.R.S.E. A Game of Basketball and Imagination, written by Christopher Myers and narrated by Dion Graham and Christopher Myers.

2015 Honor Audiobooks


Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, written by Tim Federle, narrated by Tim Federle and produced by AUDIOWORKS (Children’s), an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, written by Julie Berry, narrated by Jayne Entwistle and produced by Listening Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group

A Snicker of Magic, written by Natalie Lloyd, narrated by Cassandra Morris and produced by Scholastic Audiobooks

*   *   *

The 2015 Listen List

The Bees by Laline Paull. Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy. Blackstone Audio/HarperAudio.


  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. Narrated by Clare Danes. Brilliance Audio.
  • “Watership Down” by Richard Adams. Narrated by Ralph Cosham. Blackstone Audio.
  • “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi. Narrated by Jonathan Davis. Brilliance Audio.

Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him by David Henry & Joe Henry. Narrated by Dion Graham. Tantor Media.


  • “Last Words” by George Carlin. Narrated by Patrick Carlin and Tony Hendra. Simon & Schuster Audio.
  • “Life” by Keith Richards. Narrated by Keith Richards, Johnny Depp, and Joe Hurley. Hachette Audio.
  • “My Song” by Harry Belafonte and Michael Shnayerson. Narrated by Harry Belafonte and Mirron Willis. Books on Tape/Random House Audio.

The Home Place by Carrie La Seur. Narrated by Andrus Nichols. Blackstone Audio/HarperAudio.


  • “Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger. Narrated by Rich Orlow. Recorded Books.
  • “Shotgun Lovesongs” by Nickolas Butler. Narrated by Scott Shepherd, Ari Fliakos, Gary Wilmes, Scott Sowers and Maggie Hoffman. Macmillan Audio.
  • “Still Life” by Louise Penny. Narrated by Ralph Cosham. Blackstone Audio.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Narrated by Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye. Penguin Audio/Recorded Books. 


  • “The Healing” by Jonathan Odell. Narrated by Adenrele Ojo. Books on Tape/Random House Audio.
  • “The Last Runaway” by Tracy Chevalier. Narrated by Kate Reading. Penguin Audio/Recorded Books.
  • “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline. Narrated by Jessica Almasy and Suzanne Toren. Brilliance Audio.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. Narrated by Kate Reading. Blackstone Audio.


  • “The Grand Sophy” by Georgette Heyer. Narrated by Sarah Woodward. Naxos AudioBooks.
  • “The Spymaster’s Lady” by Joanna Bourne. Narrated by Kirsten Potter. Penguin Audio.
  • “Sum of All Kisses” by Julia Quinn. Narrated by Rosalyn Landor. HarperAudio/Recorded Books.

The Martian by Andy Weir. Narrated by R.C. Bray. Brilliance Audio


  • “Old Man’s War” by John Scalzi. Narrated by William Dufris. Macmillan Audio.
  • “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. Narrated by Wil Wheaton. Books on Tape/Random House Audio.
  • “Red Mars” by Kim Stanley Robinson. Narrated by Richard Ferrone. Recorded Books.

Moonraker by Ian Fleming. Narrated by Bill Nighy. Blackstone Audio. 


  • “The Day of the Jackal” by Frederick Forsyth. Narrated by Simon Prebble. Blackstone Audio.
  • “Our Kind of Traitor” by John le Carré. Narrated by Robin Sachs. Books on Tape/Penguin Audio.
  • “Portrait of a Spy” by Daniel Silva. Narrated by Simon Vance. HarperAudio/Recorded Books.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.  Narrated by Ronald Pickup, Joe Marsh, Fenella Woolgar, Sam Dale, Jonathan Oliver, Jamie Parker, Sean Barrett, David Timson, John Foley and Benjamin Soames. Naxos AudioBooks.


  • “Bleak House” by Charles Dickens. Narrated by Sean Barrett and Teresa Gallagher. Naxos AudioBooks.
  • “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle. Narrated by Simon Vance. Brilliance Audio.
  • “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton. Narrated by Mark Meadows. Brilliance Audio.

Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. Narrated by Katherine Kellgren. Blackstone Audio. 


  • “Dragonflight” by Anne McCaffrey. Narrated by Dick Hill. Brilliance Audio.
  • “The Goblin Emperor” by Katherine Addison. Narrated by Kyle McCarley. Tantor Media.
  • “A Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic” by Emily Croy Baker. Narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan. Recorded Books.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. Narrated by Robert Glenister. Blackstone Audio/Hachette Audio. 


  • “The Last Detective” by Peter Lovesey. Narrated by Simon Prebble. Blackstone Audio.
  • “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett. Narrated by William Dufris. Blackstone Audio.
  • “Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King. Narrated by Will Patton. Simon & Schuster Audio.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Narrated by Kirsten Potter. Books on Tape/Random House Audio.


  • “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands” by Chris Bohjalian. Narrated by Grace Blewer. Books on Tape/Random House Audio.
  • “The Dog Stars” by Peter Heller. Narrated by Mark Deakins. Books on Tape/Random House Audio.
  • “On Such a Full Sea” by Chang-Rae Lee. Narrated by B.D. Wong. Penguin Audio/Recorded Books.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Narrated by Bryan Cranston. Brilliance Audio.


  • “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque.  Narrated by Frank Muller. Recorded Books.
  • “Matterhorn” by Karl Marlantes. Narrated by Bronson Pinchot. Blackstone Audio.
  • “Redeployment” by Phil Klay. Narrated by Craig Klein. Penguin Audio/Recorded Books.



About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

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