I’m a big fan of audiobooks: they let me “read” while I’m driving, or running, or folding the laundry. They let me get through more pages, more quickly, than I ever could if I was confined to paper and screens.
When it came to audio, I used to subscribe to the-longer-the-better philosophy. If I spent my cash or Audible credit on an audiobook, I wanted to get as much listening enjoyment out of that purchase as possible. But lately, I’ve been looking for shorter reads, on purpose. By deliberately choosing titles that are on the shorter side, I can experience the satisfaction of crossing more books off my To Be Read list, more often.
These 15 audiobooks deliver great reading experiences in 6-ish hours or less—even faster if you listen at 1.25 or 1.5 speed like I sometimes do. And they’re not just good books; they’re also wonderful listening experiences. I hope you enjoy them, and I can’t wait to hear about your favorite shorter audiobooks in comments.
Audiobooks You Can Listen To in 6(ish) Hours or Less
At Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children, children have a habit of stumbling into other worlds. Imagine Alice in Wonderland, but instead of one wonderland, there are hundreds—and once you visit another world, you'll never be the same. Part fantasy, part mystery, part fairy tale (of the dark and creepy variety). The impressive awards list for this includes Winner 2017 Alex Award, 2017 Hugo, 2017 Locus, 2016 Nebula, Nominated 2017 World Fantasy, 2017 British Fantasy, 2016 Tiptree Honor List. 4 hours 44 minutes. More info →
This is the world's best-selling mystery—and when I found out the audio version was read by Dan Stevens, I couldn't resist. (Loved it.) Ten strangers are lured to a deserted island, and then they begin dying, one by one, victims of a disturbingly wide range of murders. They share one thing in common: each has something in their past they would prefer to keep hidden. Who is the murderer, and will any of them survive? A good story made even better by Stevens's fantastic narration. 6 hours 1 minute. More info →
You've probably encountered snippets of this compilation somewhere along the way; in less than two hours you can hear the complete work. If you have a creative bone in your body, it's well worth the time to give this a listen at least once, especially because it's read by Dan Stevens. The average rating on the audio version is a phenomenal 4.8. 1 hour 52 minutes. More info →
I love Lahiri, and with this audiobook you can cross a Pulitzer winner off your list in just over 6 hours. In this short story collection, Lahiri's characters tenuously navigate the divide between their old world and their new, and taken together, the collection highlights myriad aspects of the immigrant experience. Evocative, bittersweet, and lyrical; the audio narrator's spare narration lets Lahiri's words carry their own weight. 6 hours 15 minutes. More info →
In her new work, Brown tackles what she calls our current "spiritual crisis of disconnection." We don't know what it means to belong anymore, or why it matters, or how to experience true connection—and we are suffering for it. She sets out four practices of true belonging, explains how we can practice them in our own lives, and shares heaps of stories so we can see what they look like in practice. A timely read, and a good one. Read by the author. 4 hours 12 minutes. More info →
Reading People explains the life-changing insights that can be gained from the most popular personality frameworks, such as Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and others and shares specific, practical real-life applications across all facets of life, including love and marriage, productivity, parenting, the workplace, and spiritual life. The author (me!) narrates the audiobook herself. (When I recorded I had no idea this 226-page book would come to less than 5 hours of audio!) 4 hours 34 minutes. More info →
Hurston's classic is written in dialect, which is tricky for some readers—unless they choose the audio version. This atmospheric story about expectations, marriage, and unexpected love is richly atmospheric, set in the deep South's Florida Everglades in the 1920s. A classic for a reason, with well-developed characters and a thought-provoking story line. 6 hours 44 minutes. More info →
I didn't hear of this short 1962 novel until a few years ago, since readers with great and diverse tastes kept recommending it. I read this as my "book you can finish in a day" for the Reading Challenge. As expected, it's not exactly scary, but Jackson is sure good at infusing a story with a creepy atmosphere—and the audio version sure makes it come alive. Not so long ago there were seven Blackwoods, but four of them dropped dead from arsenic poisoning several years ago and how that happened remains a mystery. Listen to this during daylight hours: its themes of family secrets, hateful neighbors, and mysterious deaths aren't the stuff of bedtime reading. 5 hours 32 minutes. More info →
This is Sheryl Sandberg's deeply personal story about how she learned to use and build resilience to keep going after her husband tragically died in 2015, based on insights from her friend, Wharton psychologist, and co-author Adam Grant. When Option A isn't available, we have to learn to make the most of Option B—and we all are living some form of Option B. The audio version was terrific, but fair warning: I spent half my time listening to it on the verge of tears. Not an easy listen, but I found tons of good information here. 6 hours 14 minutes. More info →
I downloaded this audiobook on my husband's recommendation, and WOW was it not what I was expecting! Imagine Why Not Me?, but with politics instead of Hollywood production, and you've got this chatty memoir about right. West Wing fans, this is a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of the Obama White House, through the eyes of someone who worked for him for more than ten years. Word is this is like your "gossipy older sister" dishing on what really happens behind the political scenes. Mastromonaco also shares many personal stories about everything from relationships to packing tips to her cats to meeting the Queen. 5 hours 58 minutes. More info →
From the author of Out of My Mind, a historical work about bravery, prejudice, and the KKK, as experienced through the eyes of a young girl and her little brother in Depression-era North Carolina. Such a good read, you'll want to binge on everything Draper's ever written. 6 hours 46 minutes. More info →
This is an incredible book, and a timely one. The audio version, read by the author, is fantastic. Coates frames this series of essays as a letter to his son, exploring what it means to be black in America, and how issues involving race have shaped and continue to shape the country in which he lives. Entertainment Weekly: calls it "the latest essential reading in America's social canon." 3 hours 31 minutes. More info →
A charming, breezy, and completely quirky story from the author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. Lois is a programmer whose life changes when she falls in love with baking bread ... but then something unexpected happens. If you like happy endings, add this one to your TBR. 6 hours 47 minutes. More info →
I loved this short novel about two unlikely companions because it reminded me of favorites like Lonesome Dove, These Is My Words, and—if you're not into Westerns, take note—The Road. An MMD Book Club pick and National Book Award finalist. 5 hours 51 minutes. More info →
On my TBR, because I've never read Nora Ephron, and the reviews convinced me that audio is the way to go; Meryl Streep's narration has been called absolutely perfect. This is a largely autobiographical novel about the breakup of a marriage, and I keep hearing it's way funnier than any book on the subject has any right to be. 5 hours 30 minutes. More info →
What are your favorite short audiobooks? What would YOU add to this list?