Standout new audiobooks for summer listening

New audiobook releases for your summer listening enjoyment.

I listen to audiobooks year-round but I have to admit there’s something special about listening to a great read in the summer. Perhaps that’s because it seems like listening opportunities abound. Between tending to the garden, family road trips, and extra long walks with Daisy, I can breeze through one audiobook after the next.

The best audiobooks aren’t a substitute for actual books; instead they enhance them, adding layers to the reading experience. When I’m deciding what to listen to next, I’m looking for a great story, well told. I generally prefer fiction and memoir on audio, but I’m willing to take a chance on other genres. In this format I especially appreciate lush descriptions and atmospheric settings, and a fast-moving plot is a plus (though not a requirement).

June is Audiobook Appreciation Month, which is a good excuse to gather up a collection of standout new audiobook releases for your enjoyment. Some of these are from the 2022 MMD Summer Reading Guide (which has a section called Awesome on Audio—don’t miss it!); some are my more recent listens.

I hope the audiobooks on this list keep you company all summer long. Please tell us about the ones you’ve loved and continue to look forward to in the comments!

Standout new audiobooks for summer listening

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Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry

Author:
Miranda Raison and Pandora Sykes bring this hilarious and vibrant story of love, friendship, found family, and second chances to life. Elizabeth Zott only ever wanted to be a scientist—but because she’s a woman in the 1960s, she has to go begging for beakers despite being the smartest researcher in the building. After Elizabeth is ostensibly fired for being unwed and pregnant (but really for being smarter than her boss and dating a rival scientist he loathes), she can’t make ends meet. Out of desperation she accepts a job hosting a tv show called Supper at 6. She loves to cook, because cooking, after all, is chemistry. The producers want her to smile and look pretty, but Elizabeth is much more interested in teaching housewives not just how to make dinner, but how to change their lives. Lively and life-affirming, with an unforgettable protagonist. My Libro.fm edition featured a wonderful interview with Bonnie Garmus at the end. Content warnings apply. 11 hrs 56 mins. More info →
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Two Nights in Lisbon

Two Nights in Lisbon

Author:
Fan favorite January LaVoy voices Chris Pavone’s newest mystery, driven by a missing person, a ticking clock, and secrets from an old life. Ariel Pryce wakes up on her honeymoon in a Lisbon hotel room to find her husband missing. Fearing the worst and increasingly frantic, Ariel turns to the Portuguese police and American embassy where her concern is met with skepticism: he’s a grown man and it’s only been a few hours. When they discover the couple both changed their names ten years ago, their skepticism balloons into outright disbelief—even though his kidnappers have surfaced and demanded an outrageous ransom. With the clock ticking and no help from authorities, Ariel seeks help from those she’d long since left behind in her old life—and then things get really interesting. Content warnings apply. 14 hrs 30 mins. More info →
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The Change

The Change

Author:
"The gift arrives after the curse ends." In this wild and wonderful feminist revenge fantasy, three women in their use the unique new abilities that arrived with perimenopause to bring a killer to justice. Nessa comes from a long line of women who are able to hear the voices of the dead. Jo can now channel her rage into actual fire. And Harriett's abilities with plants now surpass that of the most seasoned gardener. After the police refuse to take action, the women team up to investigate the death of a young woman, and soon discover she is one of many: an alarming number of women have disappeared near their posh town in recent years, and someone is trying to cover up the crimes. Nessa, Harriett, and Jo resolve to do whatever it takes to expose the town's dark secret and make the perpetrators pay ... and to say anything else would be spoiler-y. Brash, bold, boatloads of fun, and thrilling as read by narrator January LaVoy, who brings the rotating perspectives to life. Lots of content warnings here. 15 hrs 25 min. More info →
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Part of Your World

Part of Your World

Author:
This was such a fun listen! What does a fancy city doctor have in common with a small town carpenter? On paper, the answer seems to be nothing at all—and that's why Alexis never expects to see Daniel again after the night he tows her out of a ditch when she's passing through his town for a funeral. But their chemistry is undeniable, and Alexis keeps finding herself sneaking out of Minneapolis to spend more time with Daniel on his turf. The more time she spends with him, the more she learns what she wants in life—but those discoveries don't come without a cost. Daniel doesn’t belong in her world but she’s not sure she can give him up. Abby Jimenez’s trademark sense of humor helps balance the moving exploration of intimate partner violence, making for a sensitive and heartwarming read. I loved Julia Whelan and Zachary Webber’s dual narration. 10 hrs 5 min. More info →
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Take My Hand

Take My Hand

This gripping and oh-so-timely work of historical fiction is loosely inspired by a real-life groundbreaking court case. In 2016 Memphis, distinguished Black doctor Civil Townsend prepares to retire, but first wants to tell the story of her professional origins. Back in 1973, she was a young and idealistic nurse, stepping into her first job at a reproductive clinic serving Black women in her community. Civil cared deeply for the girls under her care, but grew alarmed at what she was called upon to do: administer experimental and perhaps unnecessary treatments to young patients without their understanding or consent. When the unthinkable happens to one patient and she is sterilized without consent, Civil becomes involved in a landmark lawsuit. This is narrator Lauren J. Daggett's first novel and it is a STUNNER. 10 hrs 57 mins. More info →
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Where the Rhythm Takes You

Where the Rhythm Takes You

Author:
I can't resist an Austen retelling: in this tropical YA spin on Persuasion, Reyna and Aiden grew up and fell in love on the island of Tobago. Reyna feels stuck on the island, because her family owns a beautiful seaside resort she promised her mother she'd take ownership of one day. But Aiden's band hit it big, so he left to pursue his dreams. After a two-year absence, circumstances bring the two together again, and Reyna can't help but remember why she once thought they'd be together forever. Dass keeps the beats of Austen’s original while making the story her own with its winning characters, vivid tropical setting, and fun musical vibe. Listeners will relish descriptions of the beautiful seaside resort voiced by native Trinidadian narrator Antonevia Ocho-Coultes. This came out in 2021 but it's new to me so I’m including it here. 10 hrs 13 mins More info →
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Book Lovers

Book Lovers

Author:
I just loved Emily Henry's latest—a readerly enemies-to-lovers romance set in a too-cute-to-be-real North Carolina small town AND in the cutthroat world of NYC publishing, and narrated once again by Julia Whelan. The story throws together successful literary agent Nora Stephens, whose colleagues call her the Shark, and her professional nemesis Charlie Lastra, a famously grumpy and inconveniently handsome editor who had the gall to turn down her client's novel. When the two improbably bump into each other in the tiny hamlet of Sunshine Falls, the sparks start to fly—and Nora has to keep reminding herself she hates his guts, lest she succumb to their undeniable chemistry. Fans of saucy banter and books about books will find much to love in this open door romance. If you've read this or want to, you MUST listen to our What Should I Read Next episode with Emily Henry! 11 hrs 23 mins. More info →
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The Love Connection

The Love Connection

Author:
What do you do when the pandemic cancels your travel plans and you start missing the airports you once loved passing through? For Denise Williams, the obvious answer was to turn to vicarious travel, situating not just one but three novellas in the terminal. In the first installment we meet Ollie, an airport-based pet groomer who develops a serious crush on the handsome frequent flier she sees every Tuesday at the gate by her shop. When a runaway pup brings Ollie face to face with her longtime crush, she discovers he’s not just a pretty face. Bennett is a professional risk assessor by day but romance novelist by night, and to her great surprise, he needs her help. Narrated by January LaVoy and Shane East, this is just the ticket if you need a quick win for your reading life. I'm now looking forward to reading the next two novellas in the series! (Open door.) 3 hrs 36 mins. More info →
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Finding Me: A Memoir

Finding Me: A Memoir

Author:
An honest, unflinching, and utterly brilliant account of how one of the best actors of our time became who she is today. Davis begins at the beginning: born on a South Carolina plantation (truly), she shortly moved with her mother and alcoholic father to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where she grew up in dire poverty. Her childhood was riddled with trauma: she shares devastating stories of enduring racism, constant hunger, rampant sexual assault by neighborhood men, and constantly reeking because her family couldn’t afford to do laundry. But when she saw Cecily Tyson on TV, she was inspired to take up acting. Davis's own narration is stunning. 9 hrs 15 mins. More info →
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Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance

Author:
This hauntingly tender story of grief and growing up makes for a poignant read, particularly as read by Jesse Vilinksy, who beautifully voices the book's unusual but highly effective second person narration. ("You disappeared on a school night ...") In the present day, little sister Sally is 28, but over the course of the novel she recounts the story of her older sister Kathy's death, which happened fifteen years before, and is intimately bound up with the story of Kathy's boyfriend, who both girls had a crush on. This is the achingly sad story of what happened after Kathy's death, full of confusion and longing, often difficult to listen to but also incredibly compelling. Read this if you enjoy complicated family stories, portraits of grief, or appreciating the craft of an unusual storytelling style. 12 hrs 17 min. More info →
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Peace Is a Practice

Peace Is a Practice

Poet and artist Morgan Harper Nichols learned to practice peace out of desperation. Because of long-undiagnosed autism, she would constantly find herself overwhelmed—on the brink of shutting down—and had to learn to make it through the difficult moments. She didn’t receive her diagnosis until age 27, after which she was finally able to understand why she’d needed to build coping strategies, and what could make them even more effective. Nichols insists peace isn’t something we merely hope for but practice, enacting it in everyday life through both general postures and specific exercises. The author’s beautiful and calming narration is best enjoyed slowly over days or weeks, perhaps listening to one chapter a day on a neighborhood walk. 6 hrs 4 mins. More info →
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The Golden Couple

The Golden Couple

This twisty thriller is jointly voiced by favorites Karissa Vacker and Marin Ireland. The story revolves around a seemingly perfect D.C. area couple who are keeping a closetful of secrets from each other and their "therapist," who can't truly claim that title anymore because she lost her professional license due to an ethics violation. She hasn't let that loss stop her—in fact, she believes she can better help her clients with the unorthodox methods she's fully embraced since she was censured. This was a fun and engrossing listen, with an over-the-top ending that scores low on believability but high on entertainment value—because it made me walk the literal extra mile so I could find out what would happen! 11 hrs 3 mins. More info →
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The Summer Place

The Summer Place

Author:
I'd intended to read this in print ... and then I saw that Sutton Foster reads the audiobook. (She was great, of course.) In Weiner's latest summery story, a family is thrown into turmoil when the 22-year-old daughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend. This is happy news, but the anxiety-provoking ramifications extend further than anyone could have dreamed. Weiner says she was aiming for something between a Noël Coward farce and A Midsummer Night's Dream, where circumstances beyond human control alter the destinies of every character. I like seeing how an author puts her story together, and my inner literary nerd thoroughly enjoyed parsing how Weiner neatly shuffled oodles of backstory into her unfolding narrative, packing loads of family history into a compact frame. 14 hrs 19 mins. More info →
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Managing Expectations: A Memoir in Essays

Managing Expectations: A Memoir in Essays

Author:
When a writer friend praised this as the best book she'd read all year, I reordered my audio lineup so I could listen immediately. Aside from enjoying Return to Me and Good Will Hunting (I've been contemplating a rewatch; does it hold up?) back in the day, I knew little about Driver's life or career. The career is merely background to this memoir in essays, which is far more about the trajectory of her life than the highlights of her career (though she does touch on landing a part in Goldeneye and breaking up with Matt Damon). In candid, lovingly-drawn, and often poignant essays, she discusses her hair, her childhood in London and Barbados, her struggle to gain traction as an actress, her relationships with her mother and sister, and her unexpected path to motherhood. Don't miss the bonus interview at the end; it's worth the extra listening minutes. 6 hrs 48 mins. More info →
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Have you listened to any of these yet? What audiobook releases are you looking forward to this summer? Tell us all about them in the comments section!

P.S. 7 Ways To Discover Your Audiobook Style, 15 Backlist Summer Reading Guide favorites that are even better on audio, and 20 celebrity memoirs read by their authors.

Standout audiobooks for summer listening

50 comments

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  1. Erin Heilman says:

    If you haven’t already you MUST listen to Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. It’s honestly the best narration I have ever heard. It’s a short, laugh-out-loud funny book with surprisingly beautiful commentary on societal issues. Completely unexpected.

  2. Sarah Weininger says:

    Books by Sally Hepworth are great on audio. I’ve listened to The Good Sister, The Family Next Door and The Mother in Law. I’m currently listening to The Younger Wife. All told with Australian accents and with Hepworth’s twisty plots and captivating characters these books on audio do not disappoint.

    • Nanette says:

      Yes, The Younger Wife on audio is really good. I appreciated the individual narrators for each protagonist. Her books are great on audio!

    • Tory says:

      Imogen Church reads Ruth Ware’s books – I think she has a very distinctive style that might not be some people’s cup of tea. Is is definitely mine though, I love her! The Death of Mrs. Westaway might be my favorite (but then, The Woman in Cabin 10 was actually one of the rare books I read on paper otherwise it might well have been my #1.)

  3. Sarah says:

    Run Rose Run by James Patterson was an amazing audiobook! I had never listened to one read by that was read by so many different people that wasn’t by chapter. And you can’t go wrong with audio by Dolly!

  4. Tami Spence says:

    Thank you! I love your audio lists! The Golden Couple and Book Lovers were so good, I found things to do so I could keep listening. I’ve now become so picky, I need to know the narrator as well. Please include the narrator in upcoming lists. As always, I can’t thank you enough for re-igniting my love for reading 3 years ago!

  5. April Schmick says:

    I think the Jane Austin Society was in the Summer Reading Guide again this year. It is fabulous on audio!

  6. Jo says:

    I enjoy audio books so much that I only allow myself to listen if I’m doing an unpleasant chore or taking my daily walk. It definitely motivates me, it’s my trade-off reward. Thanks for the recommendations. One of my favorites has been “The Year of Yes”, read by the author Shonda Rhimes.

  7. Pam says:

    I love these lists, too! I usually have an audiobook on the go, lately.

    Always interested in audiobooks that my 89 year old mother will enjoy, as well. She likes mysteries and thrillers, as well as funny reads, and with her eyesight (macular degeneration), audio is her only choice for reading.

    • Edie says:

      If your mother likes mysteries I’ve enjoyed Louise Penny, Charles Todd’s Ian Rutledge series and Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series on audio. They’re all very well done.

    • Suzy says:

      My 84 yr old mother is listening to Louise Penny right now, but she doesn’t appreciate the F bombs that appear too often, she says. I was surprised to hear that Penny put those in there. She also likes the Sue Grafton mysteries and Dick Francis; John Grisham is a good storyteller and NEVER uses bad language, she says, but she also likes John Baldacci. She appreciates the Irish accents in Maeve Binchy’s books, as well as Patrick Taylor’s Irish Doctor series, very sweet gentle stories. I even had her LOVING the Horatio Hornblower series!

      • Gisele Benoit says:

        The Lane Winslow series by Canadian writer, Iona Whishaw, is wonderful. The novels take place post WWII, strongly situated in place in BC’s interior. There are well drawn, eccentric small town characters. Our main sleuth is a young English woman (a spy in the war) making a fresh start in a new country. These novels have some depth, great atmosphere and are uplifting.

  8. Amapola says:

    I have learned to enjoy audiobooks, but especially mysteries/thrillers. It might be because mysteries tend to focus on plot and following a storyline and that makes them perfect for audio. I’m putting The Change on my TBR.
    I would recommend:
    Anthony Horowitz “The Magpie Murders” (and its sequel) with its format of a novel inside a novel, which was super fun to listen to.
    C.C. Benison “Twelve Drummers Drumming”, which I couldn’t turn off.
    Martha Grimes “The Man with a Load of Mischief”.
    June Hur’s novels set in the Joseon era in Korea.

  9. Adrienne says:

    One of my all-time favorite audiobooks is Daisy Jones and the Six, which has many narrators. I read it in print first and later listened to it on audio, and it just came alive in that format. I’m looking forward to listening to Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn. Is that narrated by Saskia Maarleveld?

    Happy Reading!

  10. Edie says:

    I’m listening to The Jane Austen Project from the Summer Reading Guide on audio and I’m loving it. And I’m slowly savoring Braiding Sweetgrass on audio and it is wonderful.

  11. Tory says:

    Have you done a post of favorite narrators? Marin Ireland, Bahni Turpin, Julia Whelan, Juliet Stevenson, Cassandra Campbell, Elizabeth Jasicki, Joshilyn Jackson, and Richard Armitage are some of my favorites.
    Emily Woo Zeller is a good narrator but reads all the wrong books (she doesn’t have the right voice for YA.)
    Stephen Crossley is only good when he’s reading a character that you’re already supposed to dislike – his voice is extremely punchable
    George Newbern is a “sometimes” narrator for me, he’s good but a little over the top.
    And of course Neil Gaiman reading any of his books is such a treat (although, don’t miss out on the full-cast version of Amerian Gods!)

  12. Joy says:

    One of the Good Ones by Maika & Maritza Moulite is amazing in audio and just came out last year. While it deals with some heavy themes, it follows a road trip and would make a great summer read.

  13. Jennifer K says:

    Ruby Dee’s narration of “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neal Hurston is exceptional! I know I got way more out of Hurston’s masterpiece thanks to Dee’s performance.
    I absolutely love Kevin R. Free as the narrator for Martha Well’s Murderbot Diaries series.

  14. Mary Ann Frontz says:

    I am listening to Finding Me by Viola Davis. I am not usually a audiobook fan, but this is wonderful and I am riveted by Ms. Davis’ story.

  15. Nell says:

    The Boys in the Boat. Beautifully narrated by Edward Herman of Gilmore Girls fame. His voice brings the story to life.

  16. Deepa says:

    I listened to Anuk Arudpragasam’s “A passage north” after many recommendations on Goodreads to do so. The book has no dialogue so people found it very hard to read. However, Neil Shah does a marvelous narration and it is a book you will think about for a long time after the end credits. I looked Mr. Shah up, and though he was born and raised in the US, he does an impeccable “educated Indian” accent, which would be, I imagine, comparable to a Sri Lankan one.

    The book does not have much of a plot. A man goes from Colombo to the northern part of Sri Lanka to attend a funeral sums it up. But there is so much deep thought, philosophy, and astute observation of the human condition in it – I cannot recommend it enough.

  17. Dawn says:

    For an interesting female protagonist, try Golden Girl, by Elin Hilderbrand on audio. I also enjoyed The Blue Bistro by her.

    Just finished Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, about Emma Gatewood, the first woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, at age 67!! Now I’m re-listening to Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.

  18. Kirsten says:

    I started listening to Robert MacFarlane’s “The Old Ways” on audio because I couldn’t get hold of the print version. Anne suggested his writing on a recent issue episode of WSIRN. Roy McMillan is the narrator and is absolutely amazing with accents, pacing, appropriate drama. The writing is so good I’m on my way to being a Robert Macfarlane completist (listening to Underland at the moment) and the narration is so absorbing (and that voice!) I’m determined to listen to everything Roy McMillan narrates!
    My kids have enjoyed Terry Pratchett books on audio. Wee Free Men is one of his aimed more at 8-13 year olds. Clever and great use of language. Narrated brilliantly by Stephen Briggs.

  19. Ellen Cole says:

    I have loved audiobooks in the past several years. Perhaps my all-time favourite book is A Man Called
    Ove. I listened to it and the narration is fabulous. My favourite audiobook series is The Mitford Series by Jan Karon. John McDonough is absolutely incredible. I came to recognise each character by how he spoke. I actually read the first book and liked it…but not enough to continue. When I listened to the first book, many years later, it came alive!! For anyone looking for an engaging audiobook series without violence, bad language, etc., get At Home in Mitford and enjoy the whole series that follows.

  20. Angie says:

    I just finished Remarkably Bright Creatures on audio and it was amazing!!!! It was also narrated in part by Marin Ireland! 😊 I think I enjoyed it way more than I would have reading the book bc of the narration, especially that of Marcellus the octopus!
    My favorite audiobook might still be the Help which is also the first one I ever listened to!

  21. Terry Jo Shackelford says:

    I really enjoyed The Dutch House, read by Tom Hanks. I still can’t determine if I loved the story, or if I just loved having Tom Hanks read me a story😊

    • Adrienne says:

      I read Dutch House in print, and several months later, listened to the audiobook. I loved it! There was an article, which I think Anne linked to here, which described how Ann Patchett ended up asking Tom Hanks to narrate this book. It was a fascinating article and I wish I had the link…

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Ann Patchett tells this story and more in a book she narrates (These Precious Days). Beautiful. I also loved Hamnet by Maggie OFarrell, narrated by Eli Potter. Am now listening to her book, Instructions For A Heatwave, narrated by John Lee. Made for a fast plane trip with layover and didn’t mind even the delayed luggage retrieval.

  23. Malissa says:

    I can’t speak for Goodwill Hunting, but we watch Return to Me every year for our anniversary or for Valentine’s Day. 100% holds up. SO GOOD

  24. Kathy says:

    I loved The Guncle by Steven Rowley. Rowley narrates his novel and he is spectacular. This book is a sweet, hilarious, life affirming story. It has stayed with me. A story I won’t soon forget.

  25. Jill Rawles says:

    Are there audiobook platforms you all recommend over others? I’m occasionally too sleepy to read but would enjoy listening to a good book. Is Audible the best app for this?

  26. Jessica Armstrong says:

    I just finished listening to Invisible Child by Andrea Elliott. The story is hard, but so powerful, and the narration was excellent – it really helped me understand the characters better. I’m not sure I could have picked up all the dialogue nuances in print.

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