Best books of 2021: Audiobooks

The Promise
by Damon Galgut, read by Peter Noble, Penguin Audio, 9hr 37mins

Galgut’s Booker Prize-winning novel tracks an Afrikaner family over decades, mercilessly homing in on the cracks in post-apartheid South Africa. Vivid and suggestive, moving and often very funny, its jump-cut structure and bravura set pieces work particularly well in audio version; Noble does an excellent job of capturing its cast of characters (especially the grim aunt).

The Audacity
by Katherine Ryan, read by the author, Blink Publishing, 7hrs 36mins

The Canadian comedian shares her secrets for contentment and an anxiety-free life. The Audacity might sound like your average self-help book until you realize its wise-cracking author picked up a lot of her life lessons by waitressing at Hooters and making a series of fairly significant mistakes. Listen and learn.

by Alan Garner, read by Robert Powell, 4th Estate, 1hr 48mins

The creator of some of the most celebrated children’s books of recent decades — The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and Elidor among them — teams up with actor Robert Powell, his long-term reader, to deliver a fantastical fable. Centered on a boy’s encounter with a strange rag-and-bone man, it’s a captivating, myth-infused story.

Books of the Year 2021

harlem shuffle
by Colson Whitehead, read by Dion Graham, Hachette Audio, 10hrs 35mins

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad is back with a sparky, gripping story of heists and hoods set in 1960s New York. Following the misadventures of Ray Carney, a furniture salesman with a shady side hustle, actor Dion Graham conjures up the soundscape of the demi-monde and its denizens.

The Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories of Mystery Illness
by Suzanne O’Sullivan, read by the author, Chopper, 10hrs 16mins

Neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan takes us on a tour of puzzling and seemingly inexplicable illnesses, including a sleeping sickness that affects refugee children in Sweden, severe headaches afflicting embassy staff in Cuba and mass outbreaks of fainting among Colombian schoolgirls. It’s utterly fascinating, and told with extraordinary compassion.

Tell us what you think

What are your favorites from this list — and what books have we missed? Tell us in the comments below

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