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Readers share their favorite audiobooks of the year

Last month, Libro.fm announced its best-selling audiobooks of 2022, a list that included science fiction (“How High We Go in the Dark,” by Sequoia Nagamatsu), celebrity memoir (Jennette McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died”) and mysteries (“The Maid,” by Nita Prose, and “The Paris Apartment,” by Lucy Foley).

Wondering how closely this list aligned with the listening preferences of our own readers, we asked our Book World newsletter subscribers to weigh in. There is some overlap — Bonnie Garmus’s “Lessons in Chemistry” and Julia Whelan’s “Thank You for Listening” appear on both lists — but there are also some surprises. Here are 11 audiobooks that our readers loved this year.

The 10 best audiobooks of 2022

Acts of Violet,’ by Margarita Montimore; narrated by Brittany Pressley, Amy McFadden, et al.

Montimore’s novel revolves around Violet Volk, a famous magician who disappeared in the middle of her act. Ten years later, her sister, Sasha, is still feeling the aftershocks of that neat trick while also fending off a producer who hopes to secure an exclusive interview with her for his podcast. “The audiobook was like a radio play crossed with a true-crime podcast,” wrote Joanna Meighan of Hampton Falls, N.H. “The production added additional theatricality to a story about stage play and magic.”

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Demon Copperhead,’ by Barbara Kingsolver; narrated by Charlie Thurston

One of our top 10 books of the year, Kingsolver’s update of Charles Dickens’s “David Copperfield” follows the travails of a boy growing up poor in Appalachia. According to Andrea Brownstein of St. Louis, the audiobook was ideal both because of Kingsolver’s ear for dialect and Thurston’s ability to voice it. Kingsolver “nails the tropes, rhythms, metaphors of Appalachian speech,” Brownstein wrote, and “the narrator has the accent of Kentucky exactly.” Brownstein should know; she used to live there.

Horse,’ by Geraldine Brooks; narrated by James Fouhey, Lisa Flanagan, et al.

Brooks’s bestseller braids together multiple narratives, including the story of an enslaved horse trainer and a man, years later, who becomes fascinated by a painting of the trainer’s racehorse. “Brooks is in a class by herself when it comes to telling a story,” wrote Patricia Eisenberg of Chesterfield, Mo. “She drew together many different characters from different times, places and fields of expertise to create this masterpiece. It was especially easy to listen to because each character had their own distinct voice, so the listener was never lost.”

How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water,’ by Angie Cruz; narrated by Kimberly M. Wetherell and Rossmery Almonte

In Cruz’s novel, Cara, an immigrant living in New York, loses her job but finds her voice when she tells her eventful life story to a career counselor. The interview structure of the book “perfectly and deliciously translates to audio format,” wrote Corrine McNabb of Scott Township, Pa. “Almonte’s narration of Cara’s story is a joy to listen to. She exquisitely captures the cadence and nuances of this Dominican immigrant, and truly made this story come to life. I laughed, I cried, I just wanted to continue listening!”

In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss,’ written and narrated by Amy Bloom

Bloom’s wrenching memoir revisits the time she spent with her husband after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which eventually led him to Switzerland to end his own life. For Alicia McGlinchey of Dallas, listening to Bloom narrate added to the poignancy. “Hearing the story told ‘firsthand’ by the author was profound,” McGlinchey wrote. “I listened through once, and then immediately went back to the beginning of the story and binge listened to the whole story again. I was hyper-aware through the entire book that this was the person who went through this devastating experience and somehow came out the other side with enough strength to share her story.”

Lessons in Chemistry,’ by Bonnie Garmus; narrated by Miranda Raison and Pandora Sykes

Garmus’s best-selling crowd-pleaser has an unforgettable protagonist: Elizabeth Zott, a single mother in the 1960s whose stymied scientific career leads her to take a job hosting a cooking show. Against all odds, “Supper at Six” becomes a hit, and no-nonsense Elizabeth becomes a feminist icon. “It made me laugh out loud, when I really needed a laugh,” wrote Susan Brayford of North Beach, Md.

Olga Dies Dreaming,’ by Xochitl Gonzalez; narrated by Almarie Guerra, Inés del Castillo and Armando Riesco

Olga Acevedo, the Puerto Rican protagonist of Gonzalez’s debut novel, is a self-made woman who plans weddings for New York’s high-maintenance elites. But behind her capable facade, she’s hiding plenty of secrets, and she’s not the only one; her politician brother is at risk of losing his career if his private life is revealed. Jill Young of Denver found the story wonderfully original with “interesting, fully developed characters and fabulous narration.”

Solito,’ written and narrated by Javier Zamora

Zamora’s memoir jumps back to 1999, when he was 9 years old and made a treacherous journey from his hometown in El Salvador to California, crossing the U.S. border illegally so that he could join his parents. Emma Guilarte of Tallahassee credits the audiobook’s “artistry of capturing a child’s voice in a harrowing life experience” and wrote that the memoir offers a “glimpse of what many go through seeking freedom and hope.”

Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story,’ written and narrated by Bono

If the lead singer of U2 is known for anything beyond his many hits, it’s that he loves to talk. No wonder, then, the audiobook version of his memoir lasts 20 hours and change. But our readers weren’t complaining. “It’s amazing to hear autobiographies by the author, in particular this one,” wrote Jason Zahn of Pasadena, Md. “Very well done with musical cues and spontaneous singing.”

Thank You for Listening,’ written and narrated by Julia Whelan

Whelan is one of the best narrators in the biz, but she’s also a writer. Her second novel follows an audiobook narrator who strikes up a flirtatious correspondence with another voice actor. “I loved that I was listening to an audiobook that was written and narrated by an actual audiobook narrator turned author about a character who is also a narrator of audiobooks,” wrote Hattie DeRaps of Wilton, Maine. “So meta. And it was just as addictive as a romance. I ignored so many to-dos whilst listening. Luckily, it only took me two days to finish!”

The best feel-good books of 2022

Trust,’ by Hernan Diaz; narrated by Edoardo Ballerini, Jonathan Davis, et al.

Another book that made our top 10 list, Diaz’s novel is broken into four parts, each of which gives a different perspective on the life of a flawed Wall Street businessman whose fame and wealth ballooned during the early 20th century. “The four excellent narrators paint a cubist portrait of a tycoon, his wife and the ruthless world of finance,” wrote Carol J. Urban of Rhinebeck, N.Y.

More from Book World

Join Book Club: Delivered to your inbox on Fridays, a selection of book reviews and recommendations from Book World editor Ron Charles. Sign up for the newsletter.

Best books of 2022: See our picks for the 10 best books of 2022 or dive into your favorite genre. Look to the best thrillers and mysteries to keep you on the edge of your seat, get lost in the possibilities of the best sci-fi and fantasy, and spark some joy with these 14 feel-good reads.

There’s more: Those looking for love stories should check out the best romance novels of 2022. And for the young (and young at heart) in your life, see the best children’s and YA books and top graphic novels. Plus, six BookTok stars share their favorite reads of the year. Audiobooks more you’re thing? We’ve got you covered there too.

Still need more reading inspiration? Check out reviews for the latest in fiction and nonfiction.

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