Stop trying to make “I Spy” happen.
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Little, Brown and Company
Who wrote it? Tina FeyHow long is it? 5 hours and 35 minutes, or enough time to listen to it twice if you’re going from Tina Fey’s hometown of Upper Darby, PA to the Second City theater in Chicago (Totally worth it.)Why will you love it? Worshipping at the altar of Tina is almost (ok, definitely) a requirement for fully functional human existence. Bossypants on audiobook is like if the perfection of a Tina Fey eyeroll was super-charged with the power and strength of the famous Rosie the Riveter image. Even if you’ve read it as a book, the audiobook is 100 percent worth it. Listen to it here!
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Who wrote it? Patti SmithHow long is it? 9 hours 54 minutes or roughly the distance between Charlotte, North Carolina to the East Village, NYCWhy will you love it? You can actually hear Patti reliving her memories of busted-and-boho NYC. You can hear in her snarly, growly voice just how much of a poet she really is. Her stories of art and passion and being broke and young are vivid and alive when she reads it. And if the end of the book doesn’t make you weep, there’s a chance you might be dead inside so it’s a good way to check on the health of your soul. Listen to it here!
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Who wrote it? Neil GaimanHow long is it? 12 hours and 37 minutes, or roughly the amount of time it takes you to realize you will never understand how to navigate the London tube and call a cab. Why will you love it? First of all, Neil Gaiman starts out ahead because of his adorbs British accent. But the real reason you should get your Neverwhere on is that the fantasy world Gaiman creates comes completely alive when he reads his own book. Whatever you have between your ears can launch his fairytale-ish stories into the stratosphere. Listen to it here!
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Who wrote it? Joan DidionHow long is it? 6 hours and 57 minutes, or roughly the amount of time it takes to drive from Los Angeles to San FranciscoWhy should you listen? In the badass bitch playset™ of your imagination, Joan Didion and Diane Keaton share a bunk bed (Joan Didion is top bunk, obvs) and stay up late swapping stories of crushing the patriarchy, right? The real-life version of that is Diane Keaton reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem with the kind of strength and grace and occasional humor that fits perfectly with Didion’s writing. If you thought that one of the most important pieces of journalism ever written couldn’t be improved, you’ll be surprised. Listen to it here!
AP Photo/Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Tsar Fedorsky
Who wrote it? Junot DíazHow long is it? 5 hours and 14 minutes, or roughly the amount of time it would take to drive across the Dominican RepublicWhy will you love it? It’s a shame everybody’s favorite actual genius* Junot doesn’t narrate the Pulitzer Prize winner The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, but a close second is hearing his reading of This is How You Lose Her. When it comes to the real-as-f*ck Spanish/English mashup only Junot can pull off, it’s no surprise that it rolls off his tongue more naturally than it does when you stumble over the words in your own head. * Ask the people of the MacArthur Foundation, they’re the ones who decided.Listen to it here!
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Who wrote it? Ernest Hemingway How long is it? 8 hours and 37 minutes, or roughly the time of a round trip between Milan, Italy and Kobarid, Slovenia (where the Battle of Caporetto took place.) Why will you love it? Silver fox John Slattery is a classic, so it makes total sense that he would read Hemingway. Plus, it’s fun to imagine that Slattery recorded the audiobook with a drink in his hand and poured one out for the ultimate literary dudebro Hemingway. Listen to it here!
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Who wrote it? Denis JohnsonHow long is it? 2 hours and 43 minutes, or roughly the amount of time it takes for your problems to catch up with you if you’re on the road trying to escape themWhy will you love it? You may not know it, but Will Patton is the growly voice of your audiobook dreams. His voice sounds like it’s wearing a beat up leather jacket and worn out jeans, which is perfect for Denis Johnson’s stories of drug adventures and smoky dive bars. Characters with a wild past deserve the kind of voice that may have made some questionable and risky decisions. Listen to it here!
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
Who wrote it? Toni MorrisonHow long is it? 2 hours and 57 minutes (abridged), or the time it takes to drive from Morrison’s hometown of Lorain, Ohio to Washington D.C. to visit President Obama, who listed Song of Solomon as one of his favorite books. Uh, plus about 3 hours recovery time to get back from being on Toni’s level. Why will you love it? The only thing more magical than reading the words Toni Morrison writes is the experience of hearing them come to life in her own voice. Morrison narrates nine of her novels, including Beloved, The Bluest Eye and Home so when you get to the end of Song of Solomon, you and Toni can keep the jam going. You won’t be disappointed. Listen to it here!
Who wrote it? David RakoffHow long is it? 2 hours and 34 minutes, or Why will you love it? Everything about this book demands that it be read aloud. You probably know David Rakoff’s clever rhymes and stories from his many appearances on This American Life, and if you do, you know how unique his voice was. This audiobook was produced by the messiah of public radio himself, Ira Glass as one of the last things Rakoff did before he died of cancer in 2012. If you think rhyme is old and boring, listen to this and prepare to change your mind. Listen to it here!
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Three Rivers Press
Who wrote it? Mindy KalingHow long is it? 4 hours and 37 minutes, or roughly the amount of time it takes to drive from Dartmouth College to New York CityWhy will you love it? You don’t need to listen to an audiobook to soak in Mindy’s rad-ness because she’s everywhere. But you should, because she’s just as funny and fearless when reading her memoir as she is when she’s writing for TV. In fact, it’s probably because she’s written and acted so much that she knows how to make the words pop into focus. By the end, it feels like you’ve got the BE-FRI part of the heart necklace and she has ST-ENDS. Listen to it here!
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Back Bay Books
Who wrote it? Keith RichardsHow long is it? 23 hours and 8 minutes, or roughly the amount of time it takes to drive from Muddy Waters’ hometown of Rolling Fork, Mississippi to Weston, Connecticut, where Richards lives now (plus 4 hours to get over the head trip that Keith Richards lives in Connecticut.)Why will you love it? Keith Richards’ life has not been the one of a mere mortal. That’s why it’s perfect that known warlock/bracelet enthusiast Johnny Depp is the voice reading the stories from Richards’ registered-trademark rockstar life. Depp’s smoky voice matches Richards’ writing, and it really shows. The audiobook rocked so hard it was voted the best audiobook in 2010 and won one of those fancy paperweight-y things called an Audie award. Listen to Keith Richards’ Life here (cigarettes and heard drugs sold separately.) Listen to it here!
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Who wrote it? Lauren GrahamHow long is it? 8 hours and 27 minutes, or roughly the amount of time it might take to walk the periphery of Manhattan (See The Great Saunter for more!)Why will you love it? Lauren Graham basically invented what being a Cool Mom is, sending an entire generation of wannabe Rory Gilmores into reverie about what it would be like to be raised by somebody so…incredibly rad. The universe is listening, which is why you can hear Lauren Graham reading her debut novel about a young woman tryna make it in NYC as an actress. Since Lauren Graham hustled quite a bit herself, it’s just another way in which she’s real and bright and honest with her adoring fans. Listen to it here!
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Grand Central Publishing
Who wrote it? Jami AttenbergHow long is it? 6 hours and 56 minutes, or roughly the amount of time it takes to drive to Omaha, Nebraska from Evanston, Illinois Why will you love it? Let me explain a little phenomenon called audiobook yahtzee: it happens when the reader’s voice matches perfectly with the voice of the author, thereby imbibing the words of the book with super-sonic power. Molly Ringwald voices this book with the same honesty that made you fall in love with her the first time you saw her onscreen — so fitting for Attenberg’s story of family struggle. Listen to it here!