The Best Audiobooks of November 2019

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The Best Audiobooks of November 2019

If October was the month of the standout audiobook memoir, then November is the month of the flashy audiobook reissue. Many titles are seeing new audio editions released this month, from a J.K. Simmons-narrated edition of Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove to a movie tie-in edition of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood featuring archival recordings of Fred Rogers himself.

Of the titles that rose to the top of the November pack after filtering out reissues, another theme emerged: brevity. Among the 10 audiobooks that made the final cut, the majority come in under seven hours long. As the holidays ramp up, these shorter listens are perfect for an afternoon of whatever seasonal busywork you might have in front of you.

As always, the audiobooks below are organized first by release date and then by run time. Happy November listening!

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Thumbnail image for the deep.jpg The Deep by Rivers Solomon with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes

Narrated by: Daveed Diggs

Run time: 4 hours and 1 minute

Release date: November 5th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Inspired by the Hugo Award-nominated song of the same name, The Deep tells the story of Yetu. A historian charged with safeguarding memories—specifically the traumatic ones of her people, the sea-dwelling descendants of pregnant African women thrown overboard by slave traders—Yetu reaches a psychological breaking point and flees to the surface world. Novelized by sci-fi writer Rivers Solomon (whose 2017 debut An Unkindness of Ghosts is an allegory of ships, trauma and slavery) and narrated by Daveed Diggs (whose experimental hip hop group, clipping, composed the original song), The Deep blends genres, mediums and history together for a unique experience.

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littleweirdsaudiobook.jpg Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

Narrated by: Jenny Slate

Run time: 4 hours and 19 minutes

Release date: November 5th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

For those who love essay collections both written and narrated by searingly funny women, November is a veritable wonderland. And as anyone who has internalized the minute perfections of Parks and Rec’s Mona Lisa Saperstein or Marcel the Shell could easily predict, comedian Jenny Slate’s narration of her poetically piquant Little Weirds soars above the rest. Like the words in each of the short chapters that make up this brief collection, Slate’s rhythmic, idiosyncratic delivery somehow soothes and dazzles in equal measure. This makes for an audiobook experience that you’ll want to return to again and again whenever you’re feeling a little bit weird and looking to spend a moment with the voice of someone else who just gets it.

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conversations rbg.jpg Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law by Jeffrey Rosen

Narrated by: Suzanne Toren and Peter Ganim, featuring recorded conversations between Jeffrey Rosen and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Run time: 6 hours and 55 minutes

Release date: November 5th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

We’re not ones for hagiography, but in a historical moment when the Supreme Court’s moral framework feels more brittle than ever, we’re grateful for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s ongoing presence on the bench. We’re also thankful for whatever insight into her legal philosophy (and heart) we can get, so it’s no surprise that this new collection of conversations between Ginsburg and legal commentator Jeffrey Rosen immediately caught our eye. The audiobook version includes recorded conversations between the two from the 1990s to the present, delivering a compelling informal profile. As a permanent record of Ginsburg’s voice and fighting spirit, it’s an inspiring listen.

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acid for the children.jpg Acid for the Children by Flea

Narrated by: Flea

Run time: 9 hours and 3 minutes

Release date: November 5th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Whether the Red Hot Chili Peppers were a part of your formative musical years or not, bassist Flea’s coming-of-age memoir, Acid for the Children, is worth a listen. In part this is because Flea, with his jazz musician’s ear perfectly tuned to find the best rhythms and inflections to draw in the listener, is a knockout narrator. But it’s also because Flea is a lyrical, captivating writer. Between his smart prose and his smarter narration—and, of course, the deeply fascinating worlds of jazz, funk, punk and pop he bounced betwen when finding himself in the 1980s—Acid for the Children is poised to rank among the year’s most compelling memoirs.

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get a life chloe brown.jpg Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, Book #1) by Talia Hibbert

Narrated by: Adjoa Andoh

Run time: 10 hours and 17 minutes

Release date: November 5th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Any Adjoa Andoh narration is an automatic listen for us, so it was no surprise to find her performance of Get a Life, Chloe Brown immediately entertaining. Talia Hibbert’s newest contemporary romance boasts clever writing and nuanced characters; her chronically ill, determinedly go-get-’em heroine Chloe Brown practically leaps off the audio page (despite the “wobbles” brought on by her fibromyalgia), and her rough-and-tumble hero, Red, is more charming than he has any right to be (especially with the accent Hibbert’s English setting has bestowed upon him). After listening to Chloe and her wild sisters’ escapades, you’ll be clamoring for the next book in the series.

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starless sea.jpg The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman with Dion Graham, Bahni Turpin, Fiona Hardingham, Allan Corduner and Jorjeana Marie

Run time: 18 hours and 37 minutes

Release date: November 5th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Erin Morgenstern last wowed us with the fantastical world of The Night Circus, and now she’s finally back with the equally fantastic (if slightly more videogame-filled) The Starless Sea. Where the audiobook of The Night Circus leaned solely on the performance of Harry Potter narrator Jim Dale, The Starless Sea has a full cast. They’ve assembled a rogue’s gallery of Paste-favorite narrators: Dominic Hoffman leads the pack as narrator of Zachary Ezra Rawlins central storyline, while Dion Graham, Bahni Turpin, Fiona Hardingham, Allan Corduner and Jorjeana Marie lend their talents to flesh out Morgenstern’s enchanting story. The result is an absolute audiobook obsessive’s dream.

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unwind your mind.jpg Unwind Your Mind: The Life-Changing Power of ASMR by Emma WhispersRed

Narrated by: Emma WhispersRed and Kristin Atherton

Run time: 5 hours and 3 minutes

Release date: November 12th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | Soundcloud

This is a departure from the titles we usually recommend. But as a memoir/therapeutic mindfulness guide about a specific audio medium (ASMR) from one of the biggest voices in that medium’s community (WhispersRed ASMR), we had to include Unwind Your Mind. Contrary to what the pre-release video embedded below might suggest, the audio version of Unwind Your Mind is not an extended exercise in ASMR. It’s a narrative work, and it’s read as such. But that doesn’t mean it’s not immediately recognizable as ASMR-adjacent; Unwind Your Mind is noticeably quiet with more sticky sibilance and breathiness than one might generally encounter in an audiobook. If ASMR is your jam, this audiobook is a must-listen for you.

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captain and glory.jpg The Captain and the Glory: An Entertainment by Dave Eggers

Narrated by: John Hodgman

Run time: 2 hours and 23 minutes

Release date: November 19th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

John Hodgman can sell anything, especially this darkly satirical novella by Dave Eggers about a tyrannically narcissistic yellow-plumed ship’s captain. The whole premise of the story is stupid—as in, stupidity is the premise—but as anyone with half an empathetic brain cell knows, the current historical moment is also stupid. And Hodgman, performing with the cheerfully reasonable voice of the privileged white male class, is brilliant at taking something so stupid and, for better or worse, selling it hard. We hate this. We love this. We hope we can make it so that the next historical moment isn’t quite so stupid.

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gentlemans guide.jpg The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky (Montague Siblings, Book 1.5) by Mackenzi Lee

Narrated by: Christian Coulson

Run time: 2 hours

Release date: November 26

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Christian Coulson’s raucous performance of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue made Mackenzi Lee’s queer historical YA series a must-listen. In The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky, a brief fling of a novella set between the first two books of the Montague Siblings series, Coulson more than rises to the challenge he set for himself in Vice and Virtue (and which Moira Quirk upped in her reading of book two, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy). His performance of Percy and Monty steams up the metaphorical pages with more glee than ever before. If you’re a Gentleman’s Guide fan, Getting Lucky is the perfect holiday bauble to tuck in your own digital stocking.

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america for americans.jpg America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States by Erika Lee

Narrated by: Shayna Small

Run time: 13 hours and 37 minutes

Release date: November 26th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

In a time of ever-increasing noise, there’s a lot to be said for unwavering clarity. Immigration historian Erika Lee’s newest work, America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States, provides just that in content—Lee traces the very base Americanness of xenophobia throughout the country’s troubled history—as well as in delivery. Shayna Small’s easy-to-follow narration reflects the straightforward, effective style Lee has cultivated throughout her career as an academic and a communicator of history. There are no bells and whistles here, just a clarion call to see xenophobia for the threat it is in the hope that we will do something about it before it’s too late.

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zeta family.jpg Bonus: The Zeta Family (Audible Original) by Gretchen Enders

Narrated by: Kevin Nealon, Natasha Lyonne, Amy Goodmurphy, Ryan Bell

Run time: 3 hours and 17 minutes

Release date: November 14th

Audible Exclusive

The Zeta Family is not an audiobook. It’s also not not an audiobook. Like so many of its recent Audible Original cousins—Alan Cumming’s memoir-adjacent Legal Immigrant, John Cena and Anna Chlumsky’s sports-world comedy 64th Man, Kate McKinnon and Emily Lynn’s medieval fantasy comedy Heads Will Roll—it’s closest in spirit to an audio drama. An audio experience only Audible has both the creative tools and the cultural reach to produce, The Zeta Family is an immersive audio comedy about a cult featuring the vocal talents of Kevin Nealon, Natasha Lyonne, Amy Goodmurphy and Ryan Bell. If you have an Audible subscription, give The Zeta Family (or any of the other not-audiobooks, almost-audio-dramas above) a try. It’s a whole new frontier in multimedia entertainment, and it’s well worth a listen


Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. She can be found @AlexisKG.

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