Reading List: My Favorite Audiobooks of 2017

Reading List: My Favorite Audiobooks of 2017

I spend a lot of time listening to audiobooks. Here are some of my favorites from 2017.

These are audiobooks I purchased and listened to in 2017. They were not all necessarily released this year. (Though some were.)

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Note: Be sure to check out my Audible reading lists from 2016 and 2015, too.

Best of 2017: Origin: A Novel

Written by: Dan Brown
Narrated by: Paul Michael

Description: Where do we come from? Where are we going? The stunningly inventive new novel from the world’s most popular thriller writer. Origin is Dan Brown’s most brilliant and entertaining novel to date.

My take: Dan Brown is controversial among book lovers for some reason but I feel like his books are perfect for the audiobook format because the narration is excellent (Paul Michael has narrated all but one of the Robert Langdon novels), they’re well-researched, and the stories are interesting. I really enjoyed this one and feel that it is the best Langdon book since The Davinci Code. And there are some nice tie-ins with technology too, so it will be interesting to readers of this site.

Best non-fiction: The Man from the Train

Written by: Bill James, with Rachel McCarthy James
Narrated by: John Bedford Lloyd

Description: Using unprecedented, dramatically compelling sleuthing techniques, legendary statistician and baseball writer Bill James applies his analytical acumen to crack an unsolved century-old mystery surrounding one of the deadliest serial killers in American history. Between 1898 and 1912, families across the country were bludgeoned in their sleep with the blunt side of an axe. Jewelry and valuables were left in plain sight, bodies were piled together, faces covered with cloth. Some of these cases, like the infamous Villasca, Iowa, murders, received national attention. But few people believed the crimes were related.

My take: This won’t be for everyone, I guess, but it was only narrowly not my favorite book overall from 2017. This is an amazing investigation, backed by incredible research, and told with great wit. The narration, too, is excellent, and while this book is over 17 hours long and took me quite a while to get through, I found myself inventing situations where listening further was possible. This was the audiobook version of “couldn’t put it down.” Amazing stuff.

Best Stephen King: ‘Salems Lot

Written by: Stephen King
Narrated by: Ron McLarty

Description: Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem’s Lot in the hopes that living in an old mansion, long the subject of town lore, will help him cast out his own devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods and only one comes out alive, Mears begins to realize that there may be something sinister at work and that his hometown is under siege by forces of darkness far beyond his control.

My take: ‘Salems Lot isn’t just one of Stephen King’s best books, it’s an excellent example of why he is one of our generation’s best authors. I listened to this one while reading It on Kindle, and they are similar in that King creates a believable town full of real people in both books. But ‘Salem’s Lotis, I think, the better of the two: It’s tighter, and shorter, and doesn’t feel overly-big for the topic. And like The Man from the Train, it’s hard to put down. So to speak.

More Stephen King

I am a big fan of Stephen King, so I usually have at least a handful of King books to read or listen to each year. Here are a few others I really enjoyed in 2017.

The Dead Zone. This one is well-read by James Franco, who also starred in the TV version of 11/22.63.

Gwendy’s Button Box. This is basically just two short stories, both of which are very enjoyable. Plus a nice conversation with the co-author of the title story.

Note: I partially listened to Sleeping Beauties, a new King book from this year, and The Gunslinger in 2017, too. But I couldn’t get into either one of them. (I liked the latter book quite a bit 30 years ago.)

Best of the rest

A few more notable listens from 2017…

The Russia House by John le Carré is one of my favorite books of all time, and I rewatch the movie version regularly. The audiobook version is good, but it has the sound quality of something that was recorded long ago, though it was fairly recent.

I was really looking forward to the next Andy Weir book since The Martian is arguably the single-best audiobook ever recorded. But Artemis is only good, so far—I’m only partially through it as a I write this—and doesn’t appear to rise to the same level. Part of the reason is the narration: Rosario Dawson handles these duties on Artemis and it’s fine. But R.C. Bray’s narration is what put The Martian over the top. He’s amazing.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson wins for the title, but its an enjoyable, funny, and modern take on the self-help thing.


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Conversation 17 comments

  • john

    Premium Member
    19 December, 2017 - 9:53 am

    <p>I agree 100% on Dan Brown's "Origin". The best fiction I have read in many years. </p><p><br></p><p>I keep trying with <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">le Carré but have trouble both reading and listening to his writing style.</span></p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      19 December, 2017 - 10:11 am

      <blockquote><a href="#228998"><em>In reply to john:</em></a></blockquote><p>I agree on le <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Carré but for some reason this one works for me.</span></p>

  • jkchan83

    Premium Member
    19 December, 2017 - 10:02 am

    <p>I have found that searching by the narrator can be more interesting and entertaining than searching by author. I haven't read/listened to Artemis yet, but I have found other works by RC Bray to be wonderful.</p><p><br></p><p>I guess this is a riff on the "he could read a phone book and keep the audience spellbound" theme for great actors, like James Earl Jones.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      19 December, 2017 - 10:11 am

      <blockquote><a href="#229004"><em>In reply to jkchan83:</em></a></blockquote><p>Totally. I loved the whole Mountain Man series too.</p>

  • burog25c

    19 December, 2017 - 10:13 am

    <p>R.C. Bray makes everything better. He's one of the reasons that a little known SF series on Audible has the audience it does. Sure other's could narrate the Expeditionary Force books, but Mr. Bray is the only one who can do Skippy, and says if a movie ever got made he'd lobby to do the part. And also posted that he'd like to see the latest ExFor novel push "Artemis" out of the top slot on audible. </p><p><br></p><p>As for Artemis, it was okay. I think Rosario Dawson a great job with narrating, but she didn't have a lot to work with. Andy Weir did a great job with the technical side of living on The Moon, but, to me, Jazz is not a likeable enough character to get invested in like Mark.</p><p><br></p><p>Finally, if you like SF, Audible will toss the Bobiverse trilogy which just wrapped up a couple of months ago. Trust me, if you want some mind bending regarding relativistic time verses subjective time, how long an interstellar war would take, and musings on what it would be like to have your mind transferred into a computer… </p><p><br></p>

  • dcdevito

    19 December, 2017 - 10:46 am

    <p>I just finished "What Happened" by Hillary Clinton. She's an awful reader but it was a great listen. I'm currently halfway through "The Last Republicans", the story about the Bushes. I won't get into politics but the books are good to listen to. I use Audible in the car and will need a new audiobook soon. </p><p>Audible had a deal for Amazon Prime members, $99 for a year ($50 discount) and 12 free credits. </p>

  • IamDefiler

    19 December, 2017 - 2:37 pm

    <p>Paul, did you ever give Swan Song or Speaks The Nightbird a listen? Two of my favorite Robert McCammon audio books, especially Speaks The Nightbird. Edwardo Ballerini reads amazingly well and maintains so many characters in a unique way. </p>

  • reservoirmike

    19 December, 2017 - 2:39 pm

    <p>I couldn't agree more that great narration elevates a novel. RC Bray, Scott Brick, Ray Porter, Luke Daniels, and George Guidall (not to mention the late Frank Muller) always enhance whatever they are reading. For me, the narrator can often be the deciding factor to listen to a particular book I am on the fence about. The Magic 2.0 series books 1-3 were in my wish list for a crazy long time. Despite being narrated by Luke Daniels, I never could pull the trigger, until a $4.95 sale came along and I got all 3 books for the price of a single credit. Those books turned out to be some of my favorite listens in 2017. If you like fantasy worlds, computer games and hacking, you should definitely check it out.</p><p><br></p><p>On a side note, I don't know what the ads are doing on your site today, but it is almost unusable for me regardless of browser. It crashed Chrome twice (30% CPU and 1GB+ memory by itself) and IE wouldn't load the comments section. Just an FYI.</p>

  • CraigNeblett

    Premium Member
    19 December, 2017 - 2:59 pm

    <p>James Franco played Jake Epping in the Hulu miniseries but Craig Wasson read the audiobook.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      19 December, 2017 - 3:37 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#229114"><em>In reply to CraigNeblett:</em></a></blockquote><p>Doy. Yep.</p>

  • adamcorbally

    19 December, 2017 - 3:25 pm

    <p>A few books I've really enjoyed this year on audible -</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p>Seven eves </p><p>The fifteen lives of Harry august</p><p>Pandora's star</p><p><br></p>

  • Stoicjim

    Premium Member
    19 December, 2017 - 11:44 pm

    <p>The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey. It is by far the funniest book I've ever had read to me. The narration is wonderful.</p>

  • SeattleMike

    Premium Member
    20 December, 2017 - 9:42 am

    <p>Paul, I’m reading Artemis right now on Kindle. It is definitely not anything as good as The Martian.</p>

  • vonronge

    20 December, 2017 - 3:01 pm

    <p>Sweet Jesus I hate Scott Brick. Even seeing his name in a comment thread makes me angry. He is unlistenable.</p>

    • reservoirmike

      20 December, 2017 - 3:26 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#229485"><em>In reply to vonronge:</em></a></blockquote><p>For me that is Jim Dale. I actively avoid anything read by him, and even went so far as to torrent the UK version of the Harry Potter books to steer clear of his nasally narration (Stephen Frye was excellent BTW). My only complaint with Brick would be sometimes he can be too languid in his pacing. Luckily you can change the narration speed if he goes too far off the rails.</p>

  • Michael

    Premium Member
    30 December, 2017 - 2:22 pm

    <p>Paul along the same investigative vein as "The Man from the Train," is the amazing "Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews and Their Spies Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America" by Steven Ross. The true untold story is gripping and revelatory on its own merits but with an interest in WWII it puts it over the top. Its out on Kindle and Audible.</p>

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