Reading List: Favorite Audiobooks of 2018, So Far

Posted on July 3, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Mobile, Android, iOS, Music + Videos with 36 Comments

We’re only halfway through 2018, but I’ve already listened to a long list of great new audiobooks, plus a handful of favorites from the past.

Here’s a quick rundown if you’re looking for some good choices for the summer.


The Outsider
By: Stephen King
Narrated by: Will Patton
Length: 18 hrs and 39 mins

Stephen King’s latest book is a perfect storm of my favorite author, one of my favorite audiobook narrators, and a great story. It’s the story of a gruesome crime, and it’s a lot like his recent Bill Hodges trilogy—Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch, all of which are also recommended (and also read by Will Patton)—in that it has fantastical elements to it. In fact, there’s a nice tie-in between this book and the Bill Hodges trilogy, which I enjoyed quite a bit.

Mountain Man: Prequel
By: Keith C. Blackmore
Narrated by: R. C. Bray
Series: Mountain Man, Book 0
Length: 8 hrs and 19 mins

I was delighted to discover that Keith C. Blackmore had written another Mountain Man book, which focuses on Gus’ origin story. That it is narrated by R.C. Bray is, of course, the icing on the cake.

By: James Dickey
Narrated by: Will Patton
Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins

A survival story that was made (in)famous by the 1972 movie, Deliverance is a surprisingly interesting book that I discovered when looking for something read by Will Patton. The best-known line from the movie isn’t in the book, but it’s just as visceral and believable.

Pet Sematary
By: Stephen King
Narrated by: Michael C. Hall
Length: 15 hrs and 40 mins

This is a classic Stephen King story and I’m surprised to see how well it holds up. The Michael C. Hall narration is excellent.


The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss
By: Dr. Jason Fung
Narrated by: Brian Nishii
Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins

An important book that anyone trying to lose weight and be healthier should read. The secret, incidentally, is intermediate fasting, and it’s something I’ve been working on this past year. A must-read.

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
By: Lawrence Wright
Narrated by: Lawrence Wright
Length: 16 hrs and 31 mins

When I heard that Hulu was producing a TV series based on this book—which I have since watched—I decided to listen to the audiobook, which has a much more complete history that includes both the U.S. view and the more important events in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere that led to this disaster. Fascinating stuff.

Replay: The History of Video Games
By: Tristan Donovan, Richard Garriott
Narrated by: Gary Furlong
Length: 15 hrs and 15 mins

I’ve been moving in and out of this one thanks to many of the other books on this list, but if you’re looking for something industry-related, this might be a good choice. It seems complete, in that it examines video games both outside the U.S. and in. I’m sure I’ll finish it over time.

Re-listens from previous years

Inspired by new books (The Outsider and Mountain Man: Prequel), I went back and re-listened to some older (and shorter) Stephen King and Keith C. Blackmore audiobooks as well:

By: Stephen King
Narrated by: Michael Kelly
Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins

One of my very favorite Stephen King novellas, about a summer working at a haunted amusement park, and the narrator is perfect.

The Gingerbread Girl
By: Stephen King
Narrated by: Mare Winningham
Length: 2 hrs and 13 mins

An inspiring story about a woman who is attacked on a beach while running and takes her life back.

The Hospital: The Free Short Story: The First Mountain Man Story
By: Keith C. Blackmore
Narrated by: R. C. Bray
Length: 1 hr and 37 mins

This one’s free, so there’s no excuse for not checking it out. It’s a great introduction to the Mountain Man series and to Gus, its main protagonist.


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Comments (36)

36 responses to “Reading List: Favorite Audiobooks of 2018, So Far”

  1. johnlavey

    Paul, you absolutely amaze me. I know you are a bottomless pit of knowledge and information on computing.....but how do you find time to listen to audio books? Do you ever sleep?

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to johnlavey:

      I walk and I listen when I drive/travel.

    • Daekar

      In reply to johnlavey:

      I think you'd be surprised how much spare listening time you have. I got through Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that way. Audiobooks are the best to happen to literature since the printing press. How else can you improve your mind while washing the dishes?

      • johnlavey

        In reply to Daekar:

        All good recommendations. Thanks!

      • Paul Thurrott

        In reply to Daekar:

        Well. Let me put this in perspective.

        One thing I've been worried about lately is attention span. I tend to read (and listen to) shorter and shorter things. And when it comes to audiobooks, generally, I find that shorter books or collections of short stories are best unless it's a story I'm familiar with.

        So last September, I purchased Stephen King's It in e-book form as a test. This is a book I read once, roughly when it came out, as a young man. I recall really enjoying it. And I was curious if I'd have the same reaction now.

        I just finished it last week. It took me nine months to slog through it. (Obviously, I read many other things as well, but few other books.)

        The thing is, it's not just me. The book is actually pretty terrible, and is overly long. This could have been written in 400 pages or less, easily. Today's Stephen King would have done it that way.

        But worried about my inability to read this thing through, to prove that it wasn't just me, I recently started re-reading The Stand, also by King. This book is even longer than It but it's also much better: I'm already 20 percent of the way through it, because it's such a great read. Night and day. I may actually get the audiobook version so I can go back and forth.

        And that's the thing about a good audiobook: You'll find time. I listen when I shave and shower. When I'm cleaning up around the house. And when I walk, and travel, etc. Finding a good audiobook is like finding a good series to bingewatch on Netflix. It's great. And then there's this void when it ends. Because you're worried the next one won't live up to that standard.

        • cheetahdriver

          In reply to paul-thurrott:

          The Stand is the single most terrifying book I have ever read. Only Stephen King could write a book where the world ends in chapter 1, and THEN things take a turn for the worse.

          I also have been worried about attention span. I have found myself just swiping to the next article about halfway through the NYT or WaPo, which I never used to do, but I am about to decide it's not me, it's the quality of their current crop of twenty-something writers. I have seriously been considering starting back through King's Dark Tower books, and you can't go through those without continuity of concentration.

          I suspect the ability to worry about the problem probably is a prima facie argument that it isn't a problem.

        • Daekar

          In reply to paul-thurrott:

          I have shared your concern with my ability to read normal books of any significant length. Right now there is small stack of paper books on my night stand that I've been meaning to get through for a while. The one with my bookmark in it, The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody is a satire and it's not that long, but I've been trying to get through it for months. It just is hard for it to compete with Thurrott, ZDNet, etc, YouTube, and my Switch.

          Since I graduated from college, where I virtually nested in aged paper books (history major), the number of books I've actually read in text, both paper and digital, probably totals less than 2000 pages. I have listened to more books since then by a factor of 10 at least.

    • jwpear

      In reply to johnlavey:

      I listen on commutes to/from work and when I'm doing things around the house. I favor non-fiction. My wife and kids just walk through and roll their eyes when I have something playing.

      • wright_is

        In reply to jwpear:

        Yeah, I get derided for listening to audio books and the radio is then turned on for some sugar coated, headache inducing pop music... :-S

        • Paul Thurrott

          In reply to wright_is:

          As I get older, I am much less inclined to listen to music in the car. An audiobook or podcast is preferable to me now.

          • Belralph

            In reply to paul-thurrott:

            Absolutely, Even with XM radio the stations repeat songs over and over. Many years ago I worked in the automotive trade and a traveling salesman who put on insane miles told me he only listen to 'books on tape' to keep his attention and not put him to sleep. So I'm 100% audible behind the wheel except when there is company riding with.

          • mclark2112

            In reply to paul-thurrott:

            I thought it was just me! My Audible account is getting a work out. And I love R.C. Bray. I am on Book 5 of the Expeditionary Force series. Not the best science fiction in the world, but a fun listen.

          • Daekar

            In reply to paul-thurrott:

            This, definitely. When I was younger, I remember wondering how on earth my father could stand listening to AM radio talk shows. Now I listen to podcasts, which are, let's face it, really the same thing a lot of the time. It's amazing, the older I get the smarter he was.

          • wright_is

            In reply to paul-thurrott:

            I probably listen to about 5 minutes of radio a month, and that is all of my music listening. Everything else is Audible or podcasts.

  2. burog25c

    I'm not a big zombie fan, but The Mountain Man series is great. And R.C. Bray does a great job with the narration.

  3. reservoirmike

    The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Best book I've listened to in a long time. Surprisingly so. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was also great. For Bray fans, The Hell Divers Series by Nicholas Sansbury Smith is a good one. Not quite Mountain Man good but worth a listen.

  4. cheetahdriver

    If Stephen King could (reliably) figure out endings, he would be one of the best writers of all time. As it is, he's probably one of the best of the last century. I always look forward to his writings.

    I have been reading more and more on intermediate fasting, and I am interested in trying it, getting strapped into the Airwolf is like putting on 3800lb aluminum pants, both legs at the same time. Carrying less weight into the cockpit would make the operation easier.

    As always, your recommendations are highly valued.

  5. Nonmoi

    It's funny how after reading all these books about gaming industry's history, Paul still think Microsoft would be better to learn from Sega, not Nintendo.

  6. wright_is

    My favourites this year:

    Qualityland by Marc Uwe Kling, a comical, satirical look at our use of modern technology, especially the mega global companies that control our data with algorithms. Hilarious, but with a serious point. One of the best books I've read in years.

    Hologrammtica by Tom Hillenbrand, an interesting look at AI, holograms, body swapping and aliens in a near-future. Sort of a Philip Marlowe story for the 21st Century. Well written.

    Mirror by Karl Olsberg, the story of a Google Glass like headset + tablet, with AI that should help the user. What could go wrong? A great look at the benefits, but also the risks of AI. Well written and viewed from the point of the creator, a criminal, "normals", several people with disabilities and a reporter.

    Devil's Fruit by Tom Hillenbrand, an ex-gormet chef investigates after a critic dies in his restaurant and his mentor is killed. Racing across Europe, trying to stay one step ahead of the killers, whilst trying to work out what happened.

  7. Belralph

    I fully second the Mountain man. I listen to the free Hospital story and got the "Omnibus" for a single credit. I enjoy Wil Wheaton which lead me to Locked In and Head On by  John Scalzi which I enjoyed. Working on The Android's Dream now.

  8. reservoirmike

    In reply to a Premium comment by cheetahdriver: I have to agree King can saddle a great book (or series) with a clumsy ending. Sometimes needlessly so.

    In reply to a Premium comment by paul-thurrott: King can be overly long in his prose, but when he gets it right, it is definitely worth the time. I too find I enjoy more of his shorter works, especially his anthologies and novellas. Some of his better works fall in that 12-15 hour range which I prefer. The smaller format seems to keep his writing tighter and the story more on point.

  9. vedhogger

    I recommend «World without cancer»

  10. StevenLayton

    Paul, did you ever finish the Fear Saga?

  11. cornholio

    I'm a big Kindle fan and, as I've gotten older and eyes have gotten worse, I rarely read anything else but ebooks due to the ability to increase the font size. I find many regular books now require me to wear glasses and I hate wearing them. I'd been thinking for some time about Audible. This past Christmas, I received a Kindle Fire tablet that I simply wanted to use for casting (iOS user and Google casting is limited). As part of the setup, I accidentally started a free trial to Audible. Remembering some of these older articles, I did some research on your site, and picked the Mountain Man as one of my free credits. I never would have read this series on the Kindle, but since it was free, I thought I'd give it a shot. Thanks a bunch for the recommendation--I've now completed Omnibus plus book 4, and am now reading the prequel. This has been one of the most entertaining series of ever read/listened to. Much appreciated.

  12. Daekar

    I'll put in another good word for "The Obesity Code"... it really is a must-read in the truest sense if you care about health.

  13. EvangieWilde

    Really? There's not one female author that is good enough for this list?

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to EvangieWilde:

      Also, I will apologize in advance for the misogynistic comments you will get to this question.

      But again, this is really just a list of "this is what I did listen to this year so far and feel that I can recommend." It's not a statement, political or otherwise.

      Looking over the Kindle purchases my wife and I made in 2018 so far, I see two things of related note: Most of the fiction I read that way are also written by men. And most of the fiction my wife reads are written by women. It would never occur to me to criticize her for that or comment on it. Or even notice it, really.

      I'm going to go berate my wife for being sexist. Kidding.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to EvangieWilde:

      One more follow-up. I asked my wife what she thought of this. She agrees that I'm part of the male industrial complex (my term) and that, like most people, I find things I like and then seek out more of the same. And that that's what leads to this kind of thing. So fair enough.

      But she also made the point that perhaps a list of recommendations of books written by women would be a great addition to this conversation. As I wrote earlier, I don't (knowingly) seek out books written by men. And I have no issues listening to audiobooks that were written by women and narrated by woman. So maybe we can add that to the mix. And my late 2018 post of this nature might be a bit more diverse.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to EvangieWilde:

      I don't really think in terms of gender when it comes to authors. But one of the books I recommended here, and have listened to repeatedly, is read by a woman. It's a great example of right voice/right story.

    • Daekar

      In reply to EvangieWilde:

      Why on earth would you even notice that? Seriously, unplug from the news cycle and dump that identity politics garbage out of your brain. If you're lucky, you will be able to relearn to judge people not by what is between their legs, but by the quality or character of their work.

      Would you judge my wife because she generally only reads books by women? Historical Christian romances written by men are a bit thin on the ground...

    • William Kempf

      In reply to EvangieWilde:

      Can't speak for Paul, but when looking for a book I look for one of these things.

      1. An author I'm familiar with and like.
      2. A narrator I'm familiar with and like.
      3. A genre and description I like.

      Note that no where in there is the author's gender, race, etc. There's plenty of female authors I do like such as Margaret Weis and Anne McAffrey, but I don't think I've listened to/read a book by a female author in the past year. Why should someone need to seek out books with female authors? The implication that one is sexist if they don't is insulting.

  14. urdusoftbooks

    The Gingerbread Girl is very beautiful audio book, I want to listen some other fantastic books in audio format, and those are Jannat k Pattay and Yaaram