Reading List: Favorite Audiobooks of 2018, Part 2

Posted on December 31, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Music + Videos with 20 Comments

2018 was an unusually good year for audiobooks, so I had to split my normal wrap-up into two parts.

You can find part 1 in Reading List: Favorite Audiobooks of 2018, So Far, which I posted back in July. Here’s the second part.


Runnin’ with the Devil: A Backstage Pass to the Wild Times, Loud Rock, and the Down and Dirty Truth Behind the Making of Van Halen
By: Noel Monk, Joe Layden
Narrated by: Fred Berman
Length: 11 hrs and 1 min

Easily my favorite audiobook of 2018, Runnin’ with the Devil tells the inside story of the greatest hard rock band in history as told by the band’s ultimate insider, Noel Monk. Astonishing stuff.

Cell: A Novel
Stephen King
Narrated by: Campbell Scott
Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins

Disappointed by Stephen King’s weak late-2018 entry, Elevation, I sought out some superior King and found something, if not “superior,” then at least pretty damned good. Cell is a post-apocalyptic tale where our cell phones are turned against us. Plus, it’s read by Campbell Scott, whose voice you might recognize from the past few seasons of House of Cards.

The Hunt for Red October

By: Tom Clancy
Narrated by: Scott Brick
Length: 18 hrs and 42 mins

This is the first book in Clancy’s Jack Ryan series, and I had tried to read it probably 20 years ago or more and had given up. So I’m trying again, but am currently only part way through.

Audible Originals

In the second half of 2018, Audible started offering subscribers two choices each month from a selection of short-form audiobooks called Audible Originals.  I grab two each month, and some are truly excellent.

Twain’s Feast
By: Nick Offerman
Narrated by: Nick Offerman
Length: 4 hrs and 27 mins

A funny and surprisingly educational look at … food. As the story goes, author and humorist Mark Twain was on an extended tour of Europe and started missing food from back home in America. So he created a list for the impossible multi-course meal he’d have when he got home. And Nick Offerman, historian and writer Andrew Beahrs, and chef Tyler Anderson team up to make it happen. Well, at least some of it. Excellent stuff.

Hi Bob!
By: Bob Newhart
Narrated by: Bob Newhart, Will Ferrell, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Judd Apatow, Conan O’Brien, Sarah Silverman, Marc Maron
Length: 3 hrs and 34 mins

I can’t quite explain my love of Bob Newhart, but this book—which is part retrospective, part interview—is basically just Newhart and several famous comedians separately sharing funny and entertaining stories. I could have listened to this stuff for months.

True crime

I spent the past two months on a weird true crime side-trip, courtesy of West Cork, which is actually an Audible Original. This stuff won’t be to everyone’s taste, for sure. But as gruesome as it can be, I do find it to be fascinating sometimes.

West Cork
By: Sam Bungey, Jennifer Forde
Narrated by: Sam Bungey, Jennifer Forde
Length: 7 hrs and 50 mins

This is an amazing true crime investigation into the murder of a French woman in West Cork, Ireland. The only problem is that the murder was never really solved, though an obvious and publicity-prone suspect is almost certainly guilty. There’s a follow-up episode called West Cork: Aftershow that adds absolutely nothing to the story. But this was good enough to make me look for similar audiobooks.

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit
By: John E. Douglas, Mark Olshaker
Narrated by: Richard M. Davidson
Length: 15 hrs and 14 mins

John Douglas is the original serial killer and criminal profiler at the FBI, the inspiration for the FBI characters in The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon and uncountable characters in TV shows. And this book has been made into a decent Netflix series too, focusing on Douglas’s efforts in the 1970s and ’80s to interview serial killers in prison to understand what makes them tick. In doing so, he advanced science in almost uncountable ways and helped solve many crimes. This is an amazing book, though it can get repetitive over time as well. And I tried a follow-up, Journey Into Darkness, that I lost interest in quickly. (I first read Mindhunter in the mid-1990s in paperback form.)

Evil Has a Name: The Untold Story of the Golden State Killer Investigation
By: Paul Holes, Jim Clemente, Peter McDonnell
Narrated by: Paul Holes, Jim Clemente
Length: 6 hrs and 13 mins

Gruesome but fascinating, this is the story of how three generations of detectives never gave up investigating a series of crimes that were eventually all attributed to a single person, called the Golden State Killer. This person attacked and murdered over 100 people in the 1970s and 80s, but he was only caught in 2018 using a new kind of familial DNA investigation technique that is now being used to solve more crimes. Amazing.


Sometime this past fall, Audible’s History in an Hour series was on sale for $1.50 each, so I bought them all. These are the ones I’ve listened to so far.

History in an Hour
By: Various
Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
Length: 1 hr to 1 hr and 30 mins each

1914: History in an Hour

World War One: History in an Hour

The Russian Revolution: History in an Hour

World War Two: History in an Hour

Hitler: History in an Hour

Nazi Germany: History in an Hour

Stalin: History in an Hour

The Vietnam War: History in an Hour

The Cold War: History in an Hour

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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Reading List: Favorite Audiobooks of 2018, Part 2”

  1. navarac

    Van Halen - now there's music

  2. pmeinl

    My recommendation:

    Daemon from Daniel Suarez

  3. reservoirmike

    A few for your consideration:

    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Interesting (and thought provoking) take on an end of civilization scenario. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. Pretty good vampire fare by King Jr. superbly read by Kate Mulgrew. A truly excellent performance. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith. Book 4 of J.K. Rowling's continuing detective drama. Addictive, murderous fun.

  4. Stoicjim

    Everyone should get "The Everything Box" by Richard Kadrey. The narration is unbelievably good and the story is hilarious.

  5. wright_is

    Year Zero from Rob Reid is great

    Probably the best books I've heard last year were Hologramatica and Qualityland

  6. Pierre Masse

    Van Halen the greatest hard rock band????

  7. irfaanwahid

    Hey Paul, out of curiosity, where do you find time to listen to all these Audibles.

    The only time I get for all Podcasts/Audibles is during my commute to work/home which is not more than 30-40min of drive.

    I did love to know how you manage your time between work, family, fitness etc.

    • wright_is

      In reply to irfaanwahid:

      I have a 25 minute commute, listen to 3 podcasts during the week now (it used to be around 5).

      But I have a dog (1 - 1.5 hours a day) and fitness training (2 times a week ~1 hour).

      I also listen whilst doing housework, working on the car etc. Or just sitting around or in the bath.

      Depending on the books, I get through between 2 and 5 books a months. I listen to a lot of "shorts", like the Cherringham series or Cotton Reloaded, which are a couple of hours, but also a lot of thrillers and sci-fi books of 20 hours or more.

      • irfaanwahid

        In reply to wright_is:

        I guess I am unable to listen while doing something else, except when I am driving. I lose the track.

        I got 1hr fitness after work, family time and getting some work done at night.

        Since I get to bed late, therefore I am unable to read/listen.

    • Philotech Mueller

      In reply to irfaanwahid:

      Exactly what I've been wondering too. I've got an Audible subscription and a 25min commute, and currently I am 16 books behind... :-O

      • irfaanwahid

        In reply to Philotech:

        I had my subs as well until I had to suspend it. I realized I am unable to finish 1 audible in months even. Console Wars (with Paul's recommendation) is what took me really long to finish.

  8. brettscoast

    Interesting list Paul but that screenshot at the top of your article looks like it dates back to before the war first world war looking at those book covers. I have to say Audible is terrific.

  9. bbold

    I'll have to check out 'Hi Bob!' I love Bob Newhart and comedians of old, and this sounds like an Audible selection I could thoroughly sink my teeth into, while I'm driving or working out. Thx for the great picks and hope you and your fam have a great new year.


  10. BeckoningEagle

    I am enjoying History in an hour because of your recommendation. The only problem is that I need to listen multiple times because my mind wanders off into other topics while driving.