The 10 Best New Audiobooks of February 2020

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The 10 Best New Audiobooks of February 2020

It will surprise no one to learn that February boasts too many exciting titles to add to our audiobook queues than could possibly fit on a single list. Just as unsurprising? The fact that we’ve tried all the same.

To that end, we’ve collected the 10 audio titles we’re most looking forward to this month (as well as a project from Rock & Roll Hall of Famer released exclusively by Audible). Author-read memoirs? Check! Multicast historical dramas? Check! Slickly produced full-cast thrillers? Check! Rom-coms? Well, we’ve only got one on this list. But if romantic stories are your favorite, we’ve compiled a separate list just for you.

Whatever audio experience you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with the 10 titles below. Happy listening!

Editor’s note: The audiobooks are organized in order of release date and then run time.

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Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

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Narrated by: Indira Varma, Himesh Patel, Antonio Aakeel

Run time: 9 hours and 39 minutes

Release date: February 4th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Debut novelist Deepa Anappara grew up in Kerala and spent much of her journalistic career reporting on the impact of poverty and religious violence on children in Mumbai and Delhi. So even though she’s new to the commercial fiction scene, she could hardly be more fluent with the cultural and economic dynamics playing out between the crime-solving kids searching for their missing friend in Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line. Add in dynamic, gentle performances from Indira Varma, Himesh Patel and Antonio Aakeel—all British narrators employing Indian accents to fit the setting—and you have the recipe for a thrilling, complex listening experience.

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Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

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Narrated by: Tiya Sircar, Michael Crouch

Run time: 10 hours and 57 minutes

Release date: February 4th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed’s YA rom-com, Yes No Maybe So, takes a story about awkward teens—him, a shy and politically active white guy; her, a Muslim girl having the worst Ramadan ever as her parents separate—who are forced to partner up for a summer of political canvassing, and makes it both realistic and romantic. Albertalli and Saeed are each titans in the contemporary YA space, so it’s no surprise they succeed as co-writers. And the audio version, narrated by actress Tiya Sircar (most recently of The Good Place) and veteran YA narrator Michael Crouch (Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) really makes the story sing. If you’re looking for a sweet romance, Yes No Maybe So is an excellent place to start.

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Open Book by Jessica Simpson

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Narrated by: Jessica Simpson

Run time: 11 hours and 21 minutes

Release date: February 4th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | Soundcloud

Jessica Simpson has been a part of our shared pop culture lexicon for decades. But in the way of most pop stars, her part has been mediated by the music industry, the media and our own personal hang-ups—and not always for the best. With Open Book, which she wrote with Kevin Carr O’Leary, Simpson takes on the task of re-shaping that role from her own perspective, using personal insight, humor,and the journals she’s kept since age 15 to tell her story. She’s also sprinkled six new songs throughout, which are exclusively available in the audiobook!

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The King of Crows (The Diviners, Book #4) by Libba Bray

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Narrated by: January LaVoy

Run time: 22 hours and 20 minutes

Release date: February 4th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

We’ve loved the Diviners since the 1920s-set supernatural YA series began. Now that the fourth (and final) book is out, of course we’re encouraging everyone to read it. Libba Bray’s skill in weaving together supernatural chills, romantic thrills and complex interrogations of the ways in which America’s history is tangled up with bigotry, violence and racism is as sharp as ever—as are narrator January LaVoy’s skills in bringing those complexities to roaring, raucous life. This is a series America needs right now, narrated by a voice that knows just how to tell it. Catch up however and whenever you can.

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Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel M. Lavery (writing as Daniel Mallory Ortberg)

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Narrated by: Daniel M. Lavery

Run time: 6 hours and 47 minutes

Release date: February 11th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Daniel M. Lavery, a professional delight on the internet since his earliest days writing at The Hairpin (RIP) and co-running The Toast (RIP again), has only upped the ante since getting into the commercial publishing game. Texts from Jane Eyre? Excellent. The short story “An Incident Report” in Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View? Comedic perfection. Obviously, his new memoir/essay collection, Something That May Shock and Discredit You, is a highly anticipated read. And having experienced via Slate’s “Dear Prudence” podcast just how dynamic and endearing Lavery (the reigning Prudie) is in an audio format, Lavery’s narration makes the audio version of Something a must-listen.

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Mercy House by Alena Dillon

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Narrated by: Dawn Harvey, Catherine Ho, Scarlette Hayes, Eboni Flowers, Caitlin Kelly, Bahni Turpin

Run time: 9 hours and 35 minutes

Release date: February 11th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Marketed as “Call the Midwife meets Orange is the New Black,” Alena Dillon’s debut novel is set in the titular Mercy House in Brooklyn. The majority of the story is told from the perspective of Sister Evelyn, the renegade nun in charge of the shelter, but that longer narrative is broken up by the stories of various women who pass through—a dynamic which translates exceptionally well to the audiobook format, with Dawn Harvey taking on the Sister Evelyn chapters with warmth and heft, and Catherine Ho, Scarlette Hayes, Eboni Flowers, Caitlin Kelly and Bahni Turpin deftly passing the baton between them whenever it’s time for a new character to be introduced. As a content warning, Mercy House tackles abortion, sex trafficking and domestic violence, but the conversation it starts within those themes makes it worth a listen.

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Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America by R. Eric Thomas

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Narrated by: R. Eric Thomas

Run time: 7 hours and 35 minutes

Release date: February 18th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Another professional delight on the internet, playwright and Elle columnist R. Eric Thomas has finally collected some of his blazingly funny personal and pop culture essays in Here for It. His weekly newsletter (also titled “Here for It”) is necessary reading if you haven’t subscribed already, and his book is the same—especially in audiobook format. Read with immaculate love and care by Thomas himself, and it’s a true joy! We love it; we want it; we’re here for it.

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Amnesty by Aravind Adiga

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Narrated by: Vikas Adams

Run time: 8 hours and 34 minutes

Release date: February 18th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Indo-Australian writer and journalist Aravind Adiga’s debut novel, White Tiger, was the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2008. So it’s possible his newest novel, Amnesty, is already on your radar. Adiga’s story follows an undocumented immigrant who gets caught up in a deadly crime and must decide how to bring what he knows to the police, making it a novel that’s relevant to both Australian and international readers. As an undocumented immigrant, protagonist Dhananjaya Rajaratnam’s voice is especially important in 2020, making this a great choice for audio. Veteran narrator (and Paste favorite) Vikas Adams, who builds out a very mild Australian-by-way-of-Sri-Lankan accent to bring Danny to life, is the perfect fit for this audiobook.

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Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

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Narrated by: Alex Hyde-White, Bailey Carr, Dana Dae, Dave Fennoy, Dean Gallagher, Denise Nelson, Ella Turenne, Josh Petersdorf, Kate Orsini, Melinda Wade, Prentice Onayemi, Ron Butler, Ryan Vincent Anderson, Tristan Wright

Run time: 12 hours and 24 minutes

Release date: February 18th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Alexis Schaitkin’s splashy debut novel, Saint X, is an audiobook lover’s dream. Following the cold case disappearance and lurid murder of a rich American girl on a Caribbean island, the audiobook version of Saint X gives an already nuanced story even more complexity. It boasts a full cast of voices trying to make sense of the crime—chosen by Schaitkin herself! You’ll recognize favorites like Prentice Onayemi, Ron Butler and Bailey Carr, but those are just a few of more than a dozen narrators whose performances make Saint X a rewarding, multi-dimensional listening experience. Queue this one up for a murderous, dreamy delight.

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The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives, Book #1) by Luke Arnold

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Narrated by: Luke Arnold

Run time: 7 hours and 55 minutes

Release date: February 25th

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Few genres are more fun to listen to when done righ than noir. And Luke Arnold’s debut novel, The Last Smile in Sunder City, is done right. A blend of noir and fantasy, Last Smile follows human PI Fletch Phillips as he attempts to help the magical creatures whose world he helped destroy in a past life as a soldier. This is a compelling premise, but it’s really in the audio translation that Last Smile stands out. Arnold, a veteran of Hollywood (Black Sails), does the audiobook’s narration himself, dropping his native Australian accent to put on a hardboiled American one while hitting the exact right notes in terms of both pitch and pacing. The mysteries in a good noir are always serious, but when executed with this sharp of an ear for the genre, they’re also a blast.

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Free End-of-January Bonus: Break Shot: My First 21 Years by James Taylor

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Narrated by: James Taylor

Run time: 1 hour and 33 minutes

Release date: January 31st

Audible (Exclusive) | SoundCloud

Any fan of Rock & Roll Hall of Famer James Taylor should check out his Audible Exclusive mixed-media memoir, Break Shot. Presented as “a unique storytelling and musical experience,” Break Shot finds Taylor, writing in collaboration with music journalist Bill Flanagan and recording in his western Massachusetts home studio, combining a spoken-word performance with musical interludes (including an unreleased recording of the hymn “Jerusalem”). Like Tegan and Sara’s recent contribution to the genre, Taylor’s brief memoir focuses not only on his early musical development, but also on his difficult childhood and the eventual disintegration of his family—that is, “the tenuous first act of a life he’s spent decades learning to fully live.” This title is free to everyone who has an Audible account—whether active subscribers or not—through April 2, 2020!



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

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