12 Festive Audiobooks to Listen to This Holiday Season

Books Lists Audiobooks
12 Festive Audiobooks to Listen to This Holiday Season

With long road trips, gift wrapping marathons and all-day baking bonanzas on so many readers’ December plates, having a queue of can’t-miss audiobooks on hand is a necessity. Between our lists of the best audiobooks of 2019 and the best audiobooks of December, we’ve offered tons of listening recommendations. But we also know that many people are looking for listening experiences that aren’t just good, but festive.

In the last couple years, the audiobook boom has given us a wealth of wonderful, wintry productions. And it’s from this collection that, in the spirit of at least one seasonal tradition, we have curated the following list of 12 festive titles, which are listed by run time from shortest to longest below.

May your holiday listening sessions be merry, jolly and bright!

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how chefs holiday.jpgHow Chefs Holiday by Dana Cowin

Narrated by: Dana Cowin, Padma Lakshmi, Marcus Samuelsson, Kwame Onwuachi, Carla Hall, Mike Solomonov, Alex Guarnaschelli

Run time: 1 hour and 1 minute

Audible Original | Soundcloud | CB1571752267.pdf/”>PDF of recipes

Hosted by Dana Cowin, former Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine Magazine, and featuring conversations with Marcus Samuelsson, Padma Lakshmi, Mike Solomonov, Carla Hall, Kwame Onwuachi and Alex Guarnaschelli, How Chefs Holiday is closer to a podcast than an audio cookbook. But between the Audible Original’s cheerfully scored production and its full Thanksgiving-to-Hanukkah scope, we just had to include it. Whether you’re interested in finding a fun new way of tackling turkey (Lakshmi), a complex Swedish meatball project (Samuelsson), a foolproof latke recipe (Solomonov), ideas for activities and games to add to your own holiday gatherings or just an intimate glimpse into the holiday traditions of recent years’ biggest food personalities, How Chefs Holiday is more than worth its brief runtime.

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sugar and booze.jpgHoliday Greetings from Sugar and Booze by Ana Gasteyer and Mona Mansour

Performed by: Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph, Patti LuPone, Rachel Dratch, Tim Bagley, Brian Huskey, Oscar Nunez, Dylan Delula, Richard Kind and a full cast

Run time: 2 hours and 28 minutes

Audible Original | SoundCloud

Another Audible Original coming in just shy of the traditional audiobook format, Holiday Greetings from Sugar and Booze is the funny Christmas audio play you didn’t you needed. Peppered with musical interludes and co-starring Ana Gasteyer and Maya Rudolph as Booze and Sugar, respectively, this short comedy uses the annual Christmas letter tradition to trace the history of two middle-aged women’s fizzled friendship. Rounding out the production is a truly wild guest cast that includes Patti LuPone, Rachel Dratch, Richard Kind, Oscar Nunez, Dylan Gelula, Brian Husey and Tim Bagley. Plus, for anyone looking for a more concentrated hit of Holiday Greetings’ festive comedy musical stylings, Ana Gasteyer’s album sugar & booze is just a click away.

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happy holidays jessi.jpgHappy Holidays, Jessi! (The Baby-Sitters Club, Book 103) by Ann M. Martin

Narrated by: Bahni Turpin

Run time: 3 hours and 5 minutes

Audible Original | Overdrive (ebook)

Bahni Turpin is one of our must-listen narrators here at Paste, so we were tickled to discover that she performs the 103rd installment of Audible’s Baby-Sitters Club adaptation project, Happy Holidays, Jessi! But even without Turpin on hand to beautifully round out the characters that make up Jessi Ramsey’s world, Happy Holidays, Jessi!’s cozy, Christmas-meets-Kwanzaa story would be one we’d want to highlight. Sure, its Millennial nostalgia factor helps, but the bigger themes it takes on—and the fact that it is appropriate listening for road-tripping families with kids of all ages—really brings the experience home. And who knows? Maybe after listening to this one, Bahni Turpin will be your own go-to from now on.

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my drunk kitchen holidays.jpgMy Drunk Kitchen Holidays: How to Savor and Celebrate the Year by Hannah Hart

Narrated by: Hannah Hart

Run time: 3 hours and 53 minutes

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud
Taking a more holistic view of what it means to celebrate the holidays all year, YouTuber-turned-Food Network star Hannah Hart is back in the audiobook game with her self-narrated, festive cookbook, My Drunk Kitchen Holidays. In these tracks you’ll find both recipes and Hart’s signature affability for 50-ish holidays between New Year’s Day (January 1) and Champagne Day (December 31). While the bulk of the holidays fall outside of the winter holiday months we’re celebrating with this list, Hart’s November and December spread includes not only Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, but also holidays like Cookie Day (December 4) and Winter Solstice (December 21). And for anyone worried about missing out on the joy of Hart’s goofy photo spreads by listening to this cookbook over reading it, her delightful narration makes up the difference. Plus, you can always turn on the making-of video on the official My Drunk Kitchen channel to get a live-action look at many of the recipes while listening.

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nordic tales.jpgNordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark collected by Chronicle Books

Narrated by: Allan Corduner, Juha Sorola

Run time: 4 hours and 57 minutes

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

This unabridged collection of traditional Nordic stories, translated and transcribed by folklorists in the 19th century from a variety of archived sources, is ideal wintertime reading. In its print edition, with its embossed, textured case and Ulla Thynell’s luminous illustrations, Nordic Tales has an obvious art-object appeal. But the audio version, which is narrated by longtime Paste favorite Allan Corduner and his husband, Finnish actor Juha Sorola, is just as compelling. As all of these tales originate from an oral tradition, they’re ideally served by a thoughtful (and authentically Nordic) oral performance. Pro tip: All of the tales in this collection are lovely, but for the full Yuletide experience, start with “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” “The Giant Who Had No Heart,” “The Widow’s Son,” “Toller’s Neighbors” and “The Magician’s Pupil.”

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a vintage christmas.jpgA Vintage Christmas: A Collection of Classic Stories and Poems by Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain and more

Narrated by: Laura Kirman, Gordon Griffin, Mike Grady, Eve Karpf, Barry Scott, Nan Gurley, Henry O. Arnold, Brook Bryant, Gabe Wicks

Run time: 5 hours and 13 minutes

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Reading and listening to classic stories around a fire (or at least its contemporary equivalent) is a holiday tradition for many families—one that the lovely audio collection, A Vintage Christmas, hopes to join. It features short stories from Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, L. M. Montgomery and Selma Lagerlof as well as poems from John Milton, Christina Rossetti, William Makepeace Thackeray, Anne Brontë, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Read by an equally stalwart group of narrators, this charming collection will give gatherings of family and friends the opportunity to settle into various cozy corners to all be listeners. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find your next favorite Christmas story tradition right here.

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royal holiday.jpgRoyal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Narrated by: Janina Edwards

Run time: 6 hours and 50 minutes

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Romance writer Jasmine Guillory and audiobook narrator Janina Edwards have been tearing up the rom-com listening scene since they teamed up for Guillory’s debut novel, The Wedding Date. So between that and the fact that the romance genre boasts a truly robust collection of annual holiday specials (Debbie Macomber and Brenda Jackson being regular standouts), it’s no surprise that the pair is back for Royal Holiday, a festive story about a “spontaneous holiday vacation that turns into an unforgettable romance.” Fans of Guillory will be happy to fall under her spell once more before the year is out, while fans of Edwards will be happy to have her lively, warm voice and subtle characterizations back in their ears. As for new listeners? Well, you couldn’t be in better hands.

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carols and chaos.jpgCarols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey

Narrated by: Fiona Hardingham

Run time: 7 hours and 44 minutes

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | Soundcloud

Considering the enduring appeal of transatlantic holiday fare like Love, Actually, The Holiday and Last Christmas—not to mention the enduring holiday legacy of Charles Dickens and the recent success of Downton Abbey—it’s no surprise that British titles read by British narrators are holiday catnip for those of us looking for holiday listens in the States. With that in mind, of course Carols and Chaos, which boasts a delightful British narrator in the form of Fiona Hardingham, shot to the top of our list. This romantic Christmas adventure will captivate you for almost eight hours, and it will be time well spent.

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let it snow movie tie in.jpgLet It Snow: Three Holiday Romances (Movie Tie-in) by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

Narrated by: Rebecca Soler, Brandon Gill, Ali Ahn

Run time: 8 hours and 9 minutes

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle teamed up for their contemporary YA anthology novel Let It Snow more than a decade ago. But with the shiny new Netflix adaptation hitting small screens last month, the time was ripe for an equally new audiobook adaptation to go with it. Cue Rebecca Soler (The Lunar Chronicles), Brandon Gill (All the Right Stuff) and Ali Ahn (This Lullaby), who narrate the book’s three interweaving Christmas Eve tales. There is romance, a Waffle House, a teacup pig and a lovesick barista. It’s all very sweet—definitely sweet enough to counterbalance whatever holiday stress you might be experiencing.

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christmas shopaholic.jpgChristmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Narrated by: Nathalie Buscombe

Run time: 12 hours and 3 minutes

Audible | Libro.fm | SoundCloud

A holiday-themed Sophie Kinsella Shopaholic story—feauring Nathalie Buscombe narrating all the way—is a gift in little need of our hype. But considering our American fervor for British holiday cheer (see above), and our general appreciation of the especially wry pitch with which Buscombe rolls out her take on Becky Brandon, we weren’t about to leave it out. Plus, in a moment when real-world British chaos is so grim, getting a chance to dip into a kind that is less dire is a nice break.

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meg and jo.jpgMeg and Jo by Virginia Kantra

Narrated by: Shannon McManus, Karissa Vacker

Run time: 13 hours and 46 minutes

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

In case Little Women fans haven’t found enough adaptations at the end of 2019 (including Greta Gerwig’s new film in theaters and Audible’s full-cast audio version available online), they should know about Virginia Kantra’ modernized take on the March sisters, Meg and Jo. Casting Jo as an ambitious writer whose move to New York has been tarnished by the rapid decline of digital media and Meg as a maybe-less-than-satisfied new stay-at-home mom who still lives in their small North Carolina hometown, Meg and Jo hangs its version of the classic story on everyone coming together at a critical moment during the holiday season. Narrating this version are Karissa Vacker and Shannon McManus, who bring easygoing realism and smart pacing to their respective parts. Adapting any beloved classic to a contemporary frame is always a risk, but if it’s the kind of risk you’re into, Meg and Jo is definitely worth a holiday listen.

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spinning silver.jpgSpinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Narrated by: Lisa Flanagan

Run time: 17 hours and 56 minutes

Audible | Libro.fm | Overdrive | SoundCloud

Naomi Novik’s snowy fairy tale (and Paste favorite), Spinning Silver is less explicitly tied to the holiday season than many of the titles on this list. But between its eternal winter setting, the various celebratory gatherings its central heroines are obligated to attend and the nuanced exploration of Jewish culture and anti-Semitism present in non-majority-Jewish communities, it’s become one of our favorite winter holiday reads. Better still, with narrator Lisa Flanagan (The Queen of the Night) behind the microphone, the audiobook makes listening a genuine treat. Her subtly accented Miryem is fierce and quick, and her denizens of Staryk are fae and compelling. The holidays are a time for joy and family, but they’re also a time for rich introspection. Thankfully, Novik and Flanagan’s Spinning Silver offers all of the above.

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If you’d like to browse the audiobooks above on Libro.fm, they’ve curated a list you can view here.

The Audible Original titles above are available exclusively from Audible, and you can view them at Audible.com.

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

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