The Best Audiobooks Of 2022

Readers can be very particular about how they consume content. Traditionalists like to feel the pages under their fingertips, while the modern minimalist carries their entire library in a cloud. But after listening to audiobooks gained popularity during the COVID-19 lockdowns, more people than ever are choosing to listen to books instead of physically reading them, per Publisher's Weekly.

Listening to books is no longer the same experience as old books on tape were. Many audiobooks are high-end productions, complete with large casts — like in Jennifer Egan's "The Candy House" — and/or celebrity narrators (Lucy Liu narrates Celeste Ng's "Our Missing Hearts"). With new technology, like spatially rendered sound, turning the experience of reading a book into feeling like a radio drama (via New York Times).

For people who suffer from negative thought spirals, anxiety, and depression, audiobooks are a great way to break up thought patterns and provide a distraction from intrusive thoughts, per Psychology Today. Focusing on someone else telling a story can help slow anxiety in a way physically ready usually can't — a self-soothing tactic that harkens back to many peoples' childhoods.

Reading in general can help us make more sense of the world, providing an escape as much as an exercise in empathy. But whether you're new to audiobook apps are you're a veteran member of Audible or Libro.FM, choosing what to read next can be a daunting task. To help you narrow the choices, we've collected some of the best audiobooks of 2022.

Finding Me by Viola Davis is one of the best celebrity memoirs of 2022

Viola Davis is a powerhouse of an actor with an awards list that's only expected to keep growing. Not only has she won an Oscar, but she's also won two Tony's, and her portrayal of Annalise Keating on "How to Get Away with Murder" made her the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Lead Actress in a Drama Series (via NPR). In her new memoir, "Finding Me," Davis shared in heartbreaking and breathtaking detail the experiences she's drawn on in order to deliver such evocative performances.

In narrating her own memoir, Davis delivers what Book Riot calls a "masterclass in performance" of a harrowing account of the best and worst moments of her life. Talking to the New York Times, Davis admitted that recording the audiobook for "Finding Me" had been cathartic. "I felt like I was living through those moments with every word I spoke," she said. "It made me question how I remember things." Davis explained that the recording process — reading her own story out loud — helped her realize her past no longer could control her or hurt her.

But this book is not for the faint of heart. The Washington Post warns she holds nothing back, building the picture of what it means to live as a witness to domestic abuse — the unrelenting terror of not feeling safe in your own home.

Make Joan is Okay by Weike Wang your next fiction audiobook listen

If having to isolate during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic was heaven for you, the introverted heroine of Weike Wang's latest novel, "Joan is Okay" is about to be your new best friend. Meet Joan: a Chinese-American doctor living and working in New York City just before the pandemic begins, whose humor is dry and whit is sharp. She's happiest when she's among the machines in the ICU of the hospital where she works. All she needs, she believes, is her work — the one thing that feels the most like home — and sleep (via NPR).

Catherine Ho, who narrates the audiobook for "Joan is Okay," is said by Book Riot to have "captured Joan's narrative voice seamlessly" — a reason that landed the audiobook on their own" Best Audiobooks of 2022" list. Publisher's Weekly adds that, "Ho's skillful approach pairs beautifully with Wang's penetrating writing to draw listeners into Joan's insightful journey toward self-realization."

This journey is at the played out in the wake of the death of Joan's father and as the Covid-19 pandemic begins to take hold of New York City. As Joan works through the ways the pandemic impacts her personally and professionally, she grapples with questions of identity and home that leaves Joan wonder what's more difficult: being a woman, an immigrant, or being part of the Chinese diaspora (via New York Times).

Listen to Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez on your next trip to visit your family

Do you remember a time before Brooklyn was gentrified? Olga and Prieto, the sibling duo at the heart of "Olga Dies Dreaming" do, and so does Xochitl Gonzalez, the author of this heartwarming and heartbreaking debut novel.

When Gonzalez first got the idea to write "Olga Dies Dreaming," she had to run off of a train and write the idea down on a napkin. "I realized that if I borrowed just enough biography from myself," she told Bookpage in an interview, "I could weave a pretty entertaining, hopefully beautiful story that would personalize both one version of a contemporary Latinx experience as well as the real-world emotions and experiences of gentrification, colonialism, and resilience."

According to reviews "Olga Dies Dreaming" received from major publications, Gonzalez achieved her goal. For The Observer, her novel is a, "Multilayered debut about identity, race, and the power of the elites and the marginalization of the poor." Using pieces of her own life experiences, she created Olga — a wedding planner like Gonzalez used to be — and her politician brother, Prieto, whose activist mother abandoned them when Olga was twelve and father died of AIDS not long after.

Almarie Guerra, Inés del Castillok, and Armando Riesco add urgency and emotional depth to the audiobook for "Olga Dies Dreaming" — one of the main reasons the audiobook ended up on the Washingotn Post's "Best Audiobooks of 2022" list.

Don't sleep on listening to the audiobook of All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

Just because a book is labeled "Young Adult" doesn't mean you should pass it by. This is especially true for Sabaa Tahir's divergence from fantasy into contemporary with the National Book Award winning novel, "All My Rage."

At the heart of "All My Rage" is the same themes fans of Tahir's other works: hope, in spite of the darkness (via Seattle TImes). "You have to be honest when you write for teenagers," Tahir told Elle in an interview. "I mean the honesty of humanity. How people treat each other, what their motivations are, and why they want certain things."

In their rave review, the New York Times writes this isn't just a story about love and family; it's also "a tragedy and an infectious teenage fever dream about what home means when you feel you don't fit in." The story follows Noor who, despite growing up in the United States, still yearns to know more about Pakistan and the culture that is her birthright. Her story is intertwined with Salahudin's, whose parents own a motel he's trying desperately to save (via Libro.FM).

The audiobook is brought to life by Kuausar Mohammed, Kamra R. Khan, and Deepti Gupta who perform the parts of Noor, Salaudin, and Misbah, Salaudin's mother in what Book Page called a "riveting production" in their starred review.

What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo is an audiobook memoir that should not be missed

By the time Stephanie Foo turned 30, she was a radio journalist and an award-winning producer on "This American Life." But behind closed doors, she was having daily panic attacks and cried at her desk every morning — something that pulled her down a path of investigating her own past, culminating in "What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma."

Foo's investigation starts with a diagnosis of complex PTSD (C-PTSD), something her therapist explains means she's endured long periods of trauma. But when Foo turned to current research for a better understanding of her diagnosis, she found there to be little information. Falling back on her skills as a journalist, Foo left "This American Life" and began interviewing experts in psychology and neuroscience, trying experimental therapists, and even returns back to her own personal ground zero to understand what C-PTSD is (via Libro.FM).

During her investigation, Foo uncovers more information about her immigrant parents — parents that she suffered for years of abuse from — that gives her a deeper understanding of what Publisher's Weekly calls in their starred review "intergenerational trauma, immigration, and the mind-body connection."

In the award-winning audiobook, Foo narrates "What My Bones Know," weaving in actual recordings from her therapy sessions to create what Audio File Magazine calls "An important listen showcasing resilience and hope."