Thrillers of all stripes; new works from a range of heavy hitters like Franzen, Grisham, King, and Strout; and memoirs by big-name actors and musicians lead the audio pack this season. Pandemic-influenced listens include an exploration of the race to find a vaccine, as well as fictional spins on what can happen—good and bad—during a global lockdown. Those wanting to hear more voices on racial and cultural reckoning related to BLM, #MeToo, and the religious right will find several selections to choose from as well.
Some Things I Still Can’t Tell You by Misha Collins, read by the author (Oct., $8.99, ISBN 978-1-5248-7185-7), is a debut poetry collection by the Supernatural actor, poet, and activist.
The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston, read by George Weightman (Aug., $19.95, ISBN 978-0-85766-952-0). Ruthless demon hunter Black Herran reassembles her six most fearsome warriors, including a vampire lord and a demigod, to fight a fanatical new enemy.
A History of Love and Hate in 21 Statues by Peter Hughes, read by the author (Sept. $25, ISBN 978-0-7112-6615-5), delivers a history of the world through the creation and destruction of 21 statues.
56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard (Aug., $34.95 CD, ISBN 978-1-982693-79-4). Dublin couple Ciara and Oliver, who met and started dating the week Covid-19 arrived in Ireland, decide to move in together as the lockdown begins. A month later, detectives discover a decomposing body inside Oliver’s apartment.
Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka (Aug., $22.95, ISBN 979-8-200-71184-0). When five assassins discover they are all on the same train from Tokyo to Morioka, they realize their missions are not as unrelated as they initially appear.
Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach (Sept., $35.99, ISBN 978-1-9786-8056-2) explores the curious science of human-wildlife conflict via such cases as a grizzly bear caught breaking and entering.
The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer, read by Edoardo Ballerini (Aug., $42.99, ISBN 978-1-7136-1179-0). In this thriller, a present-day descendant of the workman who stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911 tries to determine if the stolen painting was replaced by a forgery before its recovery in 1913.
A Tale of Two Omars: A Memoir of Family, Revolution, and Coming Out During the Arab Spring by Omar Sharif Jr. (Oct., $35.99, ISBN 978-1-7136-2574-2). The grandson of actor Omar Sharif shares how lessons from his family helped him navigate struggles and find the self-acceptance and courage to become an international leader for LGBTQ equality.
A More Perfect Union by Adam Russell Taylor, read by David Sadzin (Sept., $19.99, ISBN 978-1-5459-1913-2). The president of Sojourners issues an actionable call to unite our fractured country in light of the divisive 2020 election and pandemic crisis. With a foreword by Rep. John Lewis.
Money Magic: Practical Wisdom and Empowering Rituals to Heal Your Finances by Jessie Susannah Karnatz (Dec., $19.99, ISBN 978-1-79721-597-6). The financial coach known as the Money Witch offers tools and self-care routines geared toward demystifying personal finance.
My Name’s Yours, What’s Alaska? A Memoir by Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 (Oct., $24.99, ISBN 978-1-79721-593-8) follows the life of drag performer and recording artist Justin Andrew Honard and the meteoric rise of his stage persona Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.
The Throwback List by Lily Anderson (Oct., $26.99, ISBN 978-1-368-07832-0). Three 20-somethings rekindle their friendship when one of them comes back to town and decides to take on her high school bucket list.
Where Azaleas Bloom by Sherryl Woods, read by Stina Nielsen (Oct., $24.99, 978-1-66650-952-6). Mitch, a widower with two grieving sons, feels ready to give struggling single mom Lynn the love and support she needs, but only if she wants it.
Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados, read by Bronwyn Szabo (Aug., $25.99, ISBN 978-1-989919-01-9). Twenty-one-year-old Isa and her best friend Gala move to New York City with little money, lots of self-confidence, and an appetite for glamour.
Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right by Randall Balmer, read by Trevor Thompson (Aug., $12.95, ISBN 978-0-8028-7934-9), presents a history of the origins of the “religious right” that challenges the commonly held misconception that abortion was the galvanizing issue.
The YouTube Formula by Derral Eves, read by the author (Aug., $19.99, ISBN 978-1-66371-204-2). Eves, who owns a prominent how-to channel on YouTube, shares what he considers to be the secrets to succeeding with the platform’s algorithm to rack up views and subscribers.
In the Smoke and Din (Ghost #1) by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto, read by a full cast (Nov., $15.99, ISBN 978-1-64881-913-1). Paranormal investigators Vaughn and Tommy search for the true identity of the beautiful transparent woman they accidentally summoned in Chicago’s Resurrection Cemetery.
A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris, read by the author and a special guest narrator to be announced (Oct., $40, ISBN 978-1-5491-0846-4). The humorist shares a set of his diaries chronicling the years 2003–2020.
Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be by Nichole Perkins, read by the author (Aug., $24.98, ISBN 978-1-5491-8456-7). Journalist and podcaster Perkins examines pop culture’s impact on her life and relationships from her perspective as a Southern Black woman.
Unrequited Infatuations by Stevie Van Zandt, read by the author (Sept., $25.98, ISBN 978-1-5491-9086-5), chronicles the life of the musician, actor, and activist.
Bourdain by Laurie Woolever (Oct., $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-313870-4). Copious interviews with family, friends, and colleagues provide a behind-the-scenes view of the life of late chef, author, and world traveler Anthony Bourdain.
The Storyteller by Dave Grohl, read by the author (Oct., $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-307612-9). The Foo Fighters front man and Nirvana drummer offers a collection of stories capturing what it’s like, he writes, “walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as a young musician.”
Woke Up This Morning by Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, read by a full cast (Nov. $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-309004-0). Imperioli and Schirripa, who cohost the Talking Sopranos podcast, serve up stories from the set of the groundbreaking TV series The Sopranos.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
First Shots: The Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the Coronavirus Vaccine by Brendan Borrell (Oct., $28, ISBN 978-0-358-65317-2) reveals the inside story of the high-stakes global race to create a vaccine that could end the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lessons from the Edge: A Memoir by Marie Yovanovitch (Jan., $28, ISBN 978-0-358-53340-5) follows the arc of the career of the former ambassador to Ukraine who courageously testified during the Trump impeachment inquiry.
Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now by Jeff Yang, Phil Yu, and Philip Wang (Nov., $28, ISBN 978-0-358-58188-8). Cultural critic Yang, blogger Yu, and writer and director Wang chronicle how Asian Americans have gone from invisible to incredibly relevant in American pop culture.
Night, Neon: Tales of Mystery and Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates, read by Joe Hempel and Chelsea Stephens (Aug., $19.99, ISBN 978-1-69660-454-3), offers nine dark, haunting, and occasionally comic short stories.
Between the Stars by Shey Stahl, read by Jameson Adams and Tamika Antoinette (Oct., $19.95, ISBN 978-1-62461-804-8). A woman engaged to be married can’t stop thinking about the love she left behind in Texas and runs into him on a trip back home.
L.A. THEATRE WORKS
No-No Boy by Ken Narasaki, performed by Kurt Kanazawa, Emily Kuroda, and a full cast (Aug., $6.95, ISBN 978-1-68266-149-9), adapts the novel by John Okada, in which Japanese American Ichiro struggles to readjust when he returns to Seattle in 1946 after spending two years in an internment camp.
Beautiful World, Where Are You? by Sally Rooney, read by Aoife McMahon (Sept., $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-81804-1), follows four young people, including best friends Alice and Eileen, as they navigate friendships, relationships, breakups, and sex.
Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen, read by David Pittu (Oct., $44.99, ISBN 978-1-250-81057-1). This story of a family gathered—with all its problems and dysfunction—for Christmas in 1971 begins a trilogy that will span their lives through the next 50 years.
Unbound by Tarana Burke, read by the author (Sept., $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-81818-8). In her memoir, the founder and activist behind the #MeToo movement chronicles her journey toward finding the courage to extend empathy to herself and speak those two words.
The Diet-Free Revolution by Alexis Conason (Aug., $29.95, ISBN 978-1-62317-740-9) offers a 10-step approach to weight loss focused on mindful eating and radical self-acceptance.
Bedrock Faith by Eric Charles May (Aug., $19.99, ISBN 978-1-66499-174-3). When “Stew Pot” Reeves returns to his close-knit neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago claiming he’s had a religious awakening after 14 years in prison, the community goes into a tailspin.
Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths, read by the author (Oct., $19.99, ISBN 978-1-66499-190-3). This historical work based on Beethoven’s correspondence imagines the composer traveling to America to write a large-scale musical production with an orchestra in Boston.
Believing by Anita Hill (Sept., $22.50, ISBN 978-0-593-45146-5). Through memoir, victims’ personal accounts, and legal and social analysis, Hill tells a story of America’s long reckoning with gender violence and shares her insights on the roots of the issue and the paths toward change.
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins (Aug., $22.50, ISBN 978-0-593-45316-2). When a young man is found murdered on a London houseboat, it triggers suspicions about three women who knew him.
Travels with George by Nathaniel Philbrick, read by the author (Sept., $22.50, ISBN 978-0-593-45374-2). Philbrick traces Washington’s journey as a new president through all 13 former colonies and reflects on Washington’s complicated legacy as a man of the people, a conflicted president, and a slaveholder.
PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS
Three Pianos: A Memoir by Andrew McMahon, read by the author (Oct., $27.99, ISBN 978-1-64896-098-7). Singer-songwriter McMahon reflects on how he overcame overwhelming challenges by finding solace in his piano.
The Judge’s List by John Grisham (Oct., $25, ISBN 978-0-593-16849-3). Lacy, a state investigator of judicial conduct, comes across a sitting judge who may be a murderer.
Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (Oct., $20, ISBN 978-0-593-41612-9). Novelist Lucy Barton accompanies her ex-husband William on a trip to investigate a recently uncovered family secret.
Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult (Nov., $25, ISBN 978-0-593-50864-0). A young woman goes on a long-planned vacation to the Galápagos Islands just as a pandemic shuts down the world. There, she finds herself feeling stranded and isolated as she attempts to connect with a local family.
Mrs. March by Virginia Feito (Aug., $24.99, ISBN 978-1-70503-891-8). Upper East Side housewife Mrs. March is shattered when she begins to suspect she is the model for a character of ill repute in her author husband’s latest bestseller. Elisabeth Moss is attached to star in a feature film adaptation from Blumhouse.
Music Is History by Questlove, read by the author (Oct., $24.99, ISBN 978-1-980095-28-6). Musician, director, and multifaceted creator Questlove examines one essential American pop music track from each of the last 50 years to reveal its role in issues of race, gender, politics, and identity.
Unprotected: A Memoir by Billy Porter (Oct., $24.99, ISBN 978-1-70504-157-4). The stage and screen performer addresses race, sexuality,
art, and growing up Black and gay in America.
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Billy Summers by Stephen King, read by Paul Sparks (Aug., $34, ISBN 978-1-79712-270-0). Everything goes wrong when a skilled assassin for hire who wants out of the game agrees to one last hit.
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Sept., $29.99, ISBN 978-1-79712-853-5) is a tale of four young dreamers from different centuries and circumstance who are trying to figure out the broken world around them.
State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny (Oct., $24.99, ISBN 978-1-79712-851-1) is a thriller focused on a newly elected president of the U.S. and the political enemy he has chosen as his secretary of state, as they race to defeat the bad actors in an intricate conspiracy involving a series of terrorist attacks.
A Brief History of Motion: From the Wheel, to the Car, to What Comes Next by Tom Standage, read by Liam Gerrard (Aug., $19.99, ISBN 978-1-66612-512-2), takes listeners on a road trip through 5,500 years to reveal how transportation has and will continue to shape civilization.
All the Quiet Places by Brian Thomas Isaac, read by Lincoln McGowan (Oct., $22.99, ISBN 978-1-990071-04-1), relates the coming-of-age story of an Indigenous (Stylix) boy named Eddie.
Food Saved Me: My Journey of Finding Health and Hope through the Power of Food by Danielle Walker, read by the author (Sept., $26.99, ISBN 978-1-4964-6099-8). A bestselling cookbook author shares how she found wellness via lifestyle and diet without sacrificing her passion for great-tasting healthy food.
You Did What? by Tova Leigh, read by the author (Sept., $19.95, ISBN 978-1-78678-589-3). Author and digital content creator Leigh collects confessions of all types, exploring what people get up to when they think no one’s looking.
Archibald Finch and the Lost Witches by Michel Guyon (Sept., $19.99, ISBN 978-1-5248-7002-7). In this fantasy series starter, Archibald unlocks an ancient relic and a world of medieval magic where he is befriended by a band of witches.
Black Hole Chasers by Anna Crowley Redding (Sept., $34.95 CD, ISBN 979-8-200-73767-3) presents the true story of the Event Horizon telescope team’s unveiling of the first-ever image of a black hole.
Birdie’s Bargain by Katherine Paterson (Oct., $35.99, ISBN 978-1-7136-2980-1). Ten-year-old Birdie makes a deal with God to ensure her father’s safe return from the Iraq War.
Tahira in Bloom by Farah Heron (Nov., $42.99, ISBN 978-1-7136-2119-5). When aspiring designer Tahira’s fashion internship falls through, she spends the summer working in her aunt’s boutique in Bakewell, the flower capital of Ontario.
Lost Legends: The Rise of Flynn Rider by Jen Calonita (Sept., $16.99, ISBN 978-1-368-07827-6). This tale featuring the swashbuckling thief from Tangled launches a series of novels exploring the origins of Disney’s infamous rogue boys.
Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee (Sept., $16.99, ISBN 978-1-368-07828-3). While trying to rescue her brother’s soul from the spirit world, 11-year-old Pahua discovers she is a powerful shaman warrior, in this story inspired by Hmong mythology.
Being Clem by Lesa Cline-Ransome, read by Dion Graham (Aug., $24.99, ISBN 978-1-66208-615-10). In the conclusion to the Finding Langston trilogy, Clem’s family’s world falls apart when they learn their father has died in the infamous Port Chicago disaster.
AstroNuts Mission Two: The Water Planet by Jon Scieszka and Steven Weinberg, read by a full cast (Aug., $15.99,
ISBN 978-1-64881-899-8). AstroWolf, LaserShark, SmartHawk, and StinkBug must find a new planet that can sustain human life after Earth becomes unin-
Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds by Samira Ahmed, read by Soneela Nankani (Sept., $24.98, ISBN 978-1-5491-0927-0). This fantasy-adventure series starter intertwines Islamic legend and history.
Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Sept., $24.98, ISBN 978-1-5491-0926-3). As Addy and five other Black city kids spend a summer learning about camping and hiking out west, a devastating forest fire strikes.
Act Cool by Tobly McSmith (Sept., $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-303860-8). Transgender teen August navigates staying true to himself while doing what it takes to follow his dreams of becoming an actor.
Pax, Journey Home by Sara Pennypacker, read by Michael Curran-Dorsano (Sept., $17.99, ISBN 978-0-06-311745-7), catches up with Pax the fox and Peter, the boy who raised him, in a tale about the unshakable bonds of found family and addressing injustice.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Veronica Chambers, read by Kamali Minter (Aug., $14.95, ISBN 978-0-358-62008-2), chronicles the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and explores how it has been shaped by U.S. history.
Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier (Nov., $19.95, ISBN 978-0-358-63945-9). In the aftermath of a devastating plague, 18-year-old Lord Cassio is determined to discover the truth behind a mysterious attempt to assassinate the young queen.
The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo (Sept., $20, ISBN 978-0-593-34260-2). A mysterious child raised by monks ventures into a dark wood where her friends help her search for the castle of an enemy.
Dead Wednesday by Jerry Spinelli, read by Kirby Heyborne (Aug., $15, ISBN 978-0-593-39871-5). On the second Wednesday in June, every eighth grader in Amber Springs is assigned the name of a teen who died from a preventable death, and the project affects Worm in ways he didn’t expect.
Dangerous Play by Emma Kress, read by Rachel Jacobs (Aug., $16.99, ISBN 978-1-66499-174-3). After one of their teammates is sexually assaulted at a party, a high school girls’ field hockey team vows to make sure no girl in their town ever feels unsafe again.
Mighty Inside by Sundee T. Frazier (Sept., $24.99, ISBN 978-1-70504-433-9). In 1955, as the civil rights movement in the South intensifies, 13-year-old Melvin, whose stutter has returned days before he begins school, becomes aware of the need for change in his Northwestern hometown.
Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City by Christian McKay Heidicker (Aug., $24.99, ISBN 978-1-70503-665-5) follows two fox kits desperate to survive the terrors of a frightening new world: the City.
Barakah Beats by Maleeha Siddiqui, read by Salena Qureshi (Oct., $24.99, ISBN 978-1-338-77782-6). A Muslim girl tries to fit in at her new school by joining a popular eighth grade boy band while hiding that fact from her parents.
Playing the Cards You’re Dealt by Varian Johnson, read by Dion Graham (Oct., $27.99, ISBN 978-1-338-78094-9). Ten-year-old Ant secretly teams up with a girl to practice for the family spades tournament, hoping he’ll measure up to his father’s expectations at the card table.
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Out of My Heart by Sharon Draper (Sept., $17.99, ISBN 978-1-79712-863-4). Melody decides to challenge herself and face her fears by attending a summer camp with horseback riding in the sequel to Out of My Mind.
Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman (Nov., $23.99, ISBN 978-1-79713-341-6). This thriller explores the opioid crisis through the experience of two siblings, an injured soccer player and his older sister who has untreated ADHD.
Before We Were Blue by E.J. Schwartz, read by Chloe Dolandis and Gail Shalan (Sept., $19.95, ISBN 978-1-62461-818-5). At a treatment center for girls with eating disorders, teens Shoshana and Rowan dream of the day when they will no longer be under the nurses’ watchful eyes.