Recommended Audio Book Series for Adults
Audiobooks are a beautiful thing. The experience of listening to an audiobook can be incredibly relaxing, triggering memories of being read stories as a child, or they can help keep your attention focused and your memory sharp. They’re also a great way to enjoy a book when you aren’t able to physically read a book for whatever reason. Audiobooks help keep us entertained and literate without having to crack a cover or turn a page.
But what is the best audiobook series for adults? Indeed, when people think of a book series more often than not their mind travels to the young adult genre marketed towards teens and offering episodic, easy to digest stories. There are certainly some young adult series that are worth anyone’s time regardless of age, but if you’re the more discerning reader looking for something with more complexity than that, you’ll need to wade through lists of recommendations to find what’s right for you. With this piece we’ve done some of the heavy lifting for you: we’ve recommendation after recommendation to find the best audiobook series for adults. Each entry has proven its worth through high critical praise, chart-topping sales, or both, so you can feel confident with our selections.
1. “Discworld,” by Terry Pratchett.
The sprawling Discworld series blends elements of science fiction and fantasy to create a world rife with adventure and satire. The first book, The Color of Magic, introduces some of the core concepts and humor that drive Pratchett’s series, the most well-known being the Discworld itself, a planet said to be resting on the back of a massive turtle traveling through space. One of the reasons Discworld makes such a great audiobook series is that Pratchett wrote 41 novels set in the universe before his passing. If you love the wit and parody of the first book and want to explore the setting further, you’ll have a lot of material to dive into.
2. “The Dark Tower,” by Stephen King.
It shouldn’t take much to convince you to pick up a Stephen King story, but The Dark Tower series has more to discover than other stories the legendary author has penned. For starters, The Dark Tower doesn’t stay confined to any one genre. The first book, The Gunslinger, is a Western homage following the titular gunslinger Roland on his quest to hunt down the mysterious Man in Black and discover why their world, Mid-World, appears to be destroying itself. At the center of it all is the Dark Tower, believed to be the central point of the universe itself but whose nature is unknown. With this series King built upon his multi-verse, tying events and characters from other novels together and effectively linking together a large swath of his works.
3. “Sophie Katz Murder Mystery Series,” by Kyra Davis.
Davis fuses chick-lit and hard-boiled detective tropes in her Sophie Katz series. The title of the first book gives you a taste of the tone you can expect: Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte. Humor and grit are the pillars of Sophie Katz’s world, delicately balanced so that one doesn’t spoil the other. Katz, a divorced mystery author, believes that the murder of a friend points to a killer copying scenes from her work. Fearing that she will be the killer’s ultimate victim and believing that she may know what’s next, she can’t convince the police to take her suggestions seriously and must take to solving the case herself. Using her writing as a guide, Katz is forced to become a quick-thinking detective to save her own life while rebuilding her personal life. Witty and tense, Kyra Davis’ work is perfect for those looking for darkly humorous crime fiction.
4. “Catching a Miracle,” by Mark J. Spinicelli.
Catching A Miracle is a three-part series that follows Dr. Shelly White in her quest to find a cure for cancer. She survived childhood cancer, but her friend didn’t, and as an adult, this fuels her desire to rid the world of the disease for good. Nicholas Harris, an ad executive seeking to help Dr. White, believes that the greed of insurance and pharmaceutical companies can be used against them to develop a cure. However, their plan hits obstacles almost immediately, as one by one their proposals are squashed by powerful forces. Her search leads Dr. White to a missing scientist who may hold the secrets to the cure—if the CIA and FBI don’t find him first. Elements of the thriller genre are expertly blended with medical drama and uplifting inspiration to make the Catching A Miracle series unique in its field. Fans of political intrigue and suspense will enjoy listening to this audiobook.
5. “Aubrey and Martin Series,” by Patrick O’Brien.
You may know this series better by the title of its first book, Master and Commander. O’Brien spent three decades on the series, crafting a work of historical fiction that stands tall in the genre, even after a century in print. O’Brien combines beautiful language in flowing sentences with incredibly accurate detail to retell the story of the Royal Navy’s battles against Napoleonic France through the eyes of first-time commander Jack Aubrey and the crew of the HMS Sophie. Aubrey’s battles are twofold: besides battling a well-equipped enemy at sea, he is constantly butting heads with his superiors. The battles are lovingly detailed and accurate to the time, but those unfamiliar with the period or its naval norms may find some of the jargon used difficult to follow without a secondary resource to guide them. Doing so is far from a chore, however, if it helps you immerse yourself in one of the great classics of historical fiction.
6. “The Wheel of Time,” by Robert Jordan.
Before A Song of Ice and Fire came to dominate high-fantasy literature, Jordan’s The Wheel of Time was the go-to for long-running epics. Jordan’s 14 book series (with the last three being written following his death by Brandon Sanderson) focuses on the rise and fall of kingdoms, not just through war and political conflict but through the simple passing of time as well. How memories fade and myths are born over time to shape the future indelibly, inspiring acts of courage and tyranny alike. The Wheel of Time has been noted for using concepts first introduced in The Lord of the Rings, which can be a strength or a criticism depending on who you ask. One thing that can’t be denied, though, is that Jordan liked to write lengthy books. As a result, The Wheel of Time can be rich with detail that may be easier to process when listening to in audiobook form.
7. “Left Behind,” by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.
The controversial post-rapture thriller has a lot working for and against it, but it lands on our list simply because there isn’t anything else quite like it. The attempt to make a globe-trotting action/adventure series out of a modern interpretation of the Book of Revelation is ambitious if nothing else, and while this series can be said to have paved the way for the religious mystery/thriller boom that followed, few got anywhere near the scope as Left Behind. That said, there is no clear-cut audience for Left Behind; even within the broader Christian community—the target audience—opinions are divided, so don’t go into this with set expectations.
8. “The Kingsbridge Trilogy,” by Ken Follett.
Follet’s historical series focuses on the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England, in a time-spanning The Anarchy through the Elizabethan era over 150 years. While the chaos and political events following Henry I of England’s death are the catalyst for what follows, the story itself chronicles how life in Kingsbridge changes by real-world historical events. What starts with the complexities of building a cathedral during a time of strife and civil war in The Pillars of the Earth, the first book in the series rapidly evolves to show how institutions large and small can be upended by sudden twists of fate. Later books follow the central characters of The Pillars of the Earth where the political landscape has changed but continues to put the lives of those living in it in flux. Family buffs will appreciate the attention to real-world detail in this family-driven saga.
9. “Pendergrast,” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
The titular Pendergrast is a Jack-of-All-Trades sort, with that special combination of wealth, talents, and knowledge that makes for a great hero. While this may sound like he’s also something of a caricature, Preston and Child take special care to keep him human as he faces one bizarre danger after another. Though he doesn’t play the leading role in Relic, a museum murder mystery, the series develops to focus largely on him and his love classical art, the jungle, wild animals, and other refined tastes that set him apart from the usual super detectives of the genre. This series is recommended for mystery fans who want to substitute some of the darker tones of the genre for more slowly unwinding stories.