I’ve written here before about how I learned to love audiobooks and the trick for me was finding memoirs and nonfiction. So I’ve put together the hottest memories of the year that are perfect for gifting. Think: new parents who don’t have time to sit and read a book, runners who prefer books to music, knitters and hobbyists who love to listen while they work, travelers who could use a book for the next plane ride or road trip, or your favorite working parent who’d rather be listening to an audiobook on their commute than playing another game of Castle Crunch. (Ahem.)
Check out some of the most lauded, most recommended, most entertaining audiobook memoirs of the year and see if anything is calling the name of someone on your list.
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Will My Name is Barbra by Barbra Streisand (Audible exclusive) be the top-selling audiobook this holiday? I’m going to go with yes. Is it a fortune? Well…if you aren’t an Audible subscriber and don’t have credits, then yes. But you (or your lucky recipient) will get additional anecdotes that are not in the printed version, plus exclusive music. And hey, Barbra narrates! Can’t beat that.
The Woman in Me, Britney Spears’ new memoir (Audible, Libro.fm), is already a 5-star audiobook that’s being lauded for its honesty, humor, and wit. I love the review that said that it was “real,” and not the “cash grab memoir” the reader had expected. Perfect gift book for your favorite millennial who never stopped rooting for her. Michelle Williams narrates.
Worthy, written and narrated by Jada Pinket-Smitt (Audible, Libro.fm), is still getting so much buzz — and interestingly, not just with people who follow “the whole Will and Jada thing.” In fact, if you have already read everything about her this may not be the book for you; but if you’re curious, it’s been commended for Jada’s honesty about the bumpy journey her life has taken, and for her candor around the lessons learned. One reviewer called it a blend of autobiography, spiritual guidance, and self-help workbook.
One of the books that my friends keep recommending to me over and over is Making It So: A Memoir by Sir Patrick Stewart, (Audible, lLbro.fm) and I feel like at this point, I should listen! He narrates the book himself (of course) so you get to listen to that delightful British voice while learning more about one of the planet’s loveliest humans. Of course it’s a great gift for any Star Trek TNG fan, but he’s touched so many lives through his work and life, it’s a nice holiday gift for anyone looking for a beautifully intimate and well-told memoir all on its own.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is out with his own celeb best-seller this year, although Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life (Audible, Libro.fm) is about guidance for life. not a memoir like his 2012 release, Total Recall. Narrated by the body-builder turned blockbuster movie star turned Governator (do we still say that), fans of his are loving the book for his lessons in the value of resilience, goal-setting, service and empathy.
One more hot new audiobook in my own queue is Leslie Jones’s memoir, aptly called Leslie F*cking Jones: A Memoir. (Audible, Libro.fm) Narrated by the author with a forward by Chris Rock, Let me just give you a portion of the book summary in her own words:
Now, I’m gonna be honest: Some of the details might be vague because a b*tch is fifty-five and she’s smoked a ton of weed. But while bits might be a touch hazy, I can promise you the underlying truth is REAL. Whether I’m talking about my childhood growing up in the South, my early stand-up days driving from gig to gig through the darkest parts of our country and praying I wouldn’t get murdered, what Chris Rock told Lorne Michaels,…I’m sharing it all here. It’s not easy being a woman in comedy, especially when you’re a tall-*ss Black woman with a trumpet voice. I have to fight so that no one takes me for granted, and no one takes advantage. These are the stories that explain why. (Cue the Law & Order theme.)
I’m going to go on a limb and say that this is one memoir that I will look forward to hearing every single day and I know I won’t be the only one.
Kerry Washington’s Thicker Than Water: A Memoir (Audible, Libro.FM) is another celebrity memoir that all my friends seem to be reading right now. She dives into her childhood, her resilience through trauma, her move into advocacy and activism, and of course the highlights and lowlights of stardom. Glennon Doyle says she read the book in a single sitting (where does she find the time?!), and I absolutely love Trevor Noah’s blurb that “her writing superpower is that she can make us relive a life we’ve never lived.” (And this is coming from someone who wrote his own extraordinary memoir — Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood came out in 2016, but I offer it up as a bonus reco for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.)
Bernie Taupin’s Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me (Audible, Libro.FM) is yet another memoir that comes highly recommended, in part because so many of us know a lot about the man he wrote the words for — Sir Elton John — but we don’t know so much about the man behind the words. Any music fan will love this book, written by one of the all-time great lyricists ever. He narrates along with John Lee.
Being Henry: The Fonz…and Beyond (Audible, Libro.FM) comes from the man who is arguably the nicest person in all of Hollywood, Henry Winkler. Whether you’re shopping for a friend who loved him in Happy Days, or someone who discovered him later in life through Barry, this heartfelt, self-deprecating memoir delivers all the charm, warmth, and soulfulness of the author in his own voice and words.
Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones (Audible, Libro.fm) is this year’s hot memoir from the universally beloved Dolly Parton, and interestingly, it is about her fashion more than it is her music. She narrates the audiobook along with lots of friends and colleagues, sharing stories about the glitz, the glam, the big wigs, the stiletto heels, and of course, all those rhinestones that never outshone her own personality.
I would just say that this is one book that might need a spot on your coffee table too; gift the audiobook, but consider gifting the 450-page full color hardcover too.
If I missed any favorites of your from this year, please leave them in comments. And for more recos, see the memoirs that made me an audiobook fan in the first place!