Looking for another way to enjoy Booklist’s “ 50 Best YA Books of All Time” (p. 4)? Here are the top 10 YA audiobooks selected from titles
appearing on that list. As the best audiobooks always do, these add
another dimension to our appreciation. —Joyce Saricks
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. By Sherman
Alexie. Read by the author. 2008. 4hr. Recorded Books, CD, $46.75
(9781428182974). Gr. 7–10.
Spokane Indian teen Arnold Spirit leaves the res to attend a predominantly white
school, leaving behind his culture, identity, and familiar life. Alexie’s idiosyncratic, first-
person voice drives this alternately harrowing and funny semiautobiographical novel.
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; v.1: The Pox Party.
By M. T. Anderson. Read by Peter Francis James. 2007. 8hr. Listening Library, CD, $55
(9780739348468). Gr. 9–12.
Octavian flees the Boston household where he has grown up a slave, joins the Sons of
Liberty, and dreams of freedom. James’ narration contrasts the refined voices of Boston’s
elite with the rebels’ rough New England accents and Octavian’s thoughtful speech patterns in this provocative historical novel.
Fallen Angels. By Walter Dean Myers. Read by J. D. Jackson. 2005. 8.5hrs. Recorded
Books, CD, $69.97 (9781419332180). Gr. 7–12.
Myers’ Vietnam-set coming-of-age story is a timeless tale of young men and war.
Jackson’s masterful narration creates a you-are-there soundscape in which listeners participate in Richie Perry’s perilous year in Vietnam.
How I Live Now. By Meg Rosoff. Read by Kim Mai Guest. 2005. 4hr. Listening Library,
CD, $38 (0-307-20723-4). Gr. 8–10.
Guest’s narration perfectly matches Daisy’s unforgettable voice: run-on, wry, and solip-sistic. She confidently inhabits this New York teenager who is sent to live with relatives in
England just before terrorists occupy the country and war breaks out.
The Knife of Never Letting Go. By Patrick Ness. Read by Nick Podehl. 2010. 12hr.
Brilliance, CD, $69.97 (9781441889003). Gr. 8–12.
Podehl’s gripping narration sets the mood for this chilling dystopia and matches the
urgency of the punishing pace. In this shocking series starter, secrets and deceits send
young Todd in search of answers.
Looking for Alaska. By John Green. Read by Jeff Woodman. 2006. 7hr. Brilliance, CD,
$82.25 (9781423324454). Gr. 9–12.
Woodman excels in portraying characters and tone in this stunning debut. From Miles’
shyness and social awkwardness, offered with humorous, self-deprecating sarcasm, to
Alaska’s fiery mood swings, he brings a breathtaking immediacy to a tale of both heartbreaking sorrow and madcap humor.
Nation. By Terry Pratchett. Read by Stephen Briggs. 2008. 9.5hr. Harper, CD, $29.95
(9780061658211). Gr. 7–11.
This survival story pits science against superstition as survivors of a tsunami struggle
to forge a new culture on a tropical isle. Briggs infuses his speech with the rhythms of
the author’s wry British wit, shifting easily from laugh-out-loud humor to pure sentiment.
Out of Darkness. By Ashley Hope Pérez. Read by Benita Robledo and Lincoln Hoppe.
2016. 12.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $65 (9780735289475). Gr. 9–12.
Pérez’s heartbreaking novel follows Mexican immigrant Naomi, a teen who encounters racism but also discovers friendship in 1930s East Texas. In contrast to Robledo’s
soulful reading, Hoppe terrifies as “the Gang,” the collective voice of the intolerant.
The Raven King. By Maggie Stiefvater. Read by Will Patton. 2016. 12hr. Scholastic, CD,
$39.99 (9780545649087). Gr. 9–12.
The final volume in Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle demonstrates the appeal of this richly imagined and danger- and magic-filled series: a perfect blend of demons and teens with magical
powers in a world infused with Welsh and other Celtic myths. Series narrator Patton channels both characters and the novel’s frenetic energy as the story hurtles to its close.
The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic. By Allan Wolf. Read by Michael
Page and others. 2011. 10hrs. Brilliance, CD, $14.99 (9781469298023). Gr. 9–12.
This imaginative historical novel in verse relates a familiar story, the 1912 sinking of the
Titanic. Stunning in print, it makes an equally mesmerizing audiobook, with multiple narrators adding intimacy and depth to characters, including the shipbuilder and the captain,
famous passengers like John Jacob Astor and Molly Brown, and even the iceberg itself.
TOP 10 YA AUDIOBOOKS
Darlene’s bad decision lands her
in a correctional facility for girls.
It’s minimum security, but that
only means there are no bars. It’s
still a prison, with cruel inmates
and uncaring guards. After some
devastating news, she makes a
plan to run. Freedom. But things
only get worse when she steals
some car keys …
Themes: Prison, Family,
Lexile: 420L | YA | RL: 3.0