2021 Audie Awards Finalists: Libro.Fm’s Picks to Listen to Now

2021 Audie Awards Finalists chosen by Book Sellers

Every March, The Audie Awards are held to honor the most outstanding audiobooks by category. There are 5 books nominated to each for the 25 categories clocking at 100+ audiobook nominees. With so many options, we turned to Libro.Fm to help us narrow down the list of 2021 Audie Awards Finalists.

Not familiar with Libro.Fm? The TL;DR is they are an audiobook alternative to Amazon’s audible with profits going to the independent bookstore of your choosing. We made the switch to Libro.FM because we love their values. You can see a full comparison to Audible here.

Because of our love for audiobooks, we chose listen to an Audie Award Winner for this month’s reading challenge prompt. Listening to any of these 2021 Audie Awards Finalists would certainly count in our eyes towards the challenge. If you would like more inspiration, you can check out the 2020 Audie Award Winners.

The 36 books below are the 2021 Audie Awards Finalists recommended by booksellers from across the country. They are grouped by genre.

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Table of Contents

Fiction 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

The Mountains Sing and other 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

The Mountains Sing by Nguyēn Phan Qué Mai

“Deep human bonds of family, place, and memory are written of in ways that are often heartbreaking, but show the strength and persistence of those ties. This is a book that glows with spirit and those larger life forces that include love. I look forward to the day I can put this book in readers’ hands.” – Rick, The Elliott Bay Book Company.

We loved this book and wanted to be sure to include it in our list of best books for book clubs.

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

“Ferrante’s latest novel gives an insightful and intriguing look at the life of a budding Italian teenage girl, both internally and externally. I found Ferrante’s ability to delve into Giovanna’s psyche fascinating, especially since I’ve never parented a girl and don’t always feel like I understand them. Her sensitivity to the myriad of issues and the fragility of Giovanna’s relationships make for a marvelous read. Ferrante is a gifted writer, and this latest offering does not disappoint. I loved this story! Fabulous read!” – Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette

Such a Fun Text and other 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

“What a beautifully rich and nuanced book! Emira, a mid-twenties educated but slightly driftless woman is working 2 part time jobs still trying to find her passion. She find joy in her part time babysitting job, finding her three year old charge a delightfully odd little person who keeps her interested. But things turn complicated when she is asked to take her charge to the local grocery store late at night and is accosted by the store security guard and a “well meaning” patron. Accused of kidnapping and unable to leave Emira holds her dignity and stands up for herself as another patron films the incident. Emira wants nothing more than to put the incident behind her but those closest to her have other ideas of what is best for her. This novel packs an emotional punch, making us question our own motives and wondering if we really have our loved ones best interests at heart. A perfect book group pick for those who like to focus on character driven stories.” – Genavieve, Books & Company

Big Little Lies

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

“The book opens in 2018 introducing you to one of its main characters, Morgan, who is an inmate of the North Carolina Correctional Facility. She is barely 21 years old and is incarcerated for a DUI – a crime that she didn’t commit. During her second summer in prison, Morgan is offered an opportunity of a lifetime. Two women visit her and offer her a deal. She will be released from prison permanently and she will be paid 50K to restore a mural in a Post Office in a small town. The story contains two timelines that are weaved together beautifully. The second timeline is in 1939 which is when Anna Dale begins to paint the mural. Both main characters were multifaceted and engaging. The story is peeled back in layer and expertly laced with intrigue. I highly recommend this page turner. The narrator was a delight and delivered a 5 star performance.” – Melinda, Buttonwood Books and Toys

Deacon King Kong and other 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

“It’s been a while since I wanted to listen to an audiobook from the beginning right after I finished it. Deacon King Kong, narrated by Dominic Hoffman, is well-crafted storytelling with memorable characters and oddball humor that I just loved. It’s also gritty and heartbreaking. What more can you ask of an engaging story when you are house-bound by a viral pandemic. Thank you, James McBride!” – Becky, Rediscovered Books

Romance 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Chasing Cassandra

Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas never disappoints! She drops you right into the Ravenels’ world with the last single member of the family, Cassandra. Switching between her and Tom Severance’s perspective, the tale unfolds to reveal an unbidden romance that, once sparked, lights a fire that refuses to go out. I loved the first audiobook in this series, Cold Hearted Rake, and thoroughly enjoyed the last in equal measure. ” – Kalli, Rediscovered Books

Get a Life Chloe Brown

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

“I loved everything about this book. A romantic comedy with a heroine of color who also suffers from fibromyalgia? Sign me up. It’s raunchy and hysterical and I loved every minute of it. The one downside was that I couldn’t listen to it with my kids in the car, so it took me longer than I would’ve liked to finish it. ”- Anna, Katy Budget Books

The Honey Dont list

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

“A famous rom-com duo takes on HGTV in their latest surefire hit. Underpaid and overworked assistants Carey and James didn’t intend to be in charge of keeping together a reality TV couple’s marriage, but here they are. They also didn’t intend to fall for each other, but as they try to fix the crumbling marriage of Melissa and Rusty Tripp, they find common ground. Equal parts sweet and steamy, with a story about finding your spine and self-worth.” – Sami Thomason, Square Books

Fantasy and Sci-Fi 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

RayBearer

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

“Immerse yourself in a rich fantasy world with wishes to cheat death, struggles for power, and hopes to find love. Jordan Ifueko has given us the start of a series where peace may not be as it seems and who you are vs. who the world tells you to be can have life-threatening and history-shaping consequences. One of my favorite aspects is the chants, prayers, and songs that are essential to the story and the narrator rhythmically enriches the reading.” – Jessica, Once Upon A Time

Addie La Rue and other 2021 Audie Awards finalists

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

“Epic, beautifully written, heartwarming, and heartbreaking, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a contemplation on life, death, what it means to make your mark on the world, and why we feel it’s important to do so. Addie makes a deal with a demon so she can live her life the way she wants to. But, like most deals, there are strings attached — and these strings make it so she is forgotten by everyone she meets. Dancing about time, the book shows Addie’s life over 300 years and takes a closer look at her modern life — after a boy in a bookshop remembers her. Months later, I’m still thinking about this book and how beautiful it is; my words don’t even come close to doing it justice. Read this book.” – Lindsey Pattavina, R.J. Julia Booksellers

The House in the Cerulean

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

“The House in the Cerulean Sea is a heart-swelling wave of sweetness and hope. Mild-mannered government caseworker Linus Baker is sent on a secret assignment to an island orphanage he’s never even heard of. The astonishing inhabitants he gets to know there will change his life and make him reassess everything he thought he knew. This book will leave you believing in the good in everyone — even those society has given up on — and contemplating how huge changes have to start somewhere.” – Haley Stocking, Phinney Books

The City we became

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

I love N.K. Jemisin’s books, I love New York City, and I love this book about the soul and personification of New York. The City We Became might just be my favorite book to be published in 2020. This story is filled with tension, humor, and great characters, with a guest appearance near and dear to me. While this book is the beginning of a trilogy, it is completely satisfying as a stand-alone novel. Read it and be happy.” – Doug Chase, Powell’s Books

Axioms End

Axiom’s End by Lindsey Ellis

“Ampersand the alien comes to Earth looking for his pals in this interesting story of a relationship that develops between a human and an alien. Enjoyed the audiobook particularly because of the alien voice!” – Todd, Leaves Book and Tea Shop

The Deep and other 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

The Deep by Various Authors

“This book is haunting in the best possible way. I felt so keenly for Yetu, for the Wajinru and their histories, it gave me chills. Daveed Dig’s narration was a well-matched piece in an already incredible project. I’m so glad this little novella came to be written so that I might share it.”- Jane, Rediscovered Books

Thrillers and Mystery 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

The Guest List

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

“Tangled secrets and dark, haunting pasts unravel at the posh wedding of celebrities Will and Jules. As the tension mounted and more was revealed, I couldn’t stop listening until I knew not only “whodunnit”, but to whom it was done. Foley tells her tale from alternating viewpoints, bringing us gradually and suspensefully into the minds and hearts of her characters. A riveting psychological thriller and murder mystery, The Guest List presents a story as dark as the stormy remote island on which it unfolds.” – Nancy, Raven Book Store

Confessions on the 745

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

“Confessions on the 7:45 is full of drama, heat, and relentless tension. Multiple questions quickly surface and are gradually answered. Most I had figured out somewhere before their revelation, but others caught me completely by surprise. The characters’ stories interweave in complex and clever ways. And few of the characters are who they seem to be. And all invite a mixture of emotions and reactions as we learn more about them, ranging from disgust to pity, fear to understanding, tenderness to loathing. Unger has a talent for suspense, keeping me listening late into the night – not my norm!” – Nancy, Raven Book Store

The only good indians

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

“I loved this book. Jones has a unique narrative voice, allowing ‘the entity’ to step in and take over unexpectedly, amping up the horror. Also, each character has a distinct voice that brings them to life. Jones combines the culture and traditions of the Blackfeet and Crow people with the social truths of their contemporary life. It is refreshingly different from any other horror novel I’ve read. This book is gruesome and honestly scary. I couldn’t put it down.”- Kristine Jelstrom-Hamill, Buttonwood Books and Toys

WHen No one is watching and 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

“Cole’s thriller exposes the underbelly of gentrification and prosperity, taking a searing look at systemic racism. When a pharmaceutical firm plans to move its headquarters to a historically Black Brooklyn neighborhood, an influx of rich white people displace Black residents from their homes and their roots. Timely, groundbreaking, and thought-provoking, When No One Is Watching is essential reading for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.”- Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books

9781982155254 400

One by One by Ruth Ware

“Even when the world gets back to normal, you’ll never trust your coworkers again. Snoop, a hot tech company that gives music fans the ability to follow along with what others are listening to in real-time, is built around the pleasures of voyeurism. But what if the person you think you know has a hidden past? When an avalanche hits and confines these coworkers to a fancy chalet, they’ll be picked off one by one as the killer fights to keep their secrets hidden from peering eyes.” –Christy, Avid Bookshop

Squeeze Me

Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen

“Warning: be very careful if Carl Hiassen’s Squeeze Me is on your car speakers. Bursts of laughter can be dangerously distracting. Scott Brick’s sonorous voice lends anchorman credibility to this mystery that’s as current as today’s news yet classic Hiassen — with an eco-centric South Florida plot and hilarious absurdity. Where else will you find a decapitated python, a petite critter-wrangler (and petite missing heiress) and an investigation complicated by the high-profile neighbors of Casa Bellicosa? (And their Secret Service detail.) We deserve to laugh, and Carl Hiassen’s here for us.” – Cheryl, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

Middle Grade and YA 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Clap when you land

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

“Lyrically written with precise clarity and beautiful turn of phrase, National Book Award-winner Elizabeth Acevedo shares a poignant story of loss, identity, and family. I highly recommend the audio version because of the poetic cadence that begs to be read aloud and the voice of two women (including the author) who narrate the two points of view in the book, adding an extra dimension to the story.” – Tina, Leaves Book and Tea Shop

Everything Sad is UnTrue and other 2021 Audie Awards FInalists

Everything Sad is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri

“Listener, you are about to enter a world of rose water and saffron, of sheep’s blood and mad bulls, of myth and magic carpets, a world of Scheherazade’s making, a thousand and one stories that each bend and weave and buoy the next. As a child who had to flee his beloved home and family in Iran, Daniel’s warm narration invites us to sit and stay awhile, and not only see the world through his bright, vulnerable, hopeful young eyes, but to taste, smell, and hear how the past infuses the present, and why storytelling isn’t as much about telling the truth as much as it is about heroes and human fallibility. This is not simply a story about a young refugee looking to make sense of his new place in the world of Jennifers and Jareds in Edmund, Oklahoma. This is an epic tale that Nayeri seems to effortlessly draw you into like Scheherazade herself, breathing his eight-year-old self into three-dimensionality with warmth, humor and terror like an unbearably beautiful yet flawed Persian rug.” – Jane, Bear Pond Books

A Song Below Water

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Horrow

Tavia and her sister, Effie, are struggling with being themselves in a world where some people are born as mythological beings, like Sirens, Eloko and Gargoyles. Tavia is a Siren, a being that is feared because her Siren voice can be used to control others. In addition, she is Black, adding an additional layer of silencing. She lives in hiding and fear and frequently resorts to sign language when she cannot speak for fear of revealing her Siren voice. Effie is a Ren Faire performer and only feels herself when swimming or being Euphemia the Mer, her mermaid alter ego. At school she hates when attention turns to her and clams up, unable to speak. She is also troubled by secrets in her past, including her absent father. Tavia and Effie are everything to each other, even though they are sisters by circumstance rather than birth, and are able to truly talk to each other. With this support they learn to find and accept their voice and their true selves. The narrator alternates from one sister to the other throughout the book and each chapter has a unique voice and feel. Through a mix of reality and metaphor Bethany C. Morrow is able to tackle, without preaching, issues concerning Black women’s voices being silenced.” – Caroline R., Blue Willow Bookshop

This is My America and other 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

This Is My America by Kim Johnson

“I can’t believe this is Kim Johnson’s debut novel! It has easily cemented a spot in the social justice YA canon, alongside The Hate U Give, Monster, and co. Written with an expert hand, This Is My America follows Tracy Beaumont as she fights to get her innocent father off of death row, while also trying to keep her community safe from police violence by teaching Know Your Rights workshops. But she’s soon forced to divert her attention to a murder case in which her brother is the main suspect. A compelling story of injustice and resistance—with a bit of a love triangle—This Is My America is required reading.” –Mary, Raven Book Store

Shuri and other 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Shuri: A Black Panther Novel #1 by Nic Stone

“Anika! Noni! Rose! Narrates! This! Audiobook! Drop everything you are doing and listen to Rose’s voice of pure gold bring so much warmth to Shuri and this story. Nic Stone writes a short but fun tale that further illuminates us on a favorite character from Black Panther, the sassy and indomitable younger sister Shuri. We get to know more about Shuri and T’Challa’s relationship and familial vibes and go into depth with Shuri’s scientific talents. As T’Challa prepares for his upcoming challenge, Shuri must step up and save the day when she notices the special herb that brings the Black Panther their powers is dying out. Enlisting the help of her super fashionista and Dora Milaje-in-training best friend Katara, the two traverse the globe with the help of another Marvel character, further bringing together the different storylines of the universe. This was a quick and delightful listen that is perfect for young and old Marvel fans alike.” – Kimi, Buttonwood Books and Toys

King and The Dragon Flies

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Kingston (King) James and his parents are grieving the loss of Khalid– King’s older brother. When Khalid was alive and the two shared a bedroom, he would talk in his sleep, telling his younger brother stories about the universe and its magic. King continues to see Khalid in his dreams, and is convinced Khalid has transformed into a dragonfly. The Louisiana bayou provides the backdrop for both a colorful landscape and a tense, fearful place where racism festers. When King’s former friend, Sandy, who is white, and the son of the racist police chief, goes missing, King ends up helping hide Sandy from his abusive father. Woven seamlessly into this wise story is King’s slow awakening of his sexuality, brought to the fore by his renewed friendship with Sandy, who is known to be gay. Callender’s writing is so authentic and their characters are so tenderly portrayed by Ron Butler’s superb narration I mourned its conclusion. The whole package is a crowning achievement.” – Jane, Bear Pond Books

Non-Fiction 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Little Weirds and other 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

“Little lovely weirds from the big, lovely, weirdness of Jenny Slate’s brain. I am recommending that you get both a physical copy to beautify your shelves and the audiobook so that Slate can croon her little weirds into your ears and that way your hands are free for snacking or petting the dog or arranging acorns on your mantle. You will laugh and sigh and wish her words could bring things to life because she is, after all, a magical person so it should be a thing she can do. And who knows? Maybe she will. ” – Kate, Fountain Bookstore

wandering in strange lands

Wandering in Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins

“Wandering in Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins is a fascinating look at the history of the Great Migration through Jerkins’ exploration of her own family history and legacy. Jerkins provides an additional dimension to understanding Black lineage in the United States and the complexity of what it means to be Black in America.” – Tina, Leaves Book and Tea Shop

The Lincoln Conspiracy

The Lincoln Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer

“For a deeper understanding of proslavery and abolitionist tensions leading up to the Civil War, Meltzer & Mensch deliver. This narrative of prewar intrigue reads smoothly. As a bonus, you’ll get to learn more about the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency, meet America’s first female private eye, and read cameos of historic figures such as William Seward, Dorothea Dix, and Frederick Douglass.” – Emma, Weller Book Works

His Truth is Marching on

His Truth Is Marching On by Jon Meacham

“Meacham’s latest is a fascinating deep dive on John Lewis’s formative years getting into good trouble as a civil rights activist in the 1960s. Anecdotes are pulled from both historical documentation and directly from interviews with Lewis himself. Narrator JD Jackson does a fantastic job, adding cadence for different speakers without a hint of caricature. Lewis’s strong sense of justice and freedom, most often driven by faith, are on full display in this must-read.” – Amber, Quail Ridge Books

Hollywood Park and other 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett

“Hollywood Park is the kind of memoir that will turn you completely inside out before it lets you go. Within the specificity of his story, Mikel Jollett has somehow managed to make space for all of us — the intricate voice of his child and adolescent selves is one every reader will easily hear in their own head. This book is a brilliant and raw balancing of the accounts that make up a self, and I have nothing but respect for the vulnerability it took Jollett to step down from the stage he’s used to occupying as a musician and into a story that readers everywhere will hold in their hands and hearts for a very long time.” – Afton Montgomery, Tattered Cover

Deep Delta Justice

Deep Delta Justice by Matthew Van Meter

“Excellent read. Loved the historical context that was given surrounding the case. Gives a stark view at segregationist Louisiana.” – Tiffany, Leaves Book and Tea Shop

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt and other 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous

“After the collapse of her marriage and her whole life, the anonymous author of Becoming Duchess Goldblatt started a Twitter account, speaking in the voice of an imperious, slightly dotty, always caring 81-year-old writer. The Duchess became the focus of intense adoration and eventually helped her creator to reconnect with the ‘real world’ even as she kept her identity a secret. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is a glorious memoir, a truly 21st-century tale of life both online and off. – David Enyeart, Next Chapter Booksellers

Uncanny Valley and other 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener

“Like Joan Didion or Renata Adler, Ben Lerner or Sally Rooney, Anna Wiener writes with dead-on specificity, scalpel-sharp analysis, deep sensitivity, and an eye for the absurd. She headed west into the modern gold rush that is the tech boom and now returns with gleaming ingots of insight, weaving tales of a strange land where boy-CEOs ride ripsticks and hoover up your data. An essential and very human look at the forces shaping who we are and how we behave.” – Sam MacLaughlin, McNally Jackson Williamsburg

Poetry 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Homie and other 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

Homie by Danez Smith

“In their third collection, Danez Smith shakes to life the parts of people that have gone to sleep waiting for this time in the world to be over. Those emotions that raise up too much anger or grief — all of them are alive again and seen and spoken for with utmost care and a tremendously welcome sense of humor. Pick this book up and carry it with you everywhere. It can be like a video game heart for you, and who doesn’t need an extra heart?” – Luis Lopez, Moon Palace Books

For the full list of 2021 Audie Awards Finalists, you can head to this Libro.Fm playlist.

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