20 new audiobooks to take you to another place this autumn and winter

Put the headphones in, turn up the speakers, and let one of these perfectly formed audiobooks transport you away

Young woman travelling

Autumn is always a great time for big audiobook releases, and this year looks set to be particularly special. Here are 20 of the best to keep you busy over the next few months.

Act of Oblivion, by Robert Harris. Penguin Audio

In these uncertain times it’s a blessing to have a new Robert Harris book to get lost in. You know where you stand with a Robert Harris book. In fairness, he has pretty much perfected the art of the historical thriller, and so rarely disappoints. His latest takes us on an epic 17th century manhunt, rich in detail and suspense. Up there with his very best. Listen here.

I’m Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy. Simon & Schuster Audio

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Being a child actor must be hell. If they grow into relatively well-adjusted adults, we’re amazed. When Jennette McCurdy landed a starring role in iCarly, one of Nickelodeon’s flagship shows, she thought it would make her mother happy. It didn’t. The book describes a litany of traumas, from cruel parental psychological abuse to predatory producers, eating disorders and addiction. It sounds grim, and it is, but it’s also honest and surprisingly funny. Listen here.

What Just Happened?! Dispatches from Turbulent Times, by Marina Hyde. Faber & Faber. Available October 4th

Sometimes you have to laugh. Otherwise, you might actually go insane. Marina Hyde seems to subscribe to this school of thought, and her Guardian articles over the past couple of years have been welcome high points among wider political low points. Her new book, based on those articles, will take on everything from the Cameron, May and Johnson eras and the lunacy of the Trump reign to tech billionaires and reality TV. Listen here.

Heat 2, by Michael Mann, Meg Gardiner. HarperCollins

Heat is one of the greatest crime films ever made, and because it ended so definitively, nobody ever thought a sequel was possible. Or at all necessary. But Michael Mann clearly felt the story wasn’t finished, so he has written a sprawling follow-up which works as both sequel and prequel. It’s an accomplished thriller with some standout set pieces, and a narrator so ridiculously gravelly and dramatic, it has to be heard to be believed. Listen here.

Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan. Faber & Faber

There’s something incredibly satisfying about finishing a book in one sitting. With no distractions, no interruptions, you devote your entire attention and get to experience a story as completely as possible. Claire Keegan’s new Booker-shortlisted novel affords such a pleasure. Set aside a cold, dark evening. Light a few candles, pour yourself a nice drink a spend two hours in the company of a small, but perfectly formed book. Listen here.

Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng. Hachette Audio UK. Available October 4th

Book clubs at the ready — the new Celeste Ng book is almost here. The author of Little Fires Everywhere is set to get wine-fuelled kitchen table get-togethers animated all over again. However, this promises to be an altogether more sombre affair; a “heart-wrenching novel about the unbreakable love between a mother and child in a society consumed by fear”. Listen here.

Art Is Life: Icons & Iconoclasts, Visionaries & Vigilantes, & Flashes of Hope in the Night, by Jerry Saltz. Ilex Press. Available November 1st

Senior art critic and columnist for New York magazine, Jerry Saltz is as influential as they come. With honorary doctorates and awards up the wazoo, and referred to by Sotheby’s Institute of Art as “the art critic”, he’s the open line of communication between the elite and the rest of us plebs. He demystifies the art world in refreshing plain speak and his latest book, focusing on the two decades since 9/11, promises to be another must-listen. Listen here.

Lucy by the Sea, by Elizabeth Strout. Penguin Audio. Available October 6th

Is it too soon to revisit lockdown? Are we ready, emotionally speaking, to open that door? If it was any other author the answer would perhaps be a firm no. But with Elizabeth Strout, who describes universal human foibles almost better than anyone, it’s absolutely a trip worth taking. In her latest, the titular Lucy Barton reluctantly goes into lockdown on the Maine coast with her ex-husband. Listen here.

The Passenger, by Cormac McCarthy. Picador. Available October 25th.

The release of a new Cormac McCarthy book is what we call a “literary event”. Everyone will read it, and whether or not it lives up to expectations, everyone will talk about it. It’s an intriguing proposition: the first of a two-volume work (with the second part being released at the end of November), it follows a salvage diver on the run after discovering a sunken plane and a conspiracy beyond his comprehension. Listen here.

Agatha Christie: A Very Elusive Woman, by Lucy Worsley. Hodder & Stoughton

That the Queen of Mystery should have such a compelling mystery at the centre of her own life is almost too perfect. In 1926 she disappeared for 11 days, without explanation. Her car was found crashed in a hedge with her belongings still inside. While the police searched for clues, she checked into a fancy spa under a false pseudonym. What really happened? Why did she do it? Lucy Worsley details this fascinating episode and many others in this excellent biography. Listen here

Stories from the Tenants Downstairs, by Sidik Fofana. John Murray

Set in a low-income Harlem high rise on the verge of gentrification, Sidik Fofana’s vibrant debut features eight interconnected stories, each from the point of view of a different resident. With a full cast of voice actors it feels like a celebration of not just community, but language itself. Listen here.

The Satsuma Complex, by Bob Mortimer. Simon & Schuster Audio. Available October 27th

Why shouldn’t Bob Mortimer write a novel? Everyone’s at it. Drawing on his own experience as a solicitor, it follows a legal assistant called Gary searching for a woman he met briefly in the pub. His quest brings him “through the estates and pie shops of South London, to finally bring some love and excitement into his unremarkable life”. Listen here.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin. Penguin Audio

just released, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is already fast gaining cult status. It’s the kind of book so romantic and tender you just have to pass it on. Beginning with a childhood friendship forged through a mutual love of video games, it follows two characters as they become famous game developers, creating virtual worlds as means of connection. Film rights have already been snapped up by Paramount. Listen here.

The Bullet That Missed, by Richard Osman. Penguin Audio

The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman’s first novel, blew everyone’s expectations out of the water. Not only was it the fastest-selling crime debut in UK history, but it was genuinely good — a perfectly plotted mystery with great characters. The Bullet That Missed, the third in the series, brings us back to the Fairhaven retirement village for more strangely comforting murder and shenanigans, all narrated brilliantly by Fiona Shaw. Listen here.

Fairy Tale, by Stephen King. Hodder & Stoughton

If you spent your teenage years reading Stephen King, his latest book will really take you back. It is vintage stuff: a regular high-school kid (dead mother, alcoholic father), befriends the local recluse who lives on a big old house on top of a hill. This being King, there’s also a portal to another world and an impending battle between good and evil. The 24-hour run-time might seem excessive, but when the storytelling is this good, what’s the rush? Listen here.

Garth Marenghi’s TerrorTome, by Garth Marenghi. Coronet. Available November 3rd

Frighternerman. Darkscribe. Doomsage (plus Man-shee). It’s been a while, but the real King of Horror is back (sorry, Steve). Fans of the cult TV show Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace are now furiously frothing at the mouth in frenzied anticipation of these three tales of unspeakable terror. Listen here.

Faith, Hope and Carnage, Nick Cave, Seán O’Hagan. Canongate Books

The result of over 40 hours of conversations with journalist Seán O’Hagan, this is an intimate and compelling exploration of Nick Cave’s life and music. Few audiobooks play with the possibilities of the format, but this one does. It has been recorded in such a way that, with headphones on, it sounds like you are sitting right between Cave and O’Hagan. A unique experience. Listen here.

The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O’Farrell. Headline

Lucrezia, young daughter of Cosimo de Medici, lives a life of privilege and comfort in a 16th-century Florentine court. Tragedy strikes when her older sister dies and Lucrezia is forced into a pre-arranged marriage. It is a book bursting with rich, vivid imagery, and to hear the (at times) wonderfully florid prose while you busy yourself with something menial like hanging up the clothes is what audiobooks are all about. Listen here.

Less Is Lost by Andrew Sean Greer. Hachette Audio UK

Despite garnering rave reviews and winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Andrew Sean Greer’s fish-out-of-water comedy Less seemed to fly under the radar this side of the Atlantic. Which is a shame, but the good news is he’s back with an equally brilliant follow-up. This time the socially awkward and very likable Arthur Less heads on a cross-country American road-trip. Listen here.

The Book of Goose, by Yiyun Li. Fourth Estate

Two teenage girls in rural postwar France write disturbing stories for their own amusement. When the stories are discovered one of the girls is propelled to fame, while the other remains behind. A wonderfully odd and intimate novel, with shades of Elena Ferrante, from the author of Where Reasons End. Listen here.

Darragh Geraghty

Darragh Geraghty

Darragh Geraghty, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about lifestyle, health and culture