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Awards & Recognition, Collection Development Best Audiobooks of 2020 selected by Library Journal and Booklist!

Hear, hear! We are thrilled to welcome 2021 with a listen back at the past year’s top titles as chosen by these library trade publications. Throw the confetti, pour the coffee, and most importantly, encourage patrons to press play on these incredible audiobooks sure to thrill listeners for years to come!

LJ logo As stated by Library Journal, “This year’s top audiobooks, selected by LJ’s audio editor and reviewers, represent the best recorded literature published between November 2019 and December 2020. In a year that’s been like no other, these picks moved us, provided escape, and made us think critically and reflect upon the society in which we live.” Do you offer these BOT picks in your collection? Listen to clips below!

Library Journal Top Fiction Audio Picks of 2020

The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Read by: Shayna Small
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“With exacting nuance, narrator Small immediately distinguishes the Vignes twin sisters—inseparable as children, utterly disconnected as adults. As decades pass, Bennett’s cast multiplies, with Small effortlessly adapting to the chimerical characters. Transformations abound, yet Small never falters, carrying the generations toward revelation and reunion with resonance and depth.”—Library Journal
WATCH: Narrator Shayna Small on Meet the Voice

The Death of Vivek Oji
Author: Akwaeke Emezi
Read By: Yetide Badaki and Chukwudi Iwuji
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“After Kavita finds the body of her sensitive son, Vivek, stripped of clothing, wrapped in smoke-tinged fabric, and left on her veranda, she relentlessly probes the mystery of his death. Artfully structured with multiple viewpoints and flashbacks, Emezi’s heartrending, redemptive story features outstanding narration by Badaki and Iwuji, who convey a vivid sense of place and add dimension to even minor characters.”—Library Journal
Deacon King Kong
Author: James McBride
Read by: Dominic Hoffman
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“Hoffman brings to life each of the eccentric, realistic characters. In between the twisting plotline, the witty dialogue, and the comic scenes is an insightful look into the lives of people living in the midst of adjustments, redirections, and cultural upheaval.”—Library Journal

WATCH: Narrator Dominic Hoffman on Meet the Voice

Library Journal Top Non-Fiction Audio Picks of 2020

Hidden Valley Road
Author: Robert Kolker
Read by: Sean Pratt
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“What could easily have devolved into lurid voyeurism becomes a journalistic masterpiece. Pratt avoids all sensationalizing, narrating with the same deliberate control when he reveals a murder-suicide as when he interprets neuroscientific data.”—Library Journal
Caste (Oprah's Book Club)
Author: Isabel Wilkerson
Read by: Robin Miles
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“Miles amplifies and grounds the content with a steady, calm, and clear voice, even when the material is especially heartbreaking and haunting.”—Library Journal
In celebrating their Editors’ Choice: Adult Audio, 2020, Booklist shared: “From intimate, author-narrated memoirs to star-studded full casts to evocative single narrators, the standout adult audio titles of 2020 all display mastery of the format and will provide hours of listening enjoyment.” Check out and hear their BOT picks below including the TOP OF THE LIST winner, The Girl with the Louding Voice!

Booklist Editors’ Choice: Adult Audio, 2020

The Girl with the Louding Voice
Author: Abi Daré
Read by: Adjoa Andoh
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
*TOP OF THE LIST Winner* “British narrator Andoh melts into Adunni’s perspective and brings to life the evocative, patois-rich language of Daré’s debut novel…Andoh’s genius is in empathizing with each character and bringing their truth to the fore. Adunni’s response to Ms. Tia aptly describes the gift Andoh gives listeners: ‘Honest, honest, her voice is doing music inside my ears.’—Booklist, starred review

Fun Fact: Adjoa Andoh stars as Lady Danbury in Netflix’s new hit streaming show, Bridgerton!

Apeirogon: A Novel
Author: Colum McCann
Read by: Colum McCann
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“Irish-born McCann’s lingering, soft Irish lift feels like a solemn, calming enhancement to his gorgeous, albeit violence-haunted, narrative…McCann creates a can’t-turn-away, elegiac homage to resilience and hope.”—Booklist, starred review
 
Deacon King Kong
Author: James McBride
Read by: Dominic Hoffman
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“[Hoffman’s] a consummate chameleon, effortlessly voicing McBride’s (The Good Lord Bird) scathingly observant riffs on skin-color-based inequity as he smoothly adjusts among characters, moods, and backgrounds, transforming an already stupendous book into an unmissable performance.”—Booklist, starred review
A Deadly Education
Author: Naomi Novik
Read by: Anisha Dadia
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“Dadia’s narration of the sullen, bitter heroine El (short for Galadriel) is pitch perfect…Dadia’s narration superbly pairs to Novik’s dark fantasy exploration into living with dread, accepting fear, and defying predetermination. The elaborate world building and cliffhanger ending leave the listener craving more of this socially conscious fantasy.”—Booklist, starred review
Devolution
“A star-studded full cast headlines this exemplary production…Commentary from journalists, academics, and experts is interspersed throughout the narrative, with actors Jeff Daniels, Nathan Fillion, Mira Furlan, Kimberly Guerrero, Kate Mulgrew, and Steven Weber all imbuing their brief readings with authority and ease. Rounding out the ensemble are radio journalists Kai Ryssdal and Terry Gross, and Brooks himself, all playing themselves in a clever bit of verité. Immersive storytelling and engaging narration.”—Booklist, starred review
My Mother's House
Author: Francesca Momplaisir
Read By: Karen Chilton, Janina Edwards and Dion Graham
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“It opens with the mellifluous Dion Graham and ends with an always-appreciated who-read-whom at recording’s end. In between, the horror is unrelenting, yet the three narrators persist with tenacious dignity and grace.”—Booklist, starred review

WATCH: See author Francesca Momplaisir at PRH Library’s Open Book Event, Dec 2019

A Promised Land
Author: Barack Obama
Read by: Barack Obama
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“His familiar voice and cadence are an added bonus, and he reads with emotion—and even gives us a few impressions of people he met along the way. Highly recommended.”—Booklist, starred review

WATCH: Click here to see Obama in the recording studio.

The Resisters
Author: Gish Jen
Read by: William DeMeritt
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“Narrator DeMeritt deep-voiced and carefully paced delivery is perfectly matched to Jen’s strikingly prescient story…intonations are both realistic and subtle.”—Booklist, starred review 
Tokyo Ueno Station
Author: Yu Miri
Read by: Johnny Heller
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“Heller is in top form in this haunting, dreamlike slip of a book…this new recording of Yu’s 2015 title is one to remember.”—Booklist, starred review
The Vanished Birds
Author: Simon Jimenez
Read by: Shayna Small
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“Small adroitly embodies Jimenez’s diverse cast—whose ethnicities remain predominantly, refreshingly, unspecified beyond mention of a sari, a given name—bestowing accents, personalities, even unique tics to create an adventure that is out of this world.”—Booklist, starred review 
The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Read by: Shayna Small
LISTEN TO A CLIP: audio
“With exacting nuance, narrator Small immediately distinguishes one Vignes twin sister from the other…Transformations abound, yet Small never falters, carrying the many generations toward revelation and reunion with resonance and depth.”—Booklist, starred review

Click here to check out Booklist and School Library Journal‘s Top 2020 Audiobooks for Kids & Teens.

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