Audiobooks come in all shapes and sizes, and the listening format is perfect for embracing epic books that may have been too daunting in written form. Still, people often search for something a little more concise, a title that won’t take up an entire day’s worth of time. This collection of great audiobooks all clock in at five hours or less. They cover plenty of ground, from laugh-out-loud hilarity to edge-of-your-seat terror, via short story collections, love stories, audio versions of great books, best sellers, and national award winners. Sometimes real life doesn’t lend itself to 34-hour epics, after all.
In Sidney Crosby: The Rookie Year, Pittsburgh Penguins legend Sidney Crosby takes you back to the days when “Sid the Kid” made his galvanizing debut in the hockey world. In this Canadian Audible Original, Crosby chronicles his first season in the NHL, a 2005-06 rookie year that announced a new superstar to the world.
Crosby would go on to have three Stanley Cups to his name, a litany of individual trophies, and a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But here’s where it all began, and at just over four hours, Sidney Crosby: The Rookie Year stands as the perfect introduction to one of the game’s all-time greats.
An Audible Original drama, Alien III is guaranteed to keep listeners on the edge of their seats for every moment of its two hours and 16 minutes. Based on William Gibson’s screenplay, this short story rendition ramps up the fear factor that the Alien franchise is well-known for delivering. It pulls no punches on the terror, making it the perfect introduction for anyone new to the iconic sci-fi horror franchise.
Intended as the follow-up to 1986’s Aliens, Alien III has become a beloved part of the story despite never making it to the big screen. This audio novella interpretation, voiced by a cast of luminaries such as Tom Alexander, Lorelei King, Michael Biehn, and Lance Henriksen, is as faithful to the core as it gets.
Clocking in at just over three hours, Dervla McTiernan’s brilliant The Sisters is one of the best audiobooks going, regardless of length. McTiernan made a name for herself in the world of crime fiction with The Ruin, and The Sisters only enhances that, telling the story of two sisters progressing through the murky world of criminal justice in Dublin.
Climbing the ladder isn’t easy, after all, and sometimes you need to step on those closest to you to keep moving. The Sisters is about justice, crime, deception, and betrayal, but it is also about sisterhood, love, respect, and the morality of life. The brilliant work of audiobook narrator Aoife McMahon makes this listen an absolute breeze, albeit one filled with lurid and sinister goings-on.
A thrilling Audible Original 10-episode stunner, Heads Will Roll isn’t for young audiences. The perfect listen for a road trip, Heads Will Roll centres around Queen Mortuana of the Night Realm and her raven minion, which set the stall out from the get-go.
The full cast features some of the biggest names in entertainment (think Meryl Streep, Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon, and others), imbuing this story of enslaved people, fetishes, and excitement with an air of style and grace. This is not a fairy tale.
At just over four hours long, Heads Will Roll is a truly immersive listening experience packed with eccentric characters, twists, and turns around every corner.
James Patterson is an iconic name in crime literature and one of the world’s best-selling writers. With so many great Patterson novels to choose from, this condensed dramatization of The Coldest Case, an Audible Original, could be the perfect entry to the New York author’s world. It’s even narrated by some notable actors such as Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones).
Detective Billy Harney, one of Patterson’s best-loved characters, is at the story’s heart. This time around, he has a new partner, and together the two must risk life and limb to bust a violent Chicago drug ring. With one catastrophe after another, the case is in jeopardy. The Coldest Case certainly lives up to its name.
Playwright Madhuri Shekar’s Evil Eye is an award-winning work centred around a legendary curse or perhaps the assumption that a curse is behind all the misfortune a family faces. Shekar tells the story through various innovative methods, and the human nature of it all makes for a flowing listen that builds to a seriously shocking ending.
Evil Eye tiptoes the line between hilarity and terror with all the confidence of a veteran, with a cast of voices adding their touches of flair to a brilliant story. This audiobook is a testament to Shekar’s genius that she can build such emotion in such a short piece of work. It’s 98 minutes of absolute magic.
The rise and fall of Silicon Valley medical lab Theranos was a major international story, and Thicker than Water pulls back the curtain on it all. Written and narrated by whistleblower Tyler Shultz, this Audible Original is the incredible story of a scam that grew beyond its control, told by someone very much in the belly of the beast.
Shultz had been part of Theranos for less than a year before discovering how its lab practices were faulty, skirted quality control and put patients’ lives at risk. Unprepared to continue with the company’s dangerous practices, Shultz tendered his notice—and in many ways, that was just the story’s beginning. Thicker than Water clocks in at three hours and 36 minutes, with jaws stuck to the floor for every second.
Is there a more influential woman in modern Canada than Margaret Trudeau? The former wife of the nation’s 15th Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the mother of incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, she is a ubiquitous figure in the life of the world’s second-largest country. She also happens to be a vocal mental health advocate, and Certain Woman of an Age is Trudeau at her most imposing and intimate.
Recorded live for Audible Theater, Trudeau is brutally honest throughout, detailing her incredible life with a friendly tone that often sounds as if she is comforting the audience, not the other way around. What else to expect from Canada’s most famous wife and mother? The show’s running time is an efficient 73 minutes, making for the perfect afternoon listen for anyone anywhere.
Love The Lord of the Rings but don’t want to commit to bingeing the full-length versions? Or are you new to the fantasy legend but overawed by its breadth and scope? This abridged dramatization is the perfect solution. Originally broadcast on BBC back in 1981, it clocks in at four hours and 35 minutes but never skimps on the details, allowing J.R.R. Tolkien’s world to sweep and sway as it should.
The entire cast, including Ian Holm, Bill Nighy, Sir Michael Hordern, and John Le Mesurier, brings extraordinary gusto to Tolkien’s larger-than-life characters without a longer-than-necessary running time. The Lord of the Rings for people who don’t quite have enough “precious” time for the unabridged The Lord of the Rings? Here we are.
A full cast of fabulous voices, including Riz Ahmed, Anthony Head, and Tamara Lawrance, brings Assassin’s Creed: Gold to life. This is a tale aside from the established Assassin’s Creed video game world that is as much about survival as epic battles and societal decay.
Aliyah Khan, a card shark facing mounting debts and shrinking odds, is at the centre of everything. One loss too many brings reality crumbling down for Khan, who is faced with oblivion or life as an assassin. It shouldn’t take too many guesses to determine which way she goes.
A thrilling story with a runtime of four hours and 40 minutes, Assassin’s Creed: Gold condenses the energy and excitement of the franchise into its most accessible form yet.
At just 70 minutes, The Boys: Deeper and Deeper is sci-fi at its most efficient. A companion to the popular Amazon Prime Video series of the same name, The Boys: Deeper and Deeper shows that even the Lord of the Seven Seas has it rough from time to time.
This audiobook spotlights the rise and fall—and possible rise again—of the protagonist named The Deep. A curious memoir of sorts, The Deep unveils all in a podcast-style interview, adding layers to a character already swimming in depth.
American actor Chace Crawford, who also stars as The Deep in the Amazon Prime Video series The Boys, brings the character to life in this gripping and fascinating listen. Dive in.
In under five hours, George Orwell’s Animal Farm is just about as must-read as it gets, and Adriel Brandt’s narration here makes it a must-listen audiobook.
Everyone from young adults to experienced audiobook enthusiasts will find something here, as Napoleon and Snowball put every farm animal’s dream into motion. Of course, that dream soon becomes a bureaucratic nightmare.
That doesn’t stop Animal Farm from being one of the great audiobooks of all time. Everyone should listen to this at least once in their lifetime, and because it clocks in at three hours, everyone can.
Matilda is a timeless children’s tale that the whole family can enjoy. At just four hours and 18 minutes, this audiobook by legendary British children’s author Roald Dahl is the perfect length for fun weekend listening.
Matilda introduces an exceptionally bright and gifted young girl who seemingly has the world against her, with selfish parents and a terrifying headteacher Miss Trunchbull. In this thrilling audiobook, Matilda finds the courage to fight back. With her superhuman powers and the help of her lovely teacher, Miss Honey, Matilda stuns listeners with what she achieves.
The iconic Hollywood actor Kate Winslet transforms this classic story into a stunning audio performance, which won an Audie Award in 2014.
Binti, written by Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor, is at the crossroads of an extraterrestrial story and African cultural history. This popular sci-fi story won Okorafor the Hugo Award and Nebula Award for Best Novella. It explores tradition, space travel, and fear, all in the time span of two hours and 30 minutes.
Binti is a young woman from the Himba ethnic group. She is the first person from her community to get an offer to study at a university in the galaxy. But Binti must decide between pursuing her dream of getting a prestigious education or honouring her people’s customs and values, which are all she has ever known.
American actor Robin Miles does the story justice as its narrator, bringing all of Binti’s emotions to life in her audio performance.
The celebrated African-American writer, poet, and activist Maya Angelou presents her third book of essays. Short but stunning, the run time of Letter to My Daughter is only two hours and 32 minutes, making it the perfect title for on-the-go listening.
Angelou, who passed away in 2014, never had a daughter. However, she addresses this essay collection to the millions of women she viewed as her daughters worldwide. Listeners get to hear Angelou’s anecdotes, painful memories of a segregated America, and her experiences with parenthood.
Letter to My Daughter is as educational as it is entertaining, offering so many lessons to learn from one of the world’s most beloved writers.
Long Way Down is written as a poem, and with an hour and 43-minute run time, you can listen to this in one sitting. This powerful audiobook, written and narrated by Jason Reynolds, tells the story of Will, an African-American teenager who is left grief-stricken when his brother is shot dead.
Will’s journey takes him down an elevator, both real and metaphorical. As he descends, he is met by ghosts on each level, including the spirit of his brother’s best friend. Each figure plays a part in Will and his brother’s life story.
Long Way Down was shortlisted for the prestigious CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2019. It’s heartbreaking, harrowing, and an absolute treasure you won’t want to miss.
New York Times best-selling author Jacqueline Woodson presents a coming-of-age tale in which four adolescent girls navigate the journey to becoming grownups—with a tough and testing city as the backdrop. Another Brooklyn is Woodson’s first book written for adults in 20 years since dedicating her time to children’s novels. It’s a gripping audiobook that clocks in at a comfortable two hours and 43 minutes.
Another Brooklyn uncovers the two contrasting sides of New York City’s largest borough: the bright and beautiful and the threatening and seedy. Many listeners, particularly women, will resonate with the themes of love, fear, safety, and growing up. The talented actor Robin Miles brings this short but powerful story to life as the four young women discover adulthood.