Check out the most buzzworthy titles of the past year
What were the audiobooks and podcasts everyone was talking about in 2020? There’s always “that title” everyone’s paying attention to, whether it’s a highly-anticipated release or an old classic that was recently adapted into a hit movie or TV show. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes there’s too many to keep up with.
For those of you who feel like you’ve been missing out, rest assured, we have you covered. We’ve put together a list of the most listened-to titles on Audible from the past year in true crime, fantasy, business, autobiography and more. Check out the best audiobooks of 2020 and load up on tons of great audio content to keep you company through the holidays. They’ll also make great gifts if you’re looking for options that don’t require in-person gift exchanges!
True crime is an endlessly fascinating genre that’s been steadily growing, especially in podcast format. Part of its success comes from just how many stories there are to tell and the many ways they intersect with broader cultural and societal issues.
In this eight-episode Audible Original, UK-based journalist Julian Druker explores the history and power of the life sentence, a judgement reserved for the most horrific crimes. Druker looks at some of the UK’s most notorious criminals who’ve received life sentences and uses their cases to dive into bigger issues like the sentencing process, the ethics of life sentences and how “tough on crime” politics inflate prison populations. It’s an investigative approach that will have you thinking twice the next time you hear the word “guilty.”
Written by acclaimed romance novelist Nora Roberts, Hideaway was one of the most anticipated romance stories of 2020. It is a high-stakes story of love and revenge involving Hollywood royalty and set on a sprawling family ranch in Big Sur.
It all starts when a young Cate Sullivan is abducted during a game of hide-and-seek at her family home. A fighter, the tenacious child escapes from her abductors and seeks refuge in a nearby home, where she’s discovered by a sympathetic teenager and reunited with her family. However, Cate’s story isn’t over.
Hideaway follows her discovery of a horrifying family betrayal, her years growing up and trying to overcome trauma and her return to Los Angeles as an adult to win back the life she left behind. It’s sure to excite anyone with a passion for drama, family betrayal and long-simmering romances.
Neil Gaiman is one of the biggest names in fantasy and it all started with his ground-breaking comic series The Sandman. Critics have called the series “one of the greatest epics in comics,” so when news came out that Audible and DC were releasing an audio adaptation, it quickly became some of the biggest news of the year for fantasy fans.
Based on the DC graphic novels written by Neil Gaiman, adapted by Dirk Maggs, The Sandman has rewritten the rules of audio entertainment. The series introduces us to Morpheus, a mythological creature residing over dreams who becomes accidentally trapped by WWI occultists. After 70 years he escapes, but not unscathed. Having experienced powerlessness for the first time in his existence, his outlook has changed and he moves to correct the mistakes he’s made over the millennia. In the end, it makes him more human.
Gallivanting through times and realms, we are introduced to an exciting host of characters and plot twists that plucked straight out of the dream world.
One of the most intriguing literary releases of 2020 comes from Brit Bennett. The Vanishing Half is about identical twin sisters Stella and Desiree Vignes, whose paths diverge with lasting consequences for their families, communities and their own identities.
After growing up in a small, southern, Black community the sisters run away at the age of 16 and part ways. Years later, Desiree returns home with her young daughter in tow, while Stella is secretly passing as white and moves to suburban Los Angeles with her new husband. Yet with so many miles and lies between them, the fates of the twins remain intertwined and impact their future and family.
Bennett weaves a riveting story and explores the lasting impact of our childhood experiences and the complex, American history of racial passing.
Stand-up comedian and actor Kevin Hart is a busy man, but he’s added one more profession to his growing resume: Life Coach. In the Audible Original The Decision, Hart turns his hand to self-development, sharing the tools he developed in his own life to get listeners mentally prepared to transform their lives.
Hart offers both vision and practical tips from his own life on how to break out of your comfort zone and keep your BS-detector running at peak performance. This is a light-hearted, comedic approach to chasing down success.
Matthew McConaughey has been on this earth for 51 years and he wants to share the lessons, secrets, joys and sorrows he’s picked up along the way. Taking 36 years’ worth of diary entries, poems, prayers and reflections, he exiled himself to the desert with no electricity to turn them into his new memoir, Greenlights.
Known for his eccentric roles and his calming, easy-going manner of speaking, McConaughey talks about his approach to life, letting life come at you and taking your hands off the wheel. McConaughey’s star power has certainly put Greenlights on people’s radars, but it’s his words of wisdom that will keep you listening.
Have an entrepreneurial spirit? Keep it fired up with stories of struggle, success and survival in the business world with The Revisionaries, a 10-part series hosted by Dragon’s Den star and Canadian tech entrepreneur Michele Romanow. With each episode, Romanow speaks with a different business leader about something you almost never hear about: their failures.
Romanow believes missteps are what make a good idea better. Every failure leads to a new iteration and each new iteration brings you closer to a breakthrough. This is a must-listen series if you’ve got your own business – or a dream to launch one. You can listen to this and other Canadian Audible Originals for free with your membership.
Technically, this one came from our list of the best audiobooks of 2019, which is well worth a look for more amazing titles. However, having made the shortlist for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize for nonfiction, we felt that Ziya Tong’s incredible look at the science behind (and beyond) the five senses was worth including.
The Reality Bubble is about the blind spots of our own making, such as the places we don’t see (like where our food comes from) and harmful ways of understanding the world, inherited from our past. Known for hosting science TV shows, Ziya Tong dives into the ways that our senses and civilization define our reality in a gripping, relatable way that will spark your sense of wonder.
Goodbye 2020, Hello Good Listening
To say that 2020 has been a different kind of year would be an understatement. Nevertheless, great stories have emerged that appeal to our curiosity, whether they’re real or purely fiction.
When you’re looking for your next listen, Audible has all of the best audiobooks, podcasts, originals and more. What was your favourite release of 2020? Tell us why it should have made our best-of lists on Facebook!