Audiobooks are amazing, no question! They’re perfect for immersing yourself in a new world, for listening to stories on the go, and for helping the joy of reading become more accessible. There are also increasingly more options available for where to get your next audiobook, from Audible to Libro.fm and now even Spotify! It can be a little tricky to navigate audiobooks on Spotify, as it does not track your progress in the same way an app like Libby can, and listeners without Premium may have to put up with ads every now and then between chapters; however, I believe it is well worth the minor interruption because…free books!
For those of us with Premium, audiobooks on Spotify offer you the opportunity to listen to books without having to pay for another subscription service, saving you money and allowing you to access some great reads at the same time. For more information on how to find your way around downloading and searching for audiobooks on Spotify, check out our handy dandy guide!
Having recently discovered this service myself, I was delighted to discover that it features not only public domain classics, but a thriving library of contemporary reads, too. It is always a comfort to know that there are so many options out there for people to engage with an eclectic range of stories! So, I have compiled a list of some of my favourite audiobooks available for free on Spotify that you should check out, including YA, middle grade, and historical fiction.
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
Princess Hesina unexpectedly rises to her kingdom’s throne after her father dies and must untangle the webs of lies of her royal court. An adept deceiver and confident in her belief that the king was a victim of assassination, Hesina teams up with a mysterious rogue, fated to have his destiny intertwined with hers, to uncover the truth. However, when prejudice and fear put obstacles in her path to justice, Hesina must lift her kingdom out of darkness by any means necessary.
This YA political fantasy is set in a vivid world inspired by China and focuses on the difficult moral choices that rulers face in the pursuit of justice. Hesina frequently questions whether her decisions are right, and must often dabble with dangerous, deadly options for the greater good. Full of suspicious characters and lush prose, the steadier pace makes this stand out from the crowd within the YA fantasy genre. Narrated by Nancy Wu (who does some fantastic voices) this slow-burn drama is full of twists and turns that will have you wanting to go back and follow the trail of crumbs you may have missed along the way.
Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
Lucely Luna lives with her single father and the ghosts of her extended family in Florida, but her everyday life is soon disrupted when she finds herself wrapped up in a spooky adventure to save her town from evil spirits. Whoops, she probably shouldn’t have accidentally summoned them! Teaming up with her best friend Syd, Chunk the cat, and witch grandma Babette, Lucely must be brave and face her fears, dragons, and ancient grudges.
This middle grade book is an adorable delight for any age, and should easily take its place among the pantheon of cute and cozy fall reads. There is so much heart to this story; Lucely’s friendship with Syd is the sweetest thing ever, as is her relationship to her ghostly grandmother and cousins. A smart, compassionate, and action-packed tale, Almarie Guerra’s narration brings a dynamic energy to every character and tension to the more knee-knocking scenes. Perfect for little ones and bigger ones alike!
The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai
A resilient, enduring story of perseverance and the horrors of war, The Mountains Sing follows the Tran family throughout various conflicts in Vietnam, from the French occupation to the lingering ghosts of trauma that follow them into the contemporary period. The perspective shifts between Tran Dieu Lan, a steadfast grandmother who details the difficult decisions she had to make to save her family from tragedy during rising Communist unrest, and her granddaughter Huong, who comes of age during the Vietnam War.
This book is poetic and moving, with the relentless struggle and violence balanced with the lasting sense of empathy and love that the Tran family depend on for their survival. While it is harrowing, it is intimate and compelling, and shines a light on the nuances of conflict. Narrated by Quyen Ngo, this epic will immediately sweep you up into the past as well as challenge your perspective of conflict, class tension, and probably keep you up late into the night crossing your fingers for the wellbeing of the family.
Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead
Narrated by the author, the coming-of-age tale of the eponymous Jonny is a tragic and hilarious story of culture, queerness, and sex. Jonny is a Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer cyber-sexworker who, en route to the funeral of his mother’s boyfriend, reminisces on what it was like to grow up in, fall in love, and discover the layers of his identity. Whitehead’s narration is dry in tone, with a tinge of nostalgia, and the prose is simultaneously elegant and jarring.
Jonny’s narrative is funny in the same way a slightly bonkers injury might be; you understand that the trials of his life are horrifying, often dehumanising, and undoubtedly scarring, however his sardonic, crass humour softens the blow without erasing the struggles he suffers as a consequence of prejudice. As such, the story becomes a fascinating portrayal of trauma; how to live with it, how to navigate the world, and the giant, glittery middle finger you can flaunt at those who attempt to smother you in it.
Spotify has proven itself to be a great resource for helping us embrace reading in new ways; if you are looking for some music to listen to while reading a physical or ebook, we have a whole list of super playlists to get you into the zone. While you’re there, also consider checking out some of our podcasts for more bookish content, whether you’re looking for some news with Book Riot The Podcast or Get Booked for some more great recommendations!