20 Must-Read New Full-Cast Audiobooks
In the past few years there have been so many amazing new full-cast audiobooks released that it’s hard to keep up. If you’re an audiobook fan, full-cast audiobooks are like treating yourself to a Broadway show: when they’re done well, they are absolutely unforgettable. A cast of talented voice actors can bring books to life in truly remarkable ways.
Below are some of the best new full-cast audiobooks that have come out in the past few years. I’ve included audiobooks with four or more narrators, but many of these books have upwards of ten narrators, and some also utilize special sound effects. You’ll find plenty of fabulous novels on this list, but I’ve also included some nonfiction. Some of the most exciting new full-cast audiobooks I’ve listened to in the past few months have been essay collections and anthologies, in which a cast of diverse narrators captures the range of voices and experiences of the contributing authors.
Ready? Here are 20 must-read new full-cast audiobooks for your listening pleasure.
Must-Read Nonfiction Audiobooks
How We Fight White Supremacy Edited by Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin, read by Jeanette Illidge, Vallea Woodbury and a full cast
In this collection of essays and poetry, a diverse array of Black people—writers, artists, parents, faith leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, teachers, students, activists, and more—speak about the ways they fight white supremacy in their lives and in the world. Though the subject matter is often grim, the overall collection is a joyful celebration of Black lives, and the many talented readers add to the feeling of community resilience and power that runs through the whole book.
The Stonewall Reader edited by The New York Public Library, read by a full cast
This collection of essays, interviews, and excerpts from longer works highlights the history of queer activism before, during, and after Stonewall. It covers a diverse range of perspectives, but focuses primarily on activism in New York and other major American cities. The audiobook is especially wonderful—in addition to a talented cast of readers, it features recordings of interviews with Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson.
American Like Me Edited by America Ferrera, read by a full cast
This collection of essays about living between cultures makes a fantastic audiobook—hearing so many different voices really adds to the overall experience of the book. Actors, perfumers, comedians, and writers share their experiences growing up, living, and working in America as immigrants or the children or immigrants. The essays are by turns funny and serious, and the book as a whole paints a complicated and engrossing portrait of contemporary American immigrant experiences. The readers are a combination of voice actors and the authors themselves, and in both cases, the narration is fantastic.
The Good Immigrant Edited by Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman, read by a full cast
Are you sensing a theme? Essay anthologies make fantastic audiobooks! This is another stellar essay collection featuring writing by first and second generation immigrants. Every essay in this collection is beautiful. From various angles and perspectives, the writers thoughtfully explore home and identity, and what it means to live among different cultures, languages, and histories in America today. The many narrators to justice to the powerful writing in this collection, bringing each essay singularly to life.
Not That Bad Edited by Roxane Gay, read by a full cast
This is a hard book to listen to, but if you can prepare yourself for it, hearing these survivor stories out loud is incredibly powerful. The essays deal with rape, sexual assault, harassment, and the many horrifying ways (both big and small) that the sexism and misogyny so deeply embedded in our culture leads to violence toward women and nonbinary/gender-nonconforming people. The readers of this audiobook are as diverse as the authors of the essays, and the result is a painful—but crucial—listen.
Must-Read Adult Fiction Audiobooks
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, read by Jacqueline Woodson, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Peter Francis James, Bahni Turpin, and Shayna Small
This is a short book that makes for a powerful one-sitting listen. The book begins at the coming-of-age celebration of a 16-year-old girl at her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Traveling back and forth through time, it weaves in and out of the POVs of three generations of one family, telling a story about parents and children and the choices they make, about trauma and history and their bearing on the present. Every narrator is absolutely brilliant; it’s almost impossible to stop listening.
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray, read by January LaVoy, Dominic Hoffman, Bahini Turpin, and Adrenrele Ojo
Though only four narrators read this book, each one of them gives such a powerful, memorable performance that it almost feels like there are more. When Althea and Proctor, a respected and well-loved couple active in their community, are arrested for fraud, Althea’s two sisters step up to help take care of their teenage daughters. This is a character-driven novel about the messy complexities of family relationships, and all those relationships come alive thanks to the talented voice actors who perform the audiobook.
A People’s Future of the United States Edited by Victor LaValle, read by a full cast
This is a collective of speculative fiction short stories written by authors from marginalized communities, including authors of color, women, and queer and trans authors. The stories imagine a creative range of futures, from the chilling to the hopeful, and many of them explore themes of justice and injustice, oppression and resistance. A truly amazing array of narrators read these stories, and their various styles, tones, and character voices make listening to this book an immersive experience.
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, read by Jennifer Beals and a full cast
This is one of those books feels like it was made to be read aloud. It’s the story of a fictional rock band, told through interviews, letters, journals, etc. The full cast is absolutely incredible. Every narrator nails their particular character (Jennifer Beals as Daisy Jones, the lead singer at the heart of the story, is especially brilliant), but together, all the voices add up to something truly special. The book comes alive in a way that is hard to describe. The end result is that after you listen to this book you’re going to have a lot of trouble convincing yourself this band is not real.
Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn, read by Jolene Kim, Kaleo Griffith, G. K. Bowen, and Tui Asau
It’s always a delight when you pick up an audiobook read by narrators you’ve never heard of and discover that every one of them is absolutely brilliant. I honestly can’t gush enough about this audiobook! The novel tells the story of a Native Hawaiian family struggling to survive amidst economic collapse. When young Nainoa is rescued by sharks after falling over the edge of a boat, he develops healing powers, altering the course of the family’s life. Told in multiple POVs, the story unfolds over the course of a decade. The characters are spectacular, and the four narrators bring them beautifully to life—I’m still thinking about the characters and their voices weeks later. There’s also a lot of Hawaiian vernacular and slang in the book, and hearing it out loud adds to the feeling of total immersion.
Must-Read Middle Grade & Children’s Fiction Audiobooks
Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds, read by a full cast
I actually picked up this novel because of the all-star cast of narrators: any book that features Bahni Turpin, January LaVoy, JD Jackson and Kevin R. Free is an automatic “YES PLEASE!” for me. The book is a collection of interconnected stories about ten middle schoolers who all walk home from school on the same street. It explores friendship, crushes, first love, family, anxiety, and more.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, read by Meryl Streep and a full cast
It’s been decades since I read Charlotte’s Web, but I needed something comforting, so I decided to pick up this new audio production. Friends, this book is a dream. The full cast is absolutely charming; every voice is perfect. The many talented narrators capture all of the whimsy and joy of this timeless novel, and sound effects transport you to the farm and barnyard. The whole thing is perfect.
Maximillian Fly by Angie Sage, read by Sean Welsh Brown, Jennifer Nittoso, Fred Berman, Josh Hurley, and Tavia Gilbert
In this dystopian adventure, a human with the features of a cockroach finds his quiet life turned upside-down when he helps two human kids escape an oppressive government. A full cast brings the many characters in this intriguing story to life, and music adds depth to the whole production, creating an engrossing atmosphere for the dystopian world.
To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan, read by Imani Parks, Cassandra Morris, and a full cast
This utterly charming novel, told in letters and emails, tells the story of two girls who are forced to become friends when their dads start dating. At first, they are very unhappy about this, and hatch a plan to sabotage their dads’ relationship. But after a summer at camp together, they discover they like each other more than they thought. Imani Parks and Cassandra Morris give stellar performances as Avery and Bett, and they’re joined by a full cast voicing their parents, family members, teachers, and friends. The whole book is a cheerful, optimistic ode to queer family, and it translates beautifully to audio.
Puss in Boots by Khristine Hvam, Neil Fishman, and Harvey Edelman, read by jim Dale and a full cast
In this enchanting production, led by Jim Dale, a cast of narrators and voice actors reimagines this classic story, enlivening it with musical numbers and unique voices for every character. If you enjoy folktales and Broadway musicals, you will love this hilarious, heartwarming, and creative audio experience.
Must-Read YA Fiction Audiobooks
Fresh Ink edited by Lamar Giles, read by a full cast
In this collection of new stories by 13 diverse YA authors, teenagers experience everything from falling in love to racism on college campuses. Some of the stories are fluffy and fun, and others deal with the serious issues teens of color face today, including sexism, racism, and homophobia. The narrators are all exceptional, and reflect the wide range of identities and experiences that these stories embody.
Color Outside the Lines Edited by Sangu Mandanna, read by a full cast
This is another short story anthology that makes for a brilliant audio production. This one focuses on interracial and LGBTQ+ relationships, though in a mix of genres—historical fiction, science fiction, contemporary, and fantasy. The many narrators read the stories with a lot of care and thoughtfulness; even if you’re not typically a short story person, it’s hard not to be pulled in by these emotional performances.
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper, read by Michael Crouch and a full cast
This sci-fi tinged queer love story is about Cal Lewis, a Brooklyn teenager and aspiring journalist whose life is uprooted when he moves to Texas, where his dad has a new job as an astronaut on one of NASA’s new Mars missions. Michael Crouch carries the performance here, brilliantly capturing all of Cal’s ups and downs, but additional narrators add depth and interest the story. From the host of the reality show “Shooting Stars” that follows the astronauts and their families, to the show’s many guests, the full cast makes this near-future world feel absolutely plausible.
Slay by Brittney Morris, read by Kiersey Clemons, Michael Boatman, Alexandra Grey, Dominic Hoffman, and Sisi Aisha Johnson
In this gripping novel, Kiersey Clemons is on fire as Kiera, a Black teenager who built, designed, and runs a multiplayer online role-playing card game that celebrates Black culture and history. When someone in real life is killed because of something that happened in the game, Kiera’s world gets very complicated very fast. Additional narrators voice various people around the world who play the game, from a college student in Paris to a middle-aged international businessman.
Sadie by Courtney Summers, read by Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner, Gabra Zackman, and a full cast
This powerful YA mystery about a girl who sets out to discover who murdered her younger sister feels like it was made for audio. It’s set up partly as a Serial-like podcast. Rebecca Soler shines as Sadie, and Dan Bittner brings a lot of emotion to his performance as the podcast’s host and producer. A cast of supporting narrators voice the citizens of Sadie’s small town, as well as the people she meets on her road trip in search of her sister’s killer.
Looking for more full-cast audiobooks? Casey made a great list of some of the very best. You’ll also want to check out this list of graphic novels and memoirs that are also outstanding audiobooks—all full-cast, and all incredible! And if it’s new audiobooks you’re craving, why not check out this list of LGBTQ+ YA audiobooks to read this spring?