As someone who has spent their entire adult life driving through the nights along the freeways and interstates of Southern California, I long ago realized that I would rapidly go insane and murder everyone I came into contact with if I was left with only the Top 40 radio stations or the AM blowhards to help pass the night away. I consume multiple podcasts each week–I’m especially fond of podcasts with interesting and intriguing author interviews like This Is Horror and The Outer Dark–but I’ve also learned over the years that one of the most satisfying ways to enjoy stories and novels is through audiobooks. I have many friends who say that audio stories make them drowsy or put them to sleep. They must be reminded of childhood bedtimes. To me, though, it gives me an opportunity to be fully immersed in a story. To be in another world, no matter how dark or horrifying, instead of stuck in a box going 65 miles-per-hour over the same terrain again and again and again.
In 2016, I listened to about 60 different audiobooks–not all of them were horror, and not all of them were all that great–but these are my favorites this year (in no particular order):
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, read by Kevin R. Free
Experimental Film by Gemma Files, read by Morgan Hallett
Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand, read by Jennifer Woodward, John Telfer, Dan Morgan, Emma Fenney, Simon Victor, Kris Dyer
The Damnation Game by Clive Barker, read by Simon Vance
The Elementals by Michael McDowell, read by R.C. Bray
The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley, read by Richard Burnip
Stranded by Bracken MacLeod, read by PJ Ochlan
The Drowning Girl by Caítlin R. Kiernan, read by Suzy Jackson
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay, read by Erin Bennett
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, read by Khristine Hvam, Peter Ganim, Jay Snyder, Joshua Boone, Dani Cervone, Jenna Hellmuth
Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco, read by R.C. Bray
The Glittering World by Robert Levy, read by Edoardo Ballerini
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones, read by Chris Patton, Jonathan Yen
Bird Box by Josh Malerman, read by Cassandra Campbell
Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy-Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer, read by Carolyn McCormick, Bronson Pinchot, Xe Sands
Short Story Collections and Anthologies
I’m a sucker for short stories, too. I will always recommend the audiobook short story collections of Stephen King, or The Best Horror of the Year annual anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow (I can’t wait until they’re all on audio), but these are the others I heard and enjoyed in 2016.
The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver Screen, edited by Ellen Datlow, read by Fleet Cooper
Cold Hand in Mine, Robert Aickman, read by Reece Shearsmith
Nightmare Carnival, edited by Ellen Datlow, read by Jed Drummond
Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle, read by George Takei, Edward Herrmann, Kate Mulgrew, F. Murray Abraham, Neil Gaiman, Peter Appel, James Urbaniak
The Nameless Dark by T.E. Grau, read by Armen Taylor
The Doll Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow, read by Bernadette Dunne
The Big Book of Cthulhu: Tales Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, edited by Ross E. Lockhart, read by Teresa DeBerry, Fleet Cooper
The Big Book of Cthulhu II: More Tales Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, edited by Ross E. Lockhart, read by Teresa DeBerry, Fleet Cooper
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman
Salsa Nocturna: Stories by Daniel José Older, read by Daniel José Older
These are great for commuters, but audiobooks also work for graphic artists, hobbyists, and anyone stuck at home vacuuming floors and doing the dishes. If you’ve got a reading goal for 2017, why not multitask and enjoy some great horror fiction while your hands are busy? I know I do.
Did you have a favorite audiobook in 2016? Let us know in the comments below.