Audiobooks for historical fiction
Historical fiction is one of the most interesting literary genres any novelist can approach. These stories often take readers through different periods of time and expose them to unique ways of life and thinking on the road to discovering a more complex truth.
Combining historical fact and fiction makes characters more relatable and believable, adding extra depth to the narrative. But no matter how masterfully arranged, written words aren’t always enough to stress the seriousness of a story. That’s why historical fiction in audiobook format is one of the best ways to experience these stories, many of which you can find on your favorite audiobook streaming services like Audible.
If you like getting book recommendations a la Goodreads or your monthly book club pick, you’ll love this list we’ve put together.
The best historical fiction audiobooks
The following audiobooks are great entry-level selections if you want a more immersive experience in the historical fiction genre, regardless of the particular backdrop. Here are the top award winners and best books to add to your must-read book list.
The Pillars of the Earth
The audiobook, narrated by John Lee and written by Ken Follett, is the first novel in the Kingsbridge series. The narrative follows multiple characters with interweaving tales revolving around constructing a medieval cathedral.
The Song of Achilles
The Song of Achilles isn’t a quick listen. This audiobook is 11 hours and 15 minutes long. Based on the novel of the same name by Madeline Miller, it is a retelling of The Illiad, adapted for modern audiences. Narrator Frazer Douglas does a fantastic job of voicing everyone from Agamemnon to Achilles.
The Animals of Lockwood Manor
Set against a World War II backdrop, Jane Healey’s story will captivate anyone in an audiobook format. It tells the tale of Hetty, a woman in charge of protecting a museum collection during the war. The mystery deepens as many artifacts begin to go missing.
The Four Winds
The Four Winds, written by Kristin Hannah author of The Nightingale, is one of the best books about a woman’s evolution. Elsa, the main character, is relatable and goes through a heartfelt story that gets even better as the narrator peels back each layer of the character.
All the Light We Cannot See
This 16-hour audiobook tells a fictional World War II tale of a young blind girl and a German orphan on his way to the Hitler Youth Academy. It’s a heartfelt story that won Anthony Doerr a Pulitzer Prize and benefits from an Audie Award-winning Zach Appelman narration. The New York Times kept the novel on its best-seller list for 200 weeks.
Cloud Cuckoo Land
Cloud Cuckoo Land is another Anthony Doerr must-read novel that takes audiences on a long journey from Constantinople, circa 600 years ago, to the present day, to generations into the future. It’s a hopeful tale of obsession, ancient books, spaceships, Mother Earth, and how children are the future. Marin Ireland and Simon Jones voice the characters.
Before We Were Yours
Inspired by a scandalous true story, Before We Were Yours is a shocking tale of wealthy families exploiting poor rural children. Lisa Wingate created a masterpiece that Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber emotionally narrate. It’s a dark topic but a riveting auditory experience for historical fiction lovers.
City of Girls
Elizabeth Gilbert, known for the famous Eat, Pray, Love, is also the author of the City of Girls. This audiobook tells a riveting story set in the New York City theater scene in the 1940s. Blair Brown reads the story and draws audiences in with dramatic narration and the character’s sense of justice.
Regarded as middle-school fiction, Echo Mountain is a 2020 book by Lauren Wolk. Set in Maine against the backdrop of the Depression, the story follows Ellie, her family, her newfound freedom and love of nature, and a quest to find “the hag.”
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
This Heather Morris novel takes listeners on an emotional roller coaster in just seven hours. Largely based on a true WWII story, the book follows a Slovakian Jewish prisoner forced to tattoo other prisoners at the infamous Nazi internment camp. Richard Armitage lends his voice to the audiobook.
Outlander book series
The first Outlander book by Diana Gabaldon hit the shelves in 1991. The ninth novel in the series came out in 2021 as historical fantasy novels began taking the world by storm. You can read these books, watch the TV series, or listen to immersive audiobooks telling the tale of a 20th-century young woman who lands in 18th-century Scotland.
The Alice Network
Another amazing historical fiction book set before and after WWII, Kate Quinn’s novel starts in 1915 and follows linguistic genius Eve Gardiner and her network of female spies. The audiobook tells a riveting and fast-paced adventure of two spies trying to untangle a web of personal mysteries.
The Giver of Stars
A story of trailblazing women by Jojo Moyes, The Giver of Stars is a masterful unabridged audiobook. It tells the tale of brave women traveling to isolated mountain communities in Kentucky in the 1930s to give people reading materials.
Speechify can read any text out loud
But Speechify offers an alternative to audiobook enthusiasts who want to listen to any text as audio. Speechify is an app using text to speech software to take digital and physical text and give it a compelling audio narration in different languages and human-sounding voices.
Control the playback speed, adjust the volume, and follow along to the narration to enjoy a more immersive reading experience with Speechify.
Who is the author of The Quiet American?
Graham Greene wrote The Quiet American, which is set in Vietnam in 1955.
What are the two different types of historical fiction?
Historical fiction stories can feature biographical historical fiction or fictionalized accounts of real people. In addition, historical fiction may touch on alternate history, romance, or historical epics that cross into multiple periods.
How can historical fiction audiobooks help us understand the historical setting?
Historical fiction often presents relatable characters and more creative outlooks on past events. These stories are more engaging and can help teach audiences about the significance of historical events, such as time periods like the early 1900s, the American Civil War, and many other historical events.