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We sometimes see comments that the Amazon Kindle Unlimited book selection isn’t great, but we strongly disagree! While you won’t find every hyped-up new release, the KU catalog still includes both beloved authors and new writers. In fact, three of our absolute favorite books are included in both ebook and audiobook formats!
In this post, we also explain the audiobook companion part of the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program and share a list of the best, highly-rated audio books on Kindle Unlimited.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, we may earn a referral fee from qualifying purchases.
Last year, we did a deep dive into how Kindle Unlimited works and whether it is worth the monthly fee. You can read answers to the most common questions about Kindle Unlimited in that post. The short answer is that we’ve both been subscribers ever since.
If you already subscribe to Kindle Unlimited and just need book recommendations, feel free to skip directly to the list of books below.
The availability of good Kindle Unlimited books with audio is a big reason that KU continues to be a good value for each of us, even though we have opposite reading habits. Angela primarily listens to audiobooks. The Kindle Unlimited audiobook titles are a perfect supplement to her Audible membership (along with her Libby & Hoopla accounts through the library). When she’s waiting for holds to come in and doesn’t have any unused credits in her Audible subscription, she still has a ton of included free audiobooks to choose from.
Melissa prefers paper and Kindle books because it takes her a long time to finish one audiobook. However, she still likes to always have one to listen to as she drives around doing errands. The “Kindle Unlimited Read and Listen” books remove the pressure of her library loan due dates passing before she’s finished. But, that isn’t even the best part!
Listening to & Reading the Same Book with KU
The Kindle Unlimited books with narration come with Whispersync technology. That means you can seamlessly switch from the audiobook to the Kindle book without losing your place.
For example, Melissa usually reads on her Kindle device or in the free Kindle reading app on her phone. With Whispersync, the Audible app on her phone is automatically set to wherever she left off in the ebook. After listening, when picking up the Kindle app again, it asks if she wants to jump forward to where the Audible narration stopped. It’s been the best way for Melissa to incorporate Audible books without taking as much time to finish each book.
How to Find Kindle Unlimited Books with Audio Included
It’s important to note that not every book in the Kindle Unlimited Library has audio included – many are only ebooks. However, all of the books on our list below currently include audio. You can browse just the Kindle Unlimited audiobook catalog, or when you’re browsing the full Kindle Unlimited catalog, click into a book listing and look for the headphones icon if you specifically want audio.
We know that it’s not always easy to find the best audio books on Kindle Unlimited while browsing.
We put together a list of highly-rated contemporary fiction and historical fiction that include both the Kindle version and the Audible Audiobook.
If you haven’t tried KU before, sign up for a free trial here. Put a note on your calendar to re-evaluate if you’ve used it before it bills the next month. Feel free to read our post of common questions about Kindle Unlimited subscriptions before starting the trial period.
Kindle Unlimited Books with Audio
Our Favorite Audio Books on Kindle Unlimited
West with Giraffes
by Lynda Rutledge
West with Giraffes is a charming tale of adventure that takes you on the ride of a lifetime from the east coast of the US to the west, alongside a rowdy 17-year-old, a grumpy older man, and two giraffes.
The year is 1938, and no American zoo has successfully housed giraffes before, but the female zoo director of San Diego Zoo believes she can do it. The giraffes have just survived a hurricane en route to the east coast, and Riley Jones, the zoo’s curmudgeonly head keeper, has been charged with safely transporting the giraffes from New York to San Diego.
America is still in the throes of the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl conditions continue to ravage the drought-stricken Southern Plains states, and a coast-to-coast trek with giant animals is no easy feat. Jones begrudgingly teams up with a starving teenager named Woody to help him make the journey.
At the age of 105, Woody recounts his cross-country trip with the Jones and the giraffes, including their run-ins with circus con artists, being tailed by a female photographer looking for a big scoop, and how his 12-day grand adventure with the giraffes shaped his life. At its heart (and this book is filled with LOTS of heart), this is a coming-of-age story.
The Book Girls Say...We both adored everything about this story, and it topped our list of favorite books of 2021. Despite the ebook and audiobook being included free as part of Kindle Unlimited, we both decided to purchase our own paper copies as well, because it's just that good!
The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
by Robert Dugoni
Born with ocular albinism, Sam Hill is a young boy whose rare red eyes cause him problems from the moment he is enrolled at Our Lady of Mercy.
Labeled "Hell Boy," he is bullied by not only his classmates but also given a hard time by the nun who is the principal at his elementary school. Eventually, Sam finds the new best friend he desperately needs in Ernie Cantwell, the only African American boy in his class, and years later in a fiercely individual girl named Mickie.
Years later, Sam is a respected ophthalmologist still moving through life with Ernie and Mickie by his side. His world is about to be upturned when he's unexpectedly reunited with the biggest school-yard bully from his past.
The Book Girls Say... We both rated this one five stars, and recommend it to everyone! Although Sam's mother's faith plays an important role in this story, we wouldn't describe this book as religious. Angela especially loved the audiobook version, which is narrated by the author himself.
by Kristin Hannah
Sisters Meredith and Nina have little in common other than their love for their dear father. They've spent most of their life feeling like they didn't really know their mother, but when their father falls ill, his final wish is for his daughters to get to know their mother better. In their younger years, Anya sometimes told the girls a Russian fairy tale and their father makes her promise that she will tell the story one last time - all the way to the end.
The story alternates between past and present as Meredith and Nina hear the fairy tale and learn the harrowing story of the mother's life five decades earlier in war-torn Leningrad, Russia. They will ultimately learn something so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.
The Book Girls Say... Like all of Kristin Hannah's novels, this book is beautifully written. It is a bit slow to start, and you may find it hard to connect with the characters at first because they aren't immediately likable, but you'll soon be pulled in as the lines between fairytale and reality begin to blur.
The Best Kindle Unlimited Historical Fiction Audio Books
The Keeper of Happy Endings
by Barbara Davis
Roussel wedding gowns have been bringing brides joy for multiple generations. Soline was raised in the family business, but during WW2, her heart is broken, and it ruins her faith in love. She’s determined to box everything up and forget her past.
Four decades later, Rory leases the Roussel property to open a gallery and finds a box of letters along with an unworn wedding dress. The items seem too precious to ignore, so Rory tracks down Soline to return the box. The two women from different generations form an unlikely friendship as they begin to see eerie parallels in their lives.
What's Left Unsaid
by Emily Bleeker
When journalist Hannah has to move from Chicago to a small town in Mississippi to care for her grandmother, she's also recovering from losses in her life. She starts working for the tiny local paper, and there she uncovers a series of letters the newspaper office received from one woman in the 1930s, but never printed.
With the encouragement of a local teacher, Hannah begins investigating the letters, and along with them, the town's long-buried secrets.
The Words We Whisper
by Mary Ellen Taylor
Zara is an experienced hospice nurse, so when her older sister asks her to help care for their ailing grandma, Nonna, she agrees despite strained family relationships. Nonna is frail, but her mind is as sharp as ever. She’s determined to find some long-lost item - a wooden chest, an emerald broach, and a leather journal - and she tasks Zara with clearing out the attic. Amid the dusty knickknacks and heirlooms, the attic cleanout unexpectedly reconnects Zara with a man from her past. When Zara finds the items her Nonna’s been searching for, she also begins learning stories of heroism and loss from WWII Italy, and she finds answers to questions she never even knew she had.
The Book Girls Say… This dual-timeline historical fiction is just one of the many highly-rated novels by mary Ellen Taylor available with Kindle Unlimited, most of which also include audio. One of her other titles, The Spring House, also made our list of Best Books to Read in Spring.
A Train to Moscow
by Elena Gorokhova
Sasha dreams of becoming an actress and moves to Moscow in hopes of attending a drama school. However, in post-WW2 Russia, everything is more complicated than it seems on the surface.
Leaving her small town defies her mother and grandparents and also means leaving behind her first love, Andrei.
However, before she leaves, she discovers her uncle Kolya's journal. He's still missing in action, but his journal outlines the lies and brutality of Stalin. His experiences reinforce her desire to live out her dreams and graduate from acting school. But her past returns when Andrei, now a Communist party member, must censor her work on stage. She begins to wonder if her dreams are worth all the sacrifices they require.
The Murmur of Bees
by Sofia Segovia
In 1918, the Mexican Revolution and Spanish Flu overlapped and presented increasing challenges to everyday life. When a family elder, Nana Reja, finds a baby covered in bees under a bridge, he is considered "kissed by the devil" by the locals. But Francisco and Beatriz Morales are willing to adopt him. As he gets older, it becomes clear that he really is different. In fact, when he closes his eyes, he can see things that no one else can - visions of the future.
The Book Girls Say...This is a tricky recommendation because Melissa started and didn't finish this much-loved book. It's vibrant with descriptions, which she found made the plot too slow for her mood, and she gave up about halfway through. However, it's beautifully written, and especially since it's free with Kindle Unlimited, it's worth checking out. If you loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, this might be a great fit for you.
The Storyteller's Secret
by Sejal Badani
This historical romance tells the story of two generations. Jaya is a journalist in present-day New York, heartbroken after a third miscarriage and its effects on her marriage.
In desperate need of a change of scenery, she sets off for India to explore her family history. As Jaya begins to learn the culture, she also learns about her grandmother’s experiences during WWII from Ravi, her grandma’s former servant and confidant. He shares stories of both struggle and love, and helps Jaya discover her own legacy and strength.
The Price of Paradise
by Susan Lopez Rubio
Old Havana comes to life in this historical fiction novel. In 1947, Patricio fled Spain with nothing more than the clothes on his back and his dreams. Once in Havana, he lands a job at El Encanto - one of the most luxurious department stores in the world that caters to Hollywood stars and other rich and famous clientele.
It is here that Patricio meets and falls in love with Gloria, the young wife of notorious mobster Cesar Valdes. Within the walls of El Encanto, it's easy for them to believe that anything is possible.
Patricio and Gloria's love affair spans over half a century, as the stories of their lives are intertwined time and time again. Each time Patricio knows that loving her could be suicide. Still, he can't help but be drawn to this beautiful woman who has a penchant for both Christian Dior clothes and Einstein's theories.
The Last Green Valley
by Mark T. Sullivan
In 1944, Ukrainians faced invaders on multiple fronts as Hilter and Stalin had both pushed into their country. The Last Green Valley tells the story of one family with a common dilemma in their region. The Martel's had a strong German heritage, but their families had been farming in Ukraine for more than a century.
Like many others, they had a choice. Do they trust that their German blood will protect them and go with the German troops despite not agreeing with the Third Reich agenda? Or stay and risk being sent to Siberian workcamps by Russia?
The Book Girls Say... While this book is historical fiction, it is heavily researched. Don't miss the author's notes at the end, which share more details on which book sections are highly accurate. Some reviewers say that this book moves slowly in parts, but also that it will help you understand a whole new facet of WWII.
Mark Sullivan's Beneath a Scarlet Sky is also available with Kindle Unlimited Audio. Like The Last Green Valley, this book is rated nearly 4.5 stars on Goodreads and also tells of a lesser-known aspect of WWII.
The World Played Chess
by Robert Dugoni
This coming-of-age story is about three different 18-year-old men growing up in 3 different time periods. William was 18 in 1967 when he went to Vietnam as a Marine. Vincent is 18 in 1979 when he meets William working on a construction crew.
The 3rd is Vincent’s son, Beau, who has had an easier life than the first two men. He was 18 in 2015 when Vincent received William’s old journal in the mail as a thank you for listening to his stories years ago. It was written while he was a Marine and facing things that no one, much less a teenager, should have to encounter. The three stories are woven together in a beautiful way that many are calling a must-read for everyone, despite the grim nature of William’s journal.
The Book Girls Say…We tried to limit this list to one book per author to highlight the variety available, but decided this book was worth mentioning separately from The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell because it’s so different. It’s also phenomenally rated, with 61% of readers on Goodreads giving it 5 stars and 90% rating it either 4 or 5. Don’t miss the author’s note after reading to learn more about Dugoni’s connection to the story.
The Lobotomist's Wife
by Samantha Greene Woodruff
Ruth’s brother took his life after WWI, and ever since then, she’s had just one goal - to help those suffering from mental illness. She falls in love with a brilliant young doctor named Robert Apter who is developing a radical new treatment - the lobotomy. At first, Ruth believes that this cutting-edge surgery will be a miracle breakthrough. But soon she sees that what began with the best intentions has now gone horribly wrong. Her husband is becoming obsessed with his own ambition and begins operating on patients recklessly, and often with horrific results.
Margaret is a young mother who can barely get out of bed in the morning. Unable to care for her infant, Dr. Apter diagnoses her with the “baby blues” and suggests a lobotomy is the only cure. Can Ruth save Margaret and many other future patients from the dire consequences of her husband’s medical “treatments”?
The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury
by Marc Levy
Alice Pendelbury's life in post-war London was comfortably settled before a carnival fortune teller tells her that she must travel to Turkey to meet six people who will lead her to secrets about her past. Her typically hostile neighbor, Mr. Daldry, encourages her to take the prophecy seriously, and even agrees to finance her trip.
This is a witty and charming story of love and friendship mixed with just enough mystery. Throughout her journey, Alice (herself a perfume seller) experiences the world through smells, and the atmospheric writing will help you feel like you're right there with her every step of the way from England to Istanbul, Turkey.
The Books Girls Say... This book is a bit slow to start, but that it's worth sticking with it for this lovely story. The book is primarily told in a 3rd person narrative, but the format changes to a series of letters late in the book, which makes this story particularly enjoyable in audiobook format.
The Best Contemporary Fiction Audio Books on Kindle Unlimited
These Tangled Vines
By Julianne MacLean
Fiona has long kept her late mother's secret - the man raising her was not her biological father. She knows her mother had an affair in Tuscany but has no idea that she was named in the will of her secret Italian father. In addition to the considerable, surprise inheritance, Fiona also learns about her two half-siblings.
When she travels to Italy, the family is as shocked about her existence as she was about the will. This leads to tricky family interactions and new rivalries as Fiona tries to learn more about her mother's summer in Italy and the father she never had a chance to meet.
The Book Girls Say…Although we haven't read this one yet, Melissa's mom read and loved it!
Impossible To Forget
by Imogen Clark
Eighteen-year-old Romany just lost her mom, Angie - the only parent she’s ever known. Her mother’s dying wish was for her four closest friends to help guide Romany through her final year of school and into adulthood. Each of these four “guardians” has a unique outlook on life. Three of them - free-spirited and nomadic Tiger, shy and practical Leon, and brilliant attorney Maggie - have known each other since university, but the fourth is a mystery to the others. Hope is a beautiful and young former model that none of the others have ever even heard of.
So why did Angie set up this unusual arrangement? Is it just about Romany, or did Angie’s plans for all of them extend even beyond her daughter? Readers say that this book will fill you with hope and make you smile, but there will also be some tears along the way.
The Night of Many Endings
by Melissa Payne
Colorado librarian Nora had a rough start to life, first orphaned and then witnessed her brother's fall into addiction. However, she's still open-hearted and still hopes to be reunited with her brother. She feeds her desire to give her brother another chance by helping others in need of someone on their side.
Marlene is elderly and has lost hope in the world, Jasmine is a troubled teen, Lewis is a homeless man with his own last wish, and Vlado is the library's book-loving security guard. When the group has to shelter in the library with Nora during a storm, they learn more about each other (and themselves) than they could have expected.
Seven Perfect Things
by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Abby is a 13-year-old girl living in a miserable home with an abusive father. Walking home from school one day, she witnesses a man dump a litter of puppies into a nearby river. She dives in to rescue them, but she knows that she can’t take them home with her. So instead, she hides them away at an abandoned cabin and promises she’ll be back to look after them.
Elliot is grieving his late wife, and he retreats to a secluded hunting cabin that he visited once years ago before his wife became ill. He never expected to find seven puppies and a teenage girl when he arrived.
As the friendship between Abby and Elliott grows, she can’t help but daydream about how much better life would be if her mom was married to Elliot instead of her father. When Abby’s dad decides to move the family hundreds of miles away, she and her mom have a big decision to make! Seven Perfect Things is described as a delightful and uplifting novel that will make you laugh and cry.
Everyone Knows You Go Home
by Natalia Sylvester
On Isabel’s wedding day in a Texas border town, she meets her father-in-law, Omar, for the first time. This is quite unexpected because Omar has passed away. He appears to her as an apparition. Omar has a special request for Isabel. He asks her to persuade his family to give him a shot at redemption for abandoning them long ago.
Each year on Day of the Dead, Omar returns, hoping that someone other than Isabel will be able to see him. But Isabel doesn’t give up and through the yearly visits, she begins to understand her husband’s childhood and grief. When they take in Martin’s nephew, there may be a new path to forgiveness in the family.
Hadley and Grace
by Suzanne Redfearn
Hadley needs to escape her physically abusive husband, Frank, to protect herself, her teenage daughter, and her special needs nephew. Grace is a new mother struggling with single-parenting while her husband is away, and Frank has just cheated her out of her commission on a business deal.
One Friday night, these two women cross paths and form an alliance that sets the stage for a road trip adventure with major Thelma and Louise vibes (minus the violence). Together, Hadley and Grace, with three children in tow, are racing to stay one step ahead of the trouble that is chasing them - trouble in the form of Frank, the FBI, and the media. This is a humorous and adventurous feel-good story about two women trying to outsmart everyone to protect their families.
All This I Will Give to You
by Dolores Redondo
When Manuel learns the devastating news that his husband, Álvaro, has been killed in a car crash, it's just the first of many things that will shock him. It turns out that Álvaro was not on business where Manuel believed him to be - instead, he was in Galicia, in the northwestern corner of Spain.
Upon arriving in Galicia, Manuel soon learns that Álvaro hid many secrets there. As he follows the trail to piece together his husband's double life, he's led behind the walls of an unwelcoming estate and deep into one of Spain's most powerful and guarded families.
This slow-paced and beautiful book is part suspense and part family drama. Dense with atmosphere, you will feel transported to Spain as the region of Galicia becomes like a character in the novel.
The Taste of Ginger
by Mansi Shah
When Preeti was 7, her family moved from their home country of India to America and hoped their children would escape the stigmas that come with India’s caste system. As she grew up, she learned to both survive and thrive in the United States. Preeti even becomes a lawyer and is on track for a partnership.
To help her odds of getting the promotion to partnership, and to avoid her mother, Preeti skips a chance to return to India for her cousin’s wedding. However, when an emergency arises, she jumps on a plane to be by her brother’s side. Preeti’s return to India brings up many emotions as she reconciles how her past fits into her current life.
When We Believed in Mermaids
by Barbara O'Neal
Kit, an ER doctor living in Santa Cruz, has missed her sister, Josie, for fifteen years. Josie was killed in a terrorist attack on a train. At least that is what Kit has always believed. But then, one day, she's watching the news when live coverage of a club fire in Auckland shows a woman who is unmistakable Josie.
Fueled by grief, loss, and anger, Kit travels to New Zealand in search of her sister, who has been living a lie. But for them to reunite in the present, they'll also have to face long-buried secrets and a shared traumatic past. This past includes complicated issues involving both sex and drugs, so steer clear if these are themes you prefer not to read about.
This is one of the more popular books in the Kindle Unlimited catalog, and we can't wait to read it ourselves!
The Apology Project
by Jeanette Escudero
Right before her 40th birthday, successful attorney Amelia Montgomery has quite a bad day at work. First, she's fired for refusing to compromise her morals in a prominent legal case. Then, upon hearing the news, one of the partners makes yet another misogynistic comment. Instead of letting it go, she very uncharacteristically punches him right in the nose.
Soon after, at her birthday party, she discovers how many people she's alienated over the years on the way to the top of her career. It's so bad that only ONE person shows up, John, a new associate from her ex-firm. After much champagne and a chat with John, Amelia decides it's time to make amends. She makes a list of those she's wronged and sets out to apologize to them one at a time, which doesn't always go so well.
The Book Girls Say…This book is a great blend of entertaining contemporary fiction and romance, where the lead female is well-rounded and interested in much more than just obsessing over a guy. Although this is a pleasant light read, it can also inspire you to reflect on friendships in your own life.
See Jane Snap
by Bethany Crandell
From the outside, 39-year-old Jane has it all. A handsome and very successful surgeon husband, an adorable daughter who attends an excellent private school. She’s the chairwoman of the PTA. But her husband has just revealed a big secret - one that he’s asking her to keep for the sake of his career. He has been leading a double life, and he’s in love with another man. See Jane lie. Jane agrees to keep up appearances, but pretending to be happy will soon become too much for her. See Jane snap! Publicly. And a bit unlawfully.
If perfect, happy ending romance books are not your thing, then immediately add this book to your TBR list. This contemporary novel is described as laugh-out-loud funny and very real. Readers particularly enjoyed the audio version of this book, and say the narrator sounds a bit like Carol Burnett. For those looking for warnings, this book does include some language, but no explicit scenes.
For avid readers and book lovers, we’ve found the availability of Audible Audiobooks to be a great deal as part of the Kindle Unlimited subscription plan! All of the titles on the list above are books with at least 4-star ratings on Goodreads. We encourage you to add these books to your TBR list or library holds even without a Kindle Unlimited subscription!
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