20 Best Science Audiobooks to Channel Your Inner Einstein

20 Best Science Audiobooks to Channel Your Inner Einstein

While you might listen to audiobooks to be entertained, there are also a host of works intended to be purely educational. We chose the listens on this list for the fact that they are both. These selections not only bring important perspectives on some of the most pressing scientific issues and breakthroughs of our time — they’re also written and performed with a refreshing clarity that makes them easy to swallow and entertaining to the end. From astrophysics to the human body, here are the 20 best science audiobooks in the Audible collection.
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    • A Guide for Occupants
    • By: Bill Bryson
    • Narrated by: Bill Bryson
    • Length: 14 hrs and 47 mins
    • Release date: 03-10-2019
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 626 ratings
    • Bill Bryson carries out surprising investigations of what might otherwise be considered conventional topics. In The Body, he turns his innovative thinking style on human anatomy, guiding you through your own body in ways you never experienced in the science classes of your childhood. Bryson approaches the human body from all angles, discussing little-known facts (if you laid your own DNA end to end it would stretch beyond the orbit of Pluto), seemingly superhuman occurrences (as in the case of a flight attendant who survived a 10,000-metre fall), and the distinct and devastating ways that society is harmful to the bodies of many. Clever writing accompanied by the author’s witty delivery make this a genuinely delightful learning experience.

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    • A Brief History of Tomorrow
    • By: Yuval Noah Harari
    • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
    • Series: Sapiens
    • Length: 14 hrs and 53 mins
    • Release date: 08-09-2016
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 3,992 ratings
    • While the title of this selection may seem a bit confusing, thanks to the work of master narrator Derek Perkins, the audiobook itself is the opposite. In clear, captivating language, Yuval Noah Harari dissects the crises that humans have encountered and overcome throughout history and uses what he uncovers to predict the problems that are most likely to plague us in the future. It’s the type of disruptive thinking that takes a real genius to come up with, let alone to get it all down in language the listener can understand. But with Harari’s exacting articulation and Perkins’s clear narrative style, Homo Deus distils a vast quantity of information into a wonderfully straightforward portrait of human progress.

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    • By: Neil deGrasse Tyson
    • Narrated by: Neil deGrasse Tyson
    • Length: 3 hrs and 41 mins
    • Release date: 02-05-2017
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,724 ratings
    • In Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson translates his vast knowledge of the cosmos for those of us who may not have a PhD. As both a trained astrophysicist and an entertainer, Tyson is perfectly positioned to offer this surprisingly succinct collection of explanations about everything from the Big Bang to black holes and beyond. The audiobook’s scope varies in a way that keeps it engaging and unexpected throughout. At times, Tyson focuses on explaining the tangible, technical concepts of astrophysics to the listener in accessible terms, while at other moments his narration zooms out drastically to discuss big-picture questions of existence and meaning in the universe. Best digested in multiple sittings, this is a great listen for standing in line, waiting for the bus, or working out — in other words, for those who are, quite literally, 'in a hurry.'

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    • By: Giulia Enders
    • Narrated by: Katy Sobey
    • Length: 7 hrs and 26 mins
    • Release date: 24-06-2015
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 3,026 ratings
    • Few people really understand how influential the gut is on the health of the human body. In Gut, Giulia Enders lays out matter-of-factly how that influence manifests itself, from obvious connections like obesity and heart health to less automatically evident relationships like those between gut health and suicide. Performed with invigorating energy by Katy Sobey, Gut delves thoroughly into the science of the digestive system without veering, as many works on the topic do, into pseudoscience or preachiness. Instead, Sobey does an excellent job of communicating Enders’ refreshing sense of humour that keeps this entry as entertaining as it is informative right through to the end.

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    • By: Michael Pollan
    • Narrated by: Michael Pollan
    • Length: 13 hrs and 35 mins
    • Release date: 17-05-2018
    • Language: English
    • 5 out of 5 stars 1,330 ratings
    • For those who have attempted to influence the way they think or behave and have failed, How to Change Your Mind is an exploration of the progress scientists have made using psychedelics to help heal, rebuild, and retrain the human mind. That the author also narrates this audiobook is especially important, since it weaves neurological research and the history of psychedelics with Pollan’s own personal experimentation with such drugs. Though he’s not actively tripping while he narrates, Pollan’s descriptions of his experiences in the 'Travelogue' portion of the audiobook are exponentially more powerful when told in his own voice. This is not just a fascinating listen, but a hopeful one. You do not need to personally struggle with cognition to feel optimistic about how much pain could be alleviated and how many lives could be transformed by a breakthrough ability to heal.

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    • By: Stephen Hawking, Professor Kip Thorne - foreword
    • Narrated by: Ben Whishaw, Garrick Hagon - foreword, Lucy Hawking - afterword
    • Length: 4 hrs and 52 mins
    • Release date: 16-10-2018
    • Language: English
    • 5 out of 5 stars 744 ratings
    • Stephen Hawking is a man who needs no introduction. In this brilliant posthumous work, the world-famous cosmologist and best-selling author of A Brief History of Time leaves us with his final thoughts on the universe's biggest questions. How did we all get here? Will AI ever rise up over humans? Is there life beyond Earth? We won’t reveal any spoilers here...you’ll have to listen to find out. Narrated perfectly by Ben Winshaw and Garrick Hagon, with an afterword read by Lucy Hawking, Brief Answers to the Big Questions provides Hawkings’ personal views on our biggest challenges as a race, and the planet is heading next.

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    • What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know
    • By: Malcolm Gladwell
    • Narrated by: Malcolm Gladwell
    • Length: 8 hrs and 42 mins
    • Release date: 10-09-2019
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 3,121 ratings
    • Talking to Strangers is one of Malcolm Gladwell’s characteristic deep dives into a facet of human psychology — this time, targeted at the reasons that humans misunderstand each other. From small interpersonal mix-ups to major mischaracterisations, Gladwell’s central thesis is that we do not fundamentally know how to talk to strangers. This audiobook offers listeners a front-row seat as he attempts to learn what’s wrong with our interpersonal relationships. He not only narrates, but also includes interviews with other scientists and audio clips from real-life infamous events, like the roadside arrest of Sandra Bland, and reenactments of famous court transcripts. With Gladwell in your ear, you’ll be able to follow along as he analyses these materials and pairs them with his own research to try to understand where humans fail to connect.

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    • Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
    • By: Randall Munroe
    • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
    • Length: 6 hrs and 35 mins
    • Release date: 04-09-2014
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 227 ratings
    • If the gravity of the cosmos is more than you’re bargaining for, What If? by Randall Munroe may be just your speed. This listen offers up rigorously researched answers to some of the most ridiculous questions possible, like, 'How many printers would it take to print the entirety of Wikipedia at a rate that keeps up with edits made to the online version?' and 'What would happen if you made a periodic table out of physical cubes of each element?'. Though Munroe is often recognised for his work as a cartoonist for the webcomic xkcd, this audiobook doesn’t lose anything in its sacrifice of visual content — in fact, it gains the superbly nerdy narration of Star Trek actor and science enthusiast Wil Wheaton. This is an unabashedly gleeful celebration of everything that makes science fun.

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    • By: Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated by: Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
    • Length: 16 hrs and 12 mins
    • Release date: 29-03-2011
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 451 ratings
    • Originally published in 1976, Dawkins’s first work launched his impressive career in evolutionary biology and presents just as much food for thought today as it did decades ago. The title refers to Dawkins’ argument that genes, though not themselves sentient, can be described as though they were 'selfish,' or driven by behaviour that is intrinsically self-preserving. From this central thesis, Dawkins proceeds to unfold a comprehensive set of theories explaining the behaviours of humans, animals, insects, and all other manner of living things, which is rooted in science but has influenced many people’s beliefs about spirituality, religion, philosophy, and the meaning of life itself. Told in a dynamic, dual narrative style featuring Dawkins himself and Doctor Who’s Lalla Ward, The Selfish Gene is a fascinating listen you won’t want to miss.

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    • A Personal Voyage
    • By: Carl Sagan
    • Narrated by: LeVar Burton, Seth MacFarlane, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan
    • Length: 14 hrs and 31 mins
    • Release date: 30-05-2017
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 573 ratings
    • When it was originally published in 1980, the 13 illustrated chapters of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos informed 13 episodes of a TV series of the same name. The first episode opened with a dramatic wide-angle shot of Sagan on a seaside cliff, uttering the words: 'The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.' The modern audiobook of Cosmos is no less grand — in fact, this edition is arguably grander, thanks to the brilliant quadruple-threat narrative cast of LeVar Burton, Seth MacFarlane, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Sagan’s collaborator, Ann Druyan. All four performers exhibit a dedication to capturing Sagan’s careful balance of the theatrical against the technical as they lay out his explanations of the universe’s most complicated concepts in clear, well-defined prose.

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    • By: Daniel Kahneman
    • Narrated by: Patrick Egan
    • Length: 20 hrs and 4 mins
    • Release date: 23-12-2011
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,291 ratings
    • In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman manages to pin down abstract thought science and organise it in a miraculously simple way, without sacrificing what makes it fascinating. Kahneman explains that we think using two systems: fast thinking (to make split decisions, to pull our hand away from something hot, etc.) and slow thinking (to pull context from memory, deliberate, and to consciously choose). The catch? We have no control over which system we use at any given time. The best we can do is hope to understand them and, in doing so, gain some insight into why we believe what we believe, behave how we behave, and what we can do if we want to change. Narrated by Patrick Egan in a performance that listeners called 'excellent... with the right amount of authority and credibility,' this is a masterwork of astronomical scope that will fundamentally change the way a listener thinks, whether they realise it or not.

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    • The New Science of Sleep and Dreams
    • By: Matthew Walker
    • Narrated by: John Sackville
    • Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
    • Release date: 07-12-2017
    • Language: English
    • 5 out of 5 stars 2,921 ratings
    • The majority of what we now know about sleep has been discovered in just the past 20 years. Before that, scientists could not even figure out why humans needed to sleep — much less why we dream, how sleep affects other bodily processes, or why a lack of sleep could be so devastating. Author Matthew Walker brings his expertise as the director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab to this comprehensive profile of sleep science, answering question after question that plagued sleep researchers for years with hard-won explanations. In the soothing voice of narrator John Sackville, Why We Sleep combs through years of research on how sleep impacts everything, from bodily health to memory and learning to preventing disease and beyond. Whether or not you’re personally in need of a sleep solution, this is a winning choice for anyone who delights in the triumph of scientific persistence.

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    • What They Feel, How They Communicate - Discoveries From a Secret World
    • By: Peter Wohlleben
    • Narrated by: Mike Grady
    • Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
    • Release date: 13-09-2016
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 2,604 ratings
    • Are trees social beings? According to forester and author Peter Wohlleben, absolutely. In fact, tree parents live together with their children, share nutrients with them, and communicate with them as they grow. In his international bestseller, Wohlleben shares the groundbreaking science behind the fascinating, yet largely unknown, life of trees. Through Mike Grady’s captivating and rich narration, The Hidden Life of Trees brings Wohlleben’s deep love of woods to life and causes us to rethink what we knew about the plants around us. Through uncovering the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration, this title takes listeners on a journey through the woodland. After this listen, a walk in the park will never be the same again.

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    • By: Professor Brian Cox, Andrew Cohen
    • Narrated by: Samuel West
    • Length: 7 hrs and 15 mins
    • Release date: 09-03-2017
    • Language: English
    • 5 out of 5 stars 191 ratings
    • Written by Professor Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen to accompany the BBC One TV series of the same name, Forces of Nature transports listeners to the world’s most majestic and marvellous locations. From the great plains of the Serengeti, the volcanoes of Indonesia and the precipitous cliffs in Nepal, to the humpback whales of the Caribbean and the northern lights of the Arctic, Forces of Nature helps us see the everyday world differently: the colours, structure, behaviour and history of the Earth. Narrated beautifully by English actor Samuel West, this audiobook illuminates our understanding of the planet we call home.

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    • Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To
    • By: Dr David A. Sinclair, Matthew D. LaPlante
    • Narrated by: Dr David A. Sinclair
    • Length: 11 hrs and 55 mins
    • Release date: 10-09-2019
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 2,442 ratings
    • Everyone eventually grows old... or do we? According to Dr David Sinclair, one of the world’s foremost authorities on genetics, ageing is a disease. It all boils down to genetics. Drawing on Dr Sinclair’s cutting-edge findings at the forefront of medical research, Lifespan provides a scientifically proven roadmap to help us reverse the genetic clock and activate our vitality genes. With these findings, argues Dr Sinclair, we might be able to live healthier and disease-free well into our hundreds. In this captivating audiobook narrated by the author himself, Dr Sinclair shares his cutting-edge ideas — outlining a bold new theory that might transform the way we understand ageing.

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    • Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End
    • By: Atul Gawande
    • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
    • Length: 9 hrs and 3 mins
    • Release date: 07-02-2019
    • Language: English
    • 5 out of 5 stars 193 ratings
    • Practising surgeons like author Atul Gawande are authorities on more than just the intricacies of the human body. They are also perhaps the type of person most intimately familiar with death and the conditions that surround it: the factors that result in it, patients’ quality of life leading up to it, and how to evade it when possible. In Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Gawande tackles the seemingly impossible questions that come along with that unique authority, like whether it’s ethical to extend a life if it means extending suffering. Performer Robert Petkoff narrates Gawande’s discussion of these sensitive subjects with care, interweaving research with true storytelling and innovative prescriptions for a medical future that prioritises care of the whole person over the simple commitment to survival at any cost.

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    • By: Chris Hadfield
    • Narrated by: Chris Hadfield
    • Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
    • Release date: 29-10-2013
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 584 ratings
    • In An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, NASA Astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. Packed with eye-opening, entertaining stories from the space deck and life on Earth, Hadfield recounts the adrenaline of launch and spacewalks, and the measured calm mandated by crises. Despite his stories originating from the far reaches of space, there’s a universal lesson to be discovered: that conventional wisdom often can, and does, get in the way of achievement. Brought to life in a riveting narration delivered by the astronaut himself, this incredible listen is a must for anyone looking to reach for the stars.

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    • Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch
    • By: Carlo Rovelli
    • Narrated by: Benedict Cumberbatch
    • Length: 4 hrs and 18 mins
    • Release date: 26-04-2018
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 207 ratings
    • What is time? Does time exist? What if everything we think we know about time isn’t reality? In this ear-opening audiobook, you’ll get all the answers to these questions — and likely have a thousand more pop up along the way. Carlo Rovelli, the best-selling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, takes listeners on an enchanting journey to discover the meaning of the past, the future, and everything in between. Bringing together science, philosophy and art, this title invites audiences to imagine a world where time is in us and we are not in time. Academy Award-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s enthralling narration is the perfect partner for this poetic and thought-provoking meditation on one of life’s biggest mysteries.

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    • Ten Reasons We're Wrong About The World - And Why Things Are Better Than You Think
    • By: Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund
    • Narrated by: Simon Slater
    • Length: 7 hrs and 59 mins
    • Release date: 03-04-2018
    • Language: English
    • 5 out of 5 stars 1,127 ratings
    • In Factfulness, Professor of International Health, Hans Rosling offers a radical new explanation of why we consistently get things wrong — and reveals the ten instincts that distort our perspective. Expertly weaving together findings from his research, as well as those from his two long-time collaborators Anna and Ola, Factfulness brilliantly shows that the world is in a much better state than we might think. Narrated by English actor Simon Slater, listeners will discover that when we worry about everything, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most. If you’re on the hunt for a feel-good science audiobook, Factfulness delivers in spades.

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    • By: Oliver Sacks
    • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis, Oliver Sacks
    • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
    • Release date: 12-07-2018
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 173 ratings
    • Over the course of medical history, cases of extreme neurological disorders with shocking, strange symptoms had often been derided as instances of pure madness. But in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales, neurologist Oliver Sacks lends a compassionate authority to these patients on the margins, explaining how people can forget who they are, lose their ability to recognise objects, develop a savant skill, and more. In an unusual move, Sacks states in his narrated introduction that most of the science in the audiobook is by now out of date. However, he explains — and we agree — that it’s still relevant for its radically destigmatised approach to the unfamiliar. When coupled with the steady, warm performance of Jonathan Davis, the result is a revealing look at the human brain, while encouraging an empathetic brand of scientific curiosity that would do the world good to adopt.

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Audiobook lists are hand-picked by Audible editors; inclusion is based on a number of factors including
listener ratings, narrator performances, presence on Audible best seller lists and cultural relevance.


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