Best Audiobooks

Instead of just choosing my favorites of the books I’ve happened to listen to on audio, I decided to list books that I think work particularly well in that format.

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer, narrated by Nathaniel Parker—This is a really fun fantasy series about a twelve-year-old millionaire villain who kidnaps a fairy police officer for ransom. I tried to read a print copy at some point, but it somehow felt more childish that way than it does in the audio.

Bossypants, written and narrated by Tina Fey—If a comedian writes a memoir, I say always listen to the audio when you can. Performing their own material is kind of their thing.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz, narrated by Jonathan Davis—In this case, I sometimes wished for the print version because I would’ve looked up all the Spanish phrases I don’t know, and I couldn’t do that while driving. But also . . . I would have spent forever looking up Spanish phrases, and I liked just hearing them blend in in a Spanish-speaker’s voice.

Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent, narrated by Morven Christie—There are a lot of Icelandic names in this book, and me butchering them in my own head would have detracted from the gorgeous atmosphere Kent has created. This was one of my favorite books of 2014, when I read it, and I still think of it often.

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, narrated by Tim Jerome—I don’t think they could have found a more perfect narrator to portray the protagonist and narrator of this book. There are so many (especially at the beginning) thoughtful, beautiful life philosophies and I just loved hearing them expressed in his voice.

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale—Somehow, I still have never listened to the version narrated by Stephen Fry, and I know it can only be incredible. But even though it’s Stephen Fry, I have to admit I can’t imagine it surpassing Jim Dale’s narration, which feels like the definitive version to me.

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, also narrated by Jim Dale—I was hooked from the little musical bit at the beginning of this book; it sets the perfect tone, and then of course Jim Dale’s narration is exactly what you want for a book about magic in nineteenth-century England.

Thud!, and everything else by Terry Pratchett, narrated (mostly) by Stephen Briggs—These books are so funny, and the narration is a huge part of the experience. I’ve read several of Pratchett’s books now, none of them in print. I don’t even know what it would be like to read one that way, because the audio versions are always so brilliant.

Twelve Angry Men, by Reginald Rose, performed by an outstanding cast including Hector Elizondo, Richard Kind, and Dan Castellaneta—For a play that takes place all in one room, this sort of audio recording works especially well.

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, narrated by Bernadette Dunne—I think memoirs in general lend themselves well to the audio format, and this is one of my favorites. I’ve listened to it twice now, and though I still want to read the print version, I wonder if I’ll ever actually choose that over listening, because I enjoy it so much.

There’s one thing I particularly like about audiobooks, and it’s the fact that, unlike almost any other category of books, I can be pretty sure I remember every one I’ve listened to. I’ve probably read at least two or three books a week, on average, for my entire life, but I didn’t start keeping track of them until I joined Goodreads in 2010, so I have a very frustrating sense that I’ve forgotten more books than I remember. I never liked audiobooks growing up, though, so I didn’t listen to them at all until my mid-twenties, when I was already using Goodreads. I have some fairly obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and knowing I have a complete record of this is incredibly satisfying to me.

Check out Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish.

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8 thoughts on “Best Audiobooks

    1. And I’ve thought the reverse, that I would like to read it in print sometime. I picture things differently when I can see the words, so I’d love to try it both ways.

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    1. I’m just seeing now that I missed this! Sorry! I didn’t know there were footnotes, which means they’re either incorporated seamlessly or left out altogether – I would guess the first. I suppose if you were listening to someone read aloud, you wouldn’t be able to tell when they read a footnote because it would just blend in.

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  1. I’m not making my way through the Harry Potter audiobooks and am enjoying it. I can only listen to audiobooks of stories I know well. I don’t do well when listening to new things.

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