Best Audio Books

(Janelle Ludowise) #1

Hi everyone! Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of commuting, and what’s better to do on a long drive than listen to an audio book, right?

So my question for you all is, what are the best audio books you’ve listened to? I find that I need something that isn’t too slow paced, or I can get distracted and zone out, and it’s difficult to go back on audio books without repeating the whole track. On the flip-side, I don’t like listening to thrillers or anything too stressful while I’m navigating through rush hour traffic. Rush hour is already stressful enough!

So, got any suggestions?

(Riffle Children's) #2

Harry Potter audio books have been pretty much my best friends since I was 8. it's actually how I was introduced to the series! They're the staple car trip companion in my house. The American ones are narrated by Jim Dale, who played the villain in Pete's Dragon and the narrator in Pushing Daisies. He does a great job with all the voices and comedic bits of the books, and he's definitely been awarded for his work on this series. Even if you've read the books a hundred times, the audio book is definitely worth it! Sorcerer's Stone, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Deathly Hallows in particular are engaging for trips.

I also love Neil Gaiman's Stardust, which is read by its author. It's not an action packed book, but it is adventurous, witty, humorous, and sweet in places. It's an adult fairytale, basically, and very well-told by its author, who has all the right inflections. I've heard Gaiman's Anansi Boys audio book is good too -- the author himself I think recommended it -- but it isn't read by him.

If you're familiar with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a lot of fun, especially since they got the original actress to do it.

But whatever you do, DO NOT LISTEN TO MOBY DICK. DON'T. It starts out okay, but then when it gets into all the details of whaling and whale blubber...

(Janelle Ludowise) #3

Thanks for the suggestions @Kate_Orgera1! I love LBD! I haven't yet read The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet so listening to it sounds like it'll be a lot of fun!

(Riffle Children's) #4

@Janelle_Ludowise Oh, it is! It makes you feel like you're watching the videos again, listening to her read. And of course Ashley Clements does great impressions of the whole cast, plus never-before-seen characters!

(Wendy Barker) #5

Anansi Boys is terrific. It is set in the West Indies and the reader does the accents wonderfully.

(Wendy Barker) #6

If you like fantasy type books I really recommend listening to Naomi Novik's books set during the Napoleonic Wars with dragons. The first one is His Majesty's Dragon. The narrator is Simon Vance and, really, if you pick anything he narrates you will enjoy it.

I also recommend listening to Dickens. His novels were meant to be read aloud I think.

(Janelle Ludowise) #7

Ooh, thanks for the suggestions @Wendy_Barker! I haven't heard of Naomi Novik, but that sounds interesting! I'll have to see if my library has it! smile

I also like your suggestion of Dickens. I actually haven't read anything by Dickens (which is ridiculous that I haven't done that yet,) so it seems like a good way to do it!

(Riffle Children's) #8

@Janelle_Ludowise There's definitely a version of A Christmas Carol narrated by Jim Dale, so yes, that is a good suggestion! @Wendy_Barker

(Kate Minckler) #9

@Wendy_Barker @Janelle_Ludowise - Dickens is such a great idea! I've never thought to seek out an audio book but that really does seem like the perfect medium for his books! See if you can find David Copperfield - there's so much great humour in that which I think would come across really well in an audio book. ALSO, on a side note, there's an amazing BBC costume drama of David Copperfield that I really really recommend - it's got a pre-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliff in it, and Dame Maggie Smith is hilarious as Betsey Trotwood:

Also, I got hold of a free audio version of Huckleberry Finn once - I wish I could remember what version it was - but it really brought the story alive because it relies so much on the dialects of the characters, and the reader did a brilliant job. So that would be fun to seek out. I think the classics, generally, do well as audio books because a reader's accent can really help you enter a historical time and place.

(Kate Minckler) #10

I also bet @Riffle_Horror would have a lot to say on this topic - Greg, you listen to audio books a lot, I seem to recall?

(Riffle Horror) #11

I do.

My book list Horror Audio Books and Their Narrators, lists 18 readers (currently) who are among my favorites. Luckily, with the possible exception of Chet Williamson, every reader listed reads a wide range of books -- various fiction genres and even nonfiction.

I think I'd recommend The Iron Druid series which is read by Luke Daniels. He hits all the comedic moments, handles suspense well and he made me believe an Irish Wolfhound could talk to a druid telepathically. That is saying a lot considering how much I hate talking animals -- and yet I love Oberon (the wolfhound) and he steals the story every time he appears.

I'd also recommend Johannas Cabal the Necromancer. Written by Jonathan L. Howard and read by Christopher Cazenove before he passed away. It is laugh-out-loud funny in spots. My favorite is when Cazenove sings the battle song that Cabal hears an army sing as it marches to war -- it's a song praising Cthulhu ("Big Squidhead"), and sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".

If you enjoy nonfiction and science, Simon Winchester reads his own books and he does it brilliantly. I'd recommend starting with either Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 or the book about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary, The Professor and the Madman.

(Meghann Shorrock) #12

Hi Janelle

Audiobooks have enriched my work life immensely. Cannot recommend them enough for many and any an occasion (: psst.. excellent for ruh-nang!

However, not all written word does a good spoken story make - meaning narrator narrator narrator! Mediocre fictions elevate to masterpieces, masterpieces ascend to the devine, aaaand sometimes even the best of stories can be rendered unbearable - I'm looking at you whistling sibilancers. That said, here some FANTASTIC audios sitting in my library presently:

"Catch-22" by Joseph Heller; narrated by Jay O Sanders
Jay's performance is, is... well, let's just say I will never go back to the hardcopy! Hilarious. Perfect complement to the ingenious of Joe's absurd satire. I've already re-listened thrice!

"Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte; narrated by Julliette Stevenson
So much cry, admire, touched, torn, indignace, and admiration. All to Bronte's credit indeed and all translated faultlessly by the lily soft voice of Julliette. Julliette makes this. I love Julliette.

"Harry Potter and the < insert volume here >" by JK Rowling; narrated by Jim Dale
Jim is the absolute most enchanting narrator I've come across. His tenor just drips fantasy land whimsy wizards and wands. I've read them. Watched them. And listened to them. All of them!

"Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole; narrated by Barrett Whitener
It's a funny fun fun and Barrett is vigorously robust. Or is it robustly vigorous? Only thing is too much of a good thing. In that he can overpower sometimes and is the only title I took breaks

"Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov; narrated by Jeremy Irons
Umm, it's friggin Jeremy Irons! Case closed.

"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain; narrated by Richard Henzel
Libraries banned it so what's not to love?! Rich gives masterful performance juggling a multitude of distinct voices, dialects, and emotions. Good guy Rich.

"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand; narrated by Scott Brick
While Scott is the most monochromatic-character-narrator on the list he's captivating and rousing during the philosophyizing speeches that make up the bulk of this compelling novel

tl;dr - narrators make or break it so listen before committing

(Janelle Ludowise) #13

So many great suggestions! Thank you!

(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #14

Hi Janelle,
This list was put together for our favourite audiobooks (women's version) if you are interested:

(Janine Tabor) #15

Along that same vein, The Wake of the Dragon narrated by Kevin Marchant is a fun adventure with a Victorian feel. It's steampunk, about airship pirates and he's got a perfect voice for it.

(Jorie) #16

I haven't been listening to audiobooks for very long as I just started getting into them myself in [2016] however, if you are still seeking a wicked good audiobook, try "The Cryptic Lines" by Richard Storry, narrated by Jake Urry! Urry became my favourite! narrator due to how he approached the novel! To date, it remains my favourite audibook - one I've listened too at least 4x - and if I hadn't signed up for the blog tour wherein I had the chance to review it for my readers, I might have missed the opportunity to find this gem of a Suspense!

Nowadays, I go between hosting audio tours (eagerly awaiting listening to Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island by August!) and digging into my library's e-audiobook library via OverDrive! Starting to find my way into audiobooks whilst picking up a way to 'chill' as I listen to them as my favourite way to enjoy an audiobook is by colouring! The art helps me tune out the world and the ambient noises whilst listening more intuitively to the narrator and thus, having a wicked experience!

I also recommend the Halfway Witchy series by Terry Maggert whose narrator truly brought the series to life in such a cheeky and clever way! :slight_smile:

(Jennifer D.) #17

Colouring while listening to an audiobook sounds like a lovely way to spend time!

(Just Call Me "Two Books" Rance) #18

All of the Louise Penny Inspector Gamache books; Ready Player One; Divorce Papers; all of Liane Moriarty’s stuff; The Martian; Good Kings, Bad Kings; Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series…

(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #19

Ah yes, completely agree with the Louise Penny Inspector Gamache books in audio. Swoon. Love them so much.

(Mike Kelso) #20

I just recently started listening to audiobooks. My day job as a truck driver made this my most convenient way of ‘reading’ during the day. I started out with Johnathan Maberry’s ‘Patient Zero’ and listened to the next 5 books in his Joe Ledger action/sci-fi series. They were excellent for keeping my attention. Ray Porter narrated them all and he is masterful at it. You can’t go wrong with Ray as a narrator.