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Audiobook Recommendations?

October 6, 2014

I’m going to tap into the hive mind of the book blogosphere and ask for everyone’s favourite audiobooks, or favourite books that you know are available in audio. ;) Between the walking, and sorting, and knitting, and cooking, I’ve been running through hours of them, and I’d like to have a big long list to sort from. I’m open to nonfiction and fiction, and as always POC authors are much appreciated (since they’re proportionally smaller and thus more difficult to randomly run across).

Thanks in advance!

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42 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2014 5:28 pm

    Eva, the two audio book novels that impressed me the most lately were Stoner by John Williams, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. The two nonfiction audio books I was most impressed with this year were Capital in the Twenty-First Century Thomas Piketty and Factory Man by Beth Macy.

  2. October 6, 2014 5:41 pm

    Not big audiobook listen but did part listen to Alex by pierre lemaitre just haven’t got time to listen to it all but the hour or so I heard was very good

    • October 7, 2014 3:11 pm

      I haven’t heard of that, so I’ll look into it. Thnx!

  3. LauraC permalink
    October 6, 2014 5:53 pm

    Persuasion & Emma read by Moira Fogarty, free on Librivox. I believe she reads books for sale too, but most of my audiobooks are free ones. Lovely, lovely voice. If I purchase an audio book, it is usually a big, thick history book that will last a long, long time. I also love Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett. The voices are not all great, but I love that book! It is another free one on Librivox. If I can’t sleep, I listen to that one. The first reader puts me to sleep before the male voice (which I don’t care much for) comes on.

    • October 7, 2014 3:12 pm

      Oh I love all 3 of those books but haven’t listened to any of them on audio. I’ve never tried Librivox, but now I will. :)

  4. October 6, 2014 6:26 pm

    Right now, I’m halfway through Drood by Dan Simmons narrated by John Lee, which I am greatly enjoying. Other audiobooks I would recommend:

    – Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (read by Sunil Malhotra, who I hope will create more audiobooks because his narration is fantastic)
    – The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (read by Tom Hollander)
    – A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (read by Ruth Ozeki; I listened to this one with my dad and it is our favorite book of 2014)
    – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (read Jonathan Davis and Staci Snell; my favorite book of 2010)

    All of these, with the exception of Rowling and Simmons, are authors of color.

    • October 7, 2014 3:13 pm

      Oh awesome Christina, especially all the authors of colour! The only one of those I’ve read is the Ozeki, but I loved it, so I’d definitely be up for an audio reread.

      • October 8, 2014 8:18 pm

        I’m so glad you’ve read the Ozeki. It seems to be flying under the radar and I can’t sing its praises enough. I was a bit leery about the author reading the novel herself but she does a wonderful job so if you have the time (and want to hear the proper pronunciation of all the Japanese words and phrases), then I recommend giving it a reread.

  5. Kathy permalink
    October 6, 2014 7:06 pm

    The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth March by Geraldine Brooks

    >

    • October 7, 2014 3:13 pm

      Thank you Kathy! I’ve seen some epi’s of the BBC adaptation of Call the Midwife but didn’t realise it was a book

  6. October 6, 2014 7:33 pm

    I dont have a lot of audiobook experience so I wouldn’t be good for recommendations UNLESS you haven’t listened to the Harry Potter books on audio. It is an entirely different experience listening to them and I just love it! Highly recommended!

    • October 7, 2014 3:14 pm

      I’m actually not that big on the Harry Potter books, but if I give them another go I’ll do it via audio. :)

  7. October 6, 2014 8:26 pm

    Anne Hathaway’s reading of The Wizard of Oz and Colin Firth’s narration of The End of the Affair are both amazing (I think they are Audible exclusives though). I really liked listening to Juliet Stevenson. She has a sweet voice and her narrations of British classics are wonderful. I loved her narration of Gaskell’s North and South in particular.

    If you listen to any YA novels, Nick Podehl is an amazing narrator. He’s just brilliant and I’ll listen to anything he reads. Also Katherine Kellgren is wonderful. Her narrations are a work of art. She’s especially good at European accents and it’s always a delight to listen to her.

    For POC, the company I work for has some YA books on audio: October Mourning, Open Mic, Same Sun Here and Beyond Magenta.

    If you are open to listening to stories that aren’t audio books, I’ve been having a lot of fun listening to old Lux Radio broadcasts. 1 hour radio versions of classic movies. I listen to them on my commute to work and there are lots of free versions online.

    • October 7, 2014 3:15 pm

      Oh thanks for the narrator recs! And some POC titles. I’ll have to give the radio stuff a go too: I’m open to all kinds of things at this point. :)

  8. October 6, 2014 9:06 pm

    I’ve only ever tried listening to The End of the Affair (Graham Greene) narrated by Colin Firth.

    • October 7, 2014 3:15 pm

      That’s my favourite Greene! (Not that I’ve read terribly many.) I read it back in high school though, so a reread would be a good time.

      • October 7, 2014 6:28 pm

        It was the first audiobook I listened to successfully. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the narration as much as I thought I would. By the end of the book I quite hated Colin Firth’s voice. I didn’t like hearing someone else’s voice in my head, I guess.

  9. October 6, 2014 9:30 pm

    Eva! Sorry I’ve been such a stranger lately, but I’ve really missed you! Audiobook recs…I have so many favorites! Here’s a few:

    -Quiet by Susan Cain is one of the best nonfic audiobooks I’ve heard and as an introvert, I absolutely loved it!
    -If you’re a fan of Diane Rehm, her autobiography, Finding My Voice is read by her and is fantastic.
    -Wild by Cheryl Strayed…amazing.
    -Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer….love him so much and the audio is fantastic!
    -Hero by Perry Moore is one of the best YA audiobooks I’ve ever heard and had me in tears by the end. The narrator does such an amazing job!
    -Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver…she narrates it herself and I loved it!
    -The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll…the book that made me fall in love with him. Loved the narrator.

    I’ll stop there for now :p

    • October 7, 2014 3:16 pm

      *hugs* I’ve missed you too! You know…Debi and I live in the same place now…so clearly you should come visit again. :P

      Thanks so much for such a long list: they all sound really good! And I’ll come pester you for more later. :)

  10. October 7, 2014 4:07 am

    Hi, Eva!

    I’m yet to get used to audiobooks, but I would like to suggest two literary podcasts that I like to listen to while I’m walking/ knitting/ cooking etc:
    BBC World Book Club Podcast: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/wbc/all
    The Guardian Books Podcast:http://www.theguardian.com/books/series/books
    Hope you enjoy!

    Juliana

  11. October 7, 2014 9:00 am

    The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin, read by Steve Martin. Really wonderful. He’s great at creating tragic, comedic characters… and his voice is perfect.

    • October 7, 2014 3:16 pm

      Oh very cool! I imagine most actors would be excellent narrators, really.

  12. October 7, 2014 4:25 pm

    Eva, if you use Audible.com you can listen to samples of the narration. And I recommend you always listen before you buy. Unfortunately, some narrators don’t work with some listeners.

    The art of the book narration has evolved tremendously in recent years. Actors often do make good narrators, but there’s actually a growing crowd of star narrators. I find the best of them elevate the book into a new art form. I’m also partial to multi-cast narrators. And there are interesting experiments. Lock In by John Scalzi is a new science fiction novel where the gender of the main character is never revealed, and you can get either a male or female narrator.

    Also, if you join Audible, which is actually the cheapest way to buy audio books, they have daily sales for $1.95 – $5.95 which are tremendous bargains. Several of the books mentioned to you above were ones I got on sale. And if you’re a member of Audible.com and shop for public domain books on Amazon, they often offer a deal on the Audible edition if you buy the $0.00 ebook.

    • October 8, 2014 3:49 pm

      I’m a library user on a tight budget, so I haven’t joined audible. But thanks for letting me know re: the potential deals! I could always ask for a membership for Christmas, if my library’s offerings start to feel constricted. :)

  13. October 7, 2014 8:02 pm

    I loved The Night Watch by Sarah Waters audio if you haven’t already read/listened. Also The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is just an excellent audiobook, one of my absolute favorites. I’m currently listening to Jane Eyre on audio and it’s wonderful to rediscover the story this way.

    • October 8, 2014 3:51 pm

      I actually just finished The Raven Boys last week because of you. I loved the prologue, then felt a bit meh at the beginning w the boys, but by the end I was *completely* invested in all the characters! *clutches them to chest* So I’ll definitely be listening to the other ones; I’m glad they’re all available on audio. I’ve read Night Watch but not on audio: I enjoy audio rereads.

  14. October 7, 2014 11:01 pm

    Home by Toni Morrison was really great. She reads it herself and I love her voice!

    • October 8, 2014 3:49 pm

      I actually just downloaded that from my library’s website a few days ago! I love Morrison, so I’m glad to hear she’s a good reader.

  15. October 8, 2014 7:02 pm

    I love Richard Armitage narrating Georgette Heyer’s romances. I know he’s done Venetia, Sylvester, and Convenient Marriage. I love The Book Thief on audio. It is wonderful :) And earlier this year I listened to To Kill A Mockingbird narrated by Sissy Spacek.

  16. October 8, 2014 7:22 pm

    I see someone else mentioned Toni Morrison – she is a great narrator. Her reading of her novel “A Mercy” is perfect, and convinced me to give audiobooks another chance after not being too impressed by them.

    Lately I’ve read several, though the only one I’d recommend is “Frog Music” by Emma Donoghue. I loved how the narrator sang all the little ditties, dance hall numbers, and folk songs. While it wasn’t my favorite book ever, by any means, I feel like it’s one I enjoyed more in audio than I would in print.

  17. October 8, 2014 9:04 pm

    I love audiobooks. Here are some recommendations. I want to hear what you end up liking!
    1) Lady autobiographies: How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, Bossypants by Tina Fey, and Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.
    2) Anything narrated by Stephen Fry (including Harry Potter but it’s not easy to get in the U.S.)
    3) Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (Texas author!).
    4) Moby Dick on the Big Read http://www.mobydickbigread.com/. It’s kind of a PITA to download/listen to chapter by chapter. BUT it’s free.

    I’m listening to The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt right now and it’s good on audio but LOOONG. Really long. I love listening to British classics on audio because English accents make me happy. Anything by Jane Austen is amazing on audio.

  18. October 8, 2014 10:08 pm

    My favorite audiobook of all time is Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. (If you watched the terrible 2003 movie, erase it from your memory! The book is hilarious and so much better.) I grew up with the version read by Dana Ivey.

    Second favorite audiobook: Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, read by Kristoffer Tabori.

    Another goodie: What is the What, by Dave Eggers, read by Dion Graham.

    I would also heartily endorse the recommendation above – the Harry Potter books (read by Jim Dale – the versions by Stephen Fry sounds a little too melodramatic).

    I also really enjoyed Dreams from my Father and the Audacity of Hope, read by Barack Obama.

    Happy listening!

  19. Beth F permalink
    October 9, 2014 6:07 am

    Just finished BELZHAR and THIS IS THE WATER in audio and loved them both.

  20. Books Under the Bed permalink
    October 9, 2014 4:34 pm

    I loved The Diary of a Part-Time Indian read by Sherman Alexie

  21. October 9, 2014 4:40 pm

    It’s so silly that I’m blanking on this, but have you read the Raven Cycle books yet? The Raven Boys et seq.? I can’t remember if we’ve talked about them. Anyway, if you haven’t read them, I recommend those on audio. Everyone I’ve talked to who loves audiobooks has raved about the guy who narrates them. And also, they are really excellent books.

  22. Books Under the Bed permalink
    October 10, 2014 1:43 am

    I forgot, The Bridges of Madison County. For a while the commute to work was ridiculous as they were rebuilding the road in preparation for the Olympics so I listened to quite a few audio books – Winnie the Pooh was also great at this time – but this is the book which stands out. The only isssue with this book is you shouldn’t listen to this in a public space, I car share with a friend from work and we were both sobbing in the car over this and we were then spotted by someone else from work who was driving in the next lane!

  23. October 10, 2014 10:29 am

    I love audio books, but can only listen to certain types of books on audio. I tend to favor non-fiction, or fiction books that I’ve either already read (especially Harry Potter) or that I have time to sit down and read along with the audiobooks in print, (which I did with Lord of the Rings and Moby Dick). I’m also very particular about narrators – they must be great! I love it when authors read their own work well, especially for memoirs.

    Here are my favorites:

    Anything by Bill Bryson
    Anything by Nora Ephron (esp her short memoirs)
    Anything by Jon Ronson (Lost at Sea is a great starting point)
    Anything by David Sedaris
    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, narrated by Rob Inglis (He’s amazing)
    The Anne of Green Gables series, narrated by Barbara Caruso (there are several narrators for the Anne series, I think Barbara is by far the best)
    Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
    Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon
    On Looking by Alexandra Horowitz
    The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
    Quiet by Susan Cain
    My Life in France by Julia Child
    The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

  24. Laura Miller permalink
    October 13, 2014 9:31 am

    I wrote an audiobook column for a couple of years and could not agree more with James that narration is a very particular acting skill that has advanced exponentially over the past few years, now that digital downloads make the books more accessible. I have hundreds, mostly bought through Audible. Librivox is a great service — free audiobooks — but the narration quality is generally pretty low and you will feel it. It makes some books unlistenable and you will get SO much more with a professional, accomplished narrator.

    One of the greatest audiobooks I’ve ever listened to is Joe Morton’s reading of Ralph Ellison’s INVISIBLE MAN. An amazing performance. Another great performance with more of a fun sort of book is January LaVoy’s reading of Libba Bray’s THE DIVINERS, a YA thriller (with a dash of horror) set in the 1920s. Juliet Stevenson is great at reading anything, as is Simon Vance. For just pure fun, Jonathan Cecil’s readings of P.G. Wodehouse: great when you’re feeling low.

  25. Amanda permalink
    October 15, 2014 5:06 pm

    I’ve been reading Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata, and been really enjoying it. It’s a YA novel my library has on audio. They also have Kadohata’s other book Kira-Kira on audio too.

  26. aartichapati permalink
    October 24, 2014 1:36 pm

    I’m quite late here, but I love audiobooks! Some of my recent favorites are:

    The Ladies of Grace Adieu, by Susanna Clarke
    Anything by Rainbow Rowell
    Pretty Fire, by Charlayne Woodward
    Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz
    The Raven Boys series and the Flavia de Luce series
    Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

    You could also use the audiobook label on my blog to find more – I don’t want to overwhelm you here :-)

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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