There are so many ways to consume stories. Books are different when they’re read and when they’re heard and audiobooks hold a special place in bringing books to life. Whether it’s a story you wouldn’t have otherwise experienced or finished, a story that was brought to life in a new and interesting way, or a character embodied by the voice and personality of the narrator, audiobooks are and important part of my reading life and an under-appreciated reading format. Yes, audiobooks count!
I read a lot of audiobooks, I commute upwards of 1hr per working day, so I can listen to a few books a month in the car and while I am cleaning, and have discovered some hems over the last couple of years that I couldn’t wait to share.
For all of you who don’t know what Top Ten Tuesday is, or don’t know how to get involved, click here. The lovely folks at Broke and Bookish teamed together to create this awesome weekly prompt, which is now hosted by the wonderful Jana @ The Artsy Reader Girl. Then you simply get listing!
1. Born a Crime written and narrated by Trevor Noah
I have liked Trevor Noah’s comedy for quite some time. He is one of the few non-British comedians that I find really enjoyable, and his amusing anecdotes about South Africa and being African in Britain and America have always been funny. Beyond these, I didn’t really know much about him. This book was equal parts eye-opening, hilarious, and heartbreaking. It didn’t feel like a memoir, more like listening to a man tell his story to a group on stage. He has a natural story-telling flare and obvious comedic timing and it makes for a great listen.
2. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth written and narrated by Col. Chris Hadfield
Very little is better than listening to a guy tell you about space. If that guys knows about space and has an easy way of telling you about the science and engineering aspects without boring or losing you, that much the better. If that guy proves to be inspirational and really make you think about your life and where you’re going, then you’re onto a winner. Because that is what this book seamlessly blends – science, positivity, and adventure.
3. A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue written by Mackenzi Lee and narrated by Christian Coulson
This is one of those books that you know you would like and enjoy whether you physically read the book or whether you listened to the audiobook. I was always going to love a book about pirates and adventure and all things mischievous, and reading about Monty’s life was undoubtedly enjoyable, but it was made that much better by Christian Coulson who narrated the book, and Monty in particular, to absolute perfection. He embodied the personality and the tone of him perfectly and really brought what was already a great story to life.
4. A Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy written by Mackenzi Lee and narrated by Moira Quirk
Clearly there is something about these books that is magical. Clearly there is someone who knows how to match the narrator of the story with the narrator of the book because just like Monty and Christian Coulson, Moria Quick captures the tone and the personality of Felicity wonderfully. It is a fascinating read and features great representation in all aspects and is simply a fantastic audiobook.
5. Stardust written and narrated by Neil Gaiman
I really wasn’t sure that this was going to be a book that I would enjoy, but after listening to some of his other audiobooks, I decided to give this a go. I think Neil Gaiman is both a gifted writer and narrator, and that is what makes his audiobooks so fantastic. He understands his work like no-one else, so knows where to place influence, knows which voices to attach to which characters, and just appreciates the story and the pacing in a way that no-one else could. He has a slightly odd tone/way of reading that I adore and that really works for this slightly odd story.
6. Good Omens written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and narrated by Stephen Briggs
I was hesitant to read this as I am not usually a lover of Pratchett’s writing style, and because I wasn’t sure about listening to a Gaiman story not narrated by the man himself. I shouldn’t have worried. Briggs captures the humour and whimsical nature of the story and the structure with skill and the book as a whole made me laugh throughout.
7. This is Going to Hurt written and narrated by Adam Kay
Comedian’s are already gifted at tellings stories and anecdotes and I am quite sure that it is a skill that many junior doctors have also developed when comparing work days at the pub. So it probably should have gone without saying that I would enjoy the two combined. There was a brilliant tone of finding humour in misery throughout the book, and I think Kay was great at bringing the stories on the page to life, infusing them with memory and comedy. I found it brilliant, hilarious, emotional, and a thoroughly great listen.
8. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street written by Natasha Pulley and narrated by Thomas Judd
Sometimes you buy something because it is on offer and you really aren’t sure that it was a good idea. I wasn’t sure that I would like this story, but gave it a go and think that the narrator was absolutely everything and made this book truly special. There is a prophetic/time travelling element to this book that Judd managed to carry over into the accents and words to seamlessly meld the story and characters in a way I’m not sure I’ve heard before or since. I really felt like he knew the book and got what the author was portraying and the story she was telling.
9. Rivers of London written Ben Aaronovitch and narrated by Kobna Holbrook-Smith
I had no clue what to expect from this book. It was one I had seen around but never paid too much attention to. Kobna Holbrook-Smith almost acted the words, infusing them with joy and humour and living the journey of the character as though it was his own life story.
10. Great Expectations written by Charles Dickens and narrated by Simon Prebble
Simon Prebble is an absolute God amongst narrators. He infuses Classics with a fresh air, whilst maintaining the original flavour and content. He sounds like he has the air and authority to narrate classic, the words and stories flowing in a way that is natural and wonderful. His calm tones and impeccable accents have reimagined a story that I have watched in adaptations but never managed to physically read.
BONUS: Harry Potter Series written by J K Rowling and narrated by Stephen Fry
I think we can all safely agree that Stephen Fry’s narration of Harry Potter is the only narration that matters, and that the voices he does are actually the characters themselves. I grew up listening to these books as much as I read these stories and can’t imagine anyone else actually reading these to me. I couldn’t include these in the list, they would have taken up 7 spots and that wouldn’t have been fair on the many great audiobooks I have listened to as well, but I couldn’t not mention them.
So there we have it, an absolutely not comprehensive list of my favourite audiobooks that I have really enjoyed and remembered over the last few years. There is a genius to a good audiobook, an understanding between narrator and author that brings a story to life, and I am definitely a big fan. I am always looking for recommendations and tips for good audiobooks and narrators, so if you have any favourites you think I should read, make sure to comment below!
What are you favourite audiobooks? Who are you favourite narrators?
Have you listened to any of these audiobooks? What did you think?