40 favorite audiobooks (yours and mine)

40 favorite audiobooks (yours and mine)

I recently started listening to audiobooks regularly for the first time in a few years. I got hooked with a free trial of Audible.com (you can get yours here) and haven’t looked back.

I finally realized that I could get a little more reading (“reading”?) in while I was running, or driving solo, or washing dishes, and the app on my phone is so much easier to use than cds ever were. (At least for me: my kids love to listen to audiobooks on cd during their daily quiet time.)

Since my interest in audiobooks has been rekindled, I asked you all on twitter and facebook to tell me your recent favorites. You shared a whopping 77 titles. Your top 40 appear below, but this is what the shorter list of your (and my) very favorites looks like:

40 favorite audiobooks (yours and mine)

Reader favorites:

  1. The Help
  2. The Harry Potter series. Jim Dale is the reader on this series, and many of you specifically said you’d listen to anything he reads.
  3. Outlander
  4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  5. Bossypants
  6. Dad is Fat
  7. The Graveyard Book

(I’ve listened to at least part of the audiobook for all of the above except Outlander and The Graveyard Book, and can confirm they are excellent picks.)

My personal faves:

  1. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (and the whole Flavia DeLuce series)
  2. The Rosie Project
  3. The Professor and the Madman
  4. The Girl You Left Behind
  5. What Alice Forgot

Quite accidentally, I’ve chosen only books read in foreign accents (to my American ears, that is). My list includes 2 British, 2 Australian, and 1 French. 

For the kids:

  1. The Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins collections. Stockard Channing narrates the Ramona books; Neil Patrick Harris performs the Henry Huggins series and he is fabulous.
  2. The House at Pooh Corner (the version performed by Peter Dennis)
  3. The Wizard of Oz (the version performed by Anne Hathaway)
  4. The Mysterious Benedict Society
  5. How to Train Your Dragon
  6. Little House in the Big Woods (The whole series as read by Cherry Jones is fantastic.)

We especially love the Beverly Cleary and Little House books, which my kids have listened to over and over again. 

Have a great audiobook recommendation? Share it with us in comments. 

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92 comments

  1. Megan says:

    Well, I’m inspired. My husband is a catalogue librarian for a major audiobook company and has free access to literally thousands of book titles, and yet I never listen to audiobooks. I much prefer to hold a paper book in my hands. But gosh, think of how many books I could listen to while I wash dishes in our dishwasherless home? Or driving. I’m going to see if he can get me some of these titles. Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. I just started listening to audiobooks with my kids–on trips, as we do errands, etc. We did the Little House series first and now I am loving Charlotte’s Web. As an unexpected bonus, I am learning so much about writing just from listening to E.B. White narrate his book.
    I’m so glad to have the list you posted for future reference!

  3. Heather says:

    To help pass time while on the road, I listen to audiobooks with my children. It certainly makes running errands more fun for everyone. Here’s a list of what we’ve enjoyed:

    A Cricket in Times Square
    Ballet Shoes*
    Theater Shoes*
    Dancing Shoes* (Kathleen Kelly was right. The Shoe books are wonderful and definitely start with Ballet Shoes)
    The Wizard of Oz (read by Brooke Shields)
    Mr. Poppers Penguins*
    Indian in the Cupboard*
    My Side of the Mountain*
    Caddie Woodlawn
    Sign of the Beaver
    The Phantom Tollbooth*
    A Wrinkle in Time (read by the author)*
    Misty of Chincoteague
    Stormy, Misty’s Foal
    Mary Poppins
    How To Eat Fried Worms
    Kipling’s Just So Stories (Greathall Productions)
    Johnny Tremain
    Trumpet of the Swan (read by the author)*
    Island of Blue Dolphins
    Because of Winn-Dixie
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    My Father’s Dragon (trilogy)
    The Secret Garden
    Rascal*
    Black Beauty*
    The Fantastic Mr. Fox
    James and the Giant Peach
    Hank the Cowdog series*

    * Our favorites

  4. Tiffany says:

    I’d listen to Jim Dale read the dictionary. He is so good! I also liked Sissy Spacek’s job on To Kil lA Mockingbird and I think Michael Beck (who does a lot of Grisham’s).

  5. Jen says:

    I have to admit, I haven’t listened to many audiobooks myself, but that sure sounds like a great way to pass time doing the dishes!
    My kids love all the Nate the Great stories! I’ll have to check out some of the other ones mentioned above. Thanks!

  6. We’ve always loved taking HANK THE COWDOG books on road trips. And anything by Daniel Pinkwater is loads of fun, like THE HOBOKEN CHICKEN EMERGENCY and the companion novel, LOOKING FOR BOBOWICZ. Oh! And HORTON HALFPOTT is a hoot.

  7. Jessica says:

    I love the book Room by Emma Donoghue, but have heard from others that the way it’s written (the way a 5-year-old speaks) is off-putting. I think the big difference is that I listened to it on audiobook, and hearing it in a child’s voice made the writing seem perfectly natural. The other, adult characters have different narrators.

    • Anne says:

      I’ve heard mixed reviews on Room as an audiobook. Just like you said, some readers have said the child’s voice was annoying, and some have said it’s perfect. Maybe I’ll listen to it and decide for myself. 🙂

  8. Jillian Kay says:

    Great list! I love Jim Dale — I listened to him reading A Christmas Carol in December and it was great. I’ve listened to some good ones lately — A Reading Promise — she has her Dad read parts, My Man Jeeves by PG Woodhouse, Letters of a Woman Homesteader, Outliers, Moneyball and On Writing were some. I listen while I’m doing dishes at night.

    The reader makes all the difference.

  9. Shannon says:

    I love your lists, thank you! My youngest daughter has a hard time reading and prefers audiobooks. At first I was kind of leery, (not really reading, you know) but then I realized that when she adds new words to her vocabulary she pronounces them correctly, unlike her bookworm sisters. So, there are some hidden advantages. She really enjoyed ‘Inkheart,’

  10. Amy says:

    Great ideas! Where do you get the books? No library, iTunes seems pricey, maybe audible but 1 book a month seems limiting especially for kids books. Thanks for the post:)

    • Anne says:

      I get most of the kids’ books from the library (sorry!) though a few children’s selections are really cheap on Audible–like, just a few dollars. (But I know what you mean about paying $15 for a 3-hour kids’ book–my kids could ring up quite a tab every month!)

      I did notice that Audible has several “collections” of children’s books that you can get for just one credit, and the collection includes 5 or 6 books and 20+ hours of listening (like with the Henry Huggins or Ramona books). That may be a relatively cost-efficient way to do it.

      Also, every once in a while NoiseTrade has a children’s book available for free download. I just looked and right now the first book in Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga is available. (These are great books for late grade school and middle grade readers.) Here’s the link: http://books.noisetrade.com/andrewpetersonbooks/the-wingfeather-saga-on-the-edge

    • Courtney M says:

      I don’t know where you are located, but I do know that even if you don’t have a library nearby, a lot of libraries are part of bigger library systems. My library has access to overdrive (as have the last 2 library systems I’ve been part of). Overdrive is just an audiobook/ebook library. Or, maybe it’s worth the price of paying to be in someone’s library system? The town next to us charges out of towners $40/year to be part of the library and that includes the overdrive portion. It’s not a bad price for a year, especially since you can check more than one out at a time.

      • Courtney M says:

        Oh, and I meant to add that I have been able to purchase a bunch of audible books for a dollar or two or free when I bought the free Kindle book.

      • Jessica says:

        I love OverDrive — the majority of what I read now is ebooks and audiobooks I download from there without ever having to leave my house. Between that, occasionally getting a hard copy from my library, and ordering from PaperBackSwap, I paid for maybe 3 of the 80+ books I read in 2013. Even if I had to pay for OverDrive, it would absolutely be worth it.

        • Myra says:

          I presume you have access to Overdrive through your local libraries, which absolutely pay OD to provide this access for their patrons.

    • Kate Frishman says:

      Hi Amy, one good place to start for classics is Librivox. It’s basically Project Gutenberg for audio. like the others, you have to make sure you like the voice actor, You can download them to an mp3 player or listen on the computer. You may even be able to burn them to a disk.

  11. Jimi says:

    Love this post. I really enjoy audio books but now that I’m staying home with two babies, I have a harder time finding time to listen. I used to listen during my commute and over lunch. One that I’d highly recommend given your preference for audio books with accents is Sophie Kinsella’s I’ve Got Your Number. It’s definitely one of my favorite audio books. So cute!

  12. Jessica says:

    I really want to but can’t get into audiobooks. The only time I’ve really loved them was when we moved from Texas to California. Due to my husband’s back surgery, he flew with the two girls while I drove our car (following our moving van driven by my father in law). I listened to Mindy Kaling’s book which had me in stitches. I think it was probably better than the book because I really got to hear her tell it.

    Maybe it’s because I’m too easily distracted around the house (with no ear phones) and my kids are probably too young for me to be walking around with earphones in – but I haven’t found my audiobook mojo yet. Maybe in a few years 🙂 I have a number of books just waiting for me!

    • Jen Webb says:

      Jumping in to say that the new apple earpods are wonderful for listening to music/books and still being able to hear kids/phone/dorbell. I’ve also been known to listen with one earbud while doing dishes or whatever so that I can know if anything else is up in the house. BUT — my kids are older now. I remember washing dishes and doing house chores after kiddos were asleep to an audiobook, when they were still tiny. I think that’s when I fell in love with audiobooks.

  13. Leigh Kramer says:

    I’m not an audiobook person but I wanted to mention that one of my friends listened to Outlander on CD and didn’t realize it can be a bit saucy. So a word to the wise: make sure you listen to that one on your own or with no little ears present. And probably not while you’re wandering the aisles of a store either- another friend was listening with earbuds while shopping and said her face was beet red.

    • Janet says:

      Oh, I love the Outlander series by Diana Gabalon. It is a series of 7 books, and I suggest that you start from the beginning.

      Also, Tony Horwitz books are great. He writes books, like Baghdad Without A Map,
      Confederates in the Attic, One for the Road, Blue Latitudes, Into the Blue, The Devil May Care: 50 Intrepid Americans and Their Quest for the Unknown, A Voyage Long and Strange: (Rediscovering the New World), Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War,

  14. Gabrielle says:

    I use to have an hour commute and listed to audio books nonstop, now not so much, but I still love them. One of my all time favorites for kids are the Hank The Cowdog books. The readings have a theatrical feel, while I don’t know the reader’s name off hand, he is amazing! Once you listen to the audio version, the written word isn’t nearly as captivating. The Outlander series has graced my bookshelves for over 10 years (I already have the next novel pre-ordered on Amazon and am waiting impatiently for it’s release). I have only listened to the first novel (Outlander) on audio but it was excellently done, there are a wide variety of accents and Gaelic mixed into the stories that are so much fun to listen too. As another commenter noted, Outlander is not written light heartedly. The books are historical fiction with some time travel written in. Clair is a nurse during WWI and once back in time she is often accused of being a witch, Jamie is a highlander and a soldier, the books go from the Scottish – English war through the American Revolution, and leaves very little to the imagination. While I would highly recommend adding them to your own reading list, they aren’t for little ears.

  15. Courtney M says:

    Jim Dale also read Peter Pan, which is an awesome kids book! And Peter and the Starcatchers (Jim Dale) is a fun listen. Audible has 31 books narrated by Jim Dale.

    America, you sexy…A love letter to freedom by Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black was a fun listen. I’m not normally one to listen to political type books, but they read it too, so it was fun.

  16. Jillian says:

    I have an hour commute to work and back and rely on audio books and podcasts to make the time pass. I just finished listening to The Invention of Wings, which I really enjoyed. I love the books with multiple authors. Last Fall, I listened to The Storyteller by Jodi Piccoult, The Seamstress by Sarah Tuvel, which was a memoir of the Holocaust, and The Chaperone by Laura Moriarity. I would recommend all three. The two audio books that really stand out in my mind are The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk. I listened to them back to back – they lasted a whole semester of commuting – and I loved them.

  17. Maia says:

    It’s so funny to read this today as I’m just finishing up writing (and getting ready to post) a little series on how listening to books has transformed how our family approaches books. I just love Audible. My boys have listened over and over and over again to the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Henry Huggins series and Ramona series, Father and I were Ranchers, The Princess and the Goblin, Swallows and Amazons, Half-Magic…the list goes on but those are some of the top choices. I love that my boys (who haven’t learned to read yet) get to devour books over and over again, even when my voice gives out!

  18. Jamie says:

    We have listened to every book in the Halo series and loved them. They are incredibly well written and well narrated.

    Also highly recommend Discovery of Witches and its sequel – again, fabulously engaging books with top notch narration. 🙂

  19. AmyC says:

    We joined Audible a few years ago just so we could get all of the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. Our whole family (10yo boy, 12yo girl, 13yo boy, and even Dad) enjoys these books. They are narrated by the author but have a full cast doing the voices of the different characters and even have background music. Some of the best audiobooks we’ve ever experienced!

  20. Anna says:

    We have been listening to audiobooks in the car. It’s a great way to keep the kids (and ourselves) entertained on long trips. Everyone’s favorite is the Chronicles of Narnia, and we did the whole series this summer. Too much driving! We just finished the Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke. Great books, and I enjoyed them as well as the kids. There’s a little too much strong language, though. For myself, I can’t focus well on audiobooks for some reason. I like to have a book that I’ve read, and then listen to the audiobook version. That way if I tune in and out, I still know what’s going on. My latest favorites are Patrick Taylor’s “Irish Country Doctor Series” and Deanna Raybourne’s “Lady Julia Mysteries.”

  21. Jimi says:

    I’m curious if you’ve continued to use Audible for listening to audio books. I get almost all my books from the library, so I’ve been hesitant to pay for audio books. Is it worth it? I’d like having them on my phone for sure. It would make listening much easier.

    • Anne says:

      I love, love, love Audible. I listen to audiobooks when I run and in ten-minute snippets when I’m in the car. With Audible, I never lose my place and I lose it all the time when I do cds, or worse, try to import cds to itunes, then put them on my phone–I end up listening to the tracks in the wrong order! And I love how I can listen to the book at 1.25 or 1.5 speed with the app.

      But I kinda wish I didn’t love it so much: I hate feeling like I have to “ration” my Audible credits! It plays to my inner maximizer and I try to keep her under wraps as much as possible.

      Maybe there’s a better way to listen to the cds, but I haven’t figured it out yet. (But I’d love to hear tips if anyone has them!)

      • Courtney M says:

        It’s a little work, but I will go through and rename the tracks. So instead of it being by disc, all the tracks will go 1-45 or whatever. To make it easy, I will do CD 1: tracks 1-10, CD 2 tracks 2-20 or whatever. I then stick each book in it’s own playlist and sort by track.

        When I did the Harry Potter series I started at 1 and went straight through all the way to the end of Book 7 track 100 something. That was more work, but because of the higher relisten rate, I was willing to do it.

  22. Stacey says:

    I have just recently become obsessed with audiobooks. I can now use my work commuting time to listen to a book, that’s three hours a week! And while I’m cleaning, doing laundry, whatever…I even listened to a couple audiobooks while I did my time on the treadmill this month! I just finished the audiobook version of The Help, and that was such an AWESOME book to listen to. Loved every minute of it.

  23. Joan says:

    The audio book of “Saving Ceecee Honeycutt” is crucial to the enjoyment of the story.
    It was a book club choice for January, 2014, and, because I’m in the car a lot, I decided to listen to the book. The reader uses different voices for each character, and the voices used for the characters in Savannah, GA, are wonderful. I ended up buying the book because I love the imagery and many metaphors used by the author. When our book club met, I realized how much the audio added to my enjoyment as related to the other members. Afterward, the other members wanted to listen to it, too. It’s a delightful reading.

  24. Becca says:

    Just found this post through Pinterest. I’m able to “read” so much more by listening to audiobooks on my iPod. I’m currently listening to Columbine by Dave Cullen. Great idea to have the kids listen to audiobooks during quiet time! Mine are currently 7, 5, and nearly 4, so quiet time is essential for my sanity, and this would be something they’d all enjoy.

    • Anne says:

      Believe me, I completely relate! I’ve also heard (but keep forgetting to try with my own kids!) that Jim Weiss’s Greathall Productions storytelling audios are on Spotify. We have a couple of his cds and really like them, and I’m looking forward to trying a few more with Spotify. I’d be thrilled if they chose to listen to those during some of their summer quiet times!

  25. Liz says:

    I’ve always loved reading and got in to audio books about 10 years ago. That’s all I listen to in the car when I’m alone. My son passed away 18 months ago and I’ve had a problem reading. It’s easier for me right now to listen. Also I had to find “safe” books to listen to and turned back to biographies. There are some great ones. I just finished a couple based on former White House employees. No bashing stories (thank goodness) Upstairs at the Whitehouse and My First Ladies. A couple fiction books that I absolutely loved were Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Those Who Save Us and The Kitchen House. The last 2 I must warn you are very intense in parts but incredible books.

  26. Natali McKee says:

    These is My Words, hands down my favorite audio. It will get people that hate audios enjoying them.

    • Anne says:

      My mom LOVES that book and has been telling me to read it for years, and readers with great taste keep mentioning it as a great summer reading pick in the new summer reading posts! I will definitely have to try that one—off to see if they have it on Audible.

  27. Karen says:

    If you enjoy fantasy, Name of the Wind and A Wise Man’s Fear are some of my favorites, written by Patrick Rothfuss. The audio books are wonderful and let you know how names and places are pronounced. I heard A Light Between Oceans is great on audio and is narrated with an Australian accent. Jim Weiss is a wonderful story teller as is Ods Bodkins, lots of sound effects done with his voice.

  28. Molli says:

    Here’s several that I enjoyed on audio book:
    The housekeeper and the professor
    the husband’s secret
    the Scorpio races
    the rook
    me before you
    discovery of witches (listening to third one now)
    outlander series

  29. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for all the suggestions!
    I have loved listening to audiobooks while driving, ironing, and doing various household chores. Several I have enjoyed have already been mentioned, but here are a few more. For adults: The Shoemaker’s Wife (be aware that halfway through the book the narrator changes from an actress to the author which was unexpected and a little jarring for me, but still a good book). Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke I loved. For a clean romance try Austenland by Shannon Hale or Edenbrooke, and Blackmoore both by Julianne Donaldson. For kids/families: The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt was great and I can’t say enough about Science Fair by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson! We got Science Fair from the library for a road trip and my family (2 daughters 9 and 12 and mom and dad) laughed and laughed and couldn’t wait to get back in the car to hear more. So fun! My 9 year old daughter loved to listen to the Henry Huggins books, The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens and A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd.

  30. joshua Messer says:

    One of the best series I’ve ever listened to my roommate got me started on and that is Orson Scott Cards Ender’s Game series.
    1. Ender’s Game
    2. Speaker for the Dead
    3. Xenocide
    4. Children of the Mind
    5. Ender’s Shadow
    6. Shadow of the Hegemon
    7. First Meetings
    8. Shadow Puppets
    9. Shadow of the Giant
    10. A War of Gifts
    11. Ender in Exile
    12. Shadow in Flight
    13. Earth Unaware
    14. Earth on Fire
    15. Earth Awakens
    and
    16. Shadows Alive
    is coming out soon

  31. embride says:

    I have always liked audio books ever since Harry Potter. I have listened to tons. Including some classics that I thought I would never get through if I tried to read them.
    Count of Monte Cristo
    Scarlet Pimpernel*
    Zorro
    But I have my favorites that I always to back to…
    Eragon series (it has a lot of war and stuff toward the end so not really a kids book even though it’s kind of portrayed as one.
    Hollow Kingdom trilogy
    Stoneheart books

    I could go on… I love having something that takes me away when I’m doing chores. Audio books, the hands free adventure for you mind 🙂

  32. Amy says:

    Have just convinced husband that we need an Audible account. He loves audio books, but doesn’t listen often as iTunes is often super expensive.

  33. Whitney says:

    A few years ago, when we shared a room, my sisters and I listened to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, read by Tim Curry. We loved them!

  34. Stacie says:

    I am interested in listening to The Professor and the Madman but, as a HSP, I am a bit nervous. Did it bother you at all? Thank you for the great recommendations!

    • Anne says:

      I listened to this long before I knew what an HSP even was, and it didn’t bother me. But HSPs are sensitive to different things so take that with a grain of salt.

  35. Tracy Tobias says:

    I did not read through all the comments, so perhaps my favorites were mentioned, but I am an audiobook junkie. I “read” about one week. We have the same taste in books, so I think that you will really like these – The Bloody Jack series and Her Royal Spyness series. They are both fairly light reads, the former is actually juvenile fiction, but I wouldn’t let young ones read them. Don’t let the title fool you, Bloody, Jack is Jacky Faber, one the great heroines in literature – an orphan turned pirate turned naval officer, she embodies the true definition of grit and perseverance. The books are so good in so many ways, but both series are read by Katherine Kellgren. Trust me when I tell you she is on par with Jim Dale. She is amazing! I love her and I know you will too if you have yet to discover her.

  36. Partha Srinivasan says:

    Just caught up with How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell read by David Tennant.. He does voices for the characters and everything. Love it so much. I have also heard Harry Potter read by Stephen Fry. Lord of the Rings BBC Radio edit is also pretty good. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is also so fun…

  37. Debi H says:

    The Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events are wonderful to listen to with or without children. There is much good fun in word play and puns, it’s almost better heard than read silently.

  38. Melanie T says:

    I like to listen to audio books when I sew. I enjoyed Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilters series. They are light “reading” which makes them perfect to sew by.

    I also enjoyed Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. It is my daughter’s favorite book, but I had a hard time reading it. It was much better listening to it (while I sewed of course – but I had to concentrate on listening to it). It was great to be able to talk to her about it.

  39. Jenny L Womack says:

    I loved the Artemis Fowl series & “read” them all as audiobooks. I also have all of Jane Austen’s novels as audiobooks so I can listen to them anytime (often when I have trouble falling asleep).

  40. When I was homeschooling my two kids we listened to lots of Audible.com but that was years ago and I thank you for inspiring me to look again! My two favorite audio books were both by Laura Hildebrand: Seabiscuit and Unbroken.

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