15 audiobooks read by your favorite celebrity narrators

15 audiobooks read by your favorite celebrity narrators

It’s a trend: over the past 5 years a growing number of A-list actors have put their considerable skills to work narrating audiobooks—both contemporary hits and beloved classics. Now Audible even has a special A-list collection called star-powered listens featuring books read by your favorite celebrities from the big (and sometimes small) screen.

Today’s audiobooks list focuses primarily on novels read by seasoned actors, but I’ve thrown in a few nonfiction picks as well. I didn’t include celebrity memoirs read by their authors, but if you love hearing authors reading their own work, check out this list of 13 engaging audiobooks read by their authors and 20 celebrity memoirs read by their authors.

This audiobook list is by no means complete, and new ones are being released all the time. Please share your favorite actor-narrated audiobooks in comments.

15 audiobooks narrated by your favorite actors

A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning

A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning

Welcome to an “unhappy tale about three very unlucky children.” The Baudelaire children receive terrible news and it only gets worse from there. This series is much loved by children everywhere. This audiobook, narrated by Tim Curry with a full cast, is fantastic. 2 hours 29 minutes. More info →
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Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express

Dan Stevens appears on this list twice, but he earns it: his wonderful narration makes this classic immensely listenable. (A bonus for Downton Abbey fans: there's a character named Mary, so you get to hear Stevens say her name repeatedly.) It was supposed to be the perfect crime. But an avalanche stops the Orient Express in its tracks just before a passenger is found murdered in his berth, foiling the perpetrator's getaway, and trapping 13 potential suspects—each with an airtight alibi—in the train car with Inspector Hercule Poirot. A classic for a reason. 6 hours 37 minutes More info →
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Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman

Author:
I had complicated feelings about reading this one ... but Reese Witherspoon's authentically Southern narration is a strong point in favor of the audio version. Serious students of writing or literature will be enthralled by the ties between Watchman and Lee's beloved classic To Kill a Mockingbird. (Here's how I approached this controversial work.) The unabridged version is shorter than I expected, at 6 hours 57 minutes. It's worth mentioning that Sissy Spacek's narration of To Kill a Mockingbird is completely fantastic. More info →
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The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale

A timely dystopian novel, Atwood’s classic explores women’s rights and religious fundamentalism. It's a feminist nightmare, introducing readers to a world where women are subjugated. I listened to the Claire Danes audio version. Her narration was understated (in a good way), which made the story extra-creepy. It’s a cautionary tale about just how far religious extremism can go. Offred and the other handmaids are only as valuable as their ability to get pregnant. But Offred can remember how things used to be: the books she read and her relationship with her husband, the way she could go to work. She remembers. 11 hours 1 minute. More info →
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The End of the Affair

The End of the Affair

Author:
Graham Greene is frequently included in "novels everyone should read" and "best of the century" lists, and I've been meaning to read him for years. But I'd never made it a priority ... until I found out that Colin Firth narrates this version. This short novel might not hold the broader appeal of the other novels on this list, but I found it enjoyable and thought-provoking, and Firth's narration is pitch perfect. If you love Brideshead Revisited, read this immediately. 6 hours 28 minutes. More info →
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Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

This series has been captivating readers for over a century. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of Prince Edward Island decide to adopt an orphaned boy to help them on their farm, but their messenger mistakenly delivers a girl to Green Gables instead—an 11-year-old feisty redhead named Anne Shirley. She brings compassion, kindness, and beauty wherever she goes; she's a hopeless romantic, committed to her ideals, and guided by pure intentions—though that doesn't keep her from completely upending Marilla and Matthew's quiet life. It's the classic you know and love, in a fresh narration with Rachel McAdams—a wonderful way to revisit an old favorite. 9 hours 22 minutes More info →
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Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

A story about Lincoln, America's 16th president—kind of. Whoa, is it strange. Interesting and experimental, but definitely strange. The "bardo" of the title is a Tibetan concept: it's a spiritual landscape—a kind of in-between place—where we are sent between physical lives. When Lincoln's son Willie was 11, he died of typhoid, plunging Lincoln into deep grief. Saunders uses this real event as a jumping-off point to explore the near-unbearable grief of an individual, linking it to the disarray of the country he leads, at the height of its Civil War, and imagines how Lincoln's despair changed the outcome of the war. Narrated by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, Carrie Brownstein, Miranda July, Lena Dunham, et al. 7 hours 25 minutes. More info →
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Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

Author:
Thirty years after the Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette returned to the United States, so beloved a hero 80,000 people showed up at the New York Harbor to welcome him. He reminded everyone of what they wanted this young country to be. This is a humorous look at the Frenchman's impact on the US, from his neutrality as the threat of the Civil War loomed to his relationships with well-known figures of the time, like George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. Narrated by Bill Hader, Nick Offerman, John Oliver and more. 8 hours 7 minutes. More info →
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Letters to a Young Poet

Letters to a Young Poet

I'm listening to this RIGHT NOW. You've probably encountered snippets of this compilation somewhere along the way; in less than two hours you can hear the complete work. If you have a creative bone in your body, it's well worth the time to give this a listen at least once, especially because it's read by Dan Stevens. 1 hour 52 minutes. More info →
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Heartburn

Heartburn

Author:
This is a largely autobiographical novel about the breakup of a marriage; it's way funnier than any book on the subject has any right to be. The foodie angle was a pleasant surprise. A What Should I Read Next? guest raved about this, specifically the audio version read by Meryl Streep. I finally caved and downloaded it. I'm so glad I did. 5 hours 30 minutes. More info →
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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

When a friend recommended this YA novel about an unlikely friendship between two Mexican-American teenage boys, I thought about adding it to my To Be Read stack. But when I found out Lin-Manuel Miranda narrates, I downloaded the audiobook immediately. Ari and Dante are both loners when they meet at a swimming pool and Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim. From there, a tentative friendship begins. 7 hours 29 minutes More info →
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Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs

Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs

Eighteen months after becoming sober, Knapp adopted a puppy from a shelter and thus altered the course of her life. Knapp explores the relationship between humans and animals, specifically the bond we can form with them, making for a rich, emotionally complex read. Hilary Swank's heartfelt narration makes a good story even better. 7 hours 8 minutes. More info →
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The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing up in Communist Russia

The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing up in Communist Russia

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya has gone on to become one of Russia's most acclaimed authors but this is her story of where she started. She grew up in a disadvantaged family, coming of age in Stalinist Russia, sleeping in freight cars and searching for scraps of food. Her unflinching account is a powerful story of survival. Narrated by Kate Mulgrew of Star Trek: Voyager and Orange Is the New Black. 3 hours 22 minutes. More info →
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The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963

In this modern classic, 10-year-old Kenny and his family head south from their home in Flint, Michigan to visit Grandma in Birmingham—right as the church bombings are about to happen. This award-winning middle grade novel has both humor and depth, and LeVar Burton excels at highlighting the funny and the tragic with his excellent narration. 4 hours 54 minutes. More info →
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Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Author:
One of the most popular novels in the English language, Pride And Prejudice follows Elizabeth Bennett and her four sisters and all that ensues when Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, both men in possession of a fortune, move to town. f you've never read Jane Austen, start here, with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and you'll see why, like Anne, devoted readers keep picking this one up again ... and again and again. Narrated by Rosamund Pike, who played older sister Jane Bennett in the 2005 film version. (Austen fans, take note: Audible recently released a new version of Emma, delightfully read by Emma Thompson.) 11 hours 35 minutes More info →
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What would you add to this list?

P.S. 15 terrific audiobooks you can listen to in 6-ish hours or less, 40 favorite audiobooks for kids, and 10 audiobooks to listen to while you clean, purge, and tidy. Or click here to visit the complete audiobooks archives.

P.P.S. To hear more about how your favorite audiobooks are made—including a hint at how some longtime voice actors really feel about the celebrity audiobook craze—check out this episode of What Should I Read Next. It remains one of my favorites.

129 comments | Comment

129 comments

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  1. RKK says:

    I am currently listening to the Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, narrated by Steven Frye, and it’s OUTSTANDING. For those who just want to hear his voice again after the Harry Potter series, this is delightfully narrated and just plain fun.

  2. Jaia says:

    Ready Player One narrated by Wil Wheaton is amazing. He is known for his command of Geek Culture and he clearly uses his own enthusiasm and understanding to enhance the reading. I loved it, especially when the story references him within the text!

    Also, I consider Neil Gaiman a celebrity and any of his books that he himself has narrated are just tops. His voice, his accent, his inflection…listen to Norse Mythology for an example of his talent in reading out loud.

  3. Cielo says:

    I’m looking forward to road trips this Spring and now that I have book suggestions to go along with them, it’ll be even better!

  4. Muriel says:

    Anne Hathaway reading _The Wonderful Wizard of Oz_ is a delight!

    Stephen Fry reading Hitchhiker’s Guide is great – and the rest of the series is read by Martin Freeman!

    • Kelly C Campbell says:

      Anne Hathaway also does some of the Princess Diaries series! (at least I’ve made it through 1 &2 so far) She is great!

  5. Michelle Wilson says:

    I know that Reese Witherspoon is sort of the it girl right now but I really thought Sissy Spacek did a fantastic job with To Kill a Mockingbird.

    • Beth says:

      I would agree that Sissy Spacek did a great job, but as a listener on CD, I can’t speed up her speaking. I think she talks too slow, especially for my advanced students. Her reading is fantastic however. The speed is the only thing I could change, and if I were listening in a different format, I could.
      Thanks for this post. My Kindergarten son and I listen to audiobooks on CD in the car all the time, to and fro school. We are in the midst of Charlotte’s Web read by E.B. White. I just ordered Series of Unfortunate events read by Tim Curry from my library! Excited.

  6. Ann Rice says:

    “News of the World” by Paulette Jiles, read by Grover Gardner.
    Highly recommend! His voice and style fit perfectly with this wonderful book!

    • LARRY BARTON says:

      I’m not a fan of Old West lit in general, but News of the World jerked my chain hard. A great story and a spot-on narrator. Highly recommend it!

  7. The Great Gatsby narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal
    The Good House narrated by Marybeth Hurt (The Family Man, The World According to Garp)
    This Will Only Hurt a Little narrated by Busy Phillips (Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek, Cougartown) (also the author)
    It narrated by Steven Weber (Wings, 13 Reasons Why)
    Any book narrated by George Newbern (Father of the Bride, Scandal) (just put his name in the Audible search bar to find a list)
    And Then There Were None narrated by Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, Downtown Abbey, The Man Who Invented Christmas)
    You narrated by Santino Fontana (voice of Prince Hans in Frozen, Crazy Ex Girlfriend)
    Where’d You Go Bernadette narrated by Kathleen Wilhoite

  8. Sonja says:

    Kate Winslet reads Roald Dahl’s Matilda – it’s a kids’ book, but her reading is absolutely amazing! One of my favorites!

  9. Jan Roberts says:

    This is a little older, but Stockard Channing reads the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, and they’re FABULOUS! If you read them as a child, you’ll absolutely love hearing them again as an adult.

  10. Meghan says:

    World War Z is amazing on audio as it includes different voices for every distinct “interviewee” and there are some VERY familiar voices included in the mix (Nathan Fillion, Martin Scorsese, and Alan Alda are just a few examples).

  11. Lauren Graham reads her memoir TALKING AS FAST AS I CAN: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls. If you are a fan of Gilmore Girls or Lauren Graham from her Parenthood days, this is a delight. She is so fun to listen to.

  12. Jená says:

    Michael Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery is a cracking good story, read beautifully by the incomparable Michael Kitchen (Foyle’s War, The Enchanted April, and the original – British – House of Cards).

  13. Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey) reads The Chaperone (mixed feelings about the book). Sadly, even my beloved voice-of-all- voices, Jeremy Irons, can’t get me to listen to Lolita! Another Downton-ex is Robert Bathurst the unlikely new voice of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series (the first reader died–he was excellent).

    • jennifer says:

      Agree with you on The Chaperone recommendation. Book was mixed for me as well, but hearing Elizabeth McGovern narrate a book about Cora (albeit a different one than the one she made famous in Downton), was quite a treat.

  14. Zia says:

    The Great Gatsby reads by Jake Gyllenhaal. Having taught the book to high school sophomores for many years, I wish I would have know about this version before my brother gifted it to me two yrs ago. Gyllenhaal is the perfect Nick, balancing the tone of youthful enthusiasm for life and experienced observation of those arround him. He has a clear understanding of the novel, using pauses and expression appropriately. It is the best audio version, and I actually prefer it over any of the movie versions.

  15. Kerry says:

    Adding on another Dan Stevens reading Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” His voices for the 13 characters were captivating!

      • Stephany says:

        Richard Armitage has such a lovely voice – I think I could listen to him read anything. He narrates a couple of Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels, Venetia and Sylvester, which are fluffy and fun. And, he is the narrator for an Audible Original of Romeo and Juilet. (I haven’t listened to it yet but is waiting in my cue).

  16. Annalyn Parrish says:

    I loved David Tennant’s reading of How to Train Your Dragon 1-12 – his narration is excellent. He does fantastic voices and accents, and brings the characters to life wonderfully! It’s a kids’ series, but I enjoyed it (and cried at the ending).

  17. This is one of the best lists I’ve read recently. Thanks for all the great tips! I have thoroughly enjoyed Rachel MacAdams’ AOGG, and am now listening to Michelle Obama’s warm narration of her book. I would add to this list A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, narrated WONDERFULLY by Kate Burton. She nails all the accents and it feels like a radio drama instead of an audiobook. Of your list, I want to listen to Heartburn for me and The Watsons Go to Birmingham for an upcoming family road trip.

    • Meg says:

      I’m going to add A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to my list right now–thanks for this! I’ve never read it and was just thinking maybe on audio…so it’s good to know which version to grab!

  18. Jill D says:

    Assassination Vacation written and read by Sarah Vowell

    The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner read by the late great Edward Herrmann. Actually anything read by him is a winner and he was narrating audio books before it was cool. He narrated Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat, two of my favorite works of non-fiction.

    • Jayne says:

      I definitely agree about Edward Hermann. “Unbroken” and “The Boys in the Boat” were excellent, as was everything else he has narrated.

  19. This is exactly what I needed! I kind of got turned off a few years back by most audiobooks because I felt like the narration was frequently so awful, but it seems like nowadays, a lot more thought is going into it, which makes me want to branch out from my usual Jim Dale territory and try something new!

    The only celebrity-read audiobook I’ve listened to is The Help, which is fabulous on audio (but old hat, as I’m sure most people have already read/listened to that one by now!).

  20. Erin Fortney says:

    I really like the version of The Great Gatsby read by Tim Robbins, and any memoir read by its author (e.g., Bossypants – Tina Fey, Yes Please – Amy Poehler, anything Mindy Kaling). Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming was particularly great.

  21. Kelly Rinehart says:

    Gary Sinise’s (Forrest Gump, CSI: NY) reading Of Mice and Men was fabulous. His ability to bring such heartbreak to the story just through his voice was amazing. He brings so much to this classic…I highly recommend it!

  22. Elaine says:

    I was enthralled by Juliet Stevenson reading both Middlemarch and Jane Eyre, which are two of my favorite books. Her voice is fluid, smart, and expressive – made for telling stories, I think.

    I love this list – the only way I get to read is by audiobook and this gives me some good ones to check out. Thank you!

  23. Kelly C says:

    I am brand new to Audible. I joined because I am excited to listen to their Audible Exclusives narrated by our favorite stars! I am having a hard time accessing the A-list collection on Audible that you mentioned in your blog. Help! I have listened to Anne of Green Gables, narrated by Rachel McAdams. Fabulous!

  24. Tracy Davis says:

    I enjoyed The Boston Girl narrated by Linda Lavin. I was unsure when I listened to the sample but ended up loving it!

  25. Felicia says:

    Two favorites to add to this list are Maggie Gyllenhaal reading Anna Karenina and Kristoffer Tabori reading the amazing Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

  26. Megan says:

    Lincoln in the Bardo was one of my favorite books in 2018 and I think it was because I listened to it. Wonderful audio book.

  27. Susan says:

    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain read by Elijah Wood is fantastic! He does a great job with the accents that are somewhat a pain to read but perfect for an audiobook!

  28. Lisa says:

    The audiobook version of Murder on the Orient Express I listened to was read by Kenneth Branagh and I absolutely loved it! I went looking for other works Branagh has narrated and only found Heart of Darkness, I believe…

    • Anne says:

      We have listened to those over and over around here … but her Beezus sounds so whiny after a while! I don’t know if it’s the actor or the character. 🙂

    • Suzannah says:

      I came here to say the same. I loved the pictures included in the hard copy, but listening to her tell her story was so personal and beautiful.

  29. Lauren says:

    Kate Winslet’s reading of Matilda is AMAZING and one of my favorites. Additionally, Cherry Jones reading the Little House series is wonderful, especially with the fiddle playing and her whole hearted commitment to singing like Pa.

  30. Sally says:

    Caroline Knapp’s memoir, Drinking: A Love Story, is brilliantly written. It’s a difficult story that’s honestly told. I don’t know if an audio version exists.

  31. Diana says:

    (For kids)
    “The Enchanted Wood”, “The Magic Faraway Tree” and “The Folk of the Faraway Tree” by Enid Blyton, read by Kate Winslet. ❤️

  32. Katie says:

    Boys in the Boat narrated by Edward Hermann and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah are two recent hits for me! This list has to include anything Jim Dale does! He is the king of audiobooks!

  33. Becky says:

    City of Thieves narrated by Ron Perlman; written by David Benioff. My very first audiobook years ago. Still a favorite. When we take roads trips, it is always difficult to find audiobooks that BOTH my husband and I want to listen. We both agreed on City of Thieves.

  34. Fiona says:

    Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) narrates a few of the Ngaio Marsh murder mystery series. Check them out if you like Maisie Dobbs.

  35. Lizabeth Snell says:

    Trevor Noah, Born a Crime.. fabulous experience of his story
    Tom Hanks, Uncommon Type… has everything
    Gary Sinise, reading Travels with Charley.. perfect tone, pace and voice of America

  36. Wendy says:

    I loved Cary Elwes reading his book As You Wish. It is about the making of The Princess Bride and includes much of the original cast voicing their own recollections. It was a delight to listen to.

    • Maureen says:

      I second this recommendation. Cary Elwes was a brilliant storyteller and nailed every voice impression perfectly—the one of Rob Reiner was comically on point. The story never loses pace and the time flies by.

  37. Laura says:

    The Boys in the Boat read by Edward Herrmann is excellent. His voice turned a book which would have been very good on paper into a favorite because you feel so emotionally invested in these boys and their rowing dreams by the end of it. Dan Stevens also reads And Then There Were None, and he does a fantastic job!

    • Elizabeth says:

      So many great suggestions. Will definitely be coming back to this post. I am currently listening to Anna Karenina read by Maggie Gyllenhaal.

  38. I decided long ago I wouldn’t ever read or support the publishers of Go Set A Watchman, because I feel ethically icky about how that book came to be released and suspect, based on the evidence, that Lee was exploited and manipulated in her final years. The audiobook by Reese Witherspoon tested my resolve, though – I love her, and her voice. I’d much rather hear her read the original TKAM, if I had a choice! And I’d listen to Stephen Fry read absolutely anything, even the phonebook. 😉

    • Anne says:

      I hear you—I would so love to hear Reese read TKAM! (I’ll listen to Spacek too, I’m happy to keep listening to Harper Lee on repeat. 🙂 )

  39. Each book of the Narnia series is read by a different actor (Kenneth Branaugh, Michael York, Lynn Redgrave, Patrick Stewart, etc.)
    The Screwtape Letters read by John Cleese is amazing!
    I don’t know if you can find these anymore but there used to be a show called Rabbit Ears Radio that had famous actors reading children’s books. It was fabulous!

    • Karen says:

      Second the Screwtape Letters read by John Cleese. It was wonderful! Several decades ago I used to listen to a series on Maine Public Radio called, I think, Reading Aloud. I don’t remember who the narrator was but he was very good and read some great books, among them David McCullough’s book about the Wright Brothers. Wish I remembered more about it but that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away – when my now 30-something children were babies and toddlers.

  40. Anne says:

    Leviathan read by Alan Cummings. Middle grades, alternate history, so good! And Cummings’ narration makes it even better.

  41. Jill says:

    Please excuse the randomness of this question on this post, but I’m not sure how to ask you otherwise. Don’t be scared. 🙂 I remember reading a post of yours about a book you read prior to selling your old house and how it helped you through the process. But I can’t find the title or where you wrote about it. Will you please help me? It’s driving me mildly crazy.

  42. June says:

    Currently listening to Northanger Abbey read by Lynn Redgrave. She does an excellent job of acting all the parts and bringing out just how funny the novel is.

  43. Sarah says:

    Glad to see Dan Stevens on here. When I was testing out whether I would enjoy audiobooks, his narration of Agatha’s Christie “And Then There Were None” and “Murder on the Orient Express” were so amazing that could not stop listening to audiobooks after that. Also, Kate Winslet’s narration of “Matilda”!

  44. Hannah Christmas says:

    I was reading this list, fully prepared to recommend “Pride and Prejudice” read by Rosamund Pike, but alas, you saved the best for last. I enjoyed that so much last year. I also enjoyed Elijah Woods’ performance for “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” on Audible.

  45. Terry says:

    I know that Anthony Trollope is not everyone’s cup of tea, but Can You Forgive Her? read by Timothy West is absolutely wonderful.

  46. Kathy says:

    So many good suggestions in this post and in the comments. My suggestions are all children’s books. Ribsy by Beverly Cleary narrated by Neil Patrick Harris
    Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson narrated by Robert Sean Leonard
    The Lion,the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis narrated by Michael York
    The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder narrated by Cherry Jones( she also sings all the songs in the book)
    Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli narrated by S. Epatha Merkeson

  47. Jessye says:

    Huckleberry Finn narrated by Elijah Wood is one of my all time favorite audiobooks. He does such an amazing job.

  48. Jill says:

    The Phantom Tollbooth performed by David Hyde Pierce is phenomenal. It is a family favorite that is quoted and listened to even after we finish it for a repeat listen. I always recommend it.

  49. Sophie says:

    Jane Eyre read by Thandie Newton is absolutely wonderful imo. Jane Eyre is already one of my favorite classics, and Thandie’s narration made me fall in love with it all over again. Also Kate Winslet reading “Matilda” is hilarious and delightful.

  50. Susie Buzan says:

    I just listened to Becoming by Michelle Obama and narrated by her as well. She speaks so exactly, and never waivers from that, and I never tired of listening to her read. Her details of growing up in Chicago, and becoming a young working woman there, tugged at my own Midwest experience. She is a woman to be admired. Best book I’ve read this year!

    I love hearing authors narrate their own memoirs, and each time I listen to one serves up anticipation for the next one.

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