Audiobooks are only as good as their narrators, and who better to bring a book to life than the author? These are thirteen of my favorite audiobooks narrated by the authors themselves; I can’t wait to hear what you’d add to the list.
I couldn’t resist including my brand new book I’d Rather Be Reading, just out Tuesday, because I narrated it myself. (Fun fact: while it’s not the norm for authors to narrate their own books, I was chosen to narrate mine because listeners know my voice from What Should I Read Next?)
The haunting story of Angelou's childhood in the American South in the 1930s. The prose is incredible, and the story is by turns heartwarming ("I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare") and utterly heartbreaking. If this is one you've been meaning to read, give the audio version a try: Angelou's lilting voice brings her powerful, touching story to life. More info →
In Anne's own words: "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'" A modern classic, and a must-read for writers. More info →
This Newbery medal winner is one of Gaiman's best-known and most-loved works. The story centers around Bod Owens (short for Nobody), who grows up in a graveyard surrounded by ghosts after his family is brutally murdered. (The violent act occurs in the very beginning; it's much easier to listen to after the first chapter.) Gaiman is an excellent narrator, and that's not even counting his British accent. More info →
I thought this finely crafted novel had many wonderful moments and a truly horrible ending. (That's not a reason to skip: bad endings make for great book club reading.) While it's unusual for novelists to read their own work, Kingsolver's lyrical voice perfectly suits her prose. More info →
Interesting and entertaining memoir about Steve Martin's roots and the real story behind his "overnight" success, packed with surprising tidbits about the industry and Martin's personal life. Fun, fast, and very readable. A great show biz biography, especially as read by the author. More info →
The SNL star's first book is packed with juicy behind-the-scenes stories, wise advice, and personal confessions, the audiobook recording with a full cast including Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart (who reads haikus), and even Amy's parents. More info →
Mindy Kaling's most recent essay collection is all about growing up: she covers everything from body image to inner confidence to Hollywood life. When it's good, it's very, very good: my favorite stories were about The Office and Mindy's personal career trajectory, but she also spills on her friendship with B.J. Novak and many more big names in Hollywood. A fun and easy listen. More info →
This alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking tale about McCourt's Irish childhood won the Pulitzer Prize and landed at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. (Mary Karr cited it often as a stunning example in her recent book The Art of Memoir.) McCourt's brogue makes the story leap off the page. More info →
In this collection of coming-of-age essays about his South African childhood, The Daily Show star does a masterful job of alternating the deathly serious with the laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes even combining the two. His mischievous childhood and unconventional youth provide wonderful fodder for not-quite-polite but always entertaining stories. More info →
Of course I had to include this! This essay collection is written BY a book lover (me) for book lovers (YOU). For so many people, reading isn't just a hobby or a way to pass the time--it's a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can't imagine life without them. I wax poetic on the magic of the library next door, bookworm problems, the books that made me fall in love with reading, and an "instructive" piece on how to organize your bookshelves that would fit right in at McSweeney's. (I also narrate my first book, Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything.) More info →
You all have been telling me to listen to Rick Bragg read his own work for years, and now, I get it: this is the best thing I've listened to in a good long while, and maybe, ever—which I did NOT expect from an essay collection. Bragg reads 70-ish pieces of his nonfiction work, most of which have been previously published. Some are just a few minutes long; the longest runs for about fifteen. He covers A LOT of ground: football, fishing, book tour, his mama's cornbread, wardrobe concerns, New Orleans cuisine, natural disasters. These stories are compact, wistful, funny, and poignant. SO GOOD. More info →
I was just gushing about Joshilyn Jackson's writing last night at a book tour event. This is her most recent novel, about a complicated Alabama family and the "two Souths" it inhabits. This is a fast-reading, big-hearted novel that tackles Serious Issues really, really well—while spinning a terrific story. Jackson always reads her own novels (and other authors' novels as well—she's that good), and I've listened to a half dozen of them because her narration—and her stories—are amazing, and the combination is dynamite. More info →
What are your favorite audiobooks narrated by their authors? What would YOU add to this list?