14 audiobooks that enhance your reading experience

audiobooks enhance the reading experience

It’s official: as far as your brain is concerned, audiobooks are not “cheating.” The mental processes involved in experiencing a book are pretty much the same, whether you “read” it with your eyes or your ears.

Nobody needed to convince me. I love a good audiobook, and never worry about whether or not it’s cheating. (What a silly question!)

Audiobooks let me “read” while I’m driving, or running, or folding the laundry. They let me get through more pages, more quickly, than I ever could if I was confined to paper and screens.

But my favorite audiobooks are good for more than just hands-free reading. The best aren’t a substitute for actual books; instead they enhance it, adding layers to the reading experience.

These 14 titles aren’t just good books; they’re also wonderful listening experiences. I hope you enjoy them, and I can’t wait to hear about your favorites.

Tell me about some of your favorite listening experiences in comments. What audiobooks have you loved? What titles would you add to this list?

Great Audiobooks
The Thousand Dollar Tan Line: a Veronica Mars Mystery

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line: a Veronica Mars Mystery

Marshmallows, this is what you need to know: it's Veronica Mars, narrated by Kristen Bell herself. This wasn't high literature or anything, but it was so much fun (and had such good narrative drive) I didn't want to stop until I knew how it ended. (8 hr 42 min) More info →
One Plus One

One Plus One

Because: Jojo Moyes. A road-trip-from-hell as a romantic comedy? Yep. Moyes’s latest novel is a departure from her previous works, this time focusing on a single mom, her weird kids, and a geeky tech guy. Financially strapped Jess can’t afford to send her math whiz daughter to a decent school, but then a scholarship opportunity arises—in Scotland, and she can’t afford to drive there. Enter Geeky Ed, who owes her a favor, but mostly wants a chance to think about anything besides the insider trader scandal he’s embroiled in. The story is told from four different points of view, with different voices for each, which makes the audio version great. Quirky and endearing. (12 hr 19 min) More info →
The Martian: A Novel

The Martian: A Novel

Think Cast Away, in outer space. Funny, thrilling, and surprisingly plausible. A 2015 summer reading guide pick—it's a book you can't put down, and the audio narration is pitch perfect. (10 hr 53 min) More info →
Ready Player One

Ready Player One

I couldn't care less about video games or John Hughes movies, but this exceptional audiobook hooked me from minute one. Wil Wheaton is phenomenal. It’s 2044 and the world is in shambles, so who can blame Wade Watts if he’d rather live in a virtual reality than the real one? Like many of his peers, Wade spends his waking hours by himself, logged into a virtual reality game, racing through a computerized scavenger hunt in which his success depends on his knowledge of obscure ‘80s pop culture references. Dystopian novels abound, but they’re not usually this fun. (15 hr 46 min) More info →
A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods

Renowned travel writer Bryson takes to the Appalachian Trail in this laugh-out-loud travel memoir. After returning to America after 20 years in England, Bryson reconnects with his home country by walking 800 of the AT’s 2100 miles, many of them with his cranky companion Katz, who serves as a brilliant foil to Bryson’s scholarly wit. A superb hiking memoir that skillfully combines laugh-out-loud anecdotes with serious discussions about history, ecology, and wilderness trivia. Droll, witty, entertaining. This is one of those rare occasions where I'd recommend listening to the abridged version, because Bryson himself narrates it. (5 hr 58 min) More info →
Someone Else’s Love Story

Someone Else’s Love Story

Several devoted readers told me they didn't fall in love with Joshilyn Jackson's writing until they listened to her narrate her own stories on audio and from the opening scene you'll understand why. This Southern novel begins with a holdup at the Circle K, and weaves together themes of loss, love, date rape, and Asperger's Syndrome into one strange but strangely fitting story. Heads up for a few disturbing/graphic scenes. (12 hr 3 min) More info →
Faithful Place

Faithful Place

When he was 19, Frank Mackey planned to run off with his girlfriend Rosie Daly: they would cut ties to home, get married, and start a new life in England. When Rosie didn't show, Frank assumed she changed her mind and left without him. But 22 years later, Rosie's suitcase is found hidden in their planned meeting spot. Frank never got over her, and he'll do whatever it takes to uncover what happened. Frank's qualities make him a first-class detective: he's painfully honest and willing to deal with unpleasant truths. He knows his weak spots, expects the sucker punch. He believes the most important thing every man should know is what he would die for. Depressing, but French tells a great story, and the fabulous accents in the audio version bring it to life. (16 hr 17 min) More info →
Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries Series Book 1)

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries Series Book 1)

This is the first installment of the instantly beloved British mystery series set between the wars, and the accents are to die for. This is a series worth binge listening. (10 hr 1 min) More info →
A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

I couldn't get into this as a hardcover but then a friend with great taste suggested I give the audio a try. I started again from the beginning, and this time it hooked me. The narrators' accents—especially for Ove—are fantastic. I laughed and cried and couldn't stop listening. But do yourself a favor: don't even think about finishing this novel in a public place, and think about removing your mascara first. (9 hr 9 min) More info →
The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House

I was warned this beautiful and heartbreaking story would suck me right in and it certainly did. The year is 1791, and an orphaned Irish girl is brought to a Virginia plantation as an indentured servant and makes her home among the slaves. The story is told alternately by the orphan Lavinia and 17-year-old Belle, the half-white illegitimate daughter of the plantation owner, who becomes Lavinia's de facto mother figure. The story keeps a brisk pace, propelled forward by rape, corruption, lynching, and occasionally, love. The wonderful narration (in two voices) heightens the sense of clashing cultures. (12 hr 55 min) More info →
Be Frank With Me

Be Frank With Me

In this debut we follow the adventures of Alice Whitley, a young and innocent 23-year-old who's given a plumb assignment by her NYC publisher: fly to California to serve as personal assistant to the reclusive bestselling author who's agreed to write her first book in decades. But Alice soon discovers her only role is to serve as child-wrangler to the author's quirky 9-year-old, who's constantly getting into trouble while dressing as a 1930s movie star, complete with top hat. Narrator Tavia Gilbert's fantastic narration takes this charming story up a notch. (8 hr 37 min) More info →
The Chief Inspector Gamache Series

The Chief Inspector Gamache Series

These mysteries are unlike anything I'd ever read: the whodunit plot lines are just an excuse to explore human nature, granting them a depth and psychological astuteness I never expected from this genre. (Note: if I thought Three Pines was a real place, I'd move there in a heartbeat.) The first book is slow, the murders in books 2 and 3 are a little weird, but they're all still good. But the series really hits its stride in book 4. Narrator Ralph Cosham, who does books 1-10, is absolutely fabulous. (Book 1: 9 hr 37 min) More info →
Three Sisters, Three Queens

Three Sisters, Three Queens

In this latest release from New York Times best-selling historical fiction master Gregory, she takes on King Henry VIII's sisters Mary and Margaret, along with Katherine of Aragon. These sisters—simultaneously allies and rivals—become the queens of England, Scotland, and France, and Gregory—with help from narrator Bianca Amato—does a masterful job of making you feel the high drama of the Tudor court. (21 hr 9 min) More info →


Leave A Comment
  1. Brandyn says:

    The Martian has been toiling in my Audible account for an embarrassing long time – I should probably get after that:)
    I was so disappointed when the second Veronica Mars book wasn’t narrated by Kristen Bell. I know she’s busy, but it was a let down. I adore the narrator for the Cormoran Strike series.
    I highly recommend Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles) on audio. They are narrated by Rebecca Soler and I think she’s up there with Jim Dale in her ability to differentiate voices.
    Also the audiobook for Illuminae by Amie Kaufman is a cast production and I just thought it was amazing.

  2. Heather says:

    I, too, loved The Martian. I listened to one of Louise Penny’s books (Brutal Telling – book 5) on audio and switched back to e-book after that, but I did really enjoy it. I think I’ll give #8 a go on audio. I can’t thank you enough for recommending that series, by the way.
    I’ve made note of this post for when I’m in need of another good audiobook!!!

  3. Trish D says:

    I have The Martian in my Audible library – you just convinced me to listen to it next.

    My personal favorite audiobook is As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, narrated by Cary Elwes (and several tidbits from the other people involved in making TPB, many of whom did their own reading). High literature? Hardly! But a thoroughly enjoyable listen for anyone who loves that movie

    • Sara K says:

      Yes! I read As You Wish in hardback and enjoyed it very much, but when I was able to snag the audio for cheap (maybe it was a deal of the day?) I snatched it up and listened to it again. The audio was even better!

    • B J says:

      Got The Martian on a trial membership to Audible. Had a 3-hour drive to go meet my Mom for lunch on my day off. Tried listening to it during the drive up and back. Loved it! Had to finish it right away when I got home. Loved the movie too, but not as much as the audio. Its the only book I’ve read in forever that I actually wanted to read again as soon as I finished it.

  4. Martha says:

    Great list, thanks!

    One thing I struggle with on audiobooks is whether they will be fit for my boys (11 & 6). I had to bail on The Signature of All Things. Luckily the foreshadowing made me suspicious and we bailed after an interest in botany was sparked, but before anything I was not prepared to discuss ? (The other thing is truffle with is paying attention….). Anyhow, did you find anything objectionable in the Three Sisters, Three Queens?

    • D says:

      I’ve not read that particular book, but I’ve read three others by Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl, Lady of the River, and The White Queen) and would not listen with my own 11 & 6 yo with me. All of these focus on love stories and how they endure or are affected by the history of their time. The intimate parts are usually tasteful, but there are also wars/ battle scenes, beheadings, burnings, husbands cheating on their wives. Not what I’m interested in sharing with my kids at their particular ages, especially if the focus is entertainment and not historical. Mine would both rather listen to a Kate DiCamillo book or Narnia anyway. Good luck.

      • martha says:

        Thanks for the feedback! Common Sense Media doesn’t cover many historical fictions, nor does IMDB parents guide, unless a movie’s been made.

    • Cheryl says:

      I can’t speak to that Philippa Gregory, but I’d think in general that they wouldn’t be a good fit. But “All the Light We Cannot See” might be. I listened to that one earlier this year and it was so good. I’ve heard “Ready Player One” would be more family-friendly listening, too.

    • Kayla says:

      There are some excellent young adult/kids audiobooks out there that won’t make you pull your hair out. Our whole family loves the Ashtown Burials series by N.D.Wilson, the Redwall series is great, with amazing narration.

    • Lisa says:

      My kids loved the audiobooks by Richard Peck ( great narrator. The Harry Potter Series is awesome on audio. We have listened to several books by the following authors that were a great read. Sharon Creech, Carl Hiassen, Pam Munoz Ryan, Carl Hiassen.

  5. helen says:

    I am currently listening to Ready Player One, and agree that Wil Wheaton is doing an excellent job. I also thoroughly enjoyed Far From the Madding Crowd, narrated by Jamie Parker (I was having a hard time getting through the printed version of this), and Nadia Hashimi’s novel “When The Moon is Low”, which actually has two narrators, one for the mother and one for the son. The voices made it so real to me.

  6. Pat Van Cleaf says:

    I listened to The Martian and enjoying it so much inspired me to see the movie on the bigscreen when it was released. I also HIGHLY recommend listening to the Outlander series of books on audio, narrated by Davina Porter. Ms. Porter does an excellent job with voicing all the different characters, it’s hard to believe just one person is narrating. I hope she continues to narrate any of the books in Diana Gabaldon’s repertoire.

  7. Sara K says:

    I’m kinda surprised The Boys in the Boat didn’t make the list. That’s my go-to audiobook to recommend to people. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much without Edward Hermann’s narration!

    I’m reading The Martian right now as an ebook. I am curious now about the audio and may have to check it out. I can easily see the sarcasm and humor of Mark’s commentary being enhanced by a good narrator!

    • Brandyn says:

      I almost bought the Boys in the Boat audio a couple weeks ago, but I was afraid Edward Hermann narrating would make me sad. Also, it’s long and have a backlog of audiobooks:)

  8. Christine says:

    I totally agree on the Louise Penny series. The narrator does an excellent job of bringing the characters to life in very distinguishable ways. I listened to the first 11 books that way!

    I also thought The Kitchen House was a fantastic audio experience.

    Thank you for the suggestions!

  9. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for this list!
    The Flavia de luce series by Alan Bradley are great audiobooks. This series begins with “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”…the accents are awesome as is each book itself!

  10. Betsy says:

    Great list! I’ve been tearing through audio books since a major bridge on my commute closed unexpectedly, thereby DOUBLING my commute time. Audio books are saving my life. Lots of books to add to my TBR list here. Thanks!

    I wholeheartedly second The Cuckoo’s Calling (and the rest of that series). Excellent narration. And everything Bill Bryson, but make sure you get the ones where he’s the narrator. I’ve returned audiobooks to the library once I realized that Bryson wasn’t the narrator of the books he wrote! #booknerd

      • Laura T says:

        I particularly enjoy his half American, half British accent. But Carrrie, pick back up A Short History of Nearly Everything – it is still worth the listen! And if you like that check out the Disappearing Spoon and Sam Kean’s other books. They’re great science writing!

          • Laura T says:

            Yeah, I know. I think I listened to it before any I heard any that he had narrated. So I didn’t have the expectation of hearing his voice. Even though it isn’t Bryson narrating, I still think A Short History is worth a listen, but I get that having the expectation of Bryson can make it not work. It’s the same for me with the new Louise Penny narrator, I can’t get past not having the same accents.

  11. Kimberly Nelson says:

    Anne! I was so excited to see that you listed Faithful Place! I know you often mention The Likeness as your favorite Tana French book, but this mine. I’ve actually read this in hardback and listened to it at least two times each. French’s first book, In the Woods, is also really good on audio — if a little creepy. I also agree with The Martian, Ready Player One and anything by Louise Penny. With the Louise Penny books, listening helped me catch more humor than I was inserting into my reading. I haven’t read/listened to this Joshilyn Jackson, but Gods in Alabama is great on audio (though it’s not read by Jackson). Dear Mr. You by Mary Louise Parker was also awesome on audio. More often than not, I don’t enjoy authors reading their own work, but Parker did a great job.

  12. Thank you so much for this list. I recently went from a 5-minute commute to a 30-minute commute. I listened to Amy Schumer’s “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo”. At first it was weird hearing her read her own story rather than her usual comic voice, but it grew on me and I ended up loving it.

    Then, since I’m such a fan of Bill Bryson, I went to “A Short History of Nearly Everything.” The reader of this book was sooooo incredibly dry. I quickly returned it in learning that all audiobooks are not created equal.

    I’ve learned it’s hard to pick and choose. A great book could be horrible on audiobook. Likewise, some books might be more enjoyable that way! I appreciate your recommendations. It gives me a place to start

  13. Tami Dale says:

    I would add Lonesome Dove and The Golem and the Jinni to the list. George Guidall, who narrated The Golem and the Jinni, is one of my favorite narrators.

  14. Patty S says:

    I love audiobooks. I have an hour commute every day and can usually get through a book in a week. I recently listened to “The Goldfinch” – what a tremendous book and narrator. I also enjoy any comedians audiobiography. They usually narrate themselves and they are hilarious. A couple noteworthy ones were Billy Crystal and Martin Short.

  15. Melisa says:

    Pride and Prejudice narrated by Carolyn Seymour was done well. Also, Unbroken was great on audio. Currently, I’m engrossed in Louise Penny’s Still Life.

  16. Beth B. says:

    Thank you for this list! I find that I tend to listen non-fiction on audiobook, with the exception of family-friendly books for traveling, so I’m thrilled to have some tested fiction to borrow from the library.

  17. Lindsey says:

    I just listened to Rob Lowe read Stories I Only Tell My Friends and loved it! It’s an incredible story, and Lowe’s impressions of other celebrity voices are priceless.

  18. Missy G. says:

    One of my bookish successes this year was getting a coworker hooked on audiobooks! It was getting hard to remember and recommend books, so I recently created a bookshelf on Goodreads for all the books that I’ve finished on audio. In addition to some of those you already listed, my top favorites are Rules of Civility, Bel Canto, Unbroken, At the Water’s Edge, and Cutting for Stone.

  19. Ellen Cole says:

    A couple of weeks ago, I finished listening to “A Man Called Ove”. It is now one of my all-time-favorite books! When I read the title of this post, I immediately thought of Ove and was so pleased to see that you felt the same way. The narrator is wonderful.

    The Mitford Series by Jan Karon absolutely should be included in this category. I read the first book years ago and thought it just okay. John McDonough’s narration is stellar. I LOVED this series in audio format. Listened to every one of the books and crave more.

    Another favorite in audio format was “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield. I listened to the book mainly while walking in the neighborhood and walked a lot more than planned because I loved the book so much! The writing took my breath away and I don’t know that I would have had the full effect of it by reading it myself. We sometimes read so fast that we are past a beautifully written sentence before we’ve really taken it in. I gasped more than once at the beautiful use of language and the pictures it painted.

    Clearly, I totally agree that reading may be enhanced by narrators in audiobooks and don’t think it cheating in any way. Audiobooks are the ONLY reason I’m willing to exercise!

  20. Ellen Cole says:

    Oh gosh…how could I forget “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” got my kitchen painted. The ensemble cast of readers did a fabulous job!

  21. Sandy Nawrot says:

    Most of these would be on my list too! But because I take audios VERY seriously…they are my passion, as you may have deduced…I went back to my “best of” lists for the last handful of years and came up with more. First, I’ll just say that ALL of Joshilyn Jackson, Tana French, Robert Galbraith and Kate Morton audios would be on my list. I will not read them in print, period. They are all amazing. Also, Where’d You Go Bernadette (Maria Semple), Bossypants (Tina Fey), The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger), We Are Water (Wally Lamb), 11/22/63 (Uncle Stevie), Rod an Autobiography (Rod Stewart), and The Dinner (Herman Koch) all made the top lists in years when I may have listened to upwards of 80 or more. I will talk about audios forever if you let me 🙂

  22. Andrea says:

    Thanks so much for these recommendations! I’m currently listening to Jane Steele, and the narrator (Susie Riddell) is fabulous. A Man Called Ove is on my Audible wish list, as are a couple of Bill Bryson books. I’m excited to check out some of the others you’ve listed as well.

  23. Barbara says:

    Currently listening to Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, narrated by Sunhil Malhotra. Wonderful to hear the accents and correct pronunciation of names and places. Love this book.

  24. Jen says:

    For people with middle grade kids or adults who like middle grade, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series is fun.

    And I loved Jim Dales narration of Night Circus

  25. Meghan says:

    Love all of the Louise Penny books on audio. I am in the middle of Book 6 now and feel like all of these characters are my friends. Just yesterday I learned that Ralph Cosham died in 2014, though. I’m not sure I can listen to the ones where he isn’t the reader! He IS Gamache!

  26. Margie says:

    Three thoughts. I know you focus on adult literature, but the Neil Patrick Harris version of the Henry Huggins books are amazing. Perfect for family car rides. 2. The Martian is great in three ways. Audiobook, regular book and movie. Such a rarity. 3. Bill Bryson does the narration on the audio tour at the baths in Bath, England and it was fantastic. I’ve always wondered if he does it for other historical sites as well or if that was a one off deal.

    • Anne says:

      I LOVE Neil Patrick Harris doing Henry Huggins! My family has listened to that series sooo many times. (We also like Stockard Channing reading Ramona, but not nearly as much.)

  27. Shannon says:

    Two of my children are dyslexic and have struggled with reading. This is frustrating to them because they want to read the books their friends are reading, but often haven’t yet developed the reading skills necessary to tackle these books. We found the answer to this dilemma by down loading the audible version of books such as “Fablehaven” or “The Sorcerers Stone” to our childs kindles. The audio syncs to the text, which allows the child to follow along as the book is read to them. It evens highlights the text as it is being read. This has exposed to a greater range of books and vocabulary of words that they would have had access to on their own, while allowing them to maintain independence, and keep up with the reading habits of their peers.

  28. Jan says:

    I have been an audiobook fan since Books on Tape days in the last century! I loved “The Martian”, “A Walk in the Woods” and “The Cuckoo’s Calling”. I have found listening to the “classics” is far easier than other modes of reading. That’s how I was able to read “War and Peace” earlier this year – definitely a commitment.

  29. Mary says:

    Great post, Anne!
    I always have an audio going and many of my favorites made your list…Faithful Place and The Kitchen House rank way up there for me as well.
    A few recent listens that were very good: Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar and Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth. Also, I know this book may not be for everyone, but I found A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold to be one of the most emotional and heartfelt audios I’ve ever experienced.

    • Anne says:

      I have that book in hardcover and I keep hearing it’s amazing. I’m a little scared to pick it up though. It never occurred to me to even look for an audio version! I’m glad to hear it was a wonderful listening experience.

  30. Ashley says:

    Not really of the same style or genre of the books you listed but the Harry Potter audio books are AMAZING! Jim Dale is incredible with his voices of the characters. I have yet to find an audio book that compares.

  31. Kathy Vitale says:

    I loved the audiobooks for One Plus One, The Kitchen House and A Man Called Ove. They are all on my list of favorites! Three very different settings and type of characters.

  32. Cayla says:

    Thank you so much for this list! I work at a county public library and I have a lot of back of house work so I’ve been trying to listen to more audiobooks while I work. This list came at the PERFECT time for me and I’ve added Maisie Dobbs to my list.

  33. Grace says:

    I have to say I hated Ready Player One on audiobook. Wil Wheaton read it so unbearably slowly it almost turned me off from the book completely. My husband had read and loved the book, so we were listening to it together on a road trip. I had to stop, but I eventually finished it in paper format which was much more enjoyable.

    Also, when oh when are they going to come out with another Veronica Mars book?!

    • Lisa says:

      Have you ever used a different speed on audible or overdrive? For a slow reader speeding up the narration can really help make it more enjoyable (and you finish the book sooner).

      • Grace says:

        Oh, interesting! It was on our iPod so I don’t know if I’d have been able to do that, but that’s good to know for the future. I always speed up YouTube videos and such, so maybe I’m just an impatient person, haha.

  34. Leggy says:

    The comoron strikes series are some of the best audio books I’ve listened to. I also enjoyed Aziz Ansari’s modern romance, I don’t think I would have stuck with it on paperback. I read the Martian on paperback and loved it(I even cried at the end, lmao), wonder how different the audio experience would have been.
    I did rules of civility on audio and it was just fabulous and I’m currently doing “seabiscuit” on audio (so far so good).

  35. Melinda says:

    Anne, thank you for this post! It is so timely for me. I have often thought that were I to sit down for a conversation with you and you asked what I wanted to change about my reading life, I would say that I wanted to try audiobooks. So, recently, I signed up for Audible and ordered my first book, A Man Called Ove. Like you, I tried the paper version and wondered what the excitement over this book was all about because it did nothing for me. I decided to try it as an audiobook and am so glad I did. What a difference between reading what Ove says versus hearing someone speak for Ove! The narrator does a great job bringing Ove to life! Your other suggestions for great audiobook experiences plus all of the comments to your post are giving me some great ideas for my next audiobook. Thanks everyone!

  36. Cassie says:

    I am a very very visual person, ie. not auditory. I have tried audio books since they’d be so convenient to listen to while playing with the little baby, but I can’t follow the story. I will definitely give one of these a try and see if that helps!

  37. Karen says:

    Thanks for such a great list! This is probably a silly question, but do you listen to these books in audible? I did a free trial with audible and before I kept it I looked around, and the books I was looking at seemed so expensive! Are they all expensive or do they have deals sometimes? Or maybe there’s another place to get audio books that I don’t know about? Thanks!!

    • Meghan says:

      Karen–I get all of my audio books from apps affiliated with my local library, both Overdrive and Hoopla. No purchase necessary!

    • Brandyn says:

      Audible has a daily deal. Today it’s I Am Malala for $3.95.
      They run other sales but those are generally members only – I hit the sales hard. Currently 200 books are on sale for $4.95 (ends Friday). Americanah, Water for Elephants, A Court of Thorns and Roses, I’ll Give You the Sun, The Complete Sherlock Holmes.
      I also do great through Overdrive with my library. If you have Amazon Prime they offer 50 free audio books a month, but I think it’s complicated to find them.

    • Missy G. says:

      Check with your library! I use CD books in my car, and Overdrive makes it super easy to listen to books through the app on my tablet or phone.

    • Anne says:

      I use Audible and frequently use my membership to get the hot new releases I’d have to wait FOREVER for at the library, but that I’m not sure I want to buy. I also scoop up many titles from their daily deals. You don’t need to be a member to buy them, and prices range from $.95 to $4.95. I also use the Whispersync deals to get audiobooks for cheap.

  38. Good to know about the Louise Penny books! I’ve read the first three and they just weren’t doing it for me, but will keep trying with book 4, and in audiobook format if I can find it.

    I think this list is what I needed to get into audiobooks beyond the Harry Potter series. Thanks!

  39. Libby says:

    My husband and I listened to Ready Player One on our road trip from Kansas to New Orleans and back. And by the time we pulled into our driveway (with an hour left), I was RIVETED!! I insisted that we listen while we had dinner that night. Even if that meant splitting a set of ear buds at a diner!

  40. Laura T says:

    I would also recommend the audio versions of Neil Gaiman’s books. He does the narration himself and it’s just wonderful. Two more excellent series – Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon (although they got too graphic for me eventually) and Elizabeth Peters’s delightful Amelia Peabody series (female archaeologist in Egypt starting in 1884). Both are narrated by Barbara Rosenblat who is truly gifted.

  41. Jillian says:

    I was walking my dog while finishing Ove and had to walk home blubbering and tears streaming down my face. Three months later, and I think about that book pretty much every day when I walk that stretch of trail.

  42. Meghan says:

    I’m sad to learn Ralph Cosham died — I really love his reading of the Gamache series. I’m trying not to binge on them, but it’s really hard.
    My kids and I have adored the Narnia series read by a whole host of famous British actors — Lynn Redgrave, Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi — and I loved the audio version of Code Name Verity. The companion, Rose Under Fire, didn’t have nearly as good a narrator.
    What a fun post! I’ve been a die-hard audiobook listener for 15 years, when I was fresh out of college and couldn’t afford cable, a DVD player or internet, and would check out audiobooks from the library to listen to in the evenings after work.

  43. Anne, you turned me on to Outlander, and I bought the 7-book bundle when you published it as an Amazon deal. I got seriously hooked immediately, bought #8, then joined Audibel so I could listen. (Just finished them up last week.?) Davina Porter is simply the best narrator I’ve ever experienced! I’ve hunted her down and listened to her read several other books as well- and she never disappoints.

  44. Wendy says:

    I haven’t been listening to audio books long, but I have One Plus One going in the car right now! It’s great fun, too.

    I just picked up Ready Player One recently and was not fully engaged in the first pages, so maybe I will try the audio version of that as well.

    Such great recommendations; thank you! I did recently try listening to a book with a narrator I found grating, so I put that down pretty quickly for sure, but I’ve learned that a well-narrated book can really help get over the challenge of getting started on a book I just can’t seem to get motivated for, even if I do want to read it.

  45. Lisa says:

    Thank you for the list, audio is how I do most of my reading and I was happy to see that my library had almost every one of these. I agree that the narrator can add to the reading experience and just as I have my favorite authors, I have my favorite readers. I would add Caroline Lee as a favorite, she read so many great ones including Liane Moriarity’s books. Right now I am enjoying Colin Firth’s narration of The End of The Affair, a book I probably wouldn’t read otherwise.

  46. Eve says:

    Currently finishing up Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and have gotten swept up in the suspense as the narrator does an excellent job of making each character come alive. My kids have adored the Peter and the Starcatchers series narrated by Jim Dale. LOVE audiobooks as I am an auditory learner. Couldn’t get into The Martian and am wondering if it might be better on audio?

  47. Heather says:

    I listened to Veronica Mars on audio and it was fantastic! There were a couple of times where I said that I needed to go finish watching Veronica Mars even though I was just listening to it :). I too was disappointed that the second book wasn’t narrated by Kristen Bell :(. I look forward to checking some of these others out.

  48. Kelly Smith says:

    I loved 11/22/63 by Stephen King (Craig Wasson). It is such a long book so audio was the only way I could get through it. Also, Lauren Graham reading her Someday, Someday, Maybe is so delightful! The Help is also a great listen.

  49. Raven says:

    When do you have time to listen to books? My husband and I used to read to each other, but haven’t been able to in the last few years due to schedule conflicts. In the car, with kids, doesn’t work for obvious reasons. 🙂 So?

    • Gina says:

      Usually in the car when I’m doing an errand by myself or going somewhere on my own. Weeding the garden, folding laundry, doing any chores around the house.

    • Becky says:

      Also, headphones. I listen while cooking dinner, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, etc. Wireless Bluetooth headphones make it easy and obviously the kids can’t hear it 🙂

    • Brandyn says:

      I have an audiobook for all the things I loathe doing – yardwork, laundry, exercise etc. Sometimes I actually do these things before it’s absolutely necessary because I want to finish my book!

  50. Sue says:

    Great post, Anne. I listen to audiobooks when walking my dog, and while sewing. I can highly recommend Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. The narrator adds an extra layer to the book with his wonderful reading. I will listen to it again. For kids, the How To TrIn Your Dragon books for liveliness and humor. Pleasing to kids and their parents!

  51. Rissie says:

    May I also recommend the audio versions of “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead and “Between The World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates? Both are excellect books and excellent listens.

  52. Bridget says:

    Every Thursday I drive 3 hours to where my husband works. I stay through to Sunday and drive back. I’d never make it without audio books.

    • Laura T says:


      Anything Neil Gaiman has written (and then narrated) is fantastic. Monster Hunter International (maybe not quite the fantasy you’re looking for) is wonderfully narrated. Also Jim Butcher’s Dresden files is wonderfully narrated (by James Marsters aka Spike from Buffy). Tamora Pierce’s series are a bit more traditional fantasy and narrated very well. Those are more young adult, but I still enjoy them very much.

  53. Karen says:

    Looking for g-rated audiobook recommendations for car trips with my 80 year old parents. They won’t listen if there is profanity or sexual content but they aren’t interested in children’s books either. Any ideas?

  54. Laura says:

    Great list. I am not always a huge audio book fan, but I really enjoyed listening to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It is read by a cast of engaging people, and the central character’s voice reminded me a bit of Julie Andrews.

  55. Michelle Collazo says:

    I’ve been waiting for a post just like this for awhile now…thank you, thank you for delivering some excellent audio recommendations! I credit your website and podcast for pushing me to try audio, and I’m so happy I did! Life is full with work, family, graduate school…but taking care of oneself is so important, and that’s where reading comes in for me. Thank you for helping me figure out how to remove that barrier that is ‘time’, and take advantage of those moments when I can listen (in the car, mostly!!).

    So far, I’ve listened to: “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver – the narrator does different voices for the very different perspectives of the sisters…this was such a great first audio experience. I love her southern accent.
    “Pines” by Blake Crouch – really not my typical genre, and while the premise was interesting, the narrating was pretty terrible, and the writing not too impressive.
    “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou – I LOVED this one…I could listen to Ms. Angelou read anything, beautiful narrating, and the writing is exquisite. I went out and bought a paperback of this, too, because I want to pore over the sentences.
    “As You Wish” by Cary Elwes – I’m currently listening to this one. It’s entertaining…the writing is ok, and it’s narrated by the author and some of the cast members, which is great. The behind-the-scenes stories are fantastic. Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies, though…and now I need to read the actual book!

    And now, with all the reader comments, I’ll have even more recommendations! Thank you for helping me sustain my reading life through audiobooks 🙂

  56. Beth says:

    Have you listened to the Flavia DeLuce series? The narrator captures her voice and the tone of the books so well that I will wait for weeks to get the audio book as opposed to reading them.

  57. Dana says:

    I will be adding Faithful Place and 3 Sisters, 3 Queens to my audible queue.
    I agree wholeheartedly about audio books. I love that they allow me to enjoy a book while driving, knitting or folding laundry. However, I do have to be completely alone to fully engulf myself into the listen.
    Currently, I am listening to Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It’s amazing thus far. I am also listening to book 4 of the Game of Thrones (GOT)on audio and it’s the best audio experience I’ve ever had. I tried the ebook and the paperback and always got lost or forgot who I was dealing with because there are thousands of different characters to keep track of. The narrator of GOT brings that book alive for me and I love the show that much more because of how awesome the audio books are.

    Your faithful reader,

  58. Heidi says:

    The Shack audiobook was excellent. I hadn’t read it first or since, so I can’t say for sure, but I added the audio when I bought the Kindle version for my teen daughter because I enjoyed it so much.

  59. Sydney says:

    I listened to Modern Romance in one shot. I started it on my drive home from work one Friday night (I commute), I liked it so much that I kept listening during my workout, then continued listening while I did my grocery shopping, came home and listened while I did meal prep, and then made a bowl of popcorn to snack on while I finished it. The book is great, and Aziz is hilarious. I also listened to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project on audio based on a reccomendation from one of your posts. I don’t know that I would have read it otherwise, but I’m so glad I did! I’m not an avid Gretchen Rubin fan and follow all her work obsessively. I just finished listening to A Man Called Ove today. The narrator was perfect! It added a lot to the story. I think Ove will end up being my favorite book I’ve read this year. I laughed and cried throughout the whole story. It was deep yet lighthearted and had such a wonderful message without being sappy or nauseating. I’m always looking for great audio reccomendations. Thanks for this great post!

    • Jo Skidmore says:

      A Man Called Ove is my all time favorite book/audio books. I have recommended it to everyone. I’ve actually listened to it a second time. I rarely watch/listen or read anything more than once and it was just as good the second time around!

      The Neapolitan Series by Elena Ferrante is awesome. Even after 4 books, I didn’t want it to end.

      Heartless by Marissa Meyer was really good!

  60. Sarah says:

    Reading this post and these comments, I have added so many books to my Audible Wish List! I wanted to mention how much I LOVED Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides on audiobook. The narrator, Kristoffer Tabori, does an amazing job with the Greek-American accents. It was such an experience listening to this book. Loved it!

  61. Lori says:

    I loved listening to The Mitford Series by Jan Karon. Simple, calm, uplifting stories. Too simple to read but wonderfully relaxing to listen to.

  62. Johanna says:

    I love audiobooks! I listen to them while I work. I just placed almost all the books on hold at my library. Thank you for your recommendations!

  63. Trisha says:

    Some of my favorite audio books listed! I drive 60 miles a day to work (roundtrip) so I have a lot of time to listen and cry ( Man called Ove). My number one favorite is still Code Name Verity- really is an outstanding audio book.

  64. Karen Trifonoff says:

    I loved the Audible version of “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving. Owen’s voice was great. I have gotten into the habit of reading along on my Kindle and listening to the book on Audible whenever I can. I can’t imagine this book without hearing Owen’s voice.

  65. Chelle says:

    Thank you so much for this post – some book-reading experiences really can be enhanced through audio editions, and this list is a great place to start. I really regret not having listened to Amy Poehler’s book, as I felt when I was reading it I wasn’t quite capturing her voice, and therefore didn’t find it nearly as funny or enjoyable as I do when watching or listening to her perform. That said, I was somewhat disappointed by the first couple of lines in this post:
    “It’s official: as far as your brain is concerned, audiobooks are not “cheating.” The mental processes involved in experiencing a book are pretty much the same, whether you “read” it with your eyes or your ears.”
    I completely agree with you, the author of the initial article Melissa Dahl, and Professor Daniel Willingham, that audiobooks are not “cheating” and that this concept of “cheating” when talking about reading is rather silly and definitely arbitrary. However, to state definitively that the mental processes involved in experiencing a book are the same via the act of reading and the act of listening is an oversimplification of an idea that lacks empirical evidence. There are no studies cited by you, Ms. Dahl, or Professor Willingham which conduct experiments that directly compare the two experiences in the cognitive processes of two or more groups. Additionally, Willingham is only one expert, and the only expert cited — and while his credibility and expertise is not being questioned here, the fact that only one source (one without empirical evidence) is being cited is worthy of concern, and makes the reliability and validity of the statement made questionable. Since it was the initial statement, as well as the main idea of the post, it really distracted me from enjoying the rest of the post, which was otherwise both poignant and astute.
    I am a huge fan of your blog and your book lists, and I am also an avid reader who believes in the worthiness of audiobooks in anyone’s library. Again, thank you for creating this list and for your many thoughtful contributions.

  66. Cindy McMahon says:

    When possible, I enjoy having both a hard copy of a book AND the audio version (although my library probably frowns on this). I’m a visual learner, so I often NEED to see the words, but I also enjoy the accents and the pure LUXURY of being read to. It’s not such a gamble to buy a used audio CD if I have a book as back-up for the parts of the CD that skip. A non-fiction audiobook I LOVED was “Undaunted Courage” (about the Lewis and Clark expedition). “Big Little Lies” is my all-time favorite fiction audio, but I’m currently enjoying “Circling the Sun” very much, although with my mouth hanging open at some of the protagonist’s exploits!

  67. Debbie Hauser says:

    I just listened to, “The Clancys of Queens” by Tara French. The book is read by the author and she is a fantastic narrator. I so enjoyed meeting her family in this book as she really has a group of really interesting and funny family!

  68. Jennifer Cook says:

    Here are some audiobooks I listened to in 2016 great experiences:
    Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth; The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder (lyrical Southern reading); Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (three main characters read in three different voices); Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (loved the vernacular speech interpretation). I listen on my work commute time and a book a week. These four were memorable!

  69. Debbie Hauser says:

    I have just listened to a great one, The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant. It is read by Linda Lavin and she is a fantastic narrator.

  70. Cori says:

    I absolutely loved “Cuckoo’s Calling,” and I think it is because of your recommendation! Some of the complaints about the book – too much description and dialogue were perfect for listening to the book!

  71. Louisiana says:

    I only read audiobooks, since I’m blind and this is the only way to truly enjoy them. I can only imagine you haven’t heard Seán Barrett narrate something, or he would be on this list. Perfume by Patrick Suskind and the Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco are two favourites that spring to mind. He also does an astounding job with the beckett Trilogy, but they are very hard going books.
    Other great listens include The discworld Series by terry Pratchett, A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin and Niel Gaiman usually has wonderful narrators for his books or he does a rather excellent job himself.

  72. Laura says:

    Glad Cuckoos Calling made the list. I’d like to add The no. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books. There are 17 in the series with another coming Nov-17. The woman who reads them does a fantastic job of voicing characters – you can recognize the characters and it’s consistent across all 17 books. These aren’t intense mysteries, but the stories about Africa suck you in, give you perspective on life, and make you laugh and cry.

  73. Terri Torrez says:

    My favorite audiobook is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. This is a verse novel read by the author and it’s just so beautiful. I also just listened to Murder on the Orient Express on Overdrive. The narrator does all the voices and it was amazing.

  74. Debbie says:

    I listen to audiobooks in my car exclusively. I loved AMan Called Ove! I loved also Lauren Graham’s I’m Talking As Fast As I Can! Amazing! Thanks for the recommendations!!

  75. Sarah G says:

    I love anything narrated by Richard Armitage, and he’s narrated quite a few books (Dickens, Shakespeare novelizations, Georgette Heyer).

    I also love David Sedaris on audio. Reading his books is just not the same for me as listening to him narrate one.

    Finally, Alan Rickman narrated one audio book, Hardy’s Return of the Native, and it was excellent.

  76. Debi says:

    My two favorite audiobooks are: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’- the narrator of this novel draws the listener right into the story!
    ‘The Iliad’- not a genre of book I would ever pick up to read, but as an audiobook this story is completely enthralling!!

  77. Mary Jane L. says:

    This column is from 2-3 years ago, so my recommendation is current (2018). “Born A Crime” by Trevor Noah is such a wonderful audiobook! His story is so interesting, about his growing up up in South Africa, and I could listen to his accent all day and night!

  78. Heather Clements says:

    I know I enjoyed listening to Tom Hanks read The House more than the actual story. Not sure if I read the physical book if I would have enjoyed as much or even finished. Audio can add such an enjoyable layer to the story. My favorite audio has been Daisy Jones and the Six. Full cast audio – loved it!

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