My Five Favorite Audiobooks (so far)

I’ve recently started listening to audiobooks. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy them… well, some of them. Others, not so much. I haven’t listened to a ton of them yet, but I’ve listened to enough to give you a Top Five list. I’ve been getting most of them from the library, which keeps me listening to a fairly eclectic mix of books, books I typically wouldn’t listen to. Sometimes all the library has in are romance books, and sometimes they have pretty cool ones. I dally in all of them. I have one credit a month on audible, which I use for books that I’ve really been wanting to read (erm… listen to).

Anyway, out of the (small sampling) of audiobooks I’ve listened to so far, here are my top five favorites. I’d love it (seriously, LOVE IT) if people would add books that I should listen to to my list. I don’t care if I’ve read them before, I’m discovering that listening to an audiobook is a different experience. I can’t really “graze” it like I tend to with some books. I pick out details in the storyline that I might have missed before, etc.

(P.S. Forgive me for not having graphics to go with this. It’s late. I’m tired. You’ll have to cope.)

Without further ado, here are my top five favorites in no real order:

NOS4A2 – Joe Hill
Narrated by Kate Mulgrew

First of all, I read this book and absolutely loved it. It really blew my mind. When I saw it on my library’s website in audio format, I had to give it a shot. Kate Mulgrew is probably one of my favorite narrators. She has a really unique voice that drew me into the story. Furthermore, she had a way with reading that made each character more memorable, and different from every other character. Some narrators go way over-the-top with their voices, but Mulgrew doesn’t. It just happens. Her reading is organic and memorable, absolutely fantastic. I think I could listen to her read a phonebook.

Midnight & Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovich
Narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

This is one of those series that I’m slowly working through. I was kind of leery to start it because I’m kind of sick of the basic storyline, but Aaronovich has a way with telling a story that might sound old and done to start with, in new and absolutely wonderful ways. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does a stunning job narrating this one. He really brings London to life. The slang and accent isn’t forced (I don’t know the guy from Adam, but I’d guess he’s a native). He gives Peter Grant a really unique voice, and manages to make an already incredibly entertaining story even more entertaining. Seriously, I listen to these books (and will continue to work through the series) as much for the books themselves, as to hear Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s fantastic narration of them.

The Stand – Stephen King
Narrated by Grover Gardner

I’m not a huge King fan. In fact, I tend to not like his books at all. Except, I love this one. This is the only King book (besides his Dark Tower series) that I’ve read and couldn’t get enough of. I debated on getting it on audible for a while. The debate wasn’t because of the book, but because listening to it is a serious investment. It takes about 48 hours to get through this book, but let me assure you, every hour is worth it. Grover Gardner has an interesting voice. It’s deep and rich, and he can’t really do unique voices well just because of his voice, but that’s okay. In fact, I preferred it that way. It was easier for me to focus on the story. He is easy to listen to, and really brings the story to life. I enjoyed reading the book, and yes, listening to it takes A LONG TIME, but I think I actually enjoyed listening to it more, mostly due to Gardner’s narrating skills.

Leviathan Wakes – James S.A. Corey
Narrated by Jefferson Mays

I just finished this one today. It’s a re-read after reading this book when it was first released. This one was recommended to me by Patrick Hester, and I’m glad I took a chance on it. Jefferson Mays does an interesting job narrating. I think people will either love his style or hate it. He really, really doesn’t waste time on voices or stylistic differences at all. Well, sometimes he tries, but really not much. He just reads the book, and does his best job trying to make his reading of it easy to listen to. I had to get used to that at first, but then I learned that I really liked it. I liked not getting distracted by different voices and different styles. I liked his easy cadence, and the fact that he focused on reading rather than entertaining allowed me to absorb a lot of the details I either missed (or forgot about) from when I read it before. In fact, I started another audiobook today and the narrator is doing all sorts of different character voices, and I find it so distracting I almost feel like listening to Leviathan Wakes again.

Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson
Narrated by MacLeod Andrews

I got this book because it was on sale. Period. I have almost no interest in comics at all, and even less interest in young adult protagonists out to save the world (or city). However, it took about two minutes flat for me to realize that MacLeod Andrews was born to read this book. He took a story that I’d probably not read the whole way through (seriously, I probably would have returned this to the library after a chapter because I just don’t jive with this kind of story) and made me absolutely, completely addicted. He entertained the hell out of me, and absolutely brought this story to life. In fact, I’m anxious to listen to the next book in the series because of his skills with the first. MacLeod Andrews made me love a book I’m pretty sure I would have tried to hate, thus, he is amazing.

So there you have it, readers. There’s my Top Five (so far).

Please add some to my list.

10 Responses

  • I feel so proud as to have helped convince you to try audiobooks 🙂

    Reply
  • Jim Dale has a wonderful voice. He has narrated the Harry Potter books. The only other audiobooks he has apparently narrated are Peter and the Starcatchers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_and_the_Starcatchers) but I have yet to check that one out.

    I am also a big fan of the BBC radio productions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Ian Holm reads Frodo…and seeing how well he went over in the movies as Bilbo you can imagine that he must have done it pertty well. (Came out in 1981.) Only thing is I tend to prefer audio books to dramatizations and this is a dramatization, but it is quite lovely all and all.

    Ready Player One read by Wil Wheaton is a favorite of mine as well.

    And I keep hearing that the audio books of The Raven Boys Cycle are wonderful, but I have yet ot check that out myself.

    Reply
  • Hélène

    Hello Sarah,
    Here’s my selection of capital gain with audiobooks :

    -The iron druid chronicles by Kevin Hearne, read by Luke Daniels
    – Mindspace investigation : Clean by Alex Hughes, read by Daniel May
    – Legion by Sanderson, read by Oliver Wyman
    – March upcountry by David Drake, read by Stefan Rudnicki
    – A night of black darkness by Dan Wells, read by Sean Barrett

    I’m sure I wouldn’t have read some of this series if not for the audiobooks. I’d probably listen to Rudnicki even if he read a directory! 😉

    Reply
  • I loved the Nos4a2 audio narration, too. (And Grover Gardner – I didn’t listen to The Stand, but he did a great job on Bujold’s Vorkosigan books!) Which leads me to recommend M.R.Carey’s “The girl with all the gifts” and Max Barry’s “Lexicon”, as other audio favourites of mine. It’s weird how much the narrator means to the book – a good one can make the book even better than it was to begin with, and a bad one can ruin eeeverything. I have at least one audio narrator I -hate-, and unfortunately he does a lot of work in the genres I’m interested in…!

    Reply
  • Here’s a few audiobooks I’ve really enjoyed in the past year or so. I’ve found both the style of the book and the narrator are important to a successful audiobook. Complicated world building with a large number of terms/countries/etc to learn are hard. So, horror and urban fantasy typically work easier with audiobooks, but there are definitely some very epic fantasies work well. I’d recommend, first and foremost:

    Anything narrated by Simon Vance or Michael Page. They are amazing narrators.

    Specific books:

    The Three by Sarah Lotz
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
    A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
    Dune by Frank Herbert
    Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier
    Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan
    The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

    Glad to hear audiobooks are working for you! I was skeptical before trying them, but am a complete convert! Love being able to “read” at times I would normally not being able to.

    Reply
  • There are times when I wish I was better able to listen to audiobooks. I feel like I’m missing out on something. But my hearing problems make it too irritating to bother with half the time, and the rest of the time I think I’d rather just let my eyes do the reading anyway.

    Reply
  • Brittney

    I started listening to audiobooks at work. It’s about all the time I have to ‘read’ anymore. My suggestions are:
    The Others series by Anne Bishop
    Finishing School series by Gail Carrige
    Anything narrated by Neil Gaiman
    The Laundry Files series by Chatles Stross

    Reply
  • Angela

    I’ve only just started listening to books, but I would like to recommend the audiobook that got me listening to them.

    The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I really really wanted to hear all those lovely turns of language and such spoken and so when the audiobook was announced off I went to buy it. And I loved it even more than the text. I have listened to it more than once and it still makes me cry at various points. And I love the narrator’s voice; I have literally fallen asleep to his reading and been happy to drift off to sleep to it.

    Another audiobook I have enjoyed listening to is Child of Fire by Harry Connolly, The story was good and I liked the narrator well enough though he is much the same as the various guys they have doing the various male narrated Urban Fantasies. so he’s good but nothing special.

    Reply
  • You’ve already discovered the most awesome of awesome Ben Aaronovitch/Kobna Holdbrook-Smith series. I adore them so much that I actually have bought the last two books from the UK to get them as soon as they are available–paying exchange rate and shipping. And the getting the audiobooks when they’re finally available here.

    I put the Alan Cumming read Leviathan series [Scott Westerfeld] just as high, along with Anansi Boys read by Lenny Henry.

    If it’s not clear, I have a Thing for British settings and British readers.

    The Temeraires are also lovely, though I notice you aren’t a big fan. I often am not sure whether I love a book for the book, or for its narration.

    I’ve been mainlining audiobooks for eleven years so have a huge list of faves, but these are at the top.

    Also, although they aren’t SFF [much], the Merrily Watkins mystery series that is set in the border country of England and Wales is lovely, with a lovely reader. Mystery with a wisp of horror/supernatural, and lots of cultural/spiritual things going on.

    Reply
  • The audio book is ALL about the narrator, for sure. I’m really into reading books read by the actual authors. I had never read Eat, Pray, Love when it first came out, but I listened to the audio book during my commute to and from work, and it is read by the author and just wonderful.

    Love your list. I’m tempted to try The Stand now.

    Reply

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