I am a HUGE audiobook listener – more than 2/3 of my reading the last two years has been via audiobooks. So color me surprised when I went to review my “read by” section of my review archive, only to discover that I’ve only listened to a handful of narrators a couple times. This post was supposed to be about ten amazing narrators, but instead, I’m giving you something else.
One of the audiobook pain points that came up for the post a couple weeks ago was that a bad narrator ruins a book. I am 100% on board with this – I’ve DNF’d books because the narrator didn’t work for me. But there’s also been times that the narrator was simply AMAZING. Even if the book was good, the narrator just took it to the next level.
Without further ado, here’s 10 different book/author matches made in heaven. At least, I think so!
#1. Jim Dale + The Harry Potter Series
I recommend Jim Dale in GENERAL. He also read The Night Circus beautifully, but the Harry Potter series is where I discovered him first. He does enough voices to make the dialogue flow (though it took me a spell to get used to Hermione).
#2. The Entire Cast of Sleeping Giants.
While a lot of people really enjoy full cast recordings, they’re not always my thing. BUT. As far as audiobooks go, I’m completely confortable saying that Sleeping Giants was my favorite. The various narrators in this one did an incredible job of really pulling me into the story. In fact, if it was a single narrator, I don’t think it would have worked.
#3. Sile Birmingham + Rift
Rift itself was a surprise for me – I expected trashy urban fantasy – but I absolutely loved this narrator’s voice. She has an accent that is sharp and concise, and I had no trouble following it. What’s more – her accent added to the book, since it’s set in the Scottish highlands. THT SAID. The one comment I got on this was that someone else though the narration was a bit rough, so maybe it’s just me. ¯\ _(ツ)_/¯
#4. Louise Brealey + How To Build a Girl
I am not 100% sure I would have loved How to Build a Girl quite as much as I did if it had been read by a different narrator. Louise Brealey made me laugh so many times with just the perfect inflections. I’m a little worried that when the movie comes out, the actors aren’t going to live up to the narrator and how many times can you say that?
#5. Linda Stephens + Gone With the Wind
Listen. It’s not easy to take someone on a 48 hour journey through a book. It simply isn’t done – people rarely manage the 8 hour books, let alone one you could listen to two days straight without a break. And yet! Linda Stephens has done it. I’ve listened to Gone With the Wind… goodness, I think three times now? At least twice. And this narrator does an incredible job. It’s a hardcopy book I own and don’t really want to read, but through Linda Stephens’s voice, I pick it up every couple years.
#6. Carrie Fisher + The Princess Diarist
First of all, it’s always a delight to heard the author reading her own memoir. But there was something about the witty, sarcastic way that Carrie Fisher read it that particularly enchanted me. I liked The Princess Diarist in general, but I think that Carrie took it to the next level, adding layers of emotion to the things she was reading. Plus, since I read it after her death, it was a nice way to hear her voice again. Not that I couldn’t have just watched Star Wars, but this is different.
#7. Nathaniel Parker + The Entire Artemis Fowl Series
Like Jim Dale’s reading of Harry Potter, I think that Nathaniel Parker was an excellent choice for Artemis Fowl. I can’t think of a single time his narration has thrown me, and I like all his voice. I like how he easily switches between appropriate accents for the characters, and even little nuances where certain characters have a similar voice… then you realize OF COURSE THEY DO they’re brothers, it makes so much sense.
#8. Steve West + Strange the Dreamer
For as much as I liked Strange the Dreamer, I’ve got to be honest and say… it’s a slow book. Laini Taylor’s writing is beautiful, but the wrong narrator here would make any listeners lose interest, and fast. Steve West really captivates and makes the slow pacing feel like this incredible journey, rather than a slow funeral march.
#9. Wil Wheaton + Ready Player One
Since the movie has come out, I think that fewer and fewer people are attempting Ready Player One. I tried to recommend it to my brother, and he was bored. I think you have to have a smidge of knowledge and love for 80s pop culture for this to really resonate BUT if you’re thinking about giving this book a go, skip the book and grab the audiobook. It’s like this novel was MADE for Will Wheaton to read, and he rises to the occasion.
#10. Tom Mison + The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Being perfectly honest? The Legend of Sleepy Hollow may be classic American folklore – and goodness knows that’s limited (not including Native American mythology, which I discount because it doesn’t belong to us) – but this book is outdated and hella boring. ENTER TOM MISON. Tom Mison, perhaps best known for his role of Ichabod Crane on the Fox TV show Sleepy Hollow has the most delicious voice. Now I listen to this book every October.
Do you have any favorite narrators? I really feel that a good narrator makes the book. Tell me about your favorite narrators/audiobooks in the comments!