I love to listen to an audiobook while I’m doing housework or on a long drive. Every so often though, I stumble upon an one so engrossing that I find myself dropping everything, to give my full attention to story.
It takes longer for me to listen to an audiobook than read the book myself, so I make my selections carefully. For a recording to interest me, it needs to somehow enrich story. My favorites are those read by the author of the book or that feature a full cast. The following as those I enjoyed so much that I would recommend them even if you have already read the book.
5. On Writing written & narrated by Stephen King: This is the best book on writing I have ever read. Listening to Stephen King read this is like having a conversation with the author himself. King has narrated many of the audiobooks of his work but because this is a book of his life and his wisdom, this one stands out as my favorite.
4. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, narrated by Alan Corduner: The story of a young german girl who survives World War II with her foster family by stealing books. To quote the publisher’s summary, “This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.” The story is told by Death, who has the omniscient knowledge, the awareness of past and future at all times, and the gallows humor that one would expect. Alan Corduner’s delivery is fantastic. Death has a unique sense of humor and at times a veiled vulnerability that Corduner brings to life. He also does an impressive job of voicing the rest of the cast which includes women and children. Even if you’ve already read the book or seen the movie, this recording is worth a listen.
3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton: They had me at Wil Wheaton. I’ve loved that boy since Star Trek: the Next Generation and would have happily listened to him read his grocery list. Wheaton is the perfect narrator to take us on this dystopian geek adventure about Wade Watts, teenage boy in the year 2044 who finds escape from his grim world in a virtual reality called the OASIS. When the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, dies he leaves a behind a challenge that the first person to find his three hidden easter eggs in the OASIS will inherit this virtual world and a massive fortune. Halliday loved the 80’s so to find the eggs, the hunt challenges seekers on everything from John Hughes to Pac-Man and Devo. Overtime, the population begins to think the easter eggs are an urban legend until Wade unlocks the first gate. Now everyone is racing for the next one, including a corporation that wants to take possession of the OASIS to turn a profit. A must read for anyone that grew up in the 80’s or who loves 80’s pop culture. My favorite part was when Wheaton narrated that in this futuristic world, Will Wheaton is the vice president.
2. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, narrated by Debra Wiseman & Joel Johnstone: Listening to this on audiobook, you walk in the shoes of Clay as he returns home to a package of cassette tapes recorded by his crush, a girl named Hannah Baker who committed suicide two weeks before. Hannah says on the tape that there are thirteen reasons why she chose to end her life and Clay is one of them. Listening to this on audiobook it is easy to imagine that Hannah is speaking directly to you. I have since read the hardback version of this book and it doesn’t compare. This was a consuming, moving and compelling listen and one that stays with you long after the tape runs out.
1. World War Z: The Complete Edition by Max Brooks narrated by a full cast: I had previously read this book and had difficulty investing myself in the story. Namely, because World War Z is not a narrative but a series of wartime interviews set during a war against zombies. World War Z found its home on audiobook (certainly more so than it did in that feature film that had absolutely nothing to do with the book). Listening to the recording, feels like listening to the radio broadcast of a war. The talented voice cast enhances this experience and breathes life into what was otherwise a flat read. This is the only audiobook I’ve found that features performers for every single character so there are no awkward passages of male actors giving female characters high, squeaky voices. The performances are gritty and authentic. I loved that author Max Brooks narrates the reporter. How perfect is that? The man who wrote the book, narrating the story and interviewing his own characters? Fantastic.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett, narrated by
Now I want to hear from you. What are your favorite audiobooks and when is your favorite time to listen to an audiobook?