Up until just over a year ago I had never really listened to audiobooks. The only thing I remember having listened to was an audio of Winnie-The-Pooh, which I bought on a whim when I couldn’t sleep and wanted a bedtime story! When our lovely dog, Luna, first came into our lives, I suddenly found that a huge chunk of my reading time was newly taken up with dog walks. Much though I loved wandering with our puppy, I missed that time getting lost in a good story. And so I decided to give audiobooks a go. I’m now a complete convert and I LOVE discovering new stories and wonderful narrations.
The narration is a big factor in whether I enjoy an audiobook or not. I always listen to the sample of a book before buying/downloading it and can usually tell in the first few seconds whether the narration will allow me to enjoy a story. Since this week is #LoveAudio week, I though I would share with you some of my favourite audiobooks. The ones I love because they combine a fantastic story with wonderful narration. Hopefully there’ll be something here you fancy listening to.
The Harry Potter Series – J K Rowling
One of my all-time favourite series of books, I just had to give the audio versions a go and I was not disappointed. Stephen Fry’s narration is fabulous – I could listen to his voice all day – and, although there were a few of his pronunciations I found strange in the first couple of books, I really love his characterisation throughout the series. I’ve also listened to excerpts from the American version narrated by Jim Dale and it is also excellent.
The Flat Share – Beth O’Leary
I recently wrote a review of this fabulous little book. The story is utterly lovely, quirky, entertaining and compelling. I love the dual narrative structure of the story and the narration from both Carrie Hope Fletcher and Kwaku Fortune is excellent and really does this wonderful tale justice. Easy listening that draws you in and makes you fell like you’re eavesdropping on conversations between characters.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
I ADORE Eleanor Oliphant. I’ve listened to this book twice and both times I was so struck by both how fantastic the story is and how wonderful Gail Honeyman’s narration is. Eleanor’s character is so original and her story is equal parts humorous and heart wrenching. Honeyman’s narration conveys every aspect of this complex character beautifully.
The Bear And The Nightingale – Katherine Arden
This is one of the most magical books I have ever read. I have it in ebook, audio and hardback formats and it is one I will be re-reading and re-listening to over and over. A tale threaded through with magic and folklore and a true fairytale flavour, with compelling characters and such an evocative setting that you will forget where you are and find yourself in the depths of winter in old world Russia. Katherine Arden’s storytelling is utterly incredible and Kathleen Gati’s narration is equally magical.
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing is completely wonderful. I’m currently reading her latest release, City of Girls, and her earlier novel The Signature of All Things has some of my favourite prose writing ever. She is a master. But this book – Big Magic – is something totally different and incredibly special. Narrated by Gilbert herself, Big Magic is the voice of a best friend in your ear, telling you that you can do all the things you dream of and that if fear insists on raising its ugly head, well then you invite it along and see your dream through anyway. This book spoke to me so clearly that when I reached the end I just hit play and listened to it all over again.
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
Another of my all time favourite books, The Night Circus is the perfect autumn read/listen. The magic in this book is so inventive and the descriptions so utterly immersive that I get completely lost in it every time I hear or read it. The story is very much character focused with the two main characters creating a centre point around which an incredible array of supporting characters orbit. The people in the tale are bright points in the intricate tapestry of the plot, all the threads slowly and beautifully drawing together. Jim Dale’s narration is wonderful and helps bring this gorgeous story to life.
The Cows – Dawn O’Porter
This book was one I decided to download after listening to an episode of The Guilty Feminist where Dawn O’Porter was a guest. Made up of the perspectives of three women, narrated by Dawn O’Porter, Karen Cass and Laura Kiman, I was completely engrossed from the moment I pressed play. This book is a brilliant exploration of womanhood, the expectations of women and female shame. The plot is compelling, the characters wonderfully complex and incredibly relatable and the narration is full of life.
How To Stop Time – Matt Haig
I can’t possibly have a list of recommended books without including something from Matt Haig and How To Stop Time just happens to be one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to – both for the story itself and the fab narration from Mark Meadows. This story is simply beautiful and the multiple timelines following a single character only serve to enhance its originality. Haig’s writing, as always, cuts straight to the heart of the human condition and it creates a mesmerising portrait.
The Martian – Andy Weir
The Martian was one of the first audiobooks I listened to. It is also, unusually, a book I didn’t read until after I had seen the film adaptation. Audio narration really suits the epistolary style of this book and the dry, dark humour is really brought out by R C Bray’s narration. A gripping, original and highly entertaining sci-fi that I wholly recommend.
Do you listen to audiobooks? Leave your recommendations in the comments!