Article in Article in Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, and Audiobooks categories. A printable pdf of the Outstanding Audiobooks: Fiction booklist is available here (10/2014)
Audiobooks are a great way to pass the time whether you're in the car, at the gym, on a walk, or doing chores. If you’re new to audiobooks, or you’re a veteran of this versatile format, this list will have you covered. Check out some of the adult titles below to start listening, and don't forget to try JMRL's downloadable audiobooks from Overdrive.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
In this story, an apartment concierge in Paris and a precocious 12-year-old girl come together through the help of a wealthy Japanese gentleman. The audio captures the voices, wit, and charm of the main characters superbly. Narrated by Barbara Rosenblat and Cassandra Morris. Duration: 9.5 hrs Award winner. Also available on Overdrive.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Audio is a great way to experience this dystopian classic in which books are forbidden objects. Choose from a variety of narrators, including Ray Bradbury, Scott Brick, Michael Pritchard, from the catalog; or Stephen Hoye on Overdrive. Narrators listed above. Duration: 6 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
As an oral history of the fictional zombie wars which almost wiped out humanity the world over, the audiobook truly captures the testimony of survivors in this cast ensemble performance. Narrated by a full cast. Duration: 12 hrs. Award winner. Also available on Overdrive.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
A Jewish escape artist flees Nazi-occupied Prague, and with his cousin he works on comic books, which are drawn from their own lives. Chabon’s characters and language flourish in this excellent reading of a novel of love, friendship, and escapism. Narrated by David Colacci. Duration: 26.5 hrs. Award winner.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Brilliant storyteller Neil Gaiman narrates his own tale in which a grown man reminisces about the strange and magical events of the summer he was seven years old, when he befriends an odd girl who lives at the end of the lane. Narrated by the author. Duration: 5.75 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The narrator expertly captures young magician Quentin Coldwater’s voice in this dark coming-of-age novel, influenced by The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. Narrated by Mark Bramhall. Duration: 17 hrs.
The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore
A bawdy mix of Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, this outrageous tale will have you laughing out loud. The skills of Broadway actor Euan Morton allow listeners to feel as if they were listening to an onstage production. Narrated by Euan Morton. Duration: 10.5 hrs.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The magic of the Night Circus comes to life in this dark story where not all is as it seems. Jim Dale’s voice will pull listeners in as two young magicians seek to outdo each other with dangerous consequences. Narrated by Jim Dale. Duration: 13.5 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
One More Thing by B.J. Novak
TV writer Novak’s short humorous stories are told by himself and a cast of his friends including Mindy Kaling, Rainn Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Julianne Moore, Emma Thompson, and more. Narrators listed above. Duration: 7 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
This classic satire is satisfying on audio, as it captures the sardonic tones and mannerisms of the animals who lead a rebellion on Mr. Jones’ Manor Farm. Narrated by Patrick Tull (CD); Ralph Cosham (Overdrive). Duration: 3.25 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
A reclusive writer, known for her missing thirteenth tale in a famous collection of stories, requests a biographer to record her exceptional life. The dual narrators embody the voices of the main characters, seizing on the air of mystery in this story within a story. Narrated by Bianca Amato, Jill Tanner. Duration: 15.75 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
This historical narrative set in the German occupied Channel Islands in 1946 is told through letters, cables, and notes, which comes to life on audio as each character is distinguishable by their accents by this well-suited cast. Narrated by a full cast. Duration: 8 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
This political mystery-thriller will keep listeners on edge as a serial killer targeting children reigns terror in post-WWII Stalinist Russia. Soldier Leo Demidov is the man sent to stop him, but must keep his capture quiet. The narrator does an award-winning job of encapsulating the chilling nature of the story, and makes the characters more compelling and empathetic. Narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris. 12.5 hrs. Award winner. Also available on Overdrive.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
This story alternates between the past and present, as an Italian innkeeper seeks the Hollywood star he fell in love with when she washed up on his shore 50 years earlier. This is an eloquent performance by actor Edoardo Ballerini, who expertly pairs the audio and plot. Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. Duration: 13 hrs. Award winner.
See what introverts are capable of in this glimpse into the minds of people labeled “quiet types.” The introspective narration allows listeners to become fully absorbed in the story. Narrated by Kathe Mazur. Duration: 10.75 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
This is a great introduction to making and changing habits. The narrator’s voice shines with a well-paced delivery. Read by Mike Chamberlain. Duration: 10.5 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell skillfully narrates his exploration into what makes people successful - from software billionaires to bestselling musical artists. Narrated by the author. Duration: 7 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Cassandra Campbell expertly narrates together the story of Henrietta Lacks and her family, who learn that their genes have been used by scientists for decades without their knowledge or compensation. Bahni Turpin provides the voices for the family’s dialogue. Narrated by Cassandra Campbell & Bahni Turpin. Duration: 12.5 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
Worth’s story of becoming a midwife in London’s East End is illuminated through the voice of Nicola Barber, who will leave listeners hanging on every word. Narrated by Nicola Barber. Duration: 12 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown
This is a stunning account of 9 men from the University of Washington who defeated elite rivals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Herrmann's telling of this inspiring yet intimate tale of determination is clear and natural. Narrated by Edward Herrmann. Duration: 14.5 hrs.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff
This collection of comical essays includes the author’s personal stories of First World problems in our culture of excess. Narrated by the author. Duration: 4.5 hrs.
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
Humorist David Sedaris will have listeners laughing out loud at the way he presents his life with biting sarcasm and insight. Narrated by the author. Duration: 7 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
In this enchanting travelogue, the author narrates her journey to personal understanding in Italy, India, and Indonesia. Narrated by the author. Duration: 12.75 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
A compelling historical narrative brings listeners to 1933 Berlin with Ambassador William Dodd, who struggles with Hitler’s rise to power even as his daughter becomes involved with a Gestapo leader. Narrated by Stephen Hoye. Duration: 13 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
This dramatic and heart wrenching story of families in poverty-stricken Mumbai is beautifully narrated. This Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s narrative will linger with listeners. Narrated by Sunil Malhotra. Duration: 8.25 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
Dive into a pivotal summer in American history featuring Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Capone, and more, through the words and voice of a widely admired nonfiction writer. Narrated by the author. Duration: 17 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
Still Foolin’ ‘Em by Billy Crystal
Billy Crystal bemoans aging as he looks back on his life in true comedic fashion—in an audio performance that won him several awards. Narrated by the author. Duration: 8 hrs. Award winner. Also available on Overdrive.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
With an audio that sounds half-memoir, half-stand-up, this book is meant to be heard, and Tina Fey dutifully delivers in her typical hilarious and self-deprecating style. Narrated by the author. Duration: 5 hrs. Award winner. Also available on Overdrive.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Angelou’s story of growing up amidst poverty, prejudice, and violence, is poetic, brilliant, and satisfying, as the author relates how she overcame trials and learned to love herself and others. This inspiring autobiography will leave no doubt to the strength and dignity of Angelou’s character. Narrated by the author. Duration: 10.25 hrs. Also available on Overdrive.
The right narrator can make or break the success of an audiobook in the same way that the right actor can make or break a film. Below is a list of award-winning narrators for more great listening.
- Scott Brick
- Orlagh Cassidy
- Jim Dale
- George Guidall
- Simon Jones
- Katherine Kellgren
- Rosalyn Landor
- Robin Miles
- Stina Nielsen
- Barbara Rosenblat
- Simon Vance
Also look for these talented authors who have narrated their own books:
If you want to check out a larger list of award winners, try some of the following links: