The five best audiobook narrators

They're like a friend in your ears

The best audiobook narrators feel like friends.

But first, let’s track back. I’m a massive fan of audiobooks.

You can listen to them anywhere, any time. They’re hands-free, ear-friendly fun. I enjoy them while I’m cleaning, driving my car, creating hand-lettering, or when my husband brings in my morning coffee and I can’t bear to read the morning news. Yes, I’m spoiled.

Audiobooks have really hit their stride in the last few years, thanks in large to publishers like Audible.

Productions are slick and narrators are getting better, as more are being paid the big bucks for their celebrity status. Dare I say it… it’s the golden age of reading? 

 

Here are my favourite audiobook narrators, in one handy list

 

As an avid listener, my list of favourite narrators is getting longer. Because honestly, they make ALL the difference. There is nothing worse than a narrator who completely changes the tone of the book, purely down to their read (or voice). Outlander book series, I’m looking at you.

And when you find a favourite narrator, your TBR pile gets even bigger. You’re not just looking for another book by your favourite author, you’re looking for what other books that narrator’s read.

 

 

Stephen Fry

I mean, the man’s a legend, no? Not only can he write, present and act in television and film with aplomb, plus of course, he can write some wonderful books, and of course make any book reach new heights with his gorgeous narration.

Here is Stephen narrating his own book Heroes (which I highly recommend!).

 

Some of my favourite books from him:

 

 

Julia Whelan

I first discovered Julia’s work when listening to the incredible memoir Educated by Tara Westover. The reason I count her as one of the best audiobook narrators is that she is easy to listen to and I don’t feel that she over-dramatises emotions like you’d hear in some high school play. Her measured pace does due diligence to good writing.

Here is Julia talking about The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (which is a lovely book!).

 

Some great Julia Whelan books:

 

Tom Hanks

Alas, this man has only narrated very few audiobooks. But he’s such a good narrator he makes my top five list! Honestly, it’s like listening to a friend read you a book by the fire. I can only imagine what that would be like, as I’ve rarely sat beside a fire — thanks Australian climate —  but it’s exactly how I’d picture it in my head.

Here’s Tom narrating his own book, Uncommon Type. 

 

 

 

Thandie Newton

If you’re starting to notice a trend of actors being my pick of the best audiobook narrators, it’s because they’re so very good at it. Regardless of their star power, there are truly some gifted voices out there in the audio universe. 

Thandie is incredible. She captures the emotion of books without falling into the melodramatic. She can switch her male and female voices so well that you truly feel you’re listening to more than one person.

Here is Thandie in an excerpt from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Ahhh, my heart! What a book. What a narration.

 

 

Thandie’s books:

 

 

David Sedaris

I may be a little biased here, because David has written some of my favourite books ever. So, when I listen to him narrate the books, he brings their humour to life in such a way that I can’t help but laugh out loud. The man has such a gift for observational humour! And his southern drawl really emphasises the punch lines. It’s great.

Here’s an excerpt from his book The Best of Me.

 

My favourite David Sedaris books:

 

 

Simon Vance

Another prolific narrator, Simon has a gorgeous voice with the gravitas to navigate some remarkable books.

Here he is with a marvellous excerpt of V for Vendetta: 

 

 

Some of my favourite books from Simon:

A colourful, curated blend of books, wine and creativity, with a soft spot for Australian work and female-centric narratives.


Fable and Fizz would like to acknowledge the Whadjuck Noongar people as the traditional owners and continual custodians on the lands and waters this content is primarily written on. I pay respects to their Elders — past and present. This always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.
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