It was very hard to narrow down my favorite audiobooks to a list of ten for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, but I managed to do it (with a little cheating: there are three complete series listed as single items). I’ve been pondering a post about my favorite audiobooks anyway, and this was a great excuse to hammer out my all time favorites.
1. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, written & narrated by Bill Bryson
I love all of Bill Bryson’s books on audio (when he narrates them), but this one holds a special place in my heart, and I’ve listened to it about five times. It’s a perfectly captured childhood, with just the right mixture of sentimentality, hilarity, and peeing into jars.
2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville, narrated by Anthony Heald
I probably would not have finished Moby Dick without this audiobook, but helping us get through a 1000+ page novel is not the only reason why this audiobook is incredible. Anthony Heald’s exceptional narration brings the excitement of a sea voyage to life – you will be ready to set sail from page one.
3. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale
I’ve listened to this series all the way through about 7 times, and it hasn’t lost any of its magic. On overnight flights I queue it up and let Jim Dale read me to sleep and make me feel safe and at ease. Hogwarts feels like an imaginary home, and Jim Dale’s voice transports me there.
4. The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, narrated by Rob Inglis
This series begs to be read aloud, and Rob Inglis was the correct person for the job. He brings this story to life like he was born to do it, and you haven’t experienced the music and poetry in Tolkien until you’ve heard him perform it.
5. The Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, narrated by Barbara Caruso
Audible tells me there are many audiobook versions of Anne of Green Gables, but to me – there’s just one: Barbara Caruso. She’s the only one who can bring as much life and spunk to these pages as Anne and Lucy bring. There’s a trend among the audiobooks that made the top 5: they comfort me, and this series belongs among candles, blankets, mugs of hot drinks, autumn leaves, and all the coziest of things.
6. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, written & narrated by Cheryl Strayed
There’s a quote in The Jane Austen Book Club about needing to let Jane Austen into your life every few years and let her have a look around. That might be true, but you’d better let Cheryl Strayed in too. And maybe first. These pages will bring you courage, hope, clarity, and peace. And hearing Cheryl narrate them is the best medicine.
7. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, narrated by Debra Winger
We’ve reached the part of the list where I haven’t re-listened obsessively to the remainder of the audiobooks I chose, so these books are here because they stood out strongly on their first listen. I loved every minute of this audiobook. It would have been great if Gloria Steinem could have narrated the entire audiobook (she does the introduction), but Debra Winger is flawless. She brings so much authenticity to the story that I kept forgetting I wasn’t listening to Gloria herself. A perfect example of the way audiobooks can elevate the printed word into something even more special.
8. Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, narrated by Joe Barrett
If Anthony Heald makes you want to set sail, Joe Barrett will have you ready to pack up and hit the road. He narrates a lot of audiobooks, but he’s particularly well suited to this one. He brings a sense of calm and coolness to the experience – almost like a detached reporter, but still personal. Which isn’t unlike the travelogue itself, which is probably why it works so well.
9. Lost at Sea written & narrated by Jon Ronson
There’s something about Jon Ronson’s voice that makes him ideally suited to telling unusual stories. Which is perfect, because he loves to find and report on strange and interesting things. I love all his audiobooks, but this one stands out, and I think it’s his best.
10. Bossypants written & narrated by Tina Fey
I never met a memoir by a female comedian I didn’t like, and this one is the best of the best. And it’s so, so great on audiobook.
More on audiobooks:
What are your favorite audiobooks?