Best Audiobook Narrators

I am a big audiobook reader.  I have preschoolers, and I am a grad student, so actual sit-down reading time is hard to come by, but audiobooks that I can listen to while sweeping, cooking, washing dishes, folding laundry (it’s looking at me right now) are a god-send.  I listen to probably around half of the books I read (maybe more) each year, and I have come to rabidly love some of my audiobook narrators.  I will track these people down and try out books on the strength that they will be reading it to me.  If you have any favorites, let me know!  I’m always on the lookout for new loves.

Jenny Sterlin, reading The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle and House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

Back in the dark days of audiobooks, I got The Hollow Kingdom on tape from my library, and Jenny Sterlin’s reading helped me fall in love with audiobooks.  I re-listen to House of Many Ways almost every year, and I am now at the point where when I hear Sterlin reading a book (e.g. the Mary Russell books) my immediate feeling is ‘Oooo, this is going to be good.’

Will Patton, reading The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

I had a slow start with The Raven Boys, and as a mom, I don’t have a lot of time to sit and read, so audiobook it was.  And Will Patton was amaza-balls.  I think he and his Southern accent (which might be regionally wrong for a Virginian sound–I’m not sure about this!) really helped the setting for me.  I could hear the difference between Gansey vs. Adam and Blue, the money and the poorer people of the area.  Although his British accent is terrible, I will forgive Patton because he is WONDERFUL in the rest of it.

Fiona Hardingham and Steve West, reading The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (or them reading anything)

I LOVE The Scorpio Races and I LOVE listening to these two readers.  Hardingham’s voice very well invokes a slightly immature, yet likable young lady and West has a calm deep voice that is so easy on the ears.  Seriously, I would consider listening to anything he’s reading, including if he were reading the phone book.  Hardingham and West seem to regularly read opposite each other, which I am SO glad to hear. (Voice pairings make a difference! I tried to listen to Stiefvater’s Shiver and stopped asap because the narrators sounded like a 14-year-old girl and her gym teacher.) My library does not have Ticker by Lisa Mantchev, which I heard a clip of Hardingham narrating, but I have got it in my sights for when I am looking to acquire an audiobook.  And, in looking these two readers up for this post, it looks like they read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, which I have since read (mainly because of West and Hardingham) and I LOVED IT.

Jim Dale, reading The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Jim Dale is the voice of Harry Potter for Americans of a certain age, and I am one of those.  I had been reading Harry Potter before the movies, so Jim Dale is a big part of the sound I associate with Harry Potter.  He won awards for doing the many many voices (although I do not like the way he does Hermoine’s voice with the soft ‘r’ which is basically a speech impediment.)  And, I think that a part of my love for Pushing Daisies is that we start of with Jim Dale telling us a story.

January LaVoy, reading The Diviners series by Libba Bray

January LaVoy does an amazing job reading these books which have a varied ensemble cast and awesome wacky slang from the era.  Admittedly, LaVoy doesn’t quite get Jericho; I am jarred pretty much every time he talks, but luckily there are tons of other characters so his screen time is minimal.  While listening to these books, I am continually amazed at what a great job she does with all of these characters and this text.  And, others think similarly as she has won several awards for her performances!

Cast from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I was hesitant about this book because I really didn’t enjoy the first book in The Grisha series, Bardugo’s first books.  However, I loved her short stories (available on Tor) and I had heard that a lot of people loved this one, even if they were ho-hum about the Grisha.  It was on sale on Audible for super cheap, so I bought it and I LOVED IT!  Each chapter gets a different narrator, and they are all SO good.  I’m already thinking of re-listening to it, and I think about it when I drive past the place where I listened to it while walking.  I’m really excited for the audio of Crooked Kingdom, but just found out that it won’t be available until November.  I guess they have a lot of people to get into the studio.  Only a little more waiting for me, I guess. . .

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