Listen Up! Audiobooks


Some narrators do such a great job that they really enhance the “reading” experience. If you listen to a lot of audiobooks and have favorite narrators, you can search for them by name in the library catalog with the words “sound recording” and find other audiobooks they’ve read.

I, for one, have fangirled a few narrators into genres I might not otherwise be interested in reading, and some audiobooks have prompted me to read or listen to (or watch) more on the themes or topics in the books they recorded, solely because listening was so enjoyable.

Summer is a great time to pack up some eAudiobooks on your device and head out for a walk, or board a train or plane for travel, secure in the knowledge that you have plenty to listen too but not too much extra baggage. If you’re staying home and puttering around on various projects or driving about town, you can check out some audiobooks on CD.

Here are a few picks for audiobook listening, with links for finding them on CD, or in digital form with your PPL card. Happy reading!

Historical Fiction by Ken Follett, read by John LeeBook covers of Ken Follett titles mentioned in post

If you like epic fiction that crosses continents and/or centuries, try listening to some of these titles by Ken Follett.  John Lee, an English actor, playwright and producer, has narrated hundreds of audiobooks in nearly any genre you can think of, including many by Follett. His ability to alter between accents in the UK, and elsewhere and otherwise subtly modulate his voice, with clear and crisp reading style, helps you immerse completely in the many characters and events in the Century Trilogy (spanning the globe and the 20th Century, through WWI, WWII, and the Cold War) and the Kingsbridge Series which covers lives in (fictional) Kingsbridge, England from the 10th century to the 18th century.


Science Fiction and Fantasy for Children (along with their Grownups), read by Jim DaleBook covers of titles mentioned for kids and families in post

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern [CD Audibook]
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll [CD Audiobook]
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver [CD Audiobook]
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie [CD Audiobook]
Harry Potter (Series) by J. K. Rowling [CD Audiobook]

If you are traveling with children or young teens, and will be spending long hours in the car, give any of these titles a try, since they are greatly enhanced by the talents of Jim Dale as narrator. Jim Dale, a British actor, composer, director, singer and songwriter, has narrated many audiobooks for children. Like John Lee, Jim Dale has a knack for distinguishing the voices of different characters without going over the top, and adding the lively energy and quirky humor that turns listening to a book into a fantastic storytime performance-perhaps intended for children, but equally entertaining for adult listeners.


Mystery Fiction by Ruth Ware, read by Imogen ChurchBook covers of Ruth Ware titles

In a Dark, Dark Wood [CD Audiobook]
The Woman in Cabin 10 [CD Audiobook] [CloudLibrary Audiobook]
The Lying Game [CD Audiobook] [CloudLibrary Audiobook]
The Death of Mrs. Westaway [CD Audiobook] [CloudLibrary Audiobook]
The Turn of the Key [CD Audiobook] [Libby Audiobook] [CloudLibrary Spanish language Audiobook]
One By One [Libby Audiobook]
The It Girl [CloudLibrary Audiobook]
One Perfect Couple [Libby Audiobook]

Ruth Ware writes compelling, suspenseful, and sometimes creepy books about people (mostly young woman protagonists) with secrets and past lives that come back to haunt them.  Her titles in audiobook form are narrated by Imogen Church, an actress, writer, artist and Children’s Lit academic, along with doing a lot of voiceover work. Her style is clear and lively, and if you are a fan of Ruth Ware, you will grow comfortably familiar with listening to Imogen’s voice doing the storytelling.



At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, read by Bill Bryson [CD Audiobook]Cover image for At home : a short history of private life

Bill Bryson, with his with and humor, and distinctive voice, definitely adds a little “umph” in narrating his own work. This book is great fun, as Bryson researched how our homes, room by room, came to be the way they are. Those features of a “dining room” or a “kitchen” or a “bathroom” that we take entirely for granted get a little scrutiny, and it’s fascinating!


Cover image for Broken : (in the best possible way)Broken (In the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson, read by Jenny Lawson [Hoopla Audiobook]

Jenny Lawson suffers from depression. In Broken, she explores her experimental treatment of transcranial magnetic stimulation with brutal honesty. But also with brutal humor. No one can make you laugh out loud about the challenges of mental health and navigating treatment the way Jenny can.

Cover image for In the dream house : a memoirIn the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado, read by Carmen Maria Machado [Hoopla Audiobook]

In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado’s engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming. Machado’s dire narrative is leavened with her characteristic wit, playfulness, and openness to inquiry. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek, and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction. The result is a wrenching, riveting book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.

Cover image for The library bookThe Library Book by Susan Orlean, read by Susan Orlean [CloudLibrary Audiobook]

In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

Cover image for Say nothing : a true story of murder and memory in Northern IrelandSay Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, read by Matthew Blaney [Libby Audiobook]

A story of struggle, murder, and loss and during “The Troubles” in Ireland, sort of equal parts true crime, war story and political thriller. Keefe is an investigative journalist and the author of a handful of books. The narration of Say Nothing, enhanced by Blaney’s broad Irish brogue, helps immerse you fully into this world constructed from a compelling story and Keefe’s ability to engross the reader with lively writing.


Cover image for Taste : my life through foodTaste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci, read by Stanley Tucci [CD Audiobook] [Libby Audiobook]

If you’ve seen Stanley Tucci’s food series where he travels through Italy, you know he is passionate about good food, and a good storyteller. Who better to narrate his memoir than himself, with his dry, witty delivery?



Celebrity Narrators

Quite a few well-known celebrities narrate audiobooks (written by others), and some do a great job bringing their ability to slip in and out of character and expressive qualities to the task. A noteworthy readers you may have seen in films and television:

Will Patton narrates some Stephen King titles, so if you like horror, give the Mr. Mercedes series or The Outsider a listen. He has also narrated a number of James Lee Burke titles including the mystery series featuring Louisiana Detective Dave Robicheaux, and some nonfiction audiobooks including David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon and The White Darkness.

Sissy Spacek narrates the Harper Lee classic To Kill a Mockingbird.

Meryl Streep also has recorded a number of titles, including Ann Patchett’s new novel, Tom Lake.

You can find audiobooks narrated by Dominic Hoffman, Reese Witherspoon, Jeremy Irons, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, and many other celebrities.


Last, but not least, we know the variety of platforms can be confusing, so here’s a chart help you navigate the how-to and basic info about audiobooks from the Pasadena Public Library.