Tuesday, October 22, 2019

MY TOP 7 AUDIOBOOK NARRATORS

Share Your Thoughts

Hi there. If you are like me, who loves reading along with an audio version, then there is a good chance that you are also keeping a good watch on some favorite narrators. If not, hopefully, this post will change your views on audiobooks. I have a list, which I narrowed down to seven, because (truthfully) I think it’s ridiculous to write more than 5,000 words in a single blog post.


(7) Kirby Heyborne is the reason I got through Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After, Chapter 6 of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, satisfied. It was really a difficult chapter given how it was written in a corrupted form of English. So, when I started rereading sentences three times before grasping, I decided to switch to the audio version of the book. Heyborne did such a good job I was able to finish the rest of the 528 pages without any back reading and loved it.

Kirby Heyborne is an actor, musician, singer-songwriter, and comedian. He is also known for narrating Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs,  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan, and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

(6) Susan Duerden was someone I had to hunt for. Allow me to elaborate.

A good friend of mine and co-TFG member (also an author), Tina Matanguihan, recommended the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. Most people believe that it’s a hard series to dive into because aside from the fact that it is under alternative history fiction, it literally involves diving inside books. Well, they aren’t wrong, there is plenty to take in –Jurisfiction, grammasites, Chronoguards, etc. There are various audio versions; hence, I hunted through Audible for someone I can relax with. It was Susan Duerden who made everything easy for me and turned this series into one of my favorites.

Susan Duerden likewise narrated the Maggie Hope Mysteries by Susan Elia Macneal, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, and co-narrated the 2012 Audible edition of Dracula with other narrators, including Alan Cumming.

(5) Wil Wheaton is well known for his role as Wesley Crusher for Star Trek: The Next Generation. But I think I like him better playing as himself in The Big Bang Theory. And I like him best in narrating Ready Player One and Armada. I am not a gamer and the jargon Ernest Cline employed took some time to get used to. Wheaton made these books alive and exciting for me. I saw what he saw and believed it.

Wil Wheaton also narrated books by John Scalzi, David Kushner, and Cory Doctorow among others.

(4) Neil Gaiman reading his own books is always a treat. He is obviously one of my favorite authors. The first time I heard him read Instructions and The Day The Saucers Came I knew I want more of that as much as I want to collect all of his books.

I recently read Gaiman’s Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances. My favorite was Black Dog because he really channeled Shadow Moon superbly.

(3) Stephen Fry is my preferred reader of the Harry Potter books, which sounded pretty biased, and I am. I love how more lifelike and mysterious Fry’s narrations are. Not only does he inhabit the main characters vividly well, but so with the secondary characters. And I think I hated Voldemort all the more because of him.

I know I’m going to get a lot of hot daggers from American readers out there for saying all these, (erhm) which is definitely reasonable.

Stephen Fry is also a brilliant actor and writer. He likewise read Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection, released in 2017.

(2) Juliet Stevenson, for me, is the goddess of all audiobook narration. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf is not exactly my cup of tea, but I read somewhere that the reader should savor the language to enjoy it. And so I had my friend Angus Miranda lend me an audiobook copy. I fell in love with Stevenson instantly. She was articulate and mesmerizing. Her soft compassionate voice lifted Woolf’s writing on a different level and saw it for what it truly is – an exemplary work of art.

Juliet Stevenson, CBE is an award-winning actor, both on stage and screen. She was best known for her leading role in Truly, Madly, Deeply. Aside from Virginia Woolf’s books, she read other classics written by George Elliot, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, etc.

(1) Lenny Henry is Anansi. For me, there is no other. His narration of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman is right up there, and nothing is topping it thus far. He is one of the most distinct narrating voices in the field and he gave Anansi the perfect Caribbean voice and shadowy character required for the part. Henry’s was an unquestionably first-rate performance, one that made a great book even better.

Lenny Henry also narrated White Teeth by Zadie Smith and My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal.


Try reading along with an audiobook, or, listen while waiting for your bus, or, on your long drive home. For some it can be an acquired taste, for others, it’s an instant addiction. Make your own list of favorite narrators too, let me know.


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