The Best Recommendations for Audiobook Newbies

Posted by Marie on March 1, 2018


This post is brought to you by Audible.

Longing to try an audiobook, but don't know where to start? We asked audiobook fans on Twitter and Facebook to give their best recommendations for "audio-curious" readers who have yet to take the plunge.

We picked the most highly rated titles (e.g. a four-star minimum on both Goodreads and Audible) from some of the most popular comments, including the ultimate fan favorite Born a Crime written and narrated by Trevor Noah. Be sure to add these to your Want to Read shelf, and let us know which audiobooks you're most excited to try.

Happy listening!

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What audiobook would you recommend to an audiobook newbie? Let us know in the comments!

For more inspiration, check out the Goodreads' audiobooks page, brought to you by Audible.

Check out more recent blogs:
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24 of the Season's Highest-Rated Debuts
To Quit Or Not Quit a Book? Our Readers Weigh In...

Comments Showing 1-50 of 124 (124 new)


message 1: by Kellie (new)

Kellie I would also suggest the full cast version of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Each "interview" is narrated by a different actor, emphasizing the breadth of characters and experiences in Max Brooks' story.


message 2: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer I would suggest The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This book was amazing to listen to.


message 3: by Janine (new)

Janine Tennant The lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan was amazing.


message 4: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany The full cast versions of American Gods by Neil Gaiman and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card are both excellent audiobooks. If you like your fiction in the more noir, gritty vein, I highly recommend the audiobook of Gun Machine by Warren Ellis.


message 5: by Erin (new)

Erin I love the full cast audios, especially when the author joins in as narrator. My favorites so far have been Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and several of Tamora Pierce's books (I like the Immortals quartet the best).

And books where the reader contributes a little something extra, like character voices or accents that I can't really hear in my head. Lorelei King's reading of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels is spot on hilarious.


message 6: by Val (new)

Val Red Rising by Pierce Brown


message 7: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series read by Davina Porter will hold you in thrall for MONTHS (truly). The best audiobooks available, imho.
I also love any Grisham novels read by Michael Beck.
The Stone Diaries by Carol Shield


message 8: by Emma (new)

Emma The Chronicles of St Mary's by Jodi Taylor, narrated by Zara Ramm are brilliant to listen to. There is also a full cast recording of the the first instalment, Just One Damed Thing After Another which is fabulous.

I also loved Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff which in my opinion is 1000x better as an audiobook than it is in its physical format - the different narrators and sound effects brought the book to life!


message 9: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Like Ready Player One Armada by Ernest Cline is also read by Will Weaton. He's very good.


message 10: by Cruz (new)

Cruz Hernandez Being a burned out fan, I'm hyper critical of Chuck Palahniuk, but after listening to many audiobooks, I still have to say that his book Rant is one of the best I've ever heard. It's written as a oral biography, so it only makes sense that the audio version (with full cast) is the perfect medium to experience it.


message 11: by Chris (new)

Chris Any of the novels of Jeff Shaara read by Paul Michael are fantastic.


message 12: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Detchemendy I echo the recommendation for Davina Porter's readings of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Other audio favorites of all time include (1) Jim Dale reading the Harry Potter series (crazy good, and a great way to lap read to children if you don't have the gusto to take on all those character voices!), and (2) the old audio recording of The Great Train Robbery, which was fascinating.


message 13: by Nikita (new)

Nikita I've been reading audiobooks for eight years now and it's the only way I can read a book due to a reading disability. I love them and I love how narrators can bring the stories to life, personality to each character and I'm drawn so deep into the book's world it's mind-blowing.

Yes Harry Potter is a must because Jim Dale is awesome. I also recommend:
Throne of Glass read by Elizabeth Evans
Penryn & the End of Days read by Caitlin Davies
The Lunar Chronicles read by Rebecca Soler
The Hunger Games read by Carolyn McCormick (it was this audiobook that brought me into the reading world)


message 14: by Chris (new)

Chris McGrath The Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher have the best narration I've heard anywhere. James Marsters really pours himself into the acting like no one else I've heard.


message 15: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany PSquared The Help was one of the very best audiobooks I've ever listened to. I enjoyed reading the book and watching the movie as well, but the audiobook was very well done and was one of the reasons why I started listening to audiobooks regularly.


message 16: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Still Alice which is read by the author. Also The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo which is also read by the author. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption is so good - and read by the author. I think it adds so much more to the book when the author narrates. Ordinary Grace I loved also.

Also, humorous books are easy to listen too and I get more out of it. Also non-fiction books sometimes go faster when listened to vs. reading as well as super-long books - makes it easier to tackle.


message 17: by Ray (new)

Ray Why don't I see Illuminae or Gemina on the list?

In my opinion, those were the best audiobooks I've ever tried so far and I think they deserve to be on the list


message 18: by Johanna (new)

Johanna I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that audio books for novels don't work for me. I prefer reading those. Now, non-fiction is another story entirely! That works great! I blame it on the university structure of listening to your professors talking about stuff. xD


message 19: by Marta (new)

Marta Born A Crime is the best audiobook, ever. If you will listen to just one book, this should be it.

I have read/listened to most of these... lol.


message 20: by Marta (new)

Marta Johanna wrote: "I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that audio books for novels don't work for me. I prefer reading those. Now, non-fiction is another story entirely! That works great! I blame it on the uni..."
I sort of found the same, although it depends on the fiction. For example, I just listened to American Gods and it was amazing. Most contemporaries do not for me, but mystery-thrillers are quite good on audio.


message 21: by Johanna (new)

Johanna Marta wrote: "Johanna wrote: "I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that audio books for novels don't work for me. I prefer reading those. Now, non-fiction is another story entirely! That works great! I bla..."

True. Comedy heavy stuff works as well (as long as it's well done) but romance stuff is a total no no for me. it just gets awkward incredibly fast. And fantasy is tricky as well especially if there are very complicated names or made up words.


message 22: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Kellie wrote: "I would also suggest the full cast version of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Each "interview" is narrated by a different actor, emphasizing the breadth of characters an..."
World War Z was my guilty pleasure of last year's listening. I would NEVER have gone to see the movie or likely, to have read the hardback book, but what a star-studded, talented cast of voice actors!


message 23: by Tracy (new)

Tracy All TWELVE Bloody Jack adventures, written by L.A. Meyer and BEAUTIFULLY voiced by Kate Kellgren, who just passed away (only 48) in January.


message 24: by Lisa (last edited Mar 10, 2018 10:51AM) (new)

Lisa The Orange Is the New Black audiobook is brilliant and very easy to follow, even though it's not easy listening topic wise, would recommend!


message 25: by Marc (new)

Marc Berube The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin, not fiction, but good solid reading.


message 26: by Kabrada (new)

Kabrada Chris wrote: "The best series and narrators I've found so far:
[...]
J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series, read by Rob Inglis
[...]"


I second this, the audiobooks are amazing. Rob Inglis also did a brilliant reading of The Hobbit.

My other favourite reader of audiobooks is Peter Wickham. I absolutely adore his reading of M.J. Trow's Peter Maxwell Mystery Series.


message 27: by christina (new)

christina Kellie wrote: "I would also suggest the full cast version of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Each "interview" is narrated by a different actor, emphasizing the breadth of characters an..."

Yes World War Z is a great audiobook, I also really like "The Girl With All The Gifts" and "The Power" - the narrators did a great job of doing different voices for the characters.


message 28: by Claire (new)

Claire Any of the full cast Redwall books are fantastic, as are Frank Miller's readings of the first three Dark Tower books.

If you're looking for a narrator who's voice sounds like you're sitting on your grandpa's lap while he's spinning you an epic yarn, check out Roy Trumbull's or John McDonough's readings of the Oz series.


message 29: by Nathaniel (last edited Mar 10, 2018 01:39PM) (new)

Nathaniel Darkish The audiobook narration for Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, The Fireman and N0S4A2 by Joe Hill, and all of the First Law books by Joe Abercrombie are beyond excellent. Oh! And Mary Robinette Kowal is the reader for all her books as well, and she's awesome! And, if you want to laugh until you cry, listen to both of Jenny Lawson's books of audio, she reads them and they're hysterical.


message 30: by Neil (new)

Neil The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries narrated by Mark Meadows is one of the very best audiobook performances I've heard.


message 31: by Zohal (new)

Zohal So many good audiobooks on here! :) I highly agree with the recommendation of Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. The Harry Potter audiobooks are great.

Some more audiobook recommendations

If you love sci-fi, I definitely recommend The Martian, Dark Matter, The Themis Files and The Illuminae Files.

If you love Adult Fantasy, anything by Brandon Sanderson is great because Michael Kramer narrates his books and he is a great narrator.

If you love crime/detective novels, I recommend The Dry and Force of Nature both by Jane Harper.

For non-fiction/memoir I recommend anything narrated by the author such as Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming.


message 32: by Henry (new)

Henry A great audiobook is Illuminae and Gemina and the third one Obsidio is coming on the 13th in the usa


message 33: by Diane (new)

Diane Two books got me absolutely hooked on audible books:

1. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - first audible book I ever listened to made me a dedicated listener.

2. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy - narrated by the incredible Frank Muller. This is truly Muller at his best!


message 34: by Book Hunter B (new)

Book Hunter B Kellie wrote: "I would also suggest the full cast version of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Each "interview" is narrated by a different actor, emphasizing the breadth of characters an..."

I would caution this recommendation by ensuring the person in question makes sure to pick up the unabridged version of the audio book, lest you miss out on some great stories.


message 35: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Cox I really enjoyed these audio books:
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay A Watershed Year by Susan Schoenberger A Season to Love by Nicole Deese
Their narrators did a wonderful job, and the stories were rich, beautiful tales of hope, courage, and overcoming the hardest days in order to find true and lasting joy.

Others I'm looking forward to:
My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof Like a Love Song by Camille Eide Canteen Dreams (Cornhusker Dreams #1) by Cara C. Putman


message 36: by Denise (last edited Mar 10, 2018 05:13PM) (new)

Denise Martins I recommend The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson) read by Richard Armitage and My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece (Annabel Pitcher) read by David Tennant.

I'm practically a audiobook newbie myself and these were by favourites so far. Great stories and great narration.

Now I'm looking forward to listening to The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris) read by Richard Armitage


message 37: by Miri (new)

Miri Kellie wrote: "I would also suggest the full cast version of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Each "interview" is narrated by a different actor, emphasizing the breadth of characters an..."

i'm surprised they didn't suggest this one. It's by far the best audiobook i've listened to to date


message 38: by Maria (new)

Maria Neil DeGrasse Tyson!


message 39: by Jen (new)

Jen Emma wrote: "The Chronicles of St Mary's by Jodi Taylor, narrated by Zara Ramm are brilliant to listen to. There is also a full cast recording of the the first instalment, Just One Damed Thing After Another whi..."

YES YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES


Marie -The Reading Otter If I ever get around to reading Game of Thrones, it will be an audiobook.


message 41: by Jen (new)

Jen I review audiobooks on my YouTube channel, Jen Talks Audiobooks, and I think it's not just the book - it's the narrator. A Man Called Ove is excellent, the Illuminae Series is fantastic (and Obsidio is amazing, BTW), and The Chronicles of St. Mary's is one of the most entertaining I've ever read.

For YA, anything done by MacLeod Andrews or Nick Podehl is fantastic. The Pillars of Reality Series by jack Campbell is done by Andrews and it is fantastic.


message 42: by Kelley (new)

Kelley Tiffany wrote: "The Help was one of the very best audiobooks I've ever listened to. I enjoyed reading the book and watching the movie as well, but the audiobook was very well done and was one of the..."

I 2nd this suggestion! It was my first audio book, and it is the standard by which I measure all others.


message 43: by Maureen (new)

Maureen I love audiobooks and find that I can garden/chore out for hours if I have a good listen. My husband & I both enjoy all the Longmire stories by Craig Johnson & read by George Guidall- he can read anything!
Second His Dark Materials trilogy by Pullman
Wild Thing, Bazell
Pigeon Tunnel written & read by John LeCarre
Dr Siri Paiboun mystery series by Colin Cotterill - fabulous!
I too like non-fiction on audio, although I don't feel I personally retain as much when listening.


message 44: by Maureen (new)

Maureen I love audiobooks and find that I can garden/chore out for hours if I have a good listen. My husband & I both enjoy all the Longmire stories by Craig Johnson & read by George Guidall- he can read anything!
Second His Dark Materials trilogy by Pullman
Wild Thing, Bazell
Pigeon Tunnel written & read by John LeCarre
Dr Siri Paiboun mystery series by Colin Cotterill - fabulous!
I too like non-fiction on audio, although I don't feel I personally retain as much when listening.


Amy "the book-bat" Maureen wrote: "I love audiobooks and find that I can garden/chore out for hours if I have a good listen. My husband & I both enjoy all the Longmire stories by Craig Johnson & read by George Guidall- he can read a..."

I loved George Guidall reading the Cat Who books by Lilian Jackson Braun. I am looking forward to listening to the Longmire books. even more so that I know he is reading them.


message 46: by Simone (new)

Simone "Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate is a fantastic audiobook for newbies! I love that there are two narrators and the Southern accents are just everything. Such a beautiful story. Can't go wrong.


message 47: by Arwen (new)

Arwen I absolutely loved listening to 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster read by the author himself. I'm an avid audiobook listener as I can do chores or cross stitching while listening, or listen in my bed when I can't sleep.


message 48: by J.J. (last edited Mar 10, 2018 11:02PM) (new)

J.J. I recommend these to SciFi/Fantasy newbies.
My favorite audiobooks are:

DUNE by Frank Herbert
Stormlight Archives series Brandon Sanderson
Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson
Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown
Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
The First Law trilogy by Joe Ambercrombie
Black Company series by Glenn Cook
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
The Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch
Raven's Shadow trilogy by Anthony Ryan
The Godling Chronicles series by Brian D. Anderson
Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas
Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
A Throne of Court and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas


message 49: by Shems (new)

Shems How come It by Stephen King narrated by Steven Weber is not in the list?


LittleRedRidingHood I recommed first to check the sample of the audiobook on audible or overdrive, if you even like the voice of the narrators. Good narrators make the book ten times better. Graphic audio is also a great experience. Nonfiction is usually better on audio, such as memoires or biographies.

Some of the ones I absolutely loved:
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
The importance of being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (dramatized version with James Marsters and Charles Busch)
Her royal spyness by Rhys Bowen
Feed by Mira Grant

But I have to say I'm hesitant to try scify and fantasy on audio, because I'm afraid I won't be able to fully understand all the magic systems and such. Other geners work fine for me. Chores don't seem as chores anymore when you listen to a book.


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