10 of the Best Narrator and Audiobook Pairings of All Time

Posted by Hayley on July 22, 2015


When famous voices collide with famous stories, we all win. So this summer, whether you're driving cross country or cruising at 30,000 feet, give your eyes a rest—and your ears a treat—with audiobooks narrated by some of your favorite actors.

(And in case you didn't know, you can listen to free audio samples for over 180,000 Audible titles on Goodreads! Just look for the Listen icon on the Goodreads book page.)


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BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
Written by Kurt Vonnegut
Narrated by John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons, Being John Malkovich)

Suggested activities while listening: Wandering around a local arts festival, eating breakfast (too easy?), breaking down fourth walls


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READY PLAYER ONE
Written by Ernest Cline
Narrated by Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stand by Me)

Suggested activities while listening: Visiting an immersive virtual world, hunting for obscure easter eggs, making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs

*Bonus: Wheaton also narrates Cline's new book, Armada.


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BOSSYPANTS
Written by Tina Fey
Narrated by Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock)

Suggested activities while listening: Shamelessly snacking, waking up from a stress dream, trying on your own own pair of metaphorical bossypants


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THE HANDMAID'S TALE
Written by Margaret Atwood
Narrated by Claire Danes (My So-Called Life, Homeland)

Suggested activities while listening: Contemplating your identity within society, babysitting, sticking it to the man


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THE THINGS THEY CARRIED
Written by Tim O'Brien
Narrated by Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle, Breaking Bad)

Suggested activities while listening: Cleaning your closet or garage, heading to the dentist, avoiding political debates on Facebook


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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Written by Harper Lee
Narrated by Sissy Spacek (Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter)

Suggested activities while listening: Driving through tired old towns, collecting gifts from reclusive neighbors, shooting all the blue jays you want (if you can hit 'em)

*Bonus: Reese Witherspoon narrates Lee's follow-up, Go Set a Watchman.


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NATIVE SON
Written by Richard Wright
Narrated by James Earl Jones (The Lion King, Star Wars)

Suggested activities while listening: Waiting for your home to be fumigated—and then realizing that, in a strictly figurative sense, you resonate more with the rat than with the fumigator


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A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
Written by Lemony Snicket
Narrated by Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, It)

Suggested activities while listening: Playing at the beach on a day you expect to hear very terrible news, "volunteering" at your community theater, setting things on fire


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FAHRENHEIT 451
Written by Ray Bradbury
Narrated by Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption, Mystic River)

Suggested activities while listening: Memorizing Fahrenheit 451 for that inevitable time when society rejects—and then is ready to accept—it


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THE ART OF WAR
Written by Sun Tzu
Narrated by Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones, The Wire)

Suggested activities while listening: Waiting for your enemies to fall into your carefully constructed trap or relaxing because you now fight all your wars without actually having to do battle


Have a favorite audiobook and narrator pairing? Share it with us in the comments!

Comments Showing 1-50 of 291 (291 new)


message 1: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne Amequohi I love audiobooks so I will have to try a couple of these out. My favorite pairing is the Jim Butcher series, The Dresden Files," read by James Marsters (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame). The man is a gifted story teller and can manipulate his voice to any character. When i manually read Dresden I now hear Marsters voice in my mind!


message 2: by Alicia (new)

Alicia Jeremy Irons narrating Brideshead Revisited
and the team of narrators (Baymer, Duerden, Landor, Lee, Mills) from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.


message 3: by Louise (new)

Louise Davina Porter reading the Outlander series is absolute perfection. The voices of the different characters is great.


message 4: by Derek (new)

Derek I have to put in a second for Marsters reading the Dresden Files


message 5: by Sandra (last edited Jul 22, 2015 08:18AM) (new)

Sandra Albert My favorite author/narrator pairings are J.D.Robb's In Death series read by Susan Ericksen and Robyn Carr's Virgin River/Thunder Point/Grace Valley series read by Therese Plummer. I have to agree with your choice of To Kill a Mockingbird read by Sissy Spacek. Too bad she didn't read Go Set a Watchman. Reese Witherspoon didn't come close.


message 6: by Silvana (new)

Silvana Roy Dotrice for A Song of Ice and Fire.


message 7: by Tom (new)

Tom Will Patton is great in the Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke as is Tony Roberts in the Stone Barrington series by Stuart Woods


message 8: by Lori (new)

Lori Why is no one mentioning Will Patton's narrations of Denis Johnson's books? Especially TRAIN DREAMS and JESUS' SON!

Also, Ron Perlman does a killer job with CITY OF THIEVES.


message 9: by Becca (new)

Becca Tyler Just finished Go Set a Watchman narrated by Reese Witherspoon. Perfect match!


message 10: by Chantel (new)

Chantel DaCosta Joy wrote: "I'm currently listening to Ruby Dee reading Their Eyes Were Watching God. I feel like I'm sitting on someone's front porch sipping a lemonade while listening to ger tell her life story."

I listened to this a few weeks ago. Was wonderful. Ruby Dee's voice was soothing and I was fully engaged.


message 11: by robyn (new)

robyn i LOVED the narrator of wolf hall, but, unfortunately they changed with bring up the bodies. not as good. similarly i LOVED lynn redgrave reading inkheart by cornelia funke but then they switched to brendan fraser. atrocious. *sigh*


message 12: by Ambs ❤❤ (new)

Ambs ❤❤ Silvana wrote: "Roy Dotrice for A Song of Ice and Fire."

I think he makes the story come alive!


message 13: by Billie (new)

Billie I love the whole series of Sue Grafton Alphabet mysteries as read aloud by Judy Kaye.


message 14: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Derek wrote: "I have to put in a second for Marsters reading the Dresden Files"

Agree. There was one book that was not read by Marsters, I believe it was Ghost Story, and it got terrible reviews because of it...to the extent that they are going back and recording a Marsters version. :)


message 15: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Silvana wrote: "Roy Dotrice for A Song of Ice and Fire."

Roy Dotrice is absolutely terrible.


message 17: by Asuka0278 (new)

Asuka0278 How on earth does this list NOT include the Harry Potter books narrated by Jim Dale?


message 18: by Kay (last edited Jul 22, 2015 09:26AM) (new)

Kay J I haven't gotten on the band wagon for audio books, but I'll try it out, I've already read a couple of these books but it would be cool to listen to a series of unfortunate events. I saw the movie, but I'm sure the book is better.


message 19: by Tina (new)

Tina Going to add The End of the Affair by Graham Greene read by Colin Firth, wonderful!


message 20: by Greg (new)

Greg The upcoming Welcome to Nightvale book, narrated by the sublimely voiced Cecil Baldwin, of course


message 21: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Neverwhere narrated by Neil Gaiman himself. I love his voice!


message 22: by Susan (new)

Susan I love Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's narration of the Rivers of London series. He does a brilliant job with all the different characters' accents.


message 23: by Ivy (new)

Ivy Nice enough list but any top narrator/audiobook list that does not include: Susan Ericksen, Kate Reading and Michael Kramer, or Renée Raudman is lacking in my opinion


message 24: by Aja: (new)

Aja: The Narcoleptic Ninja I don't remember who the narrator was, but listening to the Harry Potter books when I couldn't read the physical copies was very enjoyable.


message 25: by Krystle (new)

Krystle Absolutely should belong in this list is Chronicles: Volume One, by Bob Dylan, narrated by Sean Penn.


Mrog12275yahoo.com Anything read by Michael Maloney!


message 27: by Sierra (new)

Sierra Both Lolita and The Giver as read by Jeremy Irons are riveting. Just imagining that nefarious, plotting and lustful voice uttering 'Lo-lee-ta' still gives me chills.


message 28: by Claudia (new)

Claudia Piña Jason Isaacs reading A Monster Calls


message 29: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Asuka0278 wrote: "How on earth does this list NOT include the Harry Potter books narrated by Jim Dale?"

I was just going to write the same thing!! They are some of the very best audio books to listen to! They got my family through countless long car trips.


message 30: by Clacie (new)

Clacie Aja wrote: "I don't remember who the narrator was, but listening to the Harry Potter books when I couldn't read the physical copies was very enjoyable."

Jim Dale. And he was fantastic.


message 31: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I keep meaning to try audiobooks, so this list was actually pretty helpful!


message 32: by Clacie (new)

Clacie I'll jump in & add my faves.

Christopher Moore's vampire trilogy narrated by Susan Bennett is great.

The first 10 Stephanie Plum novels narrated by C.J. Critt.

Kim Harrison's The Hollows series narrated by Marguerite Gavin.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy narrated by Rob Inglis.

The Eyes of the Dragon narrated by Bronson Pinchot.

Anything read by Frank Muller.


message 33: by Astrid (new)

Astrid Harry Potter, narrated by Stephen Fry.


message 34: by Jay (new)

Jay Jeanne wrote: "I love audiobooks so I will have to try a couple of these out. My favorite pairing is the Jim Butcher series, The Dresden Files," read by James Marsters (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame). The man ..."

Manually read. I grinned. :)


message 35: by Jay (new)

Jay A few of my favorites:

* My Real Children, by Jo Walton, narrated by Alison Larkin
Alison's reading was strong, her rhythm easily ranging from conversational to profound.

* The Children of Men, by PD James, narrated by Julian Glover
Julian's somber, measured tones added a sense of gravity that I found captivating.

* Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Süskind, narrated by Sean Barratt
Sean's a frickin' powerhouse, with a sonorous, commanding voice that arrested my attentions. Spellbinding.


message 36: by Shannan (new)

Shannan Jim Dale's narration of the Harry Potter series is perfection. Davina Porter doing the Amelia Peabody series is also wonderful.


message 37: by Erin (new)

Erin Kernohan The Ocean at the End of the Lane written and narrated by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman has the ability to go from being a 6 year old boy to an ancient woman with only a slight change in his voice. It's amazing.


message 38: by Guilherme (new)

Guilherme Medeiros The Martian, narrated by R. C. Bray was marvelous. I'm sure I would have had a lesser experience of this wonderful book if there wasn't a Mr. Bray narrating all those - ironic/clever/funny- tones.


message 39: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Joy wrote: "I'm currently listening to Ruby Dee reading Their Eyes Were Watching God. I feel like I'm sitting on someone's front porch sipping a lemonade while listening to ger tell her life story."

Becca wrote: "Just finished Go Set a Watchman narrated by Reese Witherspoon. Perfect match!"

Really loved the description of The experience of listening to Ruby Dee reading. Fascinating! Makes me want to listen!


message 40: by BarbJ (new)

BarbJ Guilherme wrote: "The Martian, narrated by R. C. Bray was marvelous. I'm sure I would have had a lesser experience of this wonderful book if there wasn't a Mr. Bray narrating all those - ironic/clever/funny- tones."

I agree - R.C. Bray was wonderful - I don't think I would have enjoyed "The Martian" half as much if I had read it!!


message 41: by BarbJ (new)

BarbJ I just finished Willa Cather's "My Antonia" narrated by Jim Cummings - he brought the story to life!!


message 42: by Beth (new)

Beth My favorite is The Passage narrated by Scott Brick.


message 43: by Pietro (new)

Pietro Spina Jim Dale reading the Harry Potter series. It is AMAZING! I like listening to him read the books as much as I like reading them myself, and that is saying something.


message 44: by Kel (new)

Kel Dugan The End of the Affair
UNABRIDGED
By Graham Greene
Narrated By Colin Firth
Length: 6 hrs and 28 mins


message 45: by Amanda (new)

Amanda How to Train Your Dragon narrated by David Tennant is excellent.


message 46: by Diana (new)

Diana Reese Witherspoon is fabulous for Go Set a Watchman.


message 47: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Jeremy Irons reading Lolita is amazing and the Jim Dale versions of Harry Potter


message 48: by Teri-K (new)

Teri-K Go Set A Watchman is not the follow up to To Kill A Mockingbird. It was written before and turned down by the publishers. To read it as Lee's sequel is to misunderstand it completely.


message 49: by Susan (new)

Susan Ralph Cosham reading all of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series. Graeme Malcom reading many of M.C. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth series. Edwina Wren reading Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book. And I 100% agree that Sissy Spacek reading To Kill a Mockingbird is audio book heaven.


message 50: by Eileen (new)

Eileen David Aaron Baker reading the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz... excellent!!


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