Jack's picture
Jack from England is reading texts of rejection from pretty ladies October 5, 2011 - 8:20am

Audiobooks were never my thing until my friend, roommate and object of my unrequited love told me they were an effective way to spend sleepless nights.

In another thread, Mark mentioned Matt Dillon's reading of On The Road as particularly good.

Excellent audiobooks I've encountered are:

Naked Lunch - read with just the right amount of menace by Mark Bramhall.

Against The Day - Dick Hill somehow makes each voice in a cast of hundreds of characters distinctive.

The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave - Read by the author. Adds his own compositions and sound effects that give the book another layer. In fact, I'd recommend the audio book over the print version.

What else is worth a go?

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 5, 2011 - 8:34am

Did you actually say that I'm the object of your unrequited love? Are we DOING this? Is this going to be the new joke? Goddammit.

I would recommend Jonathan Davis as a reader (not the Korn guy).

Mark's picture
Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water October 5, 2011 - 10:51am

My usual main markers for audiobooks are:

  1. unabridged
  2. read by the author

Chuck Palahniuk's reading of Choke, for example, is incredibly listenable.

Not all authors read as well as Chuck, but most who take on the task are at least good, if not great, in reading their own material, for the authenticity.

In contrast, I often find professional voiceover actors hammy and unbearable--especially for books.  Artificial, prissy, and way too intent on impressing us with their own talent instead of serving the material.  Worst of all: utterly out-of-sync with what my inner voice would do with that text if I were reading it.  A barrier to my own interpretation.  People who's main bag is voicing pop tarts and animated oven mits for television commercials, they should never be employed to read books for a paying audience.

That said, real actors who actually read books on their own time for pleasure and enrichment and who accept voiceover work selectively, maybe only when their agent finds a golden chance for them to read something personally meaningful--that can be as good or better than having the author (who may be long dead) do the reading for you himself.

My leading contenders?

Matt Dillon reading On the Road.
Jeremy Irons reading of Lolita.

The first is available on compact disc.  The second is available as a download from audible.com.

Perfect performances that utterly serve the material instead of the actor's vanity and equal or exceed what the little voice inside my head could construct, unaided, as I read the original texts.

If you may be as auditory sensitive as I am, I'd love to hear your own recommendations.

A. William's picture
A. William from Minnesota is reading Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon October 5, 2011 - 11:16am

World War Z by Max Brooks had a marvelous audiobook, the voice of Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) as a potty-mouthed marine was especially entertaining. Listened to the whole thing on a road trip and was aboslutely engaged the entire time.

I highly recommend it!

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 5, 2011 - 11:40am

dermaphoria - read by the author. for fuck sake, and i thought it was awesome when i read it

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break October 5, 2011 - 11:41am


The Lolita audiobook with Irons sounds like a winner.

Mark's picture
Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water October 5, 2011 - 11:50am

The Lolita audiobook with Irons sounds like a winner.

Irons played Humbert Humbert in an 80's film version of this classic.  His study and training for executing the full narrative would probably rank as impeccable.

XyZy's picture
XyZy from New York City is reading Seveneves and Animal Money October 5, 2011 - 1:46pm

Paul Auster reads at least a couple of his own audiobooks (The Man in the Dark, and Brooklyn Follies for sure, those are at least the ones I've got) so if authentic authorial voice is important to you, his are entirely listenable. (Even if it's not important to you...)

Also, David Sedaris reading his own stuff is good, because not only is he funny, but he also has a funny voice.

On the actors selectively choosing readings angle I've enjoyed Ethan Hawk's reading of Slaughterhouse Five, and I've also heard James Van Der Beek reading Lunar Park, and though the story was kind of blah, his reading was surprisingly decent.

I've only heard one voice-acted reading of a book, and it was Ender in Exile, and I have to say I quite enjoyed it. There were four or five different actors that would take seperate chapters depending on who the main character of that chapter was, so a chapter following Valentine around would be read by the actress who reads for Valentine, or a chapter following Ender would be read by the actor reading Ender. It was not all cut up and trying to turn it into a "radio play" kind of thing with each actor reading their character's lines... which I"m not morally opposed to, but think I would find distracting. Maybe this was just a well done version, and I'm sure there are other audiobooks out there where the actors don't actually try to bring out the work and are just adding another notch to their demo reel... although, admittedly one of the actors for Exile was a bit hammy and over the top.

I've even found a few good audiobooks on librivox.org, which is basically the audio version of Project Guttenberg. But it's all read by volunteers, so it's hit or miss in terms of quality. Except Ulysses, which was all miss.

A. Mason Carpenter's picture
A. Mason Carpenter from USA is reading The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell October 5, 2011 - 8:29pm

I listen to quite a few audiobooks, so I can't be really picky about them.  The ones that stand out in my mind right now are The Graveyard Book, read by Neil Gaiman himself.  He does a superb job of it and it is a great story. Also, Snow Crash read by Jonathan Davis.  He really understands the unique pace of the work and dry wit of the prose.  Highly recommend both of those.

Mark's picture
Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water October 5, 2011 - 9:11pm

The ones that stand out in my mind right now are The Graveyard Book, read by Neil Gaiman himself.  He does a superb job of it and it is a great story.

Wow.  Thanks for the tip.  I greatly enjoyed reading that book and I didn't realize Neil had performed it.  I'll need to pick that up at some point.

.'s picture
. October 5, 2011 - 11:18pm

I'm scared to buy some audio books because i'm afraid I would be missing out on the overall structure, language, blah blah blah. I could do Stephen King audio books though, its not like I would be missing any literary genius in the pages.

Karen Stone's picture
Karen Stone from Woodend is reading 1Q84 October 5, 2011 - 11:25pm

Just got back from a few months study in Tibet and audio books are my new best friends! On the recommendation of Neil Gaiman got Bleak House, awesomely good. Fahrenheite 451 read by Ray Bradbury - mesmersing, and gotta love Tim Curry reading Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, really!

Andrew Hepworth's picture
Andrew Hepworth from Scotland is reading Peter Pan October 6, 2011 - 12:18am

Enjoyed Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman, read by Lenny Henry, who put an entertaining slant on the performance (though it might not be to everyone's taste).  Also liked The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, by Susanna Clarke, read by Simon Prebble and Davina Porter.

A. Mason Carpenter's picture
A. Mason Carpenter from USA is reading The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell October 6, 2011 - 2:00am

Tim Curry could read the phone book and I might listen.  He did some of the Series of Unfortunate Events, and they were wonderful.  Plus, Rocky Horror on his resume.

lyndonriggall's picture
lyndonriggall from Tasmania is reading Going Bovine by Libba Bray October 6, 2011 - 3:13am

@A.Mason Carpenter - I'm determined to get Snow Crash now, because Unfortunate Events and Graveyard Book are two of my favourites.  Instant trust achieved.


For the rest of you, some Stephen Fry won't hurt your ears.  Harry Potter if you like, but his Short Stories of Oscar Wilde is also lovely listening.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. October 6, 2011 - 10:13am

The new Author's Preferred Edition of American Gods has an awesome voice cast, including Neil reading the 'coming to america' parts.  It's one of the best audiobooks I've listened to.  

Kirk's picture
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun October 6, 2011 - 11:51am

I second World War Z.

The format of that book translates very well to an audiobook and they got some great voices for the various roles. Henry Rollins was great as was Mark Hammill.

Philly V's picture
Philly V from Bradford is reading The Crow Road October 6, 2011 - 1:26pm

I'd like to say Catch 22 narrated by Jim Weiss. I think his voice is perfect for it!

Klassy's picture
Klassy from San Francisco is reading Reamde by Neal Stephenson, and Supergods by Grant Morrison October 6, 2011 - 2:35pm

Definitely the World War Z audio book! I listen to it all the time. All the time. Once I even listened to it during a long 15-hour plane ride, to my own delight. Loved hearing Alan Alda, Henry Rollins, Mark Hamill, John Turturro, Rob Reiner, and Max Brooks himself bring the stories in the book to a completely new level. My only complaint is that it's abridged. I wish it had been longer. I wish they released a complete version with every story from the book. 

I also like listening to Christopher Hitchens' audio book of God Is Not Great. I prefer to listen to him in spoken word than read him. He's a good writer, don't get me wrong, but his voice is so animated. And he's funny. 

Also worth mentioning is William S. Burroughs' Dead City Radio. To hear him preach to the perverted is a joy.

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 October 6, 2011 - 4:05pm

Never gave one a shot, I'll look into these recommendations though.
I do have all of bukowski's live readings on my computer if that counts.

Greg Eidson's picture
Greg Eidson from Los Angeles, CA is reading The Alchemist - Paul Coelho October 6, 2011 - 4:08pm

Hey thanks Mark. I've been trying to find which one Palahniuk reads, and I started Choke. So good so far. 

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 7, 2011 - 5:59am

I've listened to a ton of audiobooks because I have a shitty long drive to work.

Usually I like Stephan for audiobooks.  His plots aren't too twisted, so they're easy to follow when you're barely paying attention.  And they usually have quality narrators.

The best one so far for audiobook was Under the Dome.  The narrator on that was amazing.  He had perfect voices for each character.

Lately I've been listening to the Darktower Series.  I think I'm on book 4 or 5.  I don't think I would have ever stuck with the series if I was reading it conventionally.  But it seems to work for me in the audio format.

@Mark V - I've been meaning to give Lolita a shot for years.  Maybe I'll have to look into that audiobook.  It sounds good.

misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind October 18, 2011 - 11:25am

I love audiobooks. I can "read"... while at work? Really? Awesome! 

But I'm so picky about the reader. I'm picky about audio things in general, and a bad reader reminds me of class lectures back when I was in third grade. 

So far, my favorite audio books are the How to Train Your Dragon series, read by David Tennant, and any Doctor Who novel read by Catherine Tate. (I love Catherine Tate's energy when she reads. When I'm published, I'd love to have her do the reading for my book.)

Another thing I love to do is listen to books on hard-to-understand topics, like physics and things of that sort.


Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 18, 2011 - 11:54am

Authors reading their books sometimes make poor audio books. I've listened to most of the Series of Unfortunate Events books and the ones that the author reads them rather than Tim Curry aren't bad, but they're definitely not as appealing. I also rememeber trying to listen to William Gibson's Neuromances, which was read by the author, and I didn't get that far because I hated his reading of it.

My friend, Mykle Hansen, serialized his short novel, Help! A Beat is Eating Me!, online as an audio book before the novel was published. He may be the best public speaker I know (he has also has officianated a lot of weddings--because he ordained himself through the Universal Life Church). He did a great job at reading the book, but unfortunately the protagonist is one of the most obnoxious, annoying characters who has ever been created in literature and Mykle did very well at "playing the part," so I wasn't able to listen to very much of that either, although I loved reading the actual book to myself in silence and didn't mind hearing Mykle's "voice" in my mind while I was reading the book. As far as the protagonist being one of the most obnoxious characters in literature, I feel that it's a very good thing for the print book and not so good for the audio book (or at least how I experienced it).

.'s picture
. October 18, 2011 - 11:57am

I only buy audio books read by Allen Rickman. 

Nighty Nite's picture
Nighty Nite from NJ is reading Grimscribe: His Lives and Works October 18, 2011 - 12:13pm

Once in a while I love me some audiobooks. Of course, I usually follow along while listening, so it kind of defeats the purpose. But whatever.

As already said here, Choke read by Chuck is awesome.

Neil Gaiman reading The Graveyard Book, which is technically for a younger crowd, but it's still an awesome book.

American Psycho read by Pablo Schreiber

And while we're on the subject, I have to give a shout out. To the absolute worst audiobook narration ever.

Fight Club narrated by James Colby. I don't know what it is, something about how Colby reads it just doesn't sound right. I only made it to chapter two and I had to turn it off.


Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts October 18, 2011 - 12:17pm

Elliot Gould reads I think most if not all of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe books, these are the ones I put on mostly. Phil Gigante reading Joe R Lansdale's Hap & Leonard series is great.  John Glover (aka Lionel Luther) is awesome reading Stephen King's Nightshift collection. Elmore Leonard's Djibouti was a good one, can't remember who read it. I've listened to Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys (David Collaci), The Final Solution (Michael York), The Yiddish Policemen's Union (Peter Riegert) , and Gentlemen of the Road (Andres Braugher), all were good. Mark Leyner's My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist is pretty gread and I believe is read by the author. All George Carlin books. Anything read by Harlan Ellison. Anything read by Charles Bukowski. The Best American Short Stories of the Century has a lot of the writers reading their work. David Foster Wallace reads Consider The Lobster (along with audio footnotes)

Kate Winters's picture
Kate Winters from Toronto is reading James Rollins' Sigma Force series October 18, 2011 - 12:24pm

I don't know if I can ever listen to audiobooks. I have a tendency to tune sound out, especially if I'm focused on something else, and I fall sleep easily if I'm only listening to something (thank my undergrad degree for that...). Given that I sleep less than 5 hrs a night (ie constantly sleep-deprived) and I can fall asleep virtually anytime, anywhere, I'm worried that I won't be able to listen to them without falling asleep...

lynx_child's picture
lynx_child from Seattle is reading The Dresden Files series October 18, 2011 - 9:19pm

The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston

One of my favorite children's chapter books, and so much fun to listen to :D