As an avid lover of audiobooks, I often fall in love with certain narrators to the point I will listen to just about anything they perform. And I’ve found that rule often applies to certain actors as well. Meryl Streep performs Charlotte’s Web? Sure, I will re-listen to it! Viola Davis reads Corduroy? Of course, I’m going to add that audiobook to my library. There’s something unique that occurs when a well-known screen or stage actor picks up a book and begins to read it to you, so here are a few of my favorites.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
After a film adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before premiered on Netflix, we got a whole new edition of the audiobook, this time performed by Asian American actress Ali Ahn (Billions, Supernatural). To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows a biracial, Asian American girl who writes letters to all of her past crushes, but never plans on sending them. But when someone sends the letters without her consent, she finds herself forced to reconnect with past crushes to deal with the aftermath.
Narrated by Ali Ahn
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
The miniseries of The Eye of the World definitely ranks as one of the most anticipated fantasy novel adaptations of the year. I couldn’t have been more delighted to see Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, Pride and Prejudice), who plays one of the main characters in the miniseries, narrate a new edition of the audio version of The Eye of the World. Her performance is phenomenal. I felt a little apprehensive picking up a 30-hour audiobook, but before I knew it, I was over halfway through it.
Narrated by Rosamund Pike
World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry by Wendell Berry
Wendall Berry, a pillar of Appalachian literature, has held a high-priority place on my TBR for over a year now. So when I saw that Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) narrated the audiobook, I was like, “Yes, please!” Berry writes a lot about land stewardship, which is pretty on brand for Offerman’s general aesthetic. The combination of Berry’s writing and Offerman’s performance is the perfect combo.
Narrated by Nick Offerman
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Considered Alice Walker’s masterwork, The Color Purple follows Celie, a young Black girl growing up in rural Georgia. Her sister leaves Georgia to become a missionary while Celie is married off to an older man. We stay with Celie through her life as she tries to make the best of what she has, remaining hopeful and finding love in the face of the hardships that come her way. Samira Wiley, of Orange Is the New Black and The Handmaid’s Tale, performs the most recent edition of the audiobook. Wiley’s performance is a masterful example of audiobook narration and enthralls listeners as they hang on every word.
Narrated by Samira Wiley
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Meryl Streep. Wait, do I need to write more? Okay, sure. Meryl Streep AND Nora Ephron’s fiction. Okay, okay, let’s go into a few more details. Heartburn is Ephron’s most well-known novel, and it’s full of her characteristic humor and witty dialogue. It features the breakup of the “perfect” marriage and all of the awkward aftermath that follows suit. Oh, and did I mention that our protagonist is seven months pregnant?
Narrated by Meryl Streep
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Before I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack for the first time, I fell in love with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s performance of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. This young adult novel follows two teenage boys as they fall in love. The book is so heartfelt, with two cinnamon roll-worthy characters.
Narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda
The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
Look, I read this novel back in the day, and was fine. A classic, British novel about a man who leaves his home town in Essex, returning after many years. It holds as much angst as the Victorian period would allow. But let’s be honest: I picked this novel back up because Alan Rickman performs it. There’s just something special about hearing Rickman’s familiar voice narrate this story that adds a depth of emotion and creates a whole new sort of mood for the book.
Narrated by Alan Rickman