Audiobook favourites from your favourite authors.
Hear from a First Lady in her own words, help some octogenarians solve a murder, dare to lead with Brené Brown and more. Whether you're new to the format or an audiobook aficionado, there's a book for you on this list. Plug in some headphones and listen in.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
I listen to a lot of audiobooks when I’m walking our dogs or doing boring chores. And Becoming is such a delight. Michelle Obama has a warm, engaging reading voice, and her book is disarmingly frank. As you’d expect, she speaks with informed intelligence about America’s history of race relations, working as a lawyer, motherhood, her childhood in Chicago, and of course, her marriage. But she is much more open than politician’s spouses usually are when discussing her personal pains and losses, and her failures. First Lady is a ridiculous title but since it exists I’m glad that America had a brief moment in which that role was filled by this highly educated, driven, empathetic and dignified woman. The book only affirms what America has lost since the Obamas were in the White House. – Kirsten Alexander, author of Riptides
I don’t often listen to audiobooks, because I’m such a print addict. I could count the number of fiction audiobooks I’ve listened to on one hand! However, I’ve discovered I really enjoy listening to memoirs or autobiographies when they are read by the author. My favourite of these is Becoming by Michelle Obama. I’m a huge Obama fan and I found listening to her tell her own story both moving and compelling. Highly recommended! – Lisa Ireland, author of The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan
Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, read by Stephen Fry [is my favourite audiobook]. Fry immersed me in the atmosphere and fantasy, and he did great accents. I first listened to this while driving up a snow-capped mountain in northern California, snowflakes fell on the windscreen as we curved around the white bends, we might have been taking the road to Hogwarts instead of to a ski resort. The children in the car were spellbound and so was I. – Rachel Givney, author of Secrets My Father Kept
Middlemarch by George Eliot
I always felt guilty that I hadn’t read this masterpiece but was put off by the length (and that’s not a sentence I’ve ever said before!). And so, I let Juliet Stevenson read it to me as I bush walked and shopped and lay in the bath and vacuumed. Once you let the rhythm of the prose work its magic, Middlemarch proves to be the most captivating, awe-inspiring literary feat. I actually looked forward to doing the housework so I could catch up on the characters. That’s another sentence I’ve never uttered. Normally I would say that any woman who got high on housework was inhaling WAY too much cleaning fluid! – Kathy Lette, author of HRT: Husband Replacement Therapy
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
I read the novel first for myself and was completely immersed in the world that the author evoked. Listening to the audiobook made it all new for me again. I think this was partly because of the narrator Cassandra Campbell’s American accent. I’d ‘heard’ the novel differently in my own head. Sometimes this can be disconcerting but in this case it allowed me to experience the drama afresh. – Katherine Scholes, author of The Beautiful Mother
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
I recently listened to the audiobook of Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, which was read beautifully by actress Morvin Christie, and have since decided that I want myself and everyone around me to have Icelandic names. – Imbi Neeme, author of The Spill
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
I can’t choose a favourite audiobook, because I always love being read to. I’m currently listening and thoroughly enjoying The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, read by Lesley Manville. It’s set in a UK retirement village, about four elderly friends who find themselves solving cold crime cases. It’s quirky and fun. During the more anxious times of the pandemic, I returned to listening to Stephen Fry reading the Harry Potter novels. It was so familiar and calming. I have to confess it often put me to sleep, but in the best possible way. – Monica McInerney, author of The Godmothers
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Aside from my own (which are fabulously narrated by Rupert Degas), I thought The Silent Patient audiobook was particularly well done. It has two narrators and skips between narration and diary entries etc., and it really brings the story to life. I also really enjoyed both Kitty Flanagan and Urzila Carlson narrating their own most recent hilarious books. It’s so good to hear comic lines in their cadence and with their attitude. – Benjamin Stevenson, author of Either Side of Midnight
The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce remains one of my all-time favourite audiobooks. Harold is a man who simply wants to post a letter to a woman who was a dear friend and is now dying. But he decides instead to walk the letter from one end of the country to the other and in the process to risk becoming himself.
Harold, you dear, dear man! Is there anything more moving than seeing one person doing their all for another and getting it terribly wrong at times and then impossibly right at others?
Harold is a man at the end of his disappointingly ordinary life. He realises that in the pursuit of providing for his family and being loyal to his job he might have forgotten how to live. Not only does he go on an extraordinarily long and unplanned walk but, but he also journeys to the centre of his own heart. He remembers what it is to truly feel, to deeply connect with his fellow humans and to trust in that connection. He also confronts the loss of his son and in many ways, the loss of his wife.
I adored Harold and all his misadventures, but I think what is equally powerful about this story are the gorgeous, messy, imperfect people that Harold meets along his walk. This is such a lovely tale about what it means to be human and how getting everything wrong is sometimes the same as getting everything right- as long as you show up and are honest about the whole mess! – Tabitha Bird, author of The Emporium of Imagination
Wolf Hall trilogy by Hilary Mantel
I’ve been hooked on listening to Hilary Mantel’s epic trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, the right-hand man to Henry XIII. I’ve read them all – Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies and the recently-released The Mirror and the Light. Mantel isn’t really a novelist. She’s a poet impersonating a novelist. Her scenes, characters and dialogue are so rich that one reading just isn’t enough. So I’ve turned to the audio versions read by Ben Miles and they are magnificent. I try and listen to an hour or two a day while walking the dogs. But what really happens is that after an hour I drop the dogs back at home and then keep walking so I can hear more. – Garry Linnell, author of Moonlite