I recently discovered that you can finally finish your reading list using audiobooks, as they allow you to multitask in a way that the traditional reading experience doesn’t allow. I also discovered that autobiographies and/or books written in the first person are best enjoyed when the author is reading the words rather than a third-party narrator.
An audiobook is only as good as the quality of the narration. Even the best writing can fall flat if the narrator is unable to do justice to the words. And who better to bring the author’s true feelings for each word to life than the authors themselves. So let’s take a look at the best audiobooks narrated by authors.
How to Listen to Audiobooks
Before we start, if you want to listen to audiobooks, consider signing up to Audible. It’s a fantastic service with a large library, it’s available for different platforms including Windows Phone, and since Amazon bought it, you can even listen and sync to audiobooks on Kindle.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey shot to fame with 30 Rock, which she acted in, wrote, and produced. The Saturday Night Live veteran’s autobiography, Bossypants, is expectedly hilarious, but even more so because Fey narrates it.
There are certain experiences she recounts, like the exchange between Jimmy Fallon and Amy Poehler, where even while reliving it years later, Fey’s excitement and admiration for her friend comes through in her voice. And, well, it’s fun to hear her swear after so many years of being bleeped in 30 Rock.
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
We have given you a lowdown of how to read Blink without actually reading it, but maybe you should forget about cheating. The best method is listening to author Malcolm Gladwell narrate his prize-winning novel, which is one of the most oft-quoted books in recent times.
Gladwell’s research in how our mind and behavior works is presented in an easy-to-understand manner, not to mention Gladwell’s enthusiasm for the subject. That really is the selling point here. Gladwell is so passionate about his work that it’s actually one of the few books that is better to listen to than read.
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
Astronaut Chris Hadfield shot to fame for his clever use of social media while orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station, even conducting one of the best Reddit AMAs of all time. Upon his return, Hadfield wrote a wonderful book that explains his journey, and it’s full of life lessons that may apply to you too.
Hadfield’s writing is good, but his narration is excellent. Some parts of the book get a little preachy when you read them, but when you hear Hadfield read them aloud, you can hear his earnestness come through. He’s the guy rooting for you, not the guy talking down to you.
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama is one of the most gifted speakers of our generation, and no one can explain his vision better than himself. That’s what The Audacity of Hope is all about: Obama laying out what he thinks is the right course for America and humanity at large, written before he announced that he was running for President.
Despite not being an American (me, not Obama!), I still found several passages of the book stirring enough to make me want to take action. The trick is that they don’t just appeal to the American sensibility, they appeal to a human way of doing things. And then there’s the humor and the sauve.
Obama is undeniably cool, as we saw when three YouTubers interviewed him. If you appreciate his speeches, you will love this audiobook.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Years of radio exposure have made sure that David Sedaris knows when to enunciate, when to raise his voice, and when to emote his words. He is one of the most famous authors in America today, and we actually featured him in our coverage of the life of an author according to Reddit.
You can pretty much pick up any Sedaris book and be assured that it’s narrated masterfully, but the most popular choice is Me Talk Pretty One Day, which is a series of essays about his life and thoughts on the world around us. It’s almost like listening to a stand-up comedian. His diatribe on fancy food alone make this audiobook worth buying.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Before it was a movie, The Kite Runner was a critically acclaimed book. This is yet another example of a book that is best heard when narrated by the author. The book is told from the perspective of Amir, who does not rescue a friend from a ghastly act when they are both children.
While it’s difficult to sympathize with Amir when you read the book, Hosseini’s narration manages to do that. And more than anything, his accent nails it.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Celebrated author Neil Gaiman is not only one of the best novelists to follow on Twitter, he is also a gifted orator. Gaiman understands storytelling as few others do, and this is what makes his narration of his own work special.
Often, you will find writers — especially in the non-autobiographical sphere — who are so attached to their work that they can’t figure out how to pace a narrative. As the protagonist looks back upon his life while mulling death and mortality, Gaiman finds a wide range of emotions and perfectly gets them across in his voice. This is a master of his craft at work.
Add Your Favorite Audiobooks to the List!
It’s impossible to come up with a list like this without missing off some great recommendations. Think of this as a starting point, with MakeUseOf readers invited to add to the list for future readers to enjoy.
So, let’s have them, folks. Let’s make this the go-to resource for anyone on the Internet looking for the best audiobooks narrated by authors.