Hearing Is Believing: The Best Audiobooks Narrated by Authors

Mihir Patkar 27-07-2015

I recently discovered that you can finally finish your reading list using audiobooks Getting Started with Audiobooks: How to Finally Finish Your "Reading List" Audiobooks are a good way to tackle your reading list, but it can be difficult to get started with them. Let's make it simple. Read More , 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 Enjoy Audiobooks On Your Windows Phone With Audible No time to read? Audiobooks are the perfect solution, and with Audible's free app on your Windows Phone you have access to a library of over 60,000 titles that you can take anywhere! Read More , and since Amazon bought it, you can even listen and sync to audiobooks on Kindle Read Or Listen: Amazon Integrates Audible In The Kindle Reader Apps Amazon has cleverly brought together reading and listening in the new update to the Kindle app. With a tap you can now seamlessly go from reading to listening without losing your place in the book. Read More .

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.


Buy Bossypants from Amazon.

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.


Buy Blink from Amazon.

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 The Best Reddit AMAs Of All Time [Weird & Wonderful Web] Under the IAmA subreddit, you'll find informal interviews with all sorts of interesting people. These are some of the best AMAs online. Read More . 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.


Buy An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth from Amazon.

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 Three YouTube Stars Interviewed President Obama, Here's What Happened Hank Green, Bethany Mota, and GloZell Green didn't waste their chance to interview President Barack Obama. Read More . If you appreciate his speeches, you will love this audiobook.

Buy The Audacity of Hope from Amazon.

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 The Life Of An Author According To Reddit Contrary to stereotype, the life of an author is more than just laptops and lattes. Some find success, others crash and burn, but there's always wisdom and advice to be gleaned. Read More .

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.

Buy Me Talk Pretty One Day from Amazon.

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.

Buy The Kite Runner from Amazon.

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.

Buy The Ocean at the End of the Lane from Amazon.

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.

Related topics: Audiobooks, Book Reviews.

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  1. Tiffany Flynn
    April 27, 2016 at 2:22 am

    If you liked Bossypants you should also enjoy Yes Please by Amy Poehler and sticking with the Parks & Rec theme, Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman and Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari are both awesome as well.

  2. Anonymous
    February 12, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Audacity of Hope...written by and about a race-baiting fraud and useless piece of skin whose only achievement was being the first black POTUS.

    Hadfield...famous for turning th ISS into his personal guitar studio (WTF are my tax dollars going for up there?)

    Gladwell...writes pseudo-scientific literature to cater to the Facebook crowd. Yawn.

    The Kite Runner...was actually decent, but is still essentially apologist literature propagandizing Islam.

    Gaiman...actually quite good, and a white man to boot. It seems like trait and being famous and actually good at something is a sin these days.

    Overall, the list sucks and the author should seek out better examples.

  3. Anonymous
    November 3, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    I just finished listening to "Fresh Off the Boat" by Eddie Huang and it was such a delight! I wanted to start over at the beginning once it was done because I just didn't want it to end.

    I also liked "Detroit: An American Autopsy" by Charlie LeDuff. Fascinating.

  4. Anonymous
    August 5, 2015 at 9:13 am

    I just recently listened to Wil Wheaton read Ready Player One. Pretty fun hearing him read a reference to himself.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 6, 2015 at 8:08 am

      Haha while not the author, that's close enough actually. How is the book btw? I've been meaning to get around to reading it, never end up putting it high on my list.

      • Anonymous
        August 6, 2015 at 8:15 am

        It's awesome. Full of 80's references and it's set in a world where people live in their VR headsets.

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 11, 2015 at 6:34 pm

          Sold! Downloading now.

  5. Philip Bates
    July 30, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    It's always great to hear an audiobook actually read by its author - there's something really satisfying about it. I was surprised to see Obama and Gaiman on this list, however, purely because I thought they'd be too busy being, y'know, the President, and a prolific writer, respectively.

    I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane purely because the title is based on a rejected Doctor Who episode title, the very first episode in fact. The book was an interesting read, and I've picked up more by him since, even if that particular book didn't quite sit perfectly with me. I don't know why. There was just something... missing. Ah well. Next up: Good Omens.

    I admit not to listening to too many audiobooks, but I listen to cast recordings a lot - particularly the Doctor Who (you might've spotted a theme here) ones made by Big Finish or BBC Audio. Hearing Doctors and companions getting back into character is fantastic.

    • Mihir Patkar
      July 30, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Haha Obama recorded that before he was President. And well, this would be an important thing for a politician anyway, President or not!

      As for Gaiman, it's his job to sell what he writes!

  6. Anonymous
    July 29, 2015 at 3:12 am

    I don't know how many books I have heard written by the author, over the years I have read so many by audio book and the great thing is I can read any and everywhere! I have this micro MP3 player I clip it on my bra strap everybody thinks the earbuds is my telephone!.
    To avoid my mother's rants about my antisocial reading I learnt to concurrently read and converse so I don't lose my focus on either book, conversation, work or study.

    I have always been a voracious reader and pre - audio-books made me seem rude (maybe a wee bit) but,I was constantly rebuked for always having a book with me.Non-addicted readers can't get it, that you love them to death you just have to finish a page/chapter/book before their undivided attention time - what's hard to understand about that??
    Audiobooks will never replace the feel and smell of the printed book but it is a small price for being able to fit the reading of the book in your schedule.!

    I am not sure though if the author's reading is necessarily the best narration. Some are great, some good, some lousy,there are books that I have chosen a reader over the author, if the author is a reader, I will go for him/her first, but if he/he does not get me by my 'hook time', I check the alternative.

    I do like the idea of the this being the go-to resource for anyone on the Internet looking for the best audiobooks narrated by authors and benchmark readers.

    • Mihir Patkar
      July 30, 2015 at 5:42 am

      "Audiobooks will never replace the feel and smell of the printed book but it is a small price for being able to fit the reading of the book in your schedule.!" -- Couldn't have said it better. I feel the same way about my Kindle. It doesn't have the feel or the smell, but its convenience in making me read more is important to me.

      And yes, some authors don't make for good narrators. That's why I want to try and come up with a crowd-sourced list of GOOD author-narrators.

      Given that you've heard so many audiobooks, it'd really help if you jogged your memory and remembered the ones you liked the most, and see if any of those were narrated by the author :)

  7. Anonymous
    July 28, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    2 favorites for upper elementary/middle schoolers and everyone else in the car: The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster) read with amazing nimbleness by David Hyde Pierce; The Wee Free Men - and the rest of his Tiffany Aching series (Terry Pratchett) read by Stephen Briggs. Both are brilliantly performed.

    • Mihir Patkar
      July 30, 2015 at 5:43 am

      You had me at David Hyde Pierce.

  8. Anonymous
    July 28, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Since cataract surgery, audiobooks are my escape. Among the best I've read in the last 2 years are:

    Cheryl Strayed reads "wild".

    Elizabeth Gilbert reads "Eat, Pray,, Love" and it's not just a GREAT book but her voice reading her own work is NOT TO BE MISSED !!

    Gilbert also reads her book, "Committed" and the strain and stress of marrying in a country where we can choose NOT to comes through every word.


    • Mihir Patkar
      July 30, 2015 at 5:44 am

      Oooh, I didn't know Gilbert had narrated Eat, Pray, Love. I've been meaning to read that, this might be the best way to get to it. Thanks for the recommendations, Marianne!

  9. Anonymous
    July 28, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Neil Gaiman also read his book Neverwhere and it was nothing short of an incredible performance.

    • Mihir Patkar
      July 30, 2015 at 5:44 am

      Neil Gaiman is nothing short of incredible.

  10. Anonymous
    July 28, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    The Noticer by Andy Andrews. Listen; wash, rinse, and repeat.

  11. Anonymous
    July 28, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    One must never forget nor discount the genius of Douglas Adams, who recorded a complete and UNABRIDGED reading of his Infamously Famous and Intergalactically renowned "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (very rare and out of print) (search Amazon:159007257X).

    The Stephen Fry edition is fine, but missing much of the power, emotion, and intellectual investment that Adams put into his reading performance. There is also a dramatized edition with many of the original TV/Radio show cast performing their parts from the abridged novel.

    The power of Adams' performance is such that - in the 2005 film and in several of the "radio play" adaptations, segments of Adams' audio have been utilized as part of the production.

    • Mihir Patkar
      July 30, 2015 at 5:47 am

      I didn't know Adams read it. I've heard the play and I've heard Stephen Fry's version. Could you point me to the Adams narration please, I can't seem to find it.

      Thank you!

      • Anonymous
        July 30, 2015 at 1:39 pm

        SEARCH YOUTUBE: "HGTTG DA Book 1 1/5"

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 3, 2015 at 10:43 am

          Thank you sir!

  12. Anonymous
    July 27, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    The John Hodgman books "The Areas of My Expertise", "More Information than You Require" and "That Is All" are really made for audiobook form. That's a particularly odd statement, since the paper editions are collections of made-up facts in an almanac-style format. Rather than accurately depicting the content of the books, the author rambles about various topics for several hours in a manner that loosely coincides with the various chapters and headings of his books, usually accompanied by one or more moderately famous guests.

    • Mihir Patkar
      July 30, 2015 at 5:49 am

      Given John Hodgman's style of comedy, I can get why you're having trouble describing the reason he's better in audio than book :D I'll check these out, thanks!