Sorry for the long silence here. I am chronically ill and those last few months have been tough on me. But I’m back and I have a lot of things I want to talk about! Today’s topic: audiobooks!
My love for books started when I was a kid but my love for audiobooks is quite recent. Back in 2016 I received the classic offer from Amazon to try Audible and to pick my first book for free. I thought « why not? » and picked « Pride and Prejudice », one of my favourite book. I chose the version read by Rosamund Pike and fell in love with her reading. Her tone is so nice and she does all the voices so well, it’s a treat! One audiobook and I was convinced!
I have to say, this discovery came at the perfect time for me because at that time I was spending hours making magic wands for my Etsy shop, so listening to my favourite books was the perfect way to pass the time during the crafting process. Since then I have bought and listened to thousand of hours of stories. I don’t make wands anymore but I still love to listen to audiobooks when I paint, cook, do groceries, play video games or simply walk in the streets of Hong Kong. Although 99% of the time I listen to books I’ve already read I’ve also tried new ones too, especially autobiographies.
I used Audible for years but I recently switched to audiobooks.com. (I can still listen to the books I bought on Audible though) because they had a book I love that was not available on Audible.
*This is not a paid add for Audible or Audiobooks.com, just my experience.*
If finding my first audiobook was easy, it’s not always a simple task to find audiobooks that you love. Some are read in a dull way, without any changes between characters. One of the good thing about Audible is that if you don’t like a book they reimburse you without any question. I had experiences when the sample seemed okay but the narration was depressing and I couldn’t get into it at all and knowing that I could get my money back really helped me try different books. But some narrators are truly amazing so I’ve collected some of my favourite audiobooks to share with you.
(Expect for the first one, they are not listed in preference order.)
- My absolutely favourite one is “The gentleman guide to vice and virtue”, by Mackenzi Lee and read by Christian Coulson.
If his name is familiar to you it’s because he’s an actor (he played Tom Riddle in HP2 and many other parts) but for me he’s the voice of Monty! And Percy, and Felicity and…gosh I love the way he brings all those familiar characters to life! I’ve read and listened to this book so many times that I can quote it by heart. Yep it’s love!
He also came back for the sequel/novella and you can see a small interview of him here:
- Then comes The course of true love, a short Magnus Bane story by Cassandra Clare, read by Gareth David Lloyd (mostly known for playing Ianto Jones in Torchwood) His reading of Magnus & Alec is really good with the perfect mix of sweet, sexy and funny. It’s only only a short story but it’s a must for Shadowhunters fan.
- One very obvious choice is Harry Potter, read by Stephen Fry. Many fans grew up discovering HP with his reading but for me, being a bit older, his audiobooks helped me improve my accent.
Side note, in my twenties when I was trying to improve my English and go from a high school level to a more fluent one ,I re-read books that I already knew, like HP. I really advise this method to anyone learning a language: you will improve your vocabulary without the stress of not understanding the story.
Years later, listening to the HP audiobooks really helped me improve my oral comprehension and my accent. I love how he managed to capture so many characters. My son refuses to listen to the US audiobook version and was shocked to learn that they recorded another version than the Stephen Fry’s! (yes, he’s very passionate about this!)
- In the same style, one series of audiobooks that I really love is The Land of stories by Chris Colfer. He reads all his books himself and he’s AMAZING at it! Like in Harry Potter, his stories have hundred of characters and he does all of them perfectly. Seriously it’s impressive! Like I said in my previous post, my oldest son (11) loves those audiobooks so much that he’s been listening to them non stop since 2017. He just finished book 6 and went back to book 1, but sometimes he listens to them in mixed order. I’ve bought him many other audiobooks but nothing beats Chris Colfer in his mind. After all those years, we hear his voice so much that Chris is like a fifth member of our family!
- While we’re talking about children books I’ll also recommend “Fortunately the milk” by Neil Gaiman. My kids and I love this short book and we were delighted to discover that Neil reads it himself. There’s nothing I love more than hearing authors read their own books.
A little warning though: your kids or yourself might start talking with a British accent after that! After listening to the audio version, my youngest boy started to quote part of the book with Neil Gaiman’s accent! It was brilliant!
- Simon Vs the homo sapiens agenda by Becky Albertalli and read by Michael Crouch
This is one of my favourite YA book and when I first read it, I loved it so much that I listened to the audiobook a week after my first read. I love how the narrator captures the teenager atmosphere.
- The infernal devices, by Cassandra Clare.
Just like seeing a TV adaptation of your favourite books, it can also be hard to listen to it. You pictured those characters, what they look like and how they sound like and suddenly someone say “no, that’s how I’m going to bring them to life!” So imagine with a trilogy that you love where every book is narrated by a different person! It should be tough for me but I love all those audiobooks.
The first one is read by the very famous Jennifer Ehle (aka BBC Elizabeth Bennet) and she’s talented, especially with the creepy voices of the Dark sisters.
The second book is narrated by Ed Westwick and Heather Lind which is a bit tricky. They both did a great job but I’d have preferred only the male reader because I found it frustrating to switch back to the woman when it was one of my favourite Will’s scene.
And the last one is the best in my opinion! It’s my favourite to read and to listen! It’s read by Daniel Sharman (apparently famous for Teen wolf) and I love his version of Will so much.
- Also among my favourite book series is Carry on by Rainbow Rowell, all read by Euan Morton. Just like with The infernal devices I was afraid to try the audiobook version of this series because I thought no one could do justice to Baz. Boy was I wrong! I finally tried the audiobook this year while rereading them before the last book came out and I fell in love with it! He does different voices for every characters and every time I feel like it embodies them so well! And his reading of Baz is divine! I’m actually currently listening to “Anyway the wind blows” even though I read the book last month!
- Classic love poems, read by Richard Armitage. Ok, I admit this one is more of a guilty pleasure just because I love his voice (and acting in general) so much! I’ve listened to it to fall asleep or help me through a bad flare when I’m in pain.
If you’re wondering who Richard Armitage is, he’s most famous for Thorin in the Hobbit movies but to me he’ll always be John Thornton in North and South (great book and great adaptation!)
Richard does a lot of audiobooks and even has a playlist called “Armitage Army” on the Audible YT channel! He also read David Copperfield, another great audiobook that I recommend.
- Like mentioned before, Rosamund Pike’s version of Pride and Prejudice is so sweet. Of course she does Jane really well since she played her in the 2005 movie but I love how she reads all the other characters as well.
You can hear the first chapter on Audible’s Youtube channel.
- It will bring my list to 11 but I can’t finish this list without A promised land, read by Barack Obama himself. For anyone who loves to listen to his voice and to what he has to say, it’s a must!
Please share your favourite audiobooks and your listening habits. You can leave a comment or reach me via IG : instagram.com/maevadraws