A narrator can make or break an audiobook.
You can be listening to some of your favorite stories, but not be able to get through the audiobook because the narrator just isn’t doing it for you.
A really great narrator can breathe life into the characters. Narrators don’t just read the story – they bring it to life, adding personality to every character and nuance to every word. Great narrators can bring the listening experience of an audiobook to amazing heights.
Of course, everyone has their own preferences. But we’ve listed down the top 10 audiobook narrators we came up with. We also included two audiobooks we recommend from each of their audio-backlists.
If you’re looking for a place to start with audiobooks, or if you’re an avid listener looking for your next ‘read’, try one of these narrators for an immersive listening experience.
- Jim Dale
Jim Dale is perhaps most famous for being the voice of all the Harry Potter audiobooks, in which he remarkably performs hundreds of unique individual character’s voices! Dale also voices the Harry Potter video games, as well as the interactive extra features on the DVD releases.
Dale has won a record 2 Grammy Awards, 10 Audie Awards, and 7 Grammy nominations as a narrator. As an actor, he has received a Tony Award, 5 Tony nominations, 4 Drama Desk Awards, and a British Academy Award nomination. As a writer, Dale has also received an Academy Award nomination for the song, Georgy Girl.
Awarded a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003, mainly for his work promoting the work of children’s literature, Dale was also inaugurated into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2009.
Notable Audibooks done by Jim Dale:
- Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
- Davina Porter
Davina Porter is well-known for narrating Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and in 2006, received her second Audie for Best Female Narrator of the Year for her recording of A Breath of Snow and Ashes.
Porter has over 20 years’ experience narrating books. A member of Actors’ Equity, Porter has appeared in many stage productions and has won numerous awards. She has won numerous awards for excellence in recording, and was one of the three Golden Voices of 2002 and 2003. She was also included among AudioFile Magazine’s 50 Best Voices of the Last Century. Her audio work has covered the whole rage of the written word, from classics, romances, biographies, how-to books, to children’s literature.
The Los Angeles Times praise her recording of Madame Bovary as “a narrator against whom all others should be measured.” Further, her interpretation of Paul Revere’s horse in Mr. Revere and I was admired as “the perfect choice for a mare of distinction and breeding.”
Notable Audibooks done by Davina Porter:
- Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
Outlander is a series of historical romance science fiction novels by American author Diana Gabaldon. Gabaldon began the first volume of the series, Outlander, in the late 1980s, and it was published in 1991. She has published eight out of a planned ten volumes. The eighth and most recent volume of the series, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, was published in 2014. Gabaldon is currently writing the ninth novel, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.
- The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir
Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one–not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocative new interpretations and fresh insights on this enigmatic figure.
Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and passion, intrigue and war, Weir dispels the myths surrounding Elizabeth I and examines the contradictions of her character. Elizabeth I loved the Earl of Leicester, but did she conspire to murder his wife? She called herself the Virgin Queen, but how chaste was she through dozens of liaisons? She never married–was her choice to remain single tied to the chilling fate of her mother, Anne Boleyn? An enthralling epic that is also an amazingly intimate portrait, The Life of Elizabeth I is a mesmerizing, stunning reading experience.
- Jeremy Irons
Best known for his film roles and being the voice of Scar in The Lion King, Jeremy Irons has also lent his voice to numerous audio works throughout his career.
Irons is an award-winning stage, television and film actor. His amazing film career includes performances in Reversal of Fortune, which earned him an Academy Award, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Words, and Lolita, among many others. Irons also had extensive voice work in a broad range of fields throughout his career. He read the audiobook recording of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, and Paulo Coleho’s The Alchemist. In particular, Irons was praised for recording the poetry of T. S. Eliot for BBC Radio 4.
Notable Audibooks done by Jeremy Irons:
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.
Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
- Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Selected by Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of the century and called “Evelyn Waugh’s finest achievement” by the New York Times, Brideshead Revisited is a stunning exploration of desire, duty, and memory.
The wellsprings of desire and the impediments to love come brilliantly into focus in Evelyn Waugh’s masterpiece — a novel that immerses us in the glittering and seductive world of English aristocracy in the waning days of the empire.
Through the story of Charles Ryder’s entanglement with the Flytes, a great Catholic family, Evelyn Waugh charts the passing of the privileged world he knew in his own youth and vividly recalls the sensuous pleasures denied him by wartime austerities. At once romantic, sensuous, comic, and somber, Brideshead Revisited transcends Waugh’s early satiric explorations and reveals him to be an elegiac, lyrical novelist of the utmost feeling and lucidity.
- Cassandra Campbell
Cassandra Campbell is a prolific audiobook narrator with over 700 titles to date. Winner of 4 Audie Awards and nominated for a dozen more, Campbell was a 2018 inductee in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame.
Campbell has consistently been an AudioFile Magazine Best Narrator, as well as a Publisher;s Weekly Best Narrator of the Year. As an acting teacher, Campbell has spent 5 years as a faculty member of the Lost Angeles County High School for the Arts and has performed in and directed dozens of theater plays across the country.
Notable Audibooks done by Cassandra Campbell:
- God Gave Us Easter
USA TODAY AND ECPA BESTSELLER • A delightful illustrated picture book for readers ages 3 and up, God Gave Us Easter features the adorable polar bear Little Cub, talking with her father and learning about God’s design for the Easter season and what it really means.
“God loved us so much he wanted us to always be with him too. That’s why God knew he’d need to give us Easter.”
As Little Cub celebrates Easter with Papa, Mama, and her brother and sister, she begins to ask her papa questions about this very special day of the year. Papa lovingly explains God’s plans for his children, while taking Little Cub on a memorable walk through her stunning Arctic world, and he shares how Easter came about in clear, simple terms that even the littlest cubs can understand.
- The Children’s Blizzard
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife comes a story of courage on the prairie, inspired by the devastating storm that struck the Great Plains in 1888, threatening the lives of hundreds of immigrant homesteaders, especially schoolchildren.
The morning of January 12, 1888, was unusually mild, following a punishing cold spell. It was warm enough for the homesteaders of the Dakota territory to venture out again, and for their children to return to school without their heavy coats–leaving them unprepared when disaster struck. At just the hour when most prairie schools were letting out for the day, a terrifying, fast-moving blizzard blew in without warning. Schoolteachers as young as sixteen were suddenly faced with life and death decisions: keep the children inside, to risk freezing to death when fuel ran out, or send them home, praying they wouldn’t get lost in the storm?
Based on actual oral histories of survivors, this gripping novel follows the stories of Raina and Gerda Olsen, two sisters, both schoolteachers–one who becomes a hero of the storm, and one who finds herself ostracized in the aftermath. It’s also the story of Anette Pedersen, a servant girl whose miraculous survival serves as a turning point in her life and touches the heart of Gavin Woodson, a newspaperman seeking redemption. It was Woodson and others like him who wrote the embellished news stories that lured Northern European immigrants across the sea to settle a pitiless land. Boosters needed them to settle territories into states, and they didn’t care what lies they told these families to get them there–or whose land it originally was. At its heart, this is a story of courage, of children forced to grow up too soon, tied to the land because of their parents’ choices. It is a story of love taking root in the hard prairie ground, and of families being torn asunder by a ferocious storm that is little remembered today–because so many of its victims were immigrants to this country.
- Neil Gaiman
When it comes to authors who narrate their own work, Neil Gaiman is one of the best.
Gaiman’s work has been honored with numerous awards internationally, including the Carnegie and Newbery Medals. His stories and books have also been honored with Nebulas, Hugos, Bram Stoker Awards, the World Fantasy Award, British SF Awards, Locus Awards, Mythopoeic Awards, British Fantasy Awards, and several others.
Notable Audibooks done by Neil Gaiman:
- Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Introducing an instant classic―master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.
Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki―son of a giant―blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman―difficult with his beard and huge appetite―to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir―the most sagacious of gods―is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.
Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Selected as one of NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of All Time
The number one New York Times best-selling author’s wildly successful first novel featuring his new Neverwhere tale, “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back”.
Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew.
“A fantastic story that is both the stuff of dreams and nightmares” (San Diego Union-Tribune), Neil Gaiman’s first solo novel has become a touchstone of urban fantasy and a perennial favorite of readers and listeners everywhere.
- Wil Wheaton
Wil Wheaton has done numerous voice acting in animation and video games, and when it comes to audiobooks, he’s narrated some of the best-sellers in the fantasy and science-fiction genres.
Wheaton is already a celebrity for his performances as Gordie in Stand by Me and as a Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but he is also making a name for himself in audio, where he is a favorite narrator of best-selling sci-fi author, John Scalzi. Wheaton’s performance in Ready Player One is particularly notable, as the author frequently makes nostalgic references to Wheaton himself.
Notable Audibooks done by Wil Wheaton:
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
IN THE YEAR 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
- The Martian by Andy Weir
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
- Finty Williams
Tara Cressida Frances ‘Finty’ Williams is an English actress. She is the only child of Judi Dench and Michael Williams.
Williams has appeared in various TV shows and theatre plays, including Born and Bred and Party Piece. She has also appeared in several British films, many alongside her mother, Dame Judi Dench. In addition, Williams has done extensive voice work, including voicing the titular character in animed children’s series, Angelina Ballerina. She has also done audiobook narration, including I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella and for Terry Mancour’s Spellmonger Cadet books.
Notable Audibooks done by Finty Williams:
- Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
Chain of Gold is a young adult urban fantasy novel by Cassandra Clare. It is the first book in The Last Hours, which is chronologically second in The Shadowhunter Chronicles. The book follows the events that occur in the London area in 1903, focusing on the residents of the London Institute. The chapter titles, like in The Infernal Devices, are all taken from poetry of the Victorian and Edwardian era that the characters would be familiar with, and the book title was taken from the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations.
- Afterlife by Marcus Sakey
Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds…and an unforgettable love story.
The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion—a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave.
He wakes without a scratch.
The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people—until he sees they’re carrying machetes.
Welcome to the afterlife.
Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.
Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love…with Will Brody.
But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect—and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.
From the author of the million-copy bestselling Brilliance Trilogy comes a mind-bending thriller that explores our most haunting and fundamental question: What if death is just the beginning?
- Dion Graham
Dion Graham is an American actor and audiobook narrator. Before launching his career as an audiobook narrator, Graham was best known for his role on the TV show, The Wire.
Graham has narrated more than 120 audiobooks, representing a truly diverse range of genres, styles, and subjects. From literary fiction, fantasy, history, mystery, young adult fiction (YA), to children’s books – whatever genre you enjoy, you’ll have no trouble finding Dion Graham audiobooks to suit your tastes.
Notable Audibooks done by Dion Graham:
- Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Paperback by Matthew Desmond
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • NAMED ONE OF TIME’S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE • One of the most acclaimed books of our time, this modern classic “has set a new standard for reporting on poverty” (Barbara Ehrenreich, The New York Times Book Review).
In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America’s most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY President Barack Obama • The New York Times Book Review • The Boston Globe • The Washington Post • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • The New Yorker • Bloomberg • Esquire • BuzzFeed • Fortune • San Francisco Chronicle • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Politico • The Week • Chicago Public Library • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly • Booklist • Shelf Awareness
WINNER OF: The National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction • The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction • The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction • The Hillman Prize for Book Journalism • The PEN/New England Award • The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize
FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE AND THE KIRKUS PRIZE
- Black Leopard, Red Wolf The Dark Star Trilogy, Book 1 by Marlon James
In the stunning first novel in Marlon James’s Dark Star trilogy, myth, fantasy, and history come together to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child.
Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.
As Tracker follows the boy’s scent–from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers–he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?
Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a novel unlike anything that’s come before it: a saga of breathtaking adventure that’s also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both.
- Jennifer Ikeda
Jennifer Ikeda is an author, actress, and audiobook narrator best known for playing Lily in the drama film Advantageous and Ann in the action comedy film, Killing Hasselhoff. She also starred in the American procedural drama series, Elementary as Laura Lyons and as Juliet Chang in the crime drama series, Blindspot. She also portrayed herself in the movie Portraits in Dramatic Time.
Ikeda has narrated dozens of audiobooks and has won 2 Audie Awards.
Notable Audibooks done by Jennifer Ikeda:
- Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li
In her first memoir, award-winning novelist Yiyun Li offers a journey of recovery through literature: a letter from a writer to like-minded readers.
“A meditation on the fact that literature itself lives and gives life.”—Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead
“What a long way it is from one life to another, yet why write if not for that distance?”
Startlingly original and shining with quiet wisdom, this is a luminous account of a life lived with books. Written over two years while the author battled suicidal depression, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life is a painful and yet richly affirming examination of what makes life worth living.
Yiyun Li grew up in China and has spent her adult life as an immigrant in a country not her own. She has been a scientist, an author, a mother, a daughter—and through it all she has been sustained by a profound connection with the writers and books she loves. From William Trevor and Katherine Mansfield to Søren Kierkegaard and Philip Larkin, Dear Friend is a journey through the deepest themes that bind these writers together.
Interweaving personal experiences with a wide-ranging homage to her most cherished literary influences, Yiyun Li confronts the two most essential questions of her identity: Why write? And why live?
- All Souls Series by Deborah Harkness
The All Souls Trilogy follows the story of Diana Bishop, a historian and reluctant witch, as she solves the mystery of Ashmole 782, falls in love with a mysterious vampire named Matthew Clairmont, and learns how powerful it can be to accept who you are.
A Discovery of Witches is the first installment in the All Souls trilogy, followed by Shadow of Night (2012) and completed with the third novel in the series, The Book of Life (2014). A television adaptation of the book premiered on Sky One in September 2018.
- Will Patton
William Rankin Patton is an American actor and audiobook narrator.
Patton has recorded over 45 audio books. Notably, he has offered his voice to the works of and Al Gore’s The Assault on Reason and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. He received the Best Male Narrator Audie Award. Patton has also worked extensively in television, film, and theater. He has appeared in Armageddon, Remember the Titans, The Mothman Prophecies, The Punisher, Falling Skies, The Agency, and more.
Notable Audibooks done by Will Patton:
- The White Darkness by David Grann
By the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon, a powerful true story of adventure and obsession in the Antarctic
Henry Worsley was a devoted husband and father and a decorated British special forces officer who believed in honor and sacrifice. He was also a man obsessed. He spent his life idolizing Ernest Shackleton, the nineteenth-century polar explorer, who tried to become the first person to reach the South Pole, and later sought to cross Antarctica on foot. Shackleton never completed his journeys, but he repeatedly rescued his men from certain death, and emerged as one of the greatest leaders in history.
Worsley felt an overpowering connection to those expeditions. He was related to one of Shackleton’s men, Frank Worsley, and spent a fortune collecting artifacts from their epic treks across the continent. He modeled his military command on Shackleton’s legendary skills and was determined to measure his own powers of endurance against them. He would succeed where Shackleton had failed, in the most brutal landscape in the world.
In 2008, Worsley set out across Antarctica with two other descendants of Shackleton’s crew, battling the freezing, desolate landscape, life-threatening physical exhaustion, and hidden crevasses. Yet when he returned home he felt compelled to go back. On November 13, 2015, at age 55, Worsley bid farewell to his family and embarked on his most perilous quest: to walk across Antarctica alone.
David Grann tells Worsley’s remarkable story with the intensity and power that have led him to be called “simply the best narrative nonfiction writer working today.” The White Darkness is both a gorgeous keepsake volume and a spellbinding story of courage, love, and a man pushing himself to the extremes of human capacity.
- Nightwoods by Charles Frazier
The extraordinary author of Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons returns with a dazzling new novel of suspense and love set in small-town North Carolina in the early 1960s.
Charles Frazier puts his remarkable gifts in the service of a lean, taut narrative while losing none of the transcendent prose, virtuosic storytelling, and insight into human nature that have made him one of the most beloved and celebrated authors in the world. Now, with his brilliant portrait of Luce, a young woman who inherits her murdered sister’s troubled twins, Frazier has created his most memorable heroine.
Before the children, Luce was content with the reimbursements of the rich Appalachian landscape, choosing to live apart from the small community around her. But the coming of the children changes everything, cracking open her solitary life in difficult, hopeful, dangerous ways.
Charles Frazier is known for his historical literary odysseys, and for making figures in the past come vividly to life. Set in the twentieth century, Nightwoods resonates with the timelessness of a great work of art.