My Quest to Find the Best Audio Book Readers

Some authors are true storytellers.

In every sense of the word.

Yea, I know telling stories is sort of a big part of being an author but there are a few who just elevate. They make you fall in love with a character. Or they build worlds you wish you could live in. Or they make you laugh and cry and feel devastated all at the same time.

I’ve been lucky to read all those types of stories in books the last few years. In fact, I have a specific book in mind for each.

But one place I’d never been able to really get into a story was through audio books.

I’ve cycled through so many Audible memberships it’s not even funny. I’ve stopped and started a dozen books. I’ve set aside time to listen. You know all those things you’re ‘supposed’ to do when you listen to audio books.

I’ve had friends and readers I admire swear by them.

I still struggle, could never get into them.

Turns out, I was just listening to the wrong ones.

I have discovered that there is a special skill one must have to read an audio book. I have no idea what skill that is, but I know it when I hear it.

Up until recently, I didn’t get it.

Now, I do.

I think it probably started with Neil Gaiman.

I only started reading him last year. Neverwhere was my first choice and I loved it. I’ve been actively looking for something (anything) that would give me a similar feel since then.

After reading Neverwhere, I became a Gaiman fan and looked for more things to read. When I saw all sorts of books by Neil Gaiman in my Playster account, I was thrilled. And, even better, he reads them himself.

I was happy to give it a try (with low expectations, honestly).

Yea, I was wrong.

Neil Gaiman is an awesome author but an even better audio book reader. Since finding him on Playster I’ve now plowed through both A View From the Cheap Seats and Norse Mythology. 

I’m not exactly sure what it is about him and how he reads. I mean, sure the accent never hurts, but I feel like I’m just sitting with him listening as he tells me a story.

Since then, I’ve been on a quest to find other excellent audio book readers.

Here are my findings.

One Audio Book Reader to Rule Them All


So while I’m ears deep in Gaiman over here, I discovered I have been missing out on a treasure trove of other readers. Unsurprisingly, or maybe totally expectedly, most of them are British and actors.

Hmm, sensing a pattern.

Stephen Fry

For many of a certain age, the Harry Potter series is the thing we hold true in our lives. I mean, take a look at BuzzFeed Books Potter Feed (yes, it exists!). The sheer amount of Harry Potter related quizzes is incredible.

Harry Potter buzzfeed

So when it came to the question of who could possibly be entrusted to read this national treasure, only the best of the best could be selected. In America, we get Jim Dale, an excellent choice. However, in the UK they got Stephen Fry.

Stephen Fry is so freaking good at reading Harry Potter, I am seriously considering spending 63 hours of my life listening to him read Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes audio book reader

And I can guarantee you that even though I picture Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes, Fry’s reading of it will likely worm his way into my cold, cold heart.

Honorable Mentions


Even though Fry is my number one pick for audio book reader King of the Universe, there are a few others who deserve mention as well.

Jim Dale

I already briefly covered Jim Dale above. But he’s basically the Fy of America. Beyond Potter, he’s also read The Night Circus, Around the World in 80 Days, and Peter Pan, to name a few.

Jeremy Irons

Irons, another classic British actor known for his smooth voice (Scar from the Lion King, anyone?) is another favorite. He covers a bunch of classics like Lolita, Brideshead Revisited, and The Alchemist.

Maya Angelou

Oh Maya, what a voice. Her poetic cadence pulls you into every one of the books she reads. She read mostly her own work like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and And Still I Rise, but also contributed to a handful of others.

Admittedly, my list is short. Since I’m new to the world of audio books, I’ll keep listening for some diamonds in the rough. If you have any favorites, be sure to let me know, I’m all ears (har har har).