The Best Audiobook Narrators

I have had a subscription to Audible for about three years now. I have a 45 minute commute to and from work each day and audiobooks make it a joy. Some audiobooks are excellent and some are not. Many times the narrator either makes or breaks the story. I can’t imagine all the work that goes in to reading a novel for narration. When I read to my classes, I get tongue-tied all the time.

These narrators are all masters at their craft. I would listen to any book read by them. I’ve listed them alphabetically by last name because I can’t possibly decide which one would be number one. In my opinion these are the best I’ve heard so far:

  • Scott Brick– narrated the Isaac Asimov’s novels, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and many more.
  • Jim Dale– narrated The Emerald Atlas, all the Harry Potter books, and many more.
  • Neil Gaiman– narrated The Graveyard Book and all his other amazing books.
  • George Guidall narrated The Golem and the Jinni
  • Mary Robinette Kowal– narrated Seveneves,  I am Princess X, and many other stories by various authors. She also wrote and narrated Shades of Milk and Honey, Ghost Talkers, and many more.
  • Michael Kramer– narrated The Eye of the World series and all of Brandon Sanderson’s books. Both Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson write long novels, so he has created literally hundreds of hours of entertainment for us!
  • Kyle McCarley– narrated The Goblin Emperor
  • Nick Podehl– narrated The Name of the Wind and the other Rothfuss books.

The most remarkable thing is Mary Robinette Kowal and Neil Gaiman are not just narrators. They are also writers. Both are truly talented writers.

If you read this blog regularly you know that I don’t normally love romance stories. However Kowal is one of the podcasters on my favorite podcast, Writing Excuses. I’ve listened to her writing advice for years. I admire her teaching ability on the podcast. She writes regency romance but it is fantasy so I was intrigued. So I read her first book called Shades of Milk and Honey. It was a marvelous story. I loved her creative use of magic, not as the main focus but as elegant window dressing.  It is meant to be kin to Pride and Prejudice and it is. You simply must read this book!

Neil Gaiman writes almost poetic YA novels. I read The Graveyard Book and fell in love with his narrator’s voice, both his actual voice AND his writing voice! That story writing voice has such a unique tone. I’m actually attempting to emulate that tone in a short story I’m writing. I am a firm believer in this method of learning from masters of the craft like Gaiman.

You may notice that I only have one female narrator on here. It is important that the narrators can read both male and female voices. There are very few women who can imitate the male voice in a very believable way. Mary Robinette Kowal is one of those. She is a professional puppeteer in addition to being a gifted author and narrator. Her voice training as a puppeteer shows in her narration.

Each of these narrators allow us to immerse ourselves in these delightful stories, forget our surroundings, and live the events. I just want to say thank you to each one them; your hard work is appreciated by this reader.

Thank you

Would you add any narrators to my list? 

4 thoughts on “The Best Audiobook Narrators

  1. I’ve been an Audible member for two and a half years and I wouldn’t be without audiobooks now, they really do make your commute a joy instead of a pain. I love Steve West, but personally I feel the opposite about male and female voices, I don’t like the way men do women’s voices, whereas I can tolerate the other way round, even if it’s not brilliant. I just imagine it like a parent reading to a child, the fact they’re not the right gender doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the experience 😊 I didn’t realise Neil Gaiman narrated his own books, I’ll definitely download some of his now!


    1. I’ll look up Steve West. Thank you!
      I like your analogy of a parent reading. I don’t know why men doing women’s voices don’t bother me but the the other way around does. I wish it wasn’t the case.

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  2. I think a lot of these readers would be on a list of my favorite audio book readers too. I’ve been meaning to read something by Mary Robinette Kowal, but haven’t yet. I already listen to Writing Excuses, the podcast she co hosts, so I’d love to listen to one of her audiobooks.

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