Looking for Delightful Audiobooks
January 25, 2011 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Recently listened to Stephen Fry's reading of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy while driving and had a car full of happy. What other audiobooks could provide me a similar experience of delight?
posted by JustKeepSwimming to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 94 users marked this as a favorite
The P.G. Wodehouse audiobooks that are read by Jonathan Cecil are totally delightful.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:42 PM on January 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

Fry also does the UK Harry Potter audiobooks.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:42 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

A vote for Stephen Briggs reading Terry Pratchett's "The Wee Free Men." His rendition of the Feegles--a fighting, drinking possibly-Scottish crew of six-inch Pictsies--is hilarious, and this Pratchett novel (though marketed as YA) partakes of Adams's sensibilities. The sequel, "A Hat Full of Sky" is also delightful. ("Wintersmith" and "I Shall Wear Midnight" less so, but still very good.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:47 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

The Return of the Native read by Alan Rickman.
posted by apartment dweller at 5:49 PM on January 25, 2011

Non-fiction, but I love Bill Bryson reading his "Notes from a Small Island"...or anything, really.
posted by bluestocking at 5:52 PM on January 25, 2011

I actually enjoyed the Harry Potter audiobooks. Which, upon looking, seems also to be Stephen Fry?
posted by absalom at 5:54 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I always enjoy David Sedaris reading his own material. I particularly recommend "When you are engulfed in flames."
posted by answergrape at 5:54 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Bill Bryson's "Life and Times of the Thunderbold kid" (memoir about his childhood in Iowa in the 1950s) and "In a sunburned country" (about road-tripping through Australia) both made me laugh out loud at rather embarrassing times. His discussion of playing in the clouds of DDT (sprayed to combat mosquitoes) was particularly funny for some reason.
posted by answergrape at 5:59 PM on January 25, 2011

Guilty pleasure and probably not at all what you're looking for: the Reacher audiobooks crack me up, largely because Reacher, being Reacher, is completely irresistible to women; since the audiobooks are read entirely by a man doing a gruff voice, they're interspersed with episodes where the narrator is not only doing Reacher's dialogue, but also the dialogue of the women that love Reacher. Which he does by bouncing his voice up about half an octave. This is in no way an approximation of the voice of an attractive woman. It is the voice of a very large man trying to sound like an attractive woman, so as much as the text refers to ladies, you're left with the image of Reacher wading through a world of transvestites that just can't get enough of him. It's great.

They're also good novels, if you like men's men's men's adventure so over-the-top that it defies any logic. In my favourite Reacher novel, it opens after he's taken on a job digging pools in Florida, but he has developed a digging method that exercises every muscle in his body at the same time. Giddy awesomeness.
posted by Shepherd at 5:59 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Wow, I cannot believe that Having Our Say by the Delany Sisters is not on CD. Well, if you can rip it from audiocassette (or if your car is sufficiently elderly to have a cassette player), it is fantastic.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:03 PM on January 25, 2011

My wife loves Harry Potter and Stephen Fry, but she likes Jim Dale's Harry Potter audiobooks better.
posted by lukemeister at 6:04 PM on January 25, 2011

Although I enjoy Steven Briggs, I gotta say I much prefer Nigel Planer's reading of the Discworld books, especially the City Watch subset. Discworld audiobooks were the sole reason why I signed up for Audible.com.
posted by Wossname at 6:05 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

This sort of takes the 'light' out of delightful, but Jim Norton performing Ulysses has set me giggling several times now.
posted by carsonb at 6:08 PM on January 25, 2011

Martin Freeman does readings of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and Life, the Universe, and Everything that had me tittering with delight whenever I listened to them.

And Benedict Cumberbatch reading the (abridged) memoirs of Casanova is... well... I suppose "delightful" is one word for it...
posted by whitneyarner at 6:09 PM on January 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

I really enjoyed hearing Dreams from my Father read aloud by Barack Obama. He does the voices of his friends and family so well. I downloaded the audiobook through iTunes, but you can find the CD on Amazon here.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 6:09 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

I really enjoyed Neil Gaiman's Ananzi Boys as an audiobook, much more than on paper.
posted by Mizu at 6:10 PM on January 25, 2011

Oh! And the audiobook versions of John Hodgman's Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require are really fun listens, with lots of special guest stars.
posted by whitneyarner at 6:10 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

I did not know Stephen Fry did the UK version of the Potter audiobooks. I cannot imagine anyone but Jim Dale doing it - and I love Stephen Fry!

Nthing Bill Bryson. You can hear him giggling on some of his audiobooks.
posted by cooker girl at 6:11 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Escape Pod's reading of Asimov's short story Nightfall. Bonus: It's free.
posted by anaelith at 6:15 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yep, it's hard to decide who's better with the Harry Potter books; both Fry and Dale are excellent.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:20 PM on January 25, 2011

I was immensely delighted by John Connolly's, The Gates.

Also, I've listened to both the Stephen Fry and Jim Dale versions of all of the Harry Potter books and, for me, Jim Dale's readings are infinitely more delightful.
posted by eunoia at 6:37 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I originally had my computer read HHGTTG to me via text-to-voice. Though I dearly love Stephen Fry's voice, somehow it's far, far more fitting to have the Stephen Hawking voice read that book in a inappropriately inflected, deadpan fashion. Just think about it.
posted by lizbunny at 8:07 PM on January 25, 2011

Jim Dale's reading of the Harry Potter books is the reason I love AND can't listen to audio books. It was so wonderful that all I want are more audio books but then the readers aren't Jim Dale and I get disappointed. That being said, you should totally pick those up.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:21 PM on January 25, 2011

I have to say that I much prefer Bill Bryson's books in the audiobook version read by Kerry Shale. For example, I have listened to Notes from a Small Island read by Kerry and read by Bill himself. Kerry's version has better voices and pacing. Bill's is ok, but flatter and with poorer timing of comedic moments. Not sure if the Kerry Shale versions are on CD, I had them on (gulp) tape.

Second anything from David Sedaris.
posted by AnnaRat at 9:48 PM on January 25, 2011

Hugh Laurie reading "3 Men in a Boat."
posted by fings at 10:09 PM on January 25, 2011

I like Martin Jarvis' versions of various Wodehouse stuff, he also has a nice version of Three Men in a Boat. All of these are available on Audible.

I've been listening to James Marsters read some of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books, and they have been keeping me amused through a lot of tedious labwork.
posted by pseudonick at 12:24 AM on January 26, 2011

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell on audiobook is fantastic IMHO. One of my all-time favs.
posted by Terheyden at 11:23 AM on January 26, 2011

John Cleese reading C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters.
posted by puddleglum at 11:35 AM on January 26, 2011

Neil Gaiman's 'Anansi Boys', read by Lenny Henry. Gold!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:33 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I very much enjoyed Amy Sedaris's reading of her I Like You: Entertaining under the influence. I giggled every single time she trilled, "Sidebar."
posted by 100watts at 9:17 AM on January 27, 2011

Jean Sheperd's "A Christmas Story"! I'm not totally sure if this is the version I got from the library, but it could be.

Audible.com has a number of Georgette Heyer's regency romances published by Chivers Audio Books, if that's your cup of tea. I would recommend "Sylvester(aka The Wicked Uncle)", "Frederica" and "The Talisman Ring" (if you can find it).
posted by of strange foe at 12:05 PM on January 27, 2011

I don't know your tastes, but I've really liked these:

The Reader
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Lord of the Rings (BBC Dramatization)
posted by philipy at 8:35 PM on January 28, 2011

Thanks everyone! So many choices of wonderful things to listen to.

(And of course, I'm happy for more!)
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 8:23 PM on January 29, 2011

If you don't mind kids books David Tennant reading the How to Train Your Dragon series is really, really enjoyable. The books are actually quite funny (to me at least) and he does a great job reading them.
posted by grapesaresour at 9:37 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

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