Could you recommend some audiobooks?
May 29, 2014 11:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm seeking audiobook recommendations for books that are escapist, engrossing, generally feel-good, and fast-paced (without being frightening).

Great examples of what I'm looking for:
- Ready Player One
- The Fault In Our Stars
- The Descendants
- This Is Where I Leave You
- The Golden Compass (maybe; I read it on paper, so it might not have worked for me in audio)
- Every Day

Stepping back and looking at that list, it seems to be likable and somewhat humorous main characters either on external quests or confronting something big in their life?

I asked about audiobooks two years ago, and I've read a lot of those suggestions -- thank you! For me the trickiest thing about finding audiobooks is that I lose interest easily unless something clear is propelling the story forward, whether that be external events or character development. I used to listen to a lot of mystery, thriller, and dystopian stuff - they definitely keep the plot moving! - but I'm looking for something that isn't too scary or dark right now. Any suggestions? Thanks for your ideas!
posted by slidell to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I see it was rec'd in the previous thread, but I'm here to second the Anansi Boys audiobook. Definitely my favorite audiobook reading, and I don't even particularly love Gaiman (although I've read most of his work, and that's my favorite non-comic of his.) It definitely fits the generally feel-good, quest, and fast-paced qualities you're looking for, too.
posted by Mizu at 11:44 PM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Two engrossing, non-dark audiobooks I enjoyed are Redshirts by John Scalzi (read by Wil Wheaton) and The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon.

If you're into non-fiction, I can highly recommend Jon Ronson and David Sedaris' audiobooks, as well as Bossypants by Tina Fey. I also like Sarah Vowell's audiobooks, though her subject matter can be dark. (Clearly I really like audiobooks read by their authors.)
posted by neushoorn at 12:09 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ray Monk's bio of Oppenheimer was just totally amazing.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:49 AM on May 30, 2014

I read both of these, but I can imagine Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore and The Rook working well for you.
posted by elmer benson at 5:11 AM on May 30, 2014

The audiobook version's of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels are a treat and a delight.
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:25 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just finished the First Law series by Joe Abercrombie, read by Steven Pacey. The first in the series is The Blade Itself. I have liked many of the books you linked, and I loved these. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them, actually - I was afraid they were going to be all grawr war and grawr fighting. They did have fighting, but the humor and the wit was excellent, and I laughed out loud quite a bit. They are a quest type tale, and Logan Ninefingers is definitely a character I found interesting. The only flaw for me was that Pacey pronounces grimace as gri-MACE, which took me back at first. But his reading is just so excellent that I grew used to the quirks.
posted by routergirl at 8:25 AM on May 30, 2014

From what you list (Fault in Our Stars, Every Day, Golden Compass), you might find some good suggestions on the Young Adult Library Services Association site. They have a specific annual award for Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults and previous years are also available on the website.

I really adore the Flavia De Luce Books by Alan Bradley (listed on the YASLA site, but honestly, they're adult books that happen to have a kid protagonist). The audiobooks have kept me listening and move quickly. Bonus: there are six of them already. Number one is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:31 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've found it's good to find a narrator you really like, and follow their work. David Case is one of my favorites. He makes classics like Dickens and Wodehouse wonderful. And does great with modern stuff as well. He makes classics that may otherwise feel like a bit of a chore to read a total joy.

I recently listened to Ready Player One with Wil Wheaton narrating, and really enjoyed it. I don't think that Wheaton has a tremendous range (I wouldn't want to listen to him read Moby Dick, for instance) but I have a soft nerdy spot in my heart for him and I think he did great with this one. I'm looking forward to checking out his other audiobooks (I know he did Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation, for one.)

If you are interested in full audio dramatizations, definitely check out the following:
    The NPR/LucasFilms collaborations on the Star Wars radio plays. Unfortunately, these get progressively worse as they go along, but A New Hope is excellent.
    Any of the ZBS Foundation stuff is great. I'm particularly fond of Jack Flanders. And their audio production quality is outstanding. Moon Over Morocco is a particularly engrossing audio experience.
    This one's a bit controversial. Focus on the Family actually did an excellent audio production of The Chronicles of Narnia. I purchased this when it went on deep discount at Amazon, not realizing who had produced it. If you can get this from a library or through other means, it's really a great listen.

posted by pahool at 8:34 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
posted by stampsgal at 8:36 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you're into the inter-ethnic and class dynamics of contemporary Southern California I can't recommend enough The Barbarian Nurseries by H├ęctor Tobar. Frankie Alvarez did a fantastic job with the audiobook (review). Definitely features some "likable and somewhat humorous main characters on external quests."
posted by Rash at 9:02 AM on May 30, 2014

The Golden Compass (the whole series, actually) is lovely on audiobook. (trying to think of others...)
posted by getawaysticks at 9:51 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Although I haven't listened to these, only read them, I would think that you'd enjoy About a Boy and/or High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby, and anything by Gary Shteyngart.
posted by janey47 at 9:59 AM on May 30, 2014

There are a great many Doctor Who audiobooks which you'd probably like. (Not sure if the BBC and Big Finish offerings are identical now, but both were good when I came across them.)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is brilliant, in either the original radio series form, or the unabridged novel audiobook form.

If you like crime, there are many enjoyable audiobooks of British origin that might fit. You might like the humor of the Rumpole series, or the old school vibe of the Paul Temple series, the radio equivalent of a classic black-and-white movie. Then there are things like Cadfael, and the old staples like Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. All of these are engrossing without having a lot of violence or anything really disturbing in them.
posted by philipy at 11:22 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

The unabridged CD version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon is a delight.
posted by Corvid at 12:24 PM on May 30, 2014

You will absolutely love this audio production of The Hobbit. Worth it for the songs alone, but just great throughout.
posted by bearwife at 12:59 PM on May 30, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you! I started marking "best answers" but then realized there were too many to mark. From what I've been able to learn from reviews, I'm most excited to start with these:
A Canticle for Leibowitz
About a Boy
Artemis Fowl (whatever the first one is)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Hobbit
Mort (Discworld Book 4; a few reviews said it was a great place to start?)
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore
The Rook
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
And I'll probably read Anansi Boys and The Barbarian Nurseries if I don't listen to them. (For whatever reason, I like Gaiman's books better on paper.) Then I'll come back and see what other suggestions I missed, especially as I get interested in sci fi again. Thanks to everyone!
posted by slidell at 3:48 PM on May 31, 2014

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