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July 7, 2008 1:24 PM   Subscribe

What are some exceptionally well-performed audiobooks?

I enjoy audiobooks, but sometimes the delivery of the readers is too dry. Presently, I've got Foundation, read by Isaac Asimov in the car, and he sounds like Mel Brooks on valium. It's a shame.

Steve Martin reading Shopgirl was very, very good. Rant, by Chuck Palahniuk was exceptional, because there were different, engaging, distinctive actors for each speaker (the book is composed of "interview" material). The Harry Potter books and the Golden Compass were also performed with verve. Perhaps I need to be read to like a child!?

What are some audiobooks, fiction or non-fiction, which entertain with excellent dramatic readings?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur to Media & Arts (80 answers total) 121 users marked this as a favorite
Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey / Maturin books read by Patrick Tull.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:32 PM on July 7, 2008

Lolita, read by Jeremy Irons.
posted by mattbucher at 1:32 PM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: I enjoyed Stephen Kings Dark Tower series on audiobook. I think I liked it more than actually reading it.
posted by sanka at 1:33 PM on July 7, 2008

Lenny Henry's reading of "Anansi Boys" by Neil Gaiman is wonderful. I also particularly enjoyed "Eifelheim" by Michael R. Flynn although I can't remember who read it.
posted by nowonmai at 1:33 PM on July 7, 2008

Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair, read by Emily Gray.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:34 PM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman has brought me endless joy. Plus, Jonathan Coulton provides musical accompaniment.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 1:34 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

The audio books for Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy were recorded with a full cast of characters. Easily the most exciting audiobooks I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. The first one is here on audible.
posted by nerdcore at 1:35 PM on July 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Hands down, the best audiobook I've ever heard was The Time Traveler's Wife. I was about to give up on audiobooks, but the actors on that impressed me to my core. Seriously. I can't imagine it was an easy book for two people to read... that book spans different time periods, different ages, different characters, and not once did I not know who was speaking. I actually fell for every ounce of shmaltzy romance in the thing too, and I normally don't do that. But... but... they had me at hello.

I'd say second choice would be Kurt Vonnegut reading Man Without a Country. Because it's Kurt Vonnegut.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:35 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

NOT Jeremy Irons reading Lolita. He drones. Sexily, but still.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:15 PM on April 17, 2007 [+] [!]

posted by contraption at 1:35 PM on July 7, 2008

Personally - I don't want a full-cast of characters and/or sound-effects. I want a single narrator, who can voice a couple different styles - male and female.
posted by jkaczor at 1:38 PM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: OK, well then. How about David Foster Wallace reading Consider the Lobster.
posted by mattbucher at 1:38 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Worst audiobook ever: Da Vinci Code. WOW was that crap. The priest sounded like Father Guido Sarducci, the albino monk sounded like Clint Eastwood, Robert Langdon's agent was Jackie Mason... it was like Rich Little reading it. And when the guy tried playing Sophie Neuveau? It was like a teenage guy doing an impression of his girlfriend or something.

Not to mention that the writing was total crap too.

YMMV, naturally.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:39 PM on July 7, 2008

I heard an excellent rendition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Over the span of the book, the reader got grittier and gravelier, almost as though the charactars were taking their toll on the reader.
posted by upc_head at 1:39 PM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: I really enjoyed both "Into Thin Air" by Jonathan Krakauer and "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain both are autobiographical and the recordings are done by the authors. My all time favorite audiobook has to be "The Area of my Expertise" by John Hodgman, which is also read by the author and features the musical stylings of Jonathan Coulton.
posted by Palmcorder Yajna at 1:41 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, and my second favorite is probably Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:41 PM on July 7, 2008

jim dale's reading of all the harry potter books is awesome. i also liked the team that did the ender's game series.
posted by maulik at 1:49 PM on July 7, 2008

I enjoyed the hell out of Ian Carmichael's reading of Dorothy L. Sayers' Murder Must Advertise. The tone is just right and it has some of the most playful bits in the series so the dramatic reading is even more fun, although the others I've heard as audiobooks were great, too.
posted by carbide at 1:50 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords all written by George R R Martin and read by Roy Dotrice. Dotrice is amazing. At first I hated the sound of him, but after about 20 minutes I was entranced, and so far no other audiobooks I've heard have come close to being as well read.
posted by esilenna at 1:52 PM on July 7, 2008

I think George Guidall does a fantastic job of reading. We came across him for American Gods.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 1:56 PM on July 7, 2008

Bradamant has a full cast recording with sound effects and is good fun. I also enjoyed Wicked which I don't think was full cast but I could be wrong.
posted by chairface at 1:57 PM on July 7, 2008

I was just going to recommend the Roy Dotrice readings of GRRM's books. He is amazing on them and it's by far the best audiobook experience I've ever had. Highly recommended.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 1:57 PM on July 7, 2008

I really enjoyed the BBC Radio Presents Shakespeare recordings I've heard. (It can be kind of confusing to track down the right editions--the ones I'm referring to are from the 90s and 00s). I imagine the other stuff in the BBC Radio Presents series might also be worth looking at.
posted by phoenixy at 1:59 PM on July 7, 2008

I know through back channels that Ambrosia Voyeur has already heard this one, but for posterity: "Dreams From My Father" by Barack Obama is a great dramatic reading by the author, from before he was candidate for the Presidency. I wouldn't say he's the best performer I've ever heard (whenever there's a large passage of dialog including his Kenyan relatives, their accents kinda peter out toward the end,) but he makes an enthusiastic effort, and it's a rare and fascinating thing to see that side of a major politician who wasn't a professional performer to begin with.
posted by contraption at 2:00 PM on July 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Jason Oliver reading Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea is excellent. I also liked Grover Gardner on DT Max's The Family that Couldn't Sleep.
posted by jeather at 2:03 PM on July 7, 2008

I loved Austen's "Sense & Sensibility" read by Sarah Badel.

David Sedaris reads his own books, often with help from his sister. What was funny on the page because hilarious when he reads it himself.
posted by xsquared-1 at 2:09 PM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: Robert Penn Warren's "All The King's Men" is brilliantly performed by Michael Emerson (of "Lost" fame).

Frank Muller's "The Great Gatsby" is pitch perfect.

I 2nd Roy Dotrice George R. R. Martin books and Patrick Tull's reading Patrick O'Brian's book.

But the BEST audiobook I've ever heard is this multicast (not an audioplay) reading of "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins. (It's listed as being narrated by Patrick Tull, but he's just one of the narrators. In the original book, each section is told in first person, by a different character, so it makes sense for multiple actors to perform the novel.)
posted by grumblebee at 2:13 PM on July 7, 2008

A third for Hodgman. The Areas of My Expertise, read by MeFite #3700 John Hodgman (with swell musical accompaniment and side-kicking by Jonathan Coulton plus a number of cameos), is likely my favorite and most frequently recommended audiobook ever. If ever a book went from okay-funny to a classic piece of American nerd humor based solely on the author's audiobook performance, this is the one. It's a perfect reduction of what makes the Hodgman expert character such an obtuse delight. (Also entertaining in a similar way, Stephen Colbert reading, I Am America And So Can You).

That said, I think you could argue that the apotheosis of the self-read audiobook genre is found in The Kid Stays in the Picture, read by its author/memoirist, the notorious Hollywood producer: Robert Evans. It was the cassette (now kinda hard-to-find audiobook) that launched a million LA in-jokes for a reason: it's unbelievably more rich and hilarious when you hear "Evans" talking about himself and his personally-embellished mythology — occasionally lapsing into third person, and often advancing his name-dropping stories by asking himself weird, rhetorical questions (most of which, he'll then immediately answer with something like "You bet your ass I was!"). If you can find a copy, definitely snap it up.
posted by merlinmann at 2:15 PM on July 7, 2008 [3 favorites]

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, read by Douglass Adams, especially the part about the whale.

Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
posted by coevals at 2:16 PM on July 7, 2008

Response by poster: I just finished The Kid Stays in the Picture. It was like the audiobook equivalent of being unable to look away from a car accident, and I did I eat up every minute of it? You bet your ass I did!!!!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:26 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Do you like not-deep brain-candy? Hugh Fraser (who plays Hastings on the BBC's Poirot, natch) reads Agatha Christie very, very well. His voice is just a pleasure to listen to - smooth, well-modulated, expressive - and he voices different parts unobtrusively but convincingly.

I think it's worth following a few narrators you really like - Kate Reading is great, makes nearly anything bearable.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:30 PM on July 7, 2008

The Four Loves, written by CS Lewis and read by CS Lewis
posted by Autarky at 2:32 PM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello reading their book, Wigfield

David Sedaris reads all his own books and is great at it.

Max Brooks' World War Z is put on with many different famous actors as interviewees

Anthony Bourdain reading Kitchen Confidential has bits where he is phoning it in, but also a lot of moments where you can tell he is very passionate about his writing

hodgman nthed

all of these are good.
posted by Large Marge at 2:32 PM on July 7, 2008

Tim Curry did an audiobook of some inane Ken Follett or Clive Cussler novel back in the early 1990s. Of course, he could read the phone book to me.
posted by desjardins at 2:33 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nthing Time Traveler's Wife.

I haven't seen Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon in this thread, so I will put it forth.

If you are a fan of Rumpole, then the books read by Bill Wallis are a real treat.

Finally, audiobook fans should check out Audiofile magazine. It's wholly dedicated to audiobooks and they have a pretty exhaustive reviews section.
posted by reenum at 2:35 PM on July 7, 2008

American Gods and Anansi Boys, both by Neil Gaiman, are fantastically performed. The reader is freakin' amazing. I got both from Audible, where I get all of my audiobooks.

Also, while it was geared toward a slightly younger audience, the Eragon books are voice-acted pretty well also.
posted by twiggy at 2:44 PM on July 7, 2008

Seconding World War Z, it was good fun, though the selections were somewhat questionable.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:32 PM on July 7, 2008

JIrons reading Brideshead Revisited is so good; I once spent 4 hours driving with only a single cassette available, so I just let that one loop around and loved it more each time it ran. Of course, the writing helped a bit.

Flo Gibson is a period-voice genius, IMO, when it comes to Austen, Trollope, etc. Sample her here.

I love Richard Ferrone's voice, esp. for mysteries, since it sounds to me as if Willem Dafoe is reading to me. Hear him to great effect in these John Sanford thrillers.

For a complete change of pace from Sanford, consider any of the Mitford novels of Jan Karon preformed by John McDonough. Absolute masterpieces of in character reading.

Virginia Leisham owns Possession, I think... As does Rob Inglis, Tolkein, altho if you can find Nicol Williamson reading the Hobbit, that becomes arguable.
posted by dpcoffin at 3:33 PM on July 7, 2008

In general, those that are read by the author are good, those read by others usually aren't.
posted by neuron at 3:34 PM on July 7, 2008

The reader of the book really does make or break it. I've heard some average books with great readers, and some good books with terrible readers. One of the Tom Clancy books was so poorly read I was mocking it - the reader did great accents but he made the teenage characters, who were all very intelligent, sound like the dumb kid from `Duckman'.

Anything by the late Frank Muller (who died June 4th). He stands out in my opinion as the best audio book reader I've ever heard. I second The Great Gatsby, Mullers performance of this took the book from being a hated piece of drudgery from high school English class to being one of my favourite works of fiction.

Also seconding George Guidall, who can put some serious emotion into his work without overdoing it.

Both Frank Muller and George Guidall were involved in the Dark Tower series, George Guidall taking over after Muller's accident left him unable to perform.

I actually quite like the narrating style of Stephen King, though many people don't.

Anansi Boys, read by Lenny Henry, is fantastic.

Revenge, or The Stars Tennis Balls (awful name) by Stephen Fry is a marvellous modern reworking of The Count of Monte Cristo, and was very well performed.
posted by tomble at 3:44 PM on July 7, 2008

I enjoyed Frank McCourt reading his own Angela's Ashes. But I also really like hearing people with accents speak. It looks like he read his other books, too, 'Tis and Teacher Man. Not sure if it's dramatic, but nice to listen to.
posted by unsigned at 3:55 PM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: The unabridged version of Don DeLillo's Underworld read by Richard Poe is gripping in a way it probably wouldn't have been had I voiced it in my own head. Poe's really amazing at subtle voicing that keeps you engaged through long passages of both description and dialogue. Plus, at 31 hours, it's about the most bang you can get for your audiobook buck.
posted by activitystory at 3:56 PM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: Amy Sedaris, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence.

I couldn't agree more with the Hodgman recommendation -- it's the book that completely turned me around from "I would never want to listen to a book!" to "I'm so glad this question was asked to give me new listening ideas!"
posted by bah213 at 4:01 PM on July 7, 2008

Oh, yeah! 2nd'ing McCourt!
posted by dpcoffin at 4:02 PM on July 7, 2008

3rding McCourt
posted by miss lynnster at 4:12 PM on July 7, 2008

I liked Stephen King's unabridged reading of Needful Things.

Nonfiction humor, I like Dennis Miller's readings of his various Rant books. It's iffy as he's a stand-up, doing stand-up, but it started off as a book in these cases and he's reading the books...

More humor Nonfiction, hearing Scott Adams read his Dilbert books provides even more humor than the text itself as his inflections are priceless.
posted by arniec at 4:30 PM on July 7, 2008

Stardust, by Neil Gaiman, read by the author, is wonderful. He's got a great voice.

The Last Unicorn, by Peter Beagle, read by the author, is not. A wonderful book, but an unfortunate voice.
posted by tomboko at 4:32 PM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: Oh, and if you like Azimov (as a writer), perhaps you'll enjoy Neal Stephenson in audio; I did.

And if Potter, then perhaps Bartimaeus?
posted by dpcoffin at 4:46 PM on July 7, 2008

I have to go against the grain and recommend caution over the "Ice and Fire" series by George RR Martin. It's a massive undertaking, and I think Dotrice has done remarkably well, but:
1) It's going to be years before the author's even finished writing it. And he keeps having to insert more books into the series because he spends so much time reminding the reader what has gone before rather than moving the story forward.
2) The narrator Roy Dotrice tries to do different voices for each character, but with such a huge number to keep track of, some characters change their voices completely from book to book. If you listen to multiple books back to back, it's really obvious although not so much if you listen a couple of years apart as they are released.
3) The accents Dotrice uses are absurd. Almost everybody sounds like a deranged pirate. If you are not well-accustomed to all the various regional British accents that are the basis for most of the characters, this might be less jarring for you than it is to me. (I'm guessing you're American? Might not be a problem then).
4) There's a lot of 16-year-old boys who talk in gravelly old-man voices, and a lot of characters are made to sound annoyingly stupid when they're not intended to be by the author. The major characters all have voices that are reasonably suitable, but things can get rather weird with the minor characters.
5) Despite all this, you will after the first 180 hours or so of this slowly grow to love Roy Dotrice's hugely charismatic performance. After which point Random House decided to use a different voice actor for the next book so everything changes and becomes annoying in different ways.
posted by nowonmai at 5:09 PM on July 7, 2008

The Wheel of Time series...By Robert Jordan, as read by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading.
I'm almost half-way into book 6, and I'm loving it.
My only complaint is that the two readers pronounce some things differently....but Robert Jordan has almost created his own language in the series, so it's understandable two people would interpret pronunciation differently.
posted by AltReality at 5:23 PM on July 7, 2008

Dune, as read by George Guidall. He's so insanely great at wringing the delicious melodrama uniquely from each member of the huge cast of characters.
"I was a friend of Jamis," Paul whispered.

He felt tears burning his eyes, forced more volume into his voice. "Jamis taught me ... that ... when you kill ... you pay for it. I wish I'd known Jamis better."

Blindly, he groped his way back to his place in the circle, sank to the rock floor.

A voice hissed: "He sheds tears!"

It was taken up around the ring: "Usul gives moisture to the dead!"
posted by mindsound at 5:53 PM on July 7, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War and seconding Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.
posted by ill3 at 5:54 PM on July 7, 2008

BBC radio plays (archived here and here)
posted by cwhitfcd at 7:05 PM on July 7, 2008

Frank Muller is marvelous reading The Green Mile. Much love for Mr. Muller.

I've enjoyed Scott Brick and George Guidall as well, but I don't remember what they've read, off the top of my head. The fact that I remember their names is pretty telling. You can search on by narrator, and see where it leads you.
posted by Lou Stuells at 7:26 PM on July 7, 2008

We LOVE the Abhorsen trilogy as read by Tim Curry. I had no idea the man had so much talent, but I want him to read ALL my audiobooks now. We won't go on a road trip without 'em.
posted by GardenGal at 7:26 PM on July 7, 2008

I'm so going to print this out and take it to the library with me the next time I go.
posted by GardenGal at 7:29 PM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: John le Carré is an excellent reader of his own books, which are English to their core and require someone with a good English accent. Along the same lines, Jonathan Cecil does such an incredibly good job at rendering Jeeves and Wooster that I can't listen to a PG Wodehouse book read by anybody else.
posted by whir at 7:45 PM on July 7, 2008

I nth “Time Traveler’s Wife” – truly enjoyable.

Two authors reading their own books that were especially good: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime by Mark Haddon and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Anything read by Scott Brick.

Am currently enjoying Bianca Amato’s reading of The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory. She does a good job of interpreting the characters with a variety of British accents.

Another reader I have enjoyed on several books is Anna Fields. Have listened to her reading The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich and Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Anna Fields (pseudonym of Kate Fleming) has narrated many books. I wanted to hear other books she had done, and while doing a Google search for her, I found that she passed away in December, 2007, trapped in a flash flood in her Seattle studio. A sad loss for the audiobook world.

BTW - I get most of the audiobooks I listen to at my local library. Their selection is continually improving as audiobooks become more popular.
posted by GaijinSue at 9:36 PM on July 7, 2008

"Garlic and Sapphires" by Ruth Reichl, and Bourdain and Sedaris, as previously mentioned.
posted by lemonwheel at 10:27 PM on July 7, 2008

Nthing Lenny Henry's reading of "Anansi Boys" by Neil Gaiman. It was the only audiobook that didn't bore me to tears. (I started hating Pullman something fierce after being subjected to the first book in audio version.)
posted by gakiko at 12:12 AM on July 8, 2008

William Gibson reading 'Neuromancer' was quite good--unfortunately, this version was slightly abridged. (Unfortunately I got this from a friend, so I don't have a link.)
Any readings of the 'Sherlock Holmes' stories by Patrick Horgan are excellent--there are some available free on iTunes. There is also a guy by the name of B.J. Harrison who does a "Classic Tales" free podcast, also available at iTunes.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 2:27 AM on July 8, 2008

If you're looking for another "children's" series, check out the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. I thought the audiobooks were great; definitely kept my attention.
posted by inigo2 at 8:25 AM on July 8, 2008

M.T. Anderson's Feed, read by David Aaron Baker

Virginia Euwer Wolff's Make Lemonade and True Believer, read by Heather Alicia Simms

Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie, read by Cherry Jones

All YA fiction, all read by incredible narrators who manage completely distinct voices for each character. The Wolff books aren't out on CD yet, but my library had the cassettes, and True Believer is available on Audible.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:43 AM on July 8, 2008

Most productions of Georgette Heyer books by Chivers Audio Books are excellent. For instance, Clifford Norgate reading "Frederica".

Among non-fiction books, I very much enjoyed Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit", but I can't seem to find an unabridged audio version on amazon right now.
posted by of strange foe at 11:49 AM on July 8, 2008

Response by poster: It's really a shame that I've read some of these books already! I bet The Time Traveller's Wife was great as an audiobook, but you know how it is, it's hard to listen to a book all over again when there's other great works yet unmet! A few best answers for the lucky ones which have most piqued my interest!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:24 PM on July 8, 2008

Totally agree with David Sedaris and John Hodgman's books. Also, don't forget any book written/read by Sarah Vowell.
posted by skechada at 1:37 PM on July 9, 2008

Someone already mentioned him but I will say again Rob Inglis reads the hell out of The Lord of the Rings.
posted by zzazazz at 3:46 PM on July 9, 2008

Best answer: The audio book for Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way is actually a dramatic reading, with Ted Raimi, Brian Doyle Murray, and of course the title character. It's cheap on iTunes, too -- a mere $10. I enjoyed it!
posted by headlessagnew at 4:01 PM on July 9, 2008

Response by poster: Hey, if anybody in here uses cassettes and would like my copies of Shopgirl and The Kid Stays In The Picture, memail me your address. First come, first served.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:06 PM on July 9, 2008

I guess taste is a big factor here. A few people here mention they especially like Scott Brick. I've been listening to his reading of _Salt_, and find his reading style incredibly annoying. (Way too much "expression", as if twice in every sentence he's raising an eyebrow and saying "Isn't this just the most fascinating thing you've ever heard). Happy for those who do like him. In my admittedly limited audiobook experience, it seems there's a lot of this. Everyone sounds like a local newscaster or a voiceover for a movie trailer. Maybe I just like my reading more monotone than most people do.
posted by ManInSuit at 11:44 PM on July 9, 2008

I have found that many of the best books in audio are first person narratives. Not all, but many. Natasha Richardson doing The Mists of Avalon and James Marsters doing Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril and Summer Knight ( The Dresden Files ) are simply unbeatable. I also particularly like Buzzy Multimedia because they let you download the first three chapters of their audio books for free on what I guess is the bakery shop premise; have a taste and you like it then you want the whole thing and buy it. Of course I also happen to like a lot of Sci-Fi , Fantasy, and Horror and audio when done right can add a whole new dimension to these kinds of novels without needing SFX :)
posted by jkw625 at 6:03 AM on July 10, 2008

I'm a big fan of Alan Alda, and he reads his own audiobooks. If you like his work, they're worth a listen.
posted by stuboo at 7:36 AM on July 10, 2008

I'm a big fan of Paul Reiser's comedy, both performed and written... but his audiobook version of _Couplehood_ was *beyond* phoning it in.

It's his own comedy, fercrissake, and he couldn't be bothered to perform it instead of reading it.

*I* can read the book aloud, and be funnier then he is. :-)
posted by baylink at 10:41 AM on July 10, 2008

well, I have not been able to find it find it for some time now but the audio version of Haroun & the Sea of Stories performed by the author (Salman Rushdie) is nothing short of brilliant...

I so wish I hadn't lost my copy.
posted by jammy at 4:03 PM on July 10, 2008

The Arkangel Shakespeare is pretty amazing. I've only listened to Hamlet, so far. But I expect I will not be disappointed with the others.
posted by wheat at 11:45 AM on July 11, 2008

Sorry, that link to Hamlet was to the cassette. Here's the link to the CD version
posted by wheat at 11:46 AM on July 11, 2008

I second the Ender's Game/Ender's Shadow series. I started listening to audiobooks lately, and noticed that some narrators were just annoying (like the ones doing the Wheel of Time), but the Ender series narrators just fit so well.
posted by catquas at 6:32 PM on August 1, 2008

Dunno if anyone is still reading this post, but Nicol Williamson reading The Hobbit made a lifelong impression on me. It's long out of print, but a few years ago someone digitised it and put it online, so I have MP3s. It's since disappeared again.

Nicol Williamson is an old-school Shakespearean actor (and played Merlin in the Excalibur), and he gives all the character unique voices, and various British accents. Songs are chanted with verve. There is no music or special effects except occasional harps.
posted by snarfois at 9:00 AM on August 11, 2008

I've listened to some podiobooks since my last recommendation, and I would highly recommend "Chasing the Bard" and "Jack Wakes Up", among others. Podiobooks are hit or miss, but the best have as good or better dramatic reading as the best CD/tape audiobooks.
posted by catquas at 9:02 PM on June 2, 2009

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