Recommendations for Audible books while in social isolation

Poems of Emily Dickinson, narrated by Meryl Streep and other noted actors.

Colm Toibin’s Nora Webster, narrated by the great Irish actress, Fiona Shaw. And Toibin narrates his own Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know, about the fathers of James Joyce, William Butler Yates and Oscar Wilde.

Colin Farrell reading James Joyce’s Portrait Of The Artist as a young man.

It might be rather controversial, but Jeremy Irons reading Lolita is great. What makes it better and different from the smarmy, awful movie is that he maintains self aware and somewhat self sarcastic tone that Nabokov did for Humbert Humbert in the book.

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My husband just reminded me of Sissy Spacek reading To Kill A Mockingbird. And she appropriately has a native US southern accent.

A BFF recommended The Help, and she says it has multiple characters are voiced by a great cast. She also recommended the Harry Potter books. She does a few very long distance car trips every year, and says they keep the two kids and two adults quiet for long periods of time.

I like history books to drift off to, don’t quite know what that says about me… but anyway, and a few of the Great Courses have been excellent

Jill Lepore is a professor of History at Harvard and her These Truths is a single volume history of America, one which smartly weaves racial and gender issues through the narrative.

Food: a Cultural Culinary History by Ken Albala is a Great Course and is a wonderful global span and temporal one. From Stone Age to current times. Really enjoyed it.

Novels… I listened to The Road by Cormac McCarthy, truly extraordinary but alternately weeping and gripping the steering wheel does not make for good driving. I’ve kept the literature light.

Recommend the Expanse series by James SA Corey, the books the television series are based upon, the space opera du jour.

A pal recommended The Three Body Problem by Liu, a Chinese Sci-fi phenomenon, likely my next listen…

I like autobiography on Audible. Given my work, film has been a bit of a focus.

Rob Lowe - stories I tell my friends is funny and oh-so-different-to-my-life I enjoyed it.

Robert Altman by Richard Zuckoff is as layered and multi-angle as the mans movies.

Just finished Kate Mulgrew’s Born with Teeth which gave great insight into her.

Old in Art School by Nell Painter tells the story of a revered history professor retiring and going back to art college and on to an MFA at RISD. Echoed a bit of my life so perhaps of resonance to me but very interesting.

Ooh boy. Recommending books is a challenge unless you know the person very well, but here are some that I have enjoyed:

Children of Men by PD James - this is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s quite different from the movie. I think the movie is fine, but the book is much better.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore Whether or not you are religious, Lamb is a great book, and one of Moore’s best.

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. - This is her autobiography and journey of faith. I found it unique and fascinating.

The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub Another all-time favorite book. If you’ve never read Stephen King, you’re missing out. He’s a fantastic storywriter, and this is one of his best.

Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates is great, as is Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. There are some others I can’t remember the names of. I am NOT usually into history, but she really makes it interesting.

I have heard that Becoming by Michelle Obama is very good. I have purchased it, but have not read it yet myself.

Wishful Drinking and The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher were both very good.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is a classic.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes was a very fun look back at the movie, which is my wife’s favorite.

The Martian by Andy Weir was good enough that they made it into a movie. As usual, the book was better.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman is another classic.

Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck, and Bite Me by Christopher Moore is a fun and excellent trilogy about vampires that has nothing to do with those other terrible vampire books that almost ruined vampires for everyone.

Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex were both very interesting.

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin was wonderful.

I love pretty much everything David Sedaris writes, and hearing him read his own writing is even better.

The great thing about Audible is their customer service is perhaps the best of any company I’ve ever dealt with. Don’t like a book? Return it! They’ll happily exchange them for you.

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The Martian, David Sedaris, Steve Martin, Ann Lamott, all +1

I read Michelle Obama’s autobiography the old way… and it is very good.

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If you like period Sea-going books, I can heartily recommend the Patrick O’Brian Books, starting with Master & Commander. 21 Books in total, so plenty of reading!


Those books are fantastic, but I’m not sure I’d recommend them in audiobook form. They’re full of old naval terms that can make the story hard to follow without a guide like Dean King’s A Sea of Words, which I highly recommend.

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I’ll listen to pretty much anything narrated by Simon Vance or the late Roy Dotrice. They could read the back of a cereal box for all I care.

My go-to is Alexander Scourby’s reading of the King James Bible. There’s a $19.99 iPhone app that includes the entire thing offline, which takes up about 1 GB of storage. It’s not the prettiest app, but they recently added the remastered audio tracks, which sound a LOT better.

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Oh, I agree you’ve got to be into it, but I just let it float by me much of the time - I find the glimpse into another time fascinating.

Ok, The Jack Reacher Book series. Excellently read by Dick Hill. Ignore the two only-share-the-title Movies, the Books are way way better.

…And any Bill Bryson book for some gentle comedic learning. Especially “A Short History of Nearly Everything”

I have the full Patrick O’Brien Jack Aubrey series occupying a shelf, and I can’t imagine how many hours it must be in audio. :slight_smile: Great stuff, though. His female characters are a bit thin, but the main characters of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are tremendously well described, and I enjoyed both the micro level descriptions of shipboard life and the macro looks at global political machinations.

If you like absurdity and drama, I’ll second @tjluoma’s recommendation of nearly everything by Christopher Moore.

And perhaps my favorite audiobook of all time is Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. Funny, compelling, and educational, all at once.

I will note that while I have nothing against Audible, I get all my books through Overdrive using the Libby app, connected to the New York Public Library, for which any New York State resident can get an account. You can’t necessarily get anything you want instantly, but there is an infinite quantity of books you will like.


I thoroughly recommend checking out the Audio book version as you have the books. For us, Rick Jerrom who narates the Books absolutely nailed the voices.

And funny that you mentioned “A short etc.” I literally posted that suggestion 2 minutes befor your post :grinning:

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I remembered hearing on the radio decades ago, the great actor Peter Unstinov reading excerpts from his autobiography, Dear Me. I checked Audible, and they have the full version there. I read the book and it was great.

Audible also has all the Goon Shows. They also have Monty Python stuff, including Eric Idle reading his autobiography, and books about making their movies.

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I checked another book I read and liked that’s available…To Pixar And Beyond, My Unlikely Journey With Steve Jobs To Make Entertainment History.

Shopgirl, read by the author Steve Martin, is great.