We really love audiobooks here at HCPL, and have shared in the past some of our favorite narrators and audiobooks to make you laugh. When listening, it is easy to be carried away… swept up in the tale and transported by the storyteller. This time we are sharing some of our favorite stories, new and old, that take on a new life when read aloud.
These titles are available now, but if you find you need to place a hold and want an audiobook now, check the Available Now and Too Hot to Hold sections of OverDrive, or search on Hoopla, which has no holds. If you want to find similar titles to these in audiobook form, use our My Next Read service to get custom picks from our librarians via email.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, read by Simon Vance – One of the first audiobooks I ever listened to was Great Expectations, and it quickly became one of my favorites. It was assigned as summer reading when I was in high school, and to save time, I decided to listen to the audiobook. I was surprised by how funny it was! Vance expertly navigates the multitude of characters, making it easy to keep track of the full cast.
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, read by Michael Boatman – How much do you remember about John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry? This book is the perfect refresher course. The story is told by the delightful Onion, a young enslaved boy freed by Brown. Due to a misunderstood introduction, everyone thinks he is a girl and he just goes with it, more interested in staying alive than telling the truth. Onion’s retelling is full of humor, presenting Brown’s passion and courage alongside his stubbornness and flaws, which ultimately lead to his failure.
The Night Tiger by Yangze Choo, read by the author – For another historical fiction listen, check out The Night Tiger. Choo captures the atmosphere and spirit of 1930s Malaysia with beautiful descriptions and stunning narration. This book reminded me, just a little, of The Night Circus, with the main characters' fates intertwined and the magic so utterly believable.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, read by Kathleen Gati (Winternight Trilogy #1) – Try a different blend of mythology and magical realism, this time from the chilly north of Russia. Reminiscent of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, this story follows Vasilisa as she grows up and takes control of her fate to save her family. I found the audiobook for this particularly helpful, as the Russian names and slight accent of the characters sound absolutely gorgeous when read aloud.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, read by the author – You might be familiar with these tales of gods and goddesses, tricksters and frost giants, but you’ve never heard them told quite like this. Gaiman’s narration makes you feel like you are minding your own business in a pub, when an old man comes over and, uninvited, starts telling you all about the shenanigans his friends did when they were young. It is riveting and you won’t be able to stop listening to his stories.
The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje, read by the author – Eleven year old boys can get up to all sorts of innocent mischief when aboard a ship for several weeks. Follow the adventures of our narrator and his friends at the Cat’s Table as they sail from Columbo to England. The ocean liner setting and set cast of characters are richly described and easily imagined, taking you back in time to the 1950s.
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, read by Patricia Rodriguez (Wayfarers #1) – There is something magical about journeys, especially when they take place on a ship. Like The Cat’s Table, this space opera has a lovable cast of characters who not only have to navigate the galaxy, but also boredom, prejudice, and interpersonal relationships. Even though she is writing about aliens and AI, Chambers captures human emotion so perfectly, you will forget this is science fiction.
Still Life by Louise Penny, read by Ralph Cosham (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1) – If you love a full cast of quirky characters, you will love the town of Three Pines. The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series, starting with Still Life, introduces the town and its many inhabitants. The mystery is cozy, but the narration will keep you listening just to find out what happens!
All of the audiobooks on this list are available digitally from either OverDrive or Hoopla. My favorite way to listen is on my phone, but you can also play the books right from your computer. The Libby app for OverDrive and the Hoopla app are easy to use and work with both Apple iOS, Android, and Windows. Learn more about these platforms.
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