Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Audiobook Narrators

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics


I do love a good audiobook! Half an hour commuting to work each way five days a week; half an hour running three times a week; one or two longer runs at the weekend; whilst cooking, along in the kitchen… I will often be found listening to an audiobook. Quite often, more of my reading is audiobook than traditional print or e-book.

I remember when I first explored audiobooks and I wasn’t sure how I would react – would I engage with it in the same way? Would I remember it? Personally, I found that the reading experience was almost identical and I tend not to differentiate between audio and non audiobooks on my blog. Except for one feature – and its a matter of retrieval rather than recall – which is quotation. I do like to quote from books and I find it a joy to share the writer’s own language – but it is just that much harder to recall specific quotations from audiobooks when you can flick through or (Heavens be praised!) use the search function on the kindle.

Anyway, let’s turn to my favourite narrators. There are some who inhabit the characters and narratives so well that, even when I return to the print version, I am still hearing it in their voice inside my head!


Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry is almost ubiquitous on Audible: there are 147 entries for him as a narrator!

I would cite him as narrator of The Definitive Sherlock Holmes (with lovely personal anecdotes and vignettes prefacing each story) or of the Jeeves Collection which kept me sane through covid! A certain boy wizard has also had the Fry treatment.

I have every confidence that the ubiquitous Mr Fry will appear throughout a number of people’s lists this week!

Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy’s Small Island – an exploration of the Windrush generation – is a phenomenal novel, and her reading of it on Audible was exquisite! The way she brought both the brittleness of Hortense and the warmth of Queenie, the humour and the pathos of the novel was sublime.

Neil Gaiman

Sticking with authors reading their own novels, I do like Neil Gaiman as a narrator. His voice and delivery is very distinctive and not perhaps everyone’s cup of tea, but I found him a charming narrator in all meanings of that word!

Natalie Haynes

Again, Haynes has a very distinctive voice and delivery – erudite and cutting at the same time. I have raved about her Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics series on BBC Sounds (also available on Amazon, but free on BBC Sounds and brilliant!) but Stone Blind was the first narration I heard of hers.

Sophie Aldred

With 158 entries on Audible, Aldred is – remarkably- more prolific that Stephen Fry! I’ve got to be honest, she will hold a soft spot in my heart: Ace in Dr Who was one of my first crushes. Says a lot about me!

And I recommend her sci-fi narrative: Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward series, and Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Final Architecture.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Piranesi is not an easy book to narrate or to grip readers with. It is strange, unwieldy, arcane in many ways as our protagonist explores and survives in a vast eternal House with only occasional birds, fish and one other man for company. But his rendition was fabulous – and the book well worth its winning place in the Women’s Prize.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Holdbrook-Smith, for me, is the voice of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series. It is a great series, with magical policemen, the rivers of London personified into very sexy women, jazz, food and the spirit of carnival and chaos. And Holdbrook-Smith is DC Peter Grant!

Jason Isaacs

Just as Kobna Holdbrrok-Smith is the voice of Peter Grant, Isaacs – a brilliant actor who carried the first season of Star Trek Discovery – is the voice of Kate Atkinson’s much more cycical and world weary ex-detective, Jackson Brodie.

Stephen Hogan

An Irish accent is always a winner for me – and there were far more Irish accents I could have chosen for this list – but I adored Hogan’s performance reading John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies. He got that perfect balance between pathos, humour and tragedy for that novel.

Michael Kramer and Kate Reading

This pair as audiobook narrators have to take the title of most prolific now: Kramer has 276 results on Audible and Kate Reading 312! A lot of those are together and they seem to have carved out a niche as the voice of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere, which is where I came across them, narrating The Way of Kings.

Sometimes, a narrator can feel too American for me and Kramer’s voice is very American, but it works for Sanderson’s worlds.


So, which of these narrators have you stumbled across, and which would you recommend to someone always on the lookout for a great new reading experience?!


Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes


May 2: The First 10 Books I Randomly Grabbed from My Shelf (close your eyes and touch/grab/point to 10 random titles and tell us what they are! And tell us what you thought if you’ve read them!)
May 9: Books I Recommend to Others the Most
May 16: Things Getting in the Way of Reading (what’s taking up your time right now?) (lovingly stolen from A Cocoon of Books during freebie week)
May 23: Things That Make Me Instantly Want to Read a Book (these can be auto-buy authors, tropes you love, if an author you love blurbed it, settings, genres, etc.)
May 30: Things That Make Me Instantly NOT Want to Read a Book (what are your immediate turn-offs or dealbreakers when it comes to books?)

19 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Audiobook Narrators”

  1. Stephen Fry 100%! Favourite of all time. Though I didn’t know Jason Isaacs narrated the Case Histories books… that has definitely increased my interest in finally getting around to them! Fantastic list!

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  2. Stephen Fry is the perfect voice for the Sherlock Holmes books! And I do also enjoy listening to Neil Gaiman narrate his own work. Great list! I’ve listened to more of your picks than most TTT lists I’ve read this week, and I agree with them all! I’ve only started listening to Kate Reading’s work, but she’s a really good narrator, too.

    My TTT: https://bookwyrmknits.com/2023/04/25/top-ten-tuesday-favorite-audiobook-narrators/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I find it so interesting that so many readers listen to audiobooks while they cook. That’s the one thing I can’t do while listening, at least when it comes to following a recipe. I inevitably forget something because I’m not paying close enough attention to what I’m making! LOL

    Happy TTT!

    Susan
    http://www.blogginboutbooks.com

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  4. Love Neil’s writing, never thought about listening to him read his own works. And hear me out, I get it because he is phenomenal but I can’t see or hear Jason Isaacs with out immediately thinking the British Colonel from Patriot and if I can get past that then it is immediately Lucius Malfoy. I know he is more than that, and has done some great things but they just stick in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve listened to Neil Gaiman narrate Coraline and I really enjoyed that, I think he has a lovely, soothing quality to his voice. I’ve not heard any of the others but I have heard raves about Stephen Fry’s narration over the years, so I really need to change that at some point. I feel like Jason Isaacs is just too immediately Lucius Malfoy for me at this point, it might be slightly hard to get past if I were to ever hear him narrate anything! I didn’t realise Natalie Haynes narrated her own books, that’s interesting: it’s quite the skill to be able to narrate your own work when it’s fiction, non-fiction always works well because it’s usually a celebrity telling their own story in a memoir, but you need to be able to put on more of a performance for fiction and not all authors can do that, so good on her.
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2023/04/25/top-ten-tuesday-417/

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love Stephen Fry’s narration too. I’ve listened to a chapter of Moby Dick, but never on a whole book. And I didn’t know Neil Gaiman narrated his own books. It’s lovely, isn’t it, when writers narrate their own books?

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  7. While I haven’t listened to Stephen Fry or Jason Issacs, I know they would be fantastic narrators. I may have to look into books narrated by both of them.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I haven’t been able to get into audiobooks so far.. despite trying with a few really good ones.. I did love listening to (just a part of) Neil Gaiman’s nonfiction – The View from the Cheap Seats (and then ended up reading the book) and enjoyed his narration a lot..
    Your list gave me a few additions to my tbr (Piranesi and Rivers of London)

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