What Audiobook Do You Think Does The Source Material The Most Justice?
Posted on 21st of August, 2018


I never enjoyed listening to audiobooks as it felt to me that you are removing the most enjoyable aspect of a book, namely the reading. I also got very irritated trying to listen to a book versus just reading it as I can read much faster than whoever is narrating the book. This all changed when I listened to the audiobook for Ready Player One by Ernest Cline for the first time. It was a gift from a friend who knew that I was big on online gaming, so I decided to give it a fair shot as the premise of the book sounded just right for my taste. The plan was to start listening to the book on my way to college in the mornings and, if I liked the story, but hate the narrator, I would simply get the book and continue reading myself. After I started listening to the book I couldn't help but feel that I know the voice of the narrator and, sure enough, it turned out to be Wil Wheaton, who used to star in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The story itself is obviously amazing and it blew me away (remember this was long before the movie ever came out), but listening to it being read by Wil, who is a huge gaming fan himself, was a treat. I don't have a lot of audiobooks I can recommend, but this is by far the best I have encountered.
Call me strange, but instead of favorite audiobooks, I have favorite audiobook narrators and I tend to listen to audiobooks from my favorites, whether it is something that I would normally be drawn to or not. I've discovered some great books this way, but I can understand that not everyone would have a good time with this method. These are just a few of my absolute favorites.

The Harry Potter Series narrated by Jim Dale - If you are a fan of audiobooks and listened to the Harry Potter series, then Jim Dale will be your hero. This man has done an absolutely incredible job of reading the books in a way that captures all the imagination that the author intended. My parents read the first Hary Potter book to me, but I was bugging them so much to hear the rest that they ended up buying me the audiobooks on CD to spare their voices. Listening to Jim Dale eventually felt like I was listening to a beloved uncle or grandfather telling me stories and the way he handled all the different voices in the books are great. Other books I listened to just because of Jim Dale are The Night Circus, Around The World in Eighty Days, and A Christmas Carol.

The Dark Tower series narrated by Frank Muller - Not only did Frank Muller have a great voice, but he narrated a huge number of great audiobooks. My favorites are the Dark Tower books by Stephen King, but Muller also narrated a lot of other Stephen King books as well as books by Nicholas Sparks, John Le Carre, Anne Rice, Robert Ludlum and even George R. R. Martin. It was an absolute tragedy that he died in that motorcycle accident as I think he still had plenty of good audiobook readings left in him.

The Outlander series narrated by Davina Porter - Normally I prefer male narrators for my audiobooks as I find their voices more soothing, but for Davina Porter I made an exception. I became totally hooked on the Outlander series thanks to her voice and I was delighted when I discovered that she has narrated a prodigal amount of other books too. I may be wrong, but I believe that she has acted in a number of theater productions, which would explain why she has such a great voice and can inject it with all the right emotions. I also like a lot of the classics that Davina narrated, such as Anna Karenina, Villette, Far From The Madding Crowd, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Madame Bovary.
I am a big fan of audiobooks where the writer himself narrates his work, because I don't think anyone else would be able to capture the mood they were going for as perfectly. Not all authors are blessed with great voices, though, but luckily one of my favorites, Neil Gaiman, is. Just listen to Neverwhere, Norse Mythology and The Graveyard Book for proof.
Do yourself a favor and listen to the World War Z audiobook by Max Brooks. It truly makes me sad that the film version has cast such a shadow over this great book that a lot of people won't even consider reading it because they think it is just as bad. Now I know that I've said in another answer here that I'm not a big fan of films or shows that try and follow their source material word for word, but neither am I very happy with films that completely butcher the plots of the novels they claim to be inspired by. If you are going to use a book as the basis for your story, then I am going to expect you to at least deliver something that is as good, if not better, than the book or else why bother.

*Deep breath* Back to the audiobook, it really is one of the best I've heard in a long, long time and I also suspect that this was the medium that the author had in mind when he wrote it. Unlike a lot of audio books where it is just one person muttering away in monotone, the World War Z audiobook features an entire cast to do the voices for all of the different characters in the story. I'm too young to have ever tuned in to those "radio dramas" that were popular before television came along, but I imagine that the people back then must have gotten a similar kind of thrill from them as I got from this book. There is one small downsight though, I found the World War Z audiobook to be so engrossing that I had to stop listening to it in the car because it was just too distracting!

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