Top audio picks #LoveAudio

Fionnuala's profile

I’ve always been a bookworm.  Audiobooks for me began as a practical way to fit more reading into my day – when making a car journey or doing the dishes – but they quickly turned into a way of life when I realised how easy and fun (as well as thrilling, absorbing and hilarious) they could be.  Looking back it was a pretty good decision to try audiobooks out, as these days I get to make them for a living. 

Something I often hear when talking to new people about my job is that they don’t know where to start with audiobooks.  With that in mind, here are some suggestions.  Be warned, though: once you give them a go, you’ll probably find you develop a habit.

I, Partridge, written and read by Alan Partridge. This might be the best audiobook ever produced. Why be coy? It IS.

Animal, written and read by Sara Pascoe.  Immensely informative about the science of the human body, told with Pascoe’s characteristic light touch.

Life After Life
By Kate Atkinson

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, read by Fenella Woolgar.  This audiobook caused me to find reasons to go for a walk, do a really deep clean of the kitchen, and otherwise spend a lot of time with headphones in in a manner not obviously anti-social.

The Elephant to Hollywood
By Michael Caine

The Elephant to Hollywood, written and read by Michael Caine. The autobiography against which to judge all others.  Though packed with a trove of amusing showbiz anecdotes, Caine is always mindful of his amazing luck in life, fostered by his very humble beginnings.  A lovely decision was taken to retain Caine’s infectious laughter in the finished product, which bubbles up when recounting something outrageous done or said by the likes of Omar Sharif or Peter O’Toole.

Lolita
By Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, read by Jeremy Irons. This is the stuff an audio editor’s dreams are made of. A frothing, OTT rendition that wrings every last bit of mischief and glee from the text. A complete joy to listen to.

The Paying Guests
By Sarah Waters

The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters, read by Juliet Stevenson. I couldn’t have an audiobook list without an audiobook read by The Audiobook Goddess, and this is an especially atmospheric goodie.

The World's Worst Children
By David Walliams

If you’re a parent of little ones facing down a long car journey in the near future, you’ve got to get yourself some David Walliams audiobooks: the kids will be rendered immobile with wonder at the fantastic production values and star-studded cast lists.  Try The World’s Worst Children to begin.

The Warden
By Anthony Trollope

Timothy West reading the Barchester Chronicles is HEAVEN, the Platonic ideal of casting a reader to fit the text. Start with The Warden and try to stop yourself completing the whole cycle.

Americanah
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, read by Adjoa Andoh.  Andoh not only displays complete (jaw-dropping!) technical mastery in this reading, which spans a huge range of characters across three continents, but also brings out all the rich characterisation, humour and drama of the story.  This audiobook gives me the heart-eyes emoji face.

Jon Ronson's own books, read by the author: if you like the work, the man is the only one to read it.  Start with So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.