12 Star-Studded Audiobooks That Are Like Movies for Your Ears
Hearing the audiobooks of ME BEFORE YOU and GIRL ON THE TRAIN ahead of their movie releases, I was so excited to hear the words come to life as I imagined the actors in their respective roles. The audiobooks on today’s list have gotten the Hollywood treatment, but in a different sense. No need to wait for them to hit the big screen, these audiobooks are read by some of the best actors of stage and screen.
Jeremy Irons played Humbert Humbert in the 1998 version of “Lolita,” and here he reads Vladimir Nabokov’s provocative classic straight from the page. Awe and exhilaration, along with heartbreak and mordant wit, abound in this account of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze.
Narrated by Jeremy Irons
2The End of the Affair
In this 2013 Audie winner, Colin Firth gives an authentic performance of Graham Greene’s evocative analysis of the love of self, the love of another, and the love of God. Whether you laughed at Colin Firth screaming a long string of expletives in “The King’s Speech” or swooned at his stoic confessions of adoration in “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” you’ll want to hear him reading this story of flourishing love.
Narrated by Colin Firth
3Breakfast of Champions
This 2016 Audie Award finalist depicts the aging science fiction writer Kilgore Trout and his fateful encounter with a Midwest car dealer on the brink of insanity who is taking his fiction as truth. What follows is a murderously funny look at war, sex, racism, success, and politics. John Malkovich’s rendition of this frantic, scattershot satire is one you won’t want to miss.
Narrated by John Malkovich
4A Rage in Harlem
After Samuel L. Jackson’s Audie-nominated performance of the mock children’s book GO THE F**K TO SLEEP, you’ll enjoy his swaggering, darkly humored rendering of Chester Himes’s classic first novel. Set in Harlem, the gullible Jackson is scheming to get rich quick, but when his love Imabelle gets swept up in his mess, Detectives “Coffin Ed” Jones and “Grave Digger” Johnson step onto the scene to help save her.
Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson
5The Things They Carried
A Pulitzer Prize finalist, THE THINGS THEY CARRIED is a groundbreaking meditation on the Vietnam war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling. Bryan Cranston, whose breadth of television and movie roles precedes him, delivers an electrifying performance that walks the book’s hallucinatory line between reality and fiction.
Narrated by Bryan Cranston
Wickedly funny and risqué, GOSSIP GIRL is about the provocative lives of New York City’s most prestigious private school kids. Gossip Girl herself is an anonymous narrator with the dish on the inner workings of this privileged society—because she’s one of them. Christina Ricci narrates this witty and intriguing melodrama, a soap opera for your ears.
Narrated by Christina Ricci
7The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood’s popular dystopian novel explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender, and religious politics. After a staged terrorist attack kills the president and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all-controlling Republic of Gilead. Now the brave Offred, a Handmaid serving a Commander, risks her life in hopes of ending this oppression. Claire Danes gives a stirring performance in this Audie winner.
Narrated by Claire Danes
8Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they discover that they share the kind of bond that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. A lyrical novel about family and friendship, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda delivers an inspired performance.
Narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda
9Slouching Towards Bethlehem
We can think of no better reader for Joan Didion’s portrait of 1960s Californian counterculture than subversive actress Diane Keaton. SLOUCHING TOWARDS BETHLEHEM explores growing up in California, the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury.
Narrated by Diane Keaton
10The Princess Diaries
Mia Thermopolis is certain there’s nothing worse than being a five-foot-nine, flat-chested freshman who’s flunking Algebra. And then she finds out her dad is the prince of Genovia. You know the rest: princess lessons from her dreaded grandmother (the dowager princess of Genovia), leaving Manhattan to assume her royal duties in a foreign land, and finding a date for the Cultural Diversity Dance. What’s a girl to do?
Narrated by Anne Hathaway
11The Sheltering Sky
This fascinating story follows three American travelers—a married couple and their friend—as they find themselves adrift in the cities and deserts of North Africa after World War II. Jennifer Connelly, who narrates this landmark work of the twentieth century, describes Paul Bowles’s writing as “haunting in a very beautiful way.”
Narrated by Jennifer Connelly
12The Bible Experience: New Testament
This 2007 Audie Award winner breaks new ground in the presentation of the New Testament. Unique among audio Bible productions, this historic production features a stellar ensemble and a cinematic musical score. It is true theater of the mind and spirit.
Narrated by Angela Bassett, Cuba Gooding Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Blair Underwood, India.Arie, Taraji P. Henson, Denzel Washington, Pastor Marvin Winans, and way too many to name here.