A good narrator can take an audiobook to another level, but an ensemble cast of readers can create a truly immersive listening experience. When people ask me for recommendations, I often find myself mentioning multi-voice audiobooks with unique productions or an incredible group of readers who kept me listening for hours at a time. These include audiobooks with multiple narrators—one for each point-of-view character—as well as full-cast audiobooks, which can feel like an audio drama. From story and essay collections to oral histories to novels told from multiple perspectives, here are 11 of the best multi-voice audiobooks for your TBR!
Most Americans I know have a personal story about where they were on 9/11. In THE ONLY PLANE IN THE SKY, Garrett M. Graff draws from nearly five hundred such stories to offer a comprehensive account of what life was like on that day. From first responders to family members, government officials to airline ticket agents, these narratives are brought to life by a 45-person cast, which includes some of the actual contributors themselves. In the excerpt below, hear former White House chief of staff Andy Card describe the moment he approached the president, who was speaking to a class of elementary students, to tell him that a second plane had hit the second tower. The audiobook also includes archival audio from presidential speeches, air traffic control, and in-flight communications. The result is an incredibly moving full-cast audiobook, making it no wonder this production won the Audie Award for Best Multi-voiced Performance and Audiobook of the Year!
2020 AUDIOBOOK OF THE YEAR AUDIE AWARD WINNER!
2020 MULTI-VOICED PERFORMANCE AUDIE AWARD WINNER!
Audio bonus! The audio edition includes an exclusive interview with Garrett Graff and Holter Graham as well as archival audio from United States Presidential addresses, In-Flight Communications, and Air Traffic Control.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“Visceral...I repeatedly cried…This book captures the emotions and unspooling horror of the day.” —NPR
The first comprehensive oral history of September 11, 2001—a panoramic narrative woven from the voices of Americans on the front lines of an unprecedented national trauma.
Over the past eighteen years, monumental literature has been published about 9/11, from Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, which traced the rise of al-Qaeda, to The 9/11 Commission Report, the government’s definitive factual retrospective of the attacks. But one perspective has been missing up to this point—a 360-degree account of the day told through the voices of the people who experienced it.
Now, in The Only Plane in the Sky, award-winning journalist and bestselling historian Garrett Graff tells the story of the day as it was lived—in the words of those who lived it. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, original interviews, and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members, Graff paints the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet.
Beginning in the predawn hours of airports in the Northeast, we meet the ticket agents who unknowingly usher terrorists onto their flights, and the flight attendants inside the hijacked planes. In New York City, first responders confront a scene of unimaginable horror at the Twin Towers. From a secret bunker underneath the White House, officials watch for incoming planes on radar. Aboard the small number of unarmed fighter jets in the air, pilots make a pact to fly into a hijacked airliner if necessary to bring it down. In the skies above Pennsylvania, civilians aboard United Flight 93 make the ultimate sacrifice in their place. Then, as the day moves forward and flights are grounded nationwide, Air Force One circles the country alone, its passengers isolated and afraid.
More than simply a collection of eyewitness testimonies, The Only Plane in the Sky is the historic narrative of how ordinary people grappled with extraordinary events in real time: the father and son working in the North Tower, caught on different ends of the impact zone; the firefighter searching for his wife who works at the World Trade Center; the operator of in-flight telephone calls who promises to share a passenger’s last words with his family; the beloved FDNY chaplain who bravely performs last rites for the dying, losing his own life when the Towers collapse; and the generals at the Pentagon who break down and weep when they are barred from rushing into the burning building to try to rescue their colleagues.
At once a powerful tribute to the courage of everyday Americans and an essential addition to the literature of 9/11, The Only Plane in the Sky weaves together the unforgettable personal experiences of the men and women who found themselves caught at the center of an unprecedented human drama. The result is a unique, profound, and searing exploration of humanity on a day that changed the course of history, and all of our lives.
DAISY JONES & THE SIX chronicles the epic rise and fall of a fictional 1970s rock band. Jenkins Reid presents this story as an oral history compiled from interviews with the band members and those adjacent to them. This full-cast audiobook features more than twenty narrators, led by Jennifer Beals voicing the world-weary Daisy Jones, a girl who grew up quickly in the era of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. This medley of voices brings an added layer of realism to a narrative already so convincing that you may forget it’s fiction.
Horror icon Stephen King is known for his sprawling epics (the audiobook of IT runs nearly 45 hours!), but he’s also a masterful short story writer. First published in 1985, SKELETON CREW anthologizes more than twenty of King’s brief tales from his early years as a writer—stories that first appeared in publications like Playboy, Yankee Magazine, and the Shadows anthology. For the 2016 audiobook edition, a talented cast of readers divide up the narration, with voices including Matthew Broderick, Michael C. Hall, Paul Giamatti, and Will Patton.
Includes the stories “Uncle Otto’s Truck” and “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut”—set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine
Features “The Mist” now a TV series event on Spike
The #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of the 1986 Locus Award for Best Collection, Skeleton Crew is “Stephen King at his best” (The Denver Post)—a terrifying, mesmerizing collection of stories from the outer limits of one of the greatest imaginations of our time.
“Wildly imaginative, delightfully diabolical…King once again proves to be the consummate storyteller” (The Associated Press).
A supermarket becomes the place where humanity makes its last stand against destruction. A trip to the attic becomes a journey to hell. A woman driving a Jaguar finds a scary shortcut to paradise. An idyllic lake harbors a bottomless evil. And a desert island is the scene of the most terrifying struggle for survival ever waged. This “wonderfully gruesome” collection (The New York Times Book Review) includes:
-“Here There Be Tygers”
-“Cain Rose Up”
-“Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut”
-“The Wedding Gig”
-“Paranoid: A Chant”
-“The Raft”- “Word Processor of the Gods”
-“The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands”
-“The Reaper’s Image”
-“Uncle Otto’s Truck”
-“Morning Deliveries (Milkman No. 1)”
-“Big Wheels: a Tale of the Laundry Game (Milkman No. 2)”
-“The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet”
King is best known for his iconic, immersive long novels, but he is also a master of the short story, and this is a magnificent collection.
For the one-hundredth anniversary of the American Civil Liberties Union, 40 notable authors wrote essays on the organization’s involvement in landmark cases like Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade, and how each shaped our world. With contributors like Jesmyn Ward, George Saunders, and Louise Erdrich, the book sells itself, but the all-star cast of readers takes the audio edition to another level. Writers like Ann Patchett, Neil Gaiman, and Morgan Parker read their own essays, while others are brought to life by celebrities including Samuel L. Jackson, Lucy Liu, Zachary Quinto, Tony Shalhoub, Billy Porter, and Bradley Whitford. Below is an excerpt from Salman Rushdie’s essay on the 1971 case New York Times Co. v. United States—whose ruling defended freedom of the press—read for you by Sir Patrick Stewart.
To mark its 100-year anniversary, the American Civil Liberties Union partners with award-winning authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman to bring together many of our greatest living writers, each contributing an original piece inspired by a historic ACLU case and read by an all-star cast.
The all-star cast of readers includes: Annaleigh Ashford, Matt Bomer, Dennis Boutsikaris, Geraldine Brooks, Norbert Leo Butz, Michael Chabon, John Cho, David Cole, Sergio de la Pava, Santino Fontana, Elizabeth Frances, Neil Gaiman, Amber Gray, Michael C. Hall, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Brian D’Arcy James, Luke Kirby, Goran Kostić, Judith Light, Lucy Liu, Rebecca Luker, Javier Muñoz, Masi Oka, Morgan Parker, Ann Patchett, Alison Pill, Tonya Pinkins, Billy Porter, Missi Pyle, Zachary Quinto, Jen Richards, Moriel Rothman-Zecher, Tony Shalhoub, Heather Alicia Simms, Patrick Stewart, Corey Stoll, Moses Sumney, Ayelet Waldman, Bradley Whitford, and Constance Zimmer.
On January 19, 1920, a small group of idealists and visionaries, including Helen Keller, Jane Addams, Roger Baldwin, and Crystal Eastman, founded the American Civil Liberties Union. A century after its creation, the ACLU remains the nation’s premier defender of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
In collaboration with the ACLU, authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman have curated an anthology of essays about landmark cases in the organization’s one-hundred-year history. Fight of the Century takes you inside the trials and the stories that have shaped modern life. Some of the most prominent cases that the ACLU has been involved in—Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, Miranda v. Arizona—need little introduction. Others you may never even have heard of, yet their outcomes quietly defined the world we live in now. Familiar or little-known, each case springs to vivid life in the hands of the acclaimed writers who dive into the history, narrate their personal experiences, and debate the questions at the heart of each issue.
Hector Tobar introduces us to Ernesto Miranda, the felon whose wrongful conviction inspired the now-iconic Miranda rights—which the police would later read to the man suspected of killing him. Yaa Gyasi confronts the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education, in which the ACLU submitted a friend of- the-court brief questioning why a nation that has sent men to the moon still has public schools so unequal that they may as well be on different planets. True to the ACLU’s spirit of principled dissent, Scott Turow offers a blistering critique of the ACLU’s stance on campaign finance.
These powerful stories, along with essays from Neil Gaiman, Meg Wolitzer, Salman Rushdie, Ann Patchett, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Louise Erdrich, George Saunders, and many more, remind us that the issues the ACLU has engaged over the past one hundred years remain as vital as ever today, and that we can never take our liberties for granted.
Chabon and Waldman are donating their advance to the ACLU and the contributors are forgoing payment.
A murdered child, a missing teen, and an investigative journalist in small-town America—sounds like the setup for a true-crime podcast, right? Though it’s fiction, the SADIE audiobook feels eerily real; it alternates between Sadie’s first-person perspective as she hunts down the man who killed her little sister and episodes of The Girls, an investigative podcast trying to get to the bottom of her disappearance. If there was ever a book perfectly suited for the audio format, it’s Sadie. This full-cast audiobook features more than 30 voices, theme music, and sound effects for the podcast portions that make this a must-listen for fans of Serial.
At 25, Libby Jones inherits a house in a posh London neighborhood—the house where she was found as a baby along with three dead bodies. As she cautiously begins unraveling the chilling mystery surrounding her origins, figures from her distant past creep ever nearer. The narrative unfolds from three key perspectives—two in the present and one in the past—each voiced by a different narrator who captures the suspense of every cliff-hanger chapter ending. Give this multi-voice audiobook a listen to see for yourself what propelled it onto the New York Times audio bestseller list!
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A GOOD MORNING AMERICA COVER TO COVER BOOK CLUB PICK
“Rich, dark, and intricately twisted, this enthralling whodunit mixes family saga with domestic noir to brilliantly chilling effect.” —Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author
“A haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read.” —Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author
From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.
Be careful who you let in.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.
How do two newlyweds navigate the promise of “till death do us part” when a man’s wrongful conviction lands him behind bars with a 12-year sentence? AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE switches between Celestial and Roy’s points of view as they struggle with this commitment in a situation where neither is at fault for the separation straining their relationship. Narrators Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis capture the rising tension between Roy and Celestial as time passes, from the warmth of the intimate letters they write in the early days of Roy’s incarceration, to the fraught storylines that follow after they drift apart.
With ASSASSINATION VACATION, “This American Life” contributor Sarah Vowell takes us on a road trip through American history’s most infamous political homicides. Eleven special guests make cameo appearances on the audiobook to bring historical figures to life: Stephen King voices President Abraham Lincoln while Conan O’Brien portrays his son Robert, and Jon Stewart plays President James A. Garfield across from Brad Bird, who voices his assassin. Collectively, their performances elevate an already humorous book into an exceptionally funny audiobook, which earned itself an Audie Award nomination for Best Multi-voiced Performance.
New York Times bestselling author of The Wordy Shipmates and contributor to NPR’s "This American Life" Sarah Vowell embarks on a road trip to sites of political violence, from Washington DC to Alaska, to better understand our nation’s ever-evolving political system and history.
Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrums of American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacation, she takes us on a road trip like no other -- a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage.
From Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to the Dry Tortugas, Vowell visits locations immortalized and influenced by the spilling of politically important blood, reporting as she goes with her trademark blend of wisecracking humor, remarkable honesty, and thought-provoking criticism. We learn about the jinx that was Robert Todd Lincoln (present at the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley) and witness the politicking that went into the making of the Lincoln Memorial. The resulting narrative is much more than an entertaining and informative travelogue -- it is the disturbing and fascinating story of how American death has been manipulated by popular culture, including literature, architecture, sculpture, and -- the author's favorite -- historical tourism. Though the themes of loss and violence are explored and we make detours to see how the Republican Party became the Republican Party, there are all kinds of lighter diversions along the way into the lives of the three presidents and their assassins, including mummies, show tunes, mean-spirited totem poles, and a nineteenth-century biblical sex cult.
Playing on the Gertrude Stein quote “There is no there there,” Tommy Orange offers a compelling portrait of the Native community in Oakland, California, an urban landscape that symbolizes “buried ancestral land, glass and concrete and wire and steel, unreturnable covered memory.” The story follows twelve characters of indigenous heritage whose lives have all been affected in different ways by generational trauma, cultural erasure, and urbanization, and who all have a different reason for attending the Big Oakland Powwow. In the multi-voice audiobook, an ensemble cast of four narrators help bring this community to life as their stories begin twisting together and the novel reaches its climactic ending.
Red and Blue are agents on opposing sides of a war spanning time and space. They strike up a correspondence after Red finds a letter from Blue that says, “Burn before reading,” and an unconventional love story unfolds via the letters they leave for each other as they travel across time and enemy lines. Just as this novella was a collaboration between coauthors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, narrators Cynthia Farrell and Emily Woo Zeller each voice one of the protagonists in this fast-paced sci-fi adventure with a running time of just over four hours.
ONE OF NPR’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019
Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
In the ashes of a dying world, Red finds a letter marked “Burn before reading. Signed, Blue.”
So begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents in a war that stretches through the vast reaches of time and space.
Red belongs to the Agency, a post-singularity technotopia. Blue belongs to Garden, a single vast consciousness embedded in all organic matter. Their pasts are bloody and their futures mutually exclusive. They have nothing in common—save that they’re the best, and they’re alone.
Now what began as a battlefield boast grows into a dangerous game, one both Red and Blue are determined to win. Because winning’s what you do in war. Isn’t it?
A tour de force collaboration from two powerhouse writers that spans the whole of time and space.
Inspired by the SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY, Walter Dean Myers wrote this poetry collection to capture the spirit of the neighborhood where he grew up. The “many voices” alluded to in the title are those of students, retirees, jazz musicians, veterans, blue-collar workers, and more, their poems read by a medley of narrators. Produced with complementary background music and sound effects, this multi-voice audiobook offers an immersive listening experience that will transport you to a street corner in this northern Manhattan neighborhood.
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