Best Audiobooks Read by Authors

Humor, fiction, history and more recommended audiobook titles.

This week’s column was submitted by David Whittingham of the .

My favorite audiobooks, the ones I recommend most often to others, were author-narrated, even the not-so-happy ones.

I recently listened to the audiobook Townie by Andre Dubus III, which I downloaded from MyMediaMall, the library's downloadable lending site. I was not expecting it to be good. I checked it out because I was waiting for another title to become available.

Andre Dubus III is the author of House of Sand and Fog, which received a lot of acclaim. He is also the son of respected author Andre Dubus II, and Townie is his memoir about of growing up in the rough streets of Boston.

My preconceived notion was, how rough could it have been growing up as the son of a successful author? In the book, Dubus goes in depth into his dysfunctional family and his relationship with his father.

I decided to give it a try and within five minutes I was captivated. It was a well-told story, and I loved the author’s distinctive, thick Boston accent. It sounded more like some fella at a Boston bar talking about his life than an overly articulate audiobook reader. It made for a much more intimate telling of the story and I have recommended it many times since.


I decided to do a quick search in the catalog under the term "read by the author" and got close to 1000 returns. I discovered several of my favorite author, Neil Gaiman's books are also read by the author, including Coraline and the Graveyard Book. Here are some more of my favorite titles.

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  • Bossypants by Tina Fey, read by the author, and is really funny.
  • I Feel Bad about My Neck by Norah Ephron. Ephron read several of her audiobooks including this hysterical title.
  • Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. To this day this remains one of the most memorable audiobooks I listened to because it was read by the author. Cold Mountain is a historical fiction novel that takes place during the Civil War. Frazier’s distinctively monotone voice created a mood that exactly matched the despair of the character.
  • 1776 by David McCullough is probably the audiobook I recommend more than any other. Being author-read this wonderful tale comes across like a grandfatherly figure telling the story of the first year of our country, rather than a school lecture.

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Lance Eaton August 22, 2012 at 02:17 AM
I dunno--I often find authors who narrate their books horrible. In the examples you cited, they all have previous experience in film, radio, or public speaking (Gaiman, Ephron, Fey, and McCullough). Most authors are best off doing the introduction but leaving the crux of the work to a professional narrator. Too often they don't have the skill to audibly deliver nuanced and complex information written for a text-audience but being rendered to an aural audience. just my 2 cents L Eaton http://byanyothernerd.blogspot.com


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