6 Audiobook Narrators I Love Listening To

I have been listening to audiobooks for many years. I remember purchasing them and checking them out from the library when they were on cassette tapes and came in those awful plastic clamshell cases. They were often abridged versions back then, and while I don't know this to be fact, I assume that it was due, in part, to the cost of producing physical media for long books. It would be more cost-effective to condense the text to keep production costs down, which in turn, kept the retail price down as well.

Whatever the case, I enjoyed hearing literature read aloud while on long car trips or while mowing the lawn. And when digital audiobooks, through services like Audible and Scribd, came on the scene and made them much more accessible and portable, it was even better. I have now listened to many hundreds of audiobooks from classics to thrillers to non-fiction to westerns.

As the technology and distribution methods of audiobooks have evolved, so has the way the books are narrated. Many early narrators did a fairly straight reading of the texts, but today's voiceover talent have turned audiobook narration into an art. A well-narrated audiobook these days is a performance that often includes unique and engaging character voices. The narrator is acting and not just reading.

I've heard of many audiobook fans who find a narrator they like and will then start to base future listens on what their favorite talent has narrated. While I don't do that personally, I still do appreciate a really good narrator and will sometimes decide whether or not to continue a series in print or via audio based on how good the first audiobook is.

So with all that said, here are a few narrators that I really love to listen to. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I have listed them in alphabetical order and not in any sort of ranked order, but these six narrators are ones that have stood out to me as talent who always put a lot of heart and emotion into the books they read to make the story that much more immersive. 

Jayne Entwistle

I first encountered Jayne when Bookworm Banquet co-host Nicole, introduced me to the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. I started the first book on audio and am so glad I did! Jayne Entwistle does an exceptional job of bringing our precocious little protagonist to life. I have kept up with the series after that first book and have specifically chosen the audiobooks because I love hearing this narrator so much.

Tavia Gilbert 

I talked about this in episode 29 of the podcast, but I was reading Susie Finkbeiner's All Manner of Things and was so engrossed in the story that I decided to jump into the audiobook so I could continue the book on my hour-plus commute home from work one day. That was when I first heard Tavia Gilbert and was enthralled with her performance of that book and have since listened to other titles she's narrated including more from Susie Finkbeiner and a legal thriller from Randy Singer.

Kirby Heyborne

A few years ago, a Goodreads connection recommended the YA series, The Solitary Tales by Travis Thrasher, to me so I started with the audiobook and really, really enjoyed Kirby Heyborne's narration style. I finished the rest of the series via audiobook because of him and have since come across him narrating works by Orson Scott Card and, just recently, Dan Walsh's Jack Turner series.

Aimee Lilly

I first heard Aimee, not as an audiobook narrator, but as a voice actor in an audio drama over 20 years ago. It wasn't until the last few years that I heard her narration when I found out she had narrated The Sugar Creek Gang books which I thoroughly enjoyed as a kid. So I, a full-grown man, decided to listen to these children's books and Aimee was fantastic! She's also the narrator of the popular Boxcar Children series and in the past few years has narrated the Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes, which I haven't read or heard personally, but I have seen many glowing reviews. Recently she's teamed up with Oasis Audio to produce a series of mystery classics from women authors and I'm currently listening to The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart.

David Shaw-Parker

This is another narrator that I first heard as an actor in an audio drama. I mentioned this in episode 168 of another podcast that I host, Audio Theatre Central, but David is a fabulous voice actor and I came across his audiobooks totally by accident. (If you're interested in family-friendly audio drama, I'd encourage you to check out ATC.) I started the Palliser series by Anthony Trollope in audiobook format and immediately recognized the narrator's name and what a pleasant surprise it was! Over the course of the first book, David quickly became one of my favorite narrators with his wonderfully delightful performance of this classic text.

Adam Verner

I don't recall where I first heard Adam Verner, but he has narrated many titles from some of my favorite authors so I've heard his voice a lot! Some of the ones I've heard him read are titles from Charles Martin, Shawn Smucker, Robert Whitlow, and Ted Dekker. He's got a deep, soothing tone that is just wonderful to listen to and he always does a great job in bringing stories to life.

What do you think of this list? Any familiar names here? Who are some of the narrators or what are some audiobooks that you've really loved?

J.D. Sutter is the producer and host of the Bookworm Banquet podcast and editor of the blog. He is the founder of Porchlight Family Media, a network of quality audio programming and review websites based in Phoenix, AZ.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

J.D. Sutter

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