We all know that a narrator’s performance can make or break an audiobook experience. A good reader pulls us further into the story, immersing us in the nuance, emotion, and humor that really make a great book sing. It’s why we’re usually excited when our favorite celebrities step into the sound booth for an audiobook recording. Here are a few top-notch audiobooks with celebrity narrators that we can’t stop listening to.
The Phantom Tollbooth
Norman Juster’s surreal tale of a young boy adventuring in a brilliantly fantastical world is a classic for a reason. Humorous, profound, and brimming with invention and adventure, it’s one of those titles that’s always worth a reread or, when someone like Rainn Wilson is narrating the audiobook, a listen.
This compelling and accessible book instructs readers to incorporate their daily experiences into their own spiritual path to truly awaken to the beauty of the world around them. Chokyi Nyima Ripoche is a beloved and widely respected Buddhist teacher whose forthright honesty and wry wit is both entertaining and deeply profound.
Figuring is an exploration of love, truth, and the cascading interconnectivity of life. Drawing parallels and connections between the lives of multiple historical figures across four centuries, Figuring is an ambitious and thought-provoking examination of the intersecting tapestry of virtually all facets of the human experience.
There’s something special about a full cast audiobook–it just adds an extra layer of immersion. The audiobook version of Daisy Jones & the Six is no exception. Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the 1970’s rock scene in LA, Daisy Jones & the Six is a combination of coming-of-age tale and rock-n-roll fever dream that reads like the best tell-all celebrity memoirs.
Spurred by a tumultuous and destabilizing period in her own life, actor and activist Amber Tamblyn experienced an a epiphany. She would come to call this realization her Era of Ignition, or a period of self-reflection and a call to action. In this fascinating memoir, Tamblyn explores a number of salient issues–from feminism and gender inequality to trauma and consent–through the lens of her own personal struggles.
This frank and hilarious coming-of-age memoir charts Andrew Rannells’ path from a midwestern kid to a sexually confused teenage to a Broadway star. While Rannells’ natural charisma is evident on the page, it’s even moreso in his reading for audiobook. There’s nothing quite like listening to Andrew Rannells describe not only the difficulties and complexities of his life story but also the smaller, oft-hilarious moments and triumphs.
With her new memoir, former The View and Fox & Friends co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck discusses the ways her deep faith has helped her navigate not only being her own celebrity but the everyday challenges of being a motherhood and marriage. Whether its her early days in the public eye on Survivor, her sometimes controversial time on The View, or her new role as CBO (Chief Breakfast Officer), she believes it was her spirituality and faith in God that led her through.
Jodi Picoult’s 2016 bestseller is a particularly timely examination of prejudice and racism in America today. The novel centers around a black labor and delivery nurse Ruth who is forced to confront white supremacy and the inequities of our justice system after saving the life of a newborn. It is classic Picoult–emotionally resonant, surprisingly challenging, and thought-provoking.
With so much of her pop culture cache hinging on her acting career, it can be easy to forget that Carrie Fisher is a brilliant writer. Her last book, The Princess Diarist, is culled from journals that Fisher discovered from her time on set filming Star Wars. The result is surprisingly intimate and unsurprisingly hilarious; Carrie looks back at her youthful self through the lens of her wiser, older self.
Joan Rivers was one of a kind. She was a no-holds-barred, delightfully vicious diva with a razor sharp wit. Fortunately for all of us, her daughter Melissa had the foresight to gift her mother with a diary. The result was Diary of a Mad Diva–a blistering critique of pop culture, current events, and basically every celebrity you can think of sprinkled with a surprising dose of introspection. Hearing Joan Rivers herself deliver the barbs and the insights? That’s just icing on the cake.
Is there anyone who dislikes Betty White? If you happen to know someone who does, you should probably just avoid them–you don’t need that sort of negativity in your life. In her laugh-out-loud memoir, White reminds us all of what makes her a national treasure. Featuring stories from seven decades in show business as well as her musings on, well, virtually everything, If You Ask Me is a must-listen.
What could possibly improve on Nora Ephron’s brilliantly hilarious, semi-autobiographical novel about a perfect marriage torn apart? Some narration by Meryl Streep. Given that Meryl Streep played the role of protagonist Rachel in the 1986 adaptation, it certainly seems like a good fit. Add in Ephron’s famously ferocious wit and you’ve got the makings of an un-put-downable audiobook.
Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures
Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures reads a classic from Hollywood’s golden age, which is fitting given that the rags-to-riches, coming-of-age tale is set against the glitzy backdrop of Los Angeles in the 1930s and 40s. Elsa Emerson is a small-town teenager who flees to Hollywood with dreams of making it big–which is precisely what she does. Of course, fame comes with a price and remaining true to herself may be the biggest challenge of all.
This collection of essays proved to be the perfect follow-up to Mindy Kaling’s bestselling memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?. Chronicling her ongoing journey toward contentment and excitement, Kaling once again takes a relatable dive into the insecurities and anxieties that have defined so much of her comedy and professional life.