I rarely listen to books I haven’t already read. That way if I’m interrupted and miss something, I don’t really “miss” anything. I listen to an audio book every morning during the ritual dog-walking so I get in a good 45 minutes. It always reminds me of how it felt to have someone read to you as a kid. Here are some favorites:
If you’ve never heard Toni Morrison read Beloved, you’re missing out. I’ll admit, I did not “get” this book the first time I read it and was madly in love with it by the 3rd time. There’s nothing quite like hearing Morrison read the poetry that is this book, and the story is even more powerful (hard to believe, I know) with her vocal delivery. One of my all-time favorites to listen to.
The same goes for Frank McCourt reading Angela’s Ashes. It’s the combination of the Irish brogue and the way he reads the child’s point of view sections with such matter-of-fact innocence — something you just can’t get as well from reading the words on the page. His reading can make a painfully sad scene funny, and vice versa. It’s like magic.
I also recommend Michael Cunningham’s reading of The Hours, Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides (so poetic), and Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres.
If you’re looking for a good romance and a break from “serious” literature, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is a romp. First, it’s a good story and you’ll be dying to know what happens next. Second, an actress reads the story, giving the English narrator a sassy British tone and her lover, Jamie Fraser, a perfect Scottish accent.