11 Famous Actors and Actresses Who Read Audiobooks
Having someone read to you is great. It’s part of what makes audiobooks so magical. A voice can really add to the story and sometimes it’s as though the reader is there in the room with you. What if a few of those voices were famous actors and actresses?
Whether you’re struggling to choose what book to listen to next, you don’t know here to start with the vast array of titles out there, or if you want to branch out from your usual genre, why not have some well-known voices influence your decision?
So, have a browse of this list, then sit back and have one of these celebrities read to you while you relax, wash up, or go for a walk – whatever takes your fancy!
1. Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen is famous for so many of his roles – Gandalf and Magneto in particular – but he has also read the children’s book series Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. The author, Michelle Paver, said she was ‘over the moon’ when she found out who would be reading her books, which isn’t surprising! Listen to the Listening Books interview with Michelle Paver or head over to her website for a video clip of Ian McKellen in the studio.
2. Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep… Where do I start with her accolades?! She’s known for The Devil Wears Prada, Mamma Mia!, The Iron Lady and more recently Suffragette to name a few. Her voice over career is not as extensive as some, but she does narrate Heartburn by Nora Ephron. Nora Ephron is screenwriter of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, so you’re in for some good writing, and with Meryl at the reading reigns you’ve got yourself a great audiobook.
3. Aziz Ansari
Aziz Ansari, aka Dev Shah in Master of None, wrote Modern Romance with American sociologist Eric Klinenberg. The book looks at how relationships have changed in modern society through the advent of technology. Digital dating has given us more options for romantic partners than ever before. Unsurprisingly, Aziz Ansari gives a hilarious performance as the narrator of the audiobook!
4. David Walliams
David Walliams has written several popular children’s books, and has been described as the new Roald Dahl. He also brings his acting experience to the narrating the audiobooks. He gives the characters great voices, which means that these books aren’t just for kids!
5. Maggie Smith
Dame Maggie Smith narrates true story The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett. As you may know, she played Miss Shepherd in the theatre and then the film of The Lady in the Van and she was great. The story is about the homeless Miss Shepherd who, in 1974, moved her broken down van into Alan Bennett’s garden. Deeply eccentric and stubborn to her bones, Miss Shepherd was not an easy tenant. And Bennett, despite inviting her in the first place, was a reluctant landlord. And yet she lived there for fifteen years.
Best of all, you can experience the book, with the actress from the film, but feel all self righteous for choosing book over movie… this has got to be win-win!
But I still couldn’t resist embeding the clip above Maggie doing her thing.
6. Anne Hathaway
You’ve seen Anne Hathway in the movie of Princess Diaries, but have you ever heard the books? Or maybe you haven’t seen the films? Well, even more reason to give Anne’s reading of The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot a listen. This teen novel is follows Mia Thermopolis, a normal, slighty geeky school girl who finds out she is in fact a princess and air to the throne of Genovia. It’s a classic, what’s not to love?!
7. Carrie Fisher
While Carrie Fisher has narrated many of her books, it is particularly sad to listen to Carrie Fisher’s memoir The Princess Diarist, revolving around her experiences on the set of the first Star Wars film and her affair with co-star Harrison Ford. If you’ve ever seen a Star Wars film (how many people haven’t?) listening to Carrie Fisher narrate audiobooks is a must.
8. Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch could probably narrate the phonebook and it’d be worth listening to, but thankfully, he’s narrated the memoirs of Casanova. Born in 1725, the historical man Giacomo Casanova has become so famous for affairs with women his name is now synonymous with ‘womaniser’. It took 17 years for Casanova to write his memoir, so spend a few hours listening to Benedict Cumberbatch reading it!
9. Reese Witherspoon
You might know Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde or June Carter in Walk the Line, but did you know she narrated the audiobook of Go Set a Watchman? Set after Harper Lee’s famous To Kill a Mockingbird, the book features many of the same characters. Scout has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus. While there, she has to grapple with her own identity and the place where she was born. Reese Witherspoon has the perfect accent for this audiobook, and does a great job reading it.
10. Eddie Redmayne
I know what you’re thinking: ‘So you’re telling me I can listen to the book written by Newt Scamander read by Newt Scamander?’
Yes. Yes, you can.
Eddie Redmayne famously played Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film. Now, he’s read the audiobook of the original book. Each creature is explained in detail in a text book format with classifications given by the Ministry of Magic. If you’re not sure, watch the video clip of Eddie Redmayne recording the audiobook!
11. Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lin-Manuel Miranda has had a busy few years. He wrote the music and lyrics for the musical Hamilton, which won 11 Tony awards and a Grammy, as well as a Pulitzer award for the book. He also wrote the music for the Disney film Moana, which was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award. If that wasn’t enough, he also reads the audiobook of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
The book is set in Texas in the eighties and follows two young boys, Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana, as they struggle with their racial and ethnic identity, sexuality, and relationships. The book is deeply emotional and involving, which is made all the better by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s narration. A must listen.
What accomplished company we find ourselves in, eh? We hope you find something, or someone, on this list that makes you think, “Yeah, I’d love to give that a listen”.
And we’d love to know who your favourite audiobook reader is, famous or not, so do let us know in the comments below!
All of the books listed in this article can be found in the Listening Books library catalogue for members to either borrow on MP3 CD or download and stream.
This post was written by Holly Newson.
Picture credit: Gage Skidmore – Flickr; Dick Thomas Johnson – Flickr; Timothy Krause – Flickr; Christchurch City Libraries – Flickr; Horus Tr4n – Flickr; Riccardo Ghilardi; Gage Skidmore – Flickr; dtstuff9 – Flickr; US Department of the Treasury – Flickr.