Speech from the Stars: Audiobook Recommendations
When I was thirteen and wishing that Orlando Bloom would read me the phonebook (it was 2003, that’s the only excuse I have), I could never have dreamt that there would be so many books read by celebrities to choose from.
Now, whether they’re reading their own autobiography, or lending their voice to a classic, there are loads of audiobooks narrated by your favourite stars.
Here’s a list of six of the best performances in our library:
1. The Magic Finger – Roald Dahl. Read by Kate Winslet.
If anything, The Magic Finger isn’t long enough to enjoy the voice talents of Kate Winslet. This is a lesser known Roald Dahl book, but it is probably one of the creepiest. A young girl is able to point her finger at people who make her angry and something happens to punish them. One day, she becomes absolutely enraged by her neighbour, who loves to go hunting, but after she does, something terrible happens. Kate Winslet gives all the characters distinct voices without them becoming too funny, and voices of the ducks are recognisably animal and slightly scary. The tense parts are made extra chilling by the power of her voice.
The Magic Finger is available for Listening Books members to download and stream.
2. Spectacles – Sue Perkins. Read by the author.
As anyone who knows me will attest, it is probably not possible for me to love Sue Perkins any more than I already do. This audiobook managed to do the impossible, however, and actually made me love her a little more. She has perfect comic timing in her narration, especially as she describes trying to clear up after a dog with diarrhoea while people are yelling ‘BAKE!’ very loudly at her in a service station, which made me howl with laughter. Equally, some of the saddest parts are made all the harder to listen to by her obvious difficulty in narrating them. If you’re missing seeing Sue Perkins on your screen now that Great British Bake Off is no longer on, this audiobook is the perfect antidote.
Spectacles is available for Listening Books members to download and stream.
3. A Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket. Read by Tim Curry.
The terrible misfortune of the Baudelaire children starts on a grey and cloudy morning on Briny beach, and it doesn’t get any better. There’s a dreadful middle and a horrible end. Thankfully, Tim Curry makes the awful ordeal of the Baudelaire’s a very good listen. He is an excellent reader as the authoritative narrator Lemony Snicket. You could not, of course, expect him to be happy, as this is a sad story, but he is very good at being sad. If you’re trying to work out where you’ve heard his voice before, it was as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
A Series of Unfortunate Events is available for Listening Books members to download and stream.
4. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline. Read by Wil Wheaton.
If you know anything about gaming, or were born in the eighties, this is the novel for you. It is set in a virtual reality world called OASIS, a utopia where you can be whatever you want, and is stuffed full of gaming and eighties cultural references. The founder of OASIS, who died with no heir, has promised control of his creation to the person who can solve all the riddles he has left. It is read by Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The New Generation. He does a great job and clearly has enormous fun reading the story. A joy to listen to!
Ready Player One is available for Listening Books members to download and stream.
5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Read by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Lin-Manuel Miranda has been pretty busy recently with the Pulitzer-prize winning, worldwide musical hit Hamilton, composing and recording songs for the Disney film Moana, and writing a song for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Somehow, he also found the time to narrate Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s beautiful young adult novel, which is just as well, as he is the perfect narrator. He reads simply, which adds life and expression to this book, and conveys Ari’s frustrating attempts to understand himself and his world. The book deals with two teenage boys learning about identity and friendship. It is emotionally complex and engaging, and a great coming-of-age novel.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is available for Listening Books members to download and stream.
6. Carrie – Stephen King. Read by Sissy Spacek.
Sissy Spacek was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of the eponymous Carrie in the film adaptation of this Stephen King novel, and she brings this talent to her narration for the audiobook. It famously tells the story of a young girl trapped by the various societal demands of femininity, from bullying by her zealously religious mother to harassment by her classmates, who discovers she has telekinetic powers. Sissy Spacek narrates the shifting emotions of teenage Carrie perfectly, as well as embodying the other characters that make this horror story. It also features a short introduction read by Stephen King, making this the best way to read this book.
Carrie is available for Listening Books members on MP3 CD, book number 14046.
To fill your ears with more celebrity narration, check out our fantastic list of 11 Famous Actors and Actresses Who Read Audiobooks.
This post was written by Abigail Jaggers