Recommend me an audiobook?

January 2, 2017

I’ve always been anti-audiobook, but now I’m cross-stitching and I need something to listen to that I don’t have to look at. I see that there’s stuff on librivox for authors I like, but I have no experience with audiobook readers and I don’t know where to start. Does anyone have favorites (or ones to avoid)?



  1. A recent favorite at Librivox–there’s a recording of “Mary Barton” by E. Gaskell that is read by Tony Foster. He’s a native of Manchester, where the book takes place, and has just enough of the local accent to add color. I’d also recommend his recording of “Havelock the Dane.” Other favorite readers; Andy Minter, Mary Ann Spiegel,Mark F. Smith, Simon Evers, When I’m in the right mood, I like Roger Melin. Definitely an amateur, but quite competent. I find his voice very comforting,but that might be an acquired taste. He does read a lot of things you’d enjoy, I think–older mysteries with a strong romantic element and at least one book by Carolyn Wells. Anna Simon is also an excellent reader–she’s done Patricia Brent, Spinster, among others. To stay away from: Lucy Burgoyne, Tricia G., Sharon Kilmer (her husband Richard also reads–he’s tolerable, but not great). Also to look for–Cori Samuels, who has done lots of good stuff, including “The Moving Picture Girls” by Laura Lee Hope (no sequals, alas). I can probably come up with more– I certainly don’t know every voice on Librivox, but I’ve heard a good sampling. Somewhere on line, Ruth Golding –another very good reader–has a list of British readers. They are more likely to have had some theatrical background than Americans. Hope this gets you started.

    • This is exactly the kind of information I was hoping for. Thank you so much!

  2. Forgot! There is all –or most– of a girl’s serial called “Grace Harlowe”. The first few volumes are read by Christine Blachford, who does a nice job. I’ve only listened to the first one.

    • I love the Grace Harlowe series, and was thinking about rereading them–maybe I’ll go with the audio version.

  3. I think when you first start out listening to audiobooks it’s helpful to start with books you’ve already read because then it’s easier not to get lost. The Scaramouche recording on LibriVox is pretty good. I wouldn’t recommend the Capt Blood recording on there, though

    • That is an excellent tip, and I started with Aunt Crete’s Emancipation, which I thought was pretty good. Now I’m listening to The Four Feathers, which is…less good.

  4. Elizabeth Klett is one of my favorite readers (and now reads mostly for pay elsewhere). I tend to go for solo recordings, as the quality is more reliable.

    • You’re the second person who’s recommended her, so I guess it’s just a matter of picking a recording.

      And yes, I’ve learned already to stick to solo recordings. It’s no fun to get four chapters into a book and discover that you absolutely cannot listen to the next reader.

  5. I agree with the response about preferring to listen to books you’ve already read.
    One of my favourites is the Librivox recording of The Enchanted April by Diana Kiesners. It is not a bad book in the first place, but the I loved the way Ms Kiesners reads it.

  6. It’s been a while since I listened to books, but back when I did I relied on a few blogs for advice.
    For professional sounding readers:

    Ruth Golding https://librivox.org/reader/2607
    Cori Samuel https://librivox.org/reader/92
    David Barnes https://librivox.org/reader/94
    Andy Minter https://librivox.org/reader/152
    Mark F. Smith https://librivox.org/reader/204
    Ralph Snelson https://librivox.org/reader/2140
    Kara Shallenberg https://librivox.org/reader/19

    And here’s a wordpress blog by Ruth Golding (a reader) that gives a list of readers with British and Irish voices.

  7. I’m not sure where you live but in the US, most libraries offer ebooks and audio books for your ereader. I LOVE to listen to the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth mysteries by M.C. Beaton. They are light, fun, and charming. The readers are excellent and Penelope Keith often reads the Agatha Raisin books.

    • Thanks for the recommendations, but this is a public domain book blog, and I was looking for public domain audiobooks.

  8. As a child and teen I was a voracious reader, but I’ve turned almost exclusively to audio books these days, because while I seldom have free hours to read, I often have 12 hours a week or more of work that an audio book won’t interfere with, and I also find it a good distraction to get me to straighten my house.

    I love Librivox’s Doctor Thorne. The reader is, I think, a New Englander rather than English, so he gets the occasional name wrong, and he’s not a particularly animated reader, but I find him animated enough: he understands the meaning of what he’s reading, so he’s better than the usual librivox monotone. Have you read the book? I watched the miniseries of it first, so I had an idea of the plot, but it’s a bit warmer than the miniseries, which is comparatively silly and flippant. What I like about the story is that its plot comes from the mundane ins and outs of a community’s friendships and other relationships . . . but unlike most stories of that ilk, it’s written by a man, so one gets to hear about the men’s thought processes and foibles and emotions in a way one usually doesn’t. I love the understated hyperbole (yeah, I think I mean that . . . ) and Anthony Trollope’s periodic tongue-in-cheek direct address of the reader. I think I would have been bored and have skimmed it if I had read it with just my eyes, and I would have missed a lot of the humour, so I’m really glad I heard it as an audio book first. I also might have let myself get bogged down in the first chapter if I hadn’t already been familiar with all the names thanks to the miniseries, but I was won over by the second chapter, wherein Trollope apologises for the first. I felt a sense of loss when the book was done, and in fact, I listened to it again a few weeks later with equal relish. To someone expecting a gripping tale full of intrigue and drama, the book would be disappointing. I may have odd and picky tastes, but I found it charming.

    • I did read it, years ago, and I have thought lately about having another go at the Chronicles of Barsetshire. And Trollope does seem like a good author to listen to. I expect I’d want to reread/listen to the whole series, though, and that would be such a vast undertaking.

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