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Noteworthy Audiobook Performances

Did you know that audiobooks are one of the fasting growing ways to read a book? If this is news to you, welcome to your new obsession! There’s no better way to multi-task while cooking, driving, working out or when you can’t easily keep your eyes on the page. Audiobooks have come a long way from “books-on-tape,” and the library has lots of ways to enjoy them. Check out OverDrive , Libby, or our Books on CD collections. With that being said, not all audiobooks are alike, and some are spoiled by a bad or just okay reader. Below are some of the best audiobook performances you can check out on CD, or your device. Hey, there’s a reason the Grammys still award these performances every year!

For all formats of these books, select the highlighted title. For the specific audiobook performance on OverDrive, select the highlighted name.

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris
Read by Cathleen McCarron and Kevin Hely
One of the best recent examples of “dual readers”, this domestic-noir tale keeps you guessing until the end. Instead of one reader performing male and female parts, this audiobook switches readers based on each chapter's narrator. Set in England, the novel focuses on Layla and Finn, who are former lovers playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse. McCarron’s Layla is haunting and sad, while Hely’s Finn becomes increasingly panicked and deranged as the story unfolds. Their performances make this great mystery even better.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Read by Reese Witherspoon
If you had trouble getting through the “sequel” to To Kill a Mockingbird, the audiobook may be the way to finish it. Witherspoon’s performance and accents give life to sometimes difficult text. Witherspoon’s Atticus is a man resigned to the past, while her Scout is a modern woman ready to change the status quo. Long, but a great read.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie 
Read by Dan Stevens
Most famous for his role as Matthew Crowley on Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens is a truly talented audiobook performer. With over ten unique accents performed by Stevens, it becomes easier to follow along with the audiobook, than the text itself. Check out this classic title which is only enriched by the many voices and accents put on by the fabulous Stevens.

Still Life by Louise Penny
Read by Ralph Cosham
Ralph Cosham’s “Inspector Gamache” remains one of the most famous and beloved audiobook performances ever. The cozy mystery series spans 14 books that all feature the Chief Inspector of the Sûreté du Québec police force. Cosham embodies Inspector Gamache and reads all the characters with signature voices and attitudes. Check out his “Ruth,” the cranky old poet in the small town where most of the mysteries take place. Though Cosham sadly died before the series came to an end, his many performances live on as the voice of Gamache.

Underground Airlines by Ben Winters
Read by William DeMeritt
While the content of this novel can often be difficult to read or listen to, DeMeritt’s performance is excellent. Set in alternate modern day America where slavery is still legal, “Victor” a former slave, travels the country for the U.S. Marshall Service. While catching fugitive slaves is the only way to secure his own freedom, Victor is conflicted in his role and plans his own escape. DeMerrit’s Victor and other characters are nuanced and well visualized. Nominated for an Audie Award for “Best Male Narrator, this is worth a listen.

We’re Going to Need More Wine
Written and read by Gabrielle Union
Already a great memoir by a iconic actress, Gabrielle Union’s reading style makes you feel like you are having a one-on-one conversation with the Being Mary Jane actress. Beware listening with young ears, Gabrielle likes using grown-up words and descriptions. This is definitely an audiobook that dictates its own beverage choice--wine and lots of it!

The Windfall by Diska Basu
Read by Soneela Nankani
Funny and heartfelt, Soneela Nankani holds her own in this performance. She handles male and female characters equally well and creates uniquely sounding characters that are distinguishable from each other. This is a sweet and funny novel about class, generational and cultural divides. Not too heavy, this a great audiobook when you need to escape.

Other Great Audiobook Performances:

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Galle Parkin; Read by Adenrele Ojo
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters; Read by Edoardo Ballerini
The Commitment by Dan Savage; Read by Paul Michael Garcia
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles; Read by Nicholas Guy Smith
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles; Read by Rebecca Lowman
Scrappy Little Nobody written and read by Anna Kendrick
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple; Read by Kathleen Wilhoite