The role of an audiobook narrator is a lot more than just reading the stories. The voice and performance of the narrator is what brings the stories to life. For audiobook listeners, it’s what brings us into the story. For Audiobook Appreciation Month, here are 15 of the world’s best audiobook narrators.
Simon Vance’s euphonic voice and smooth English accent add energy and intrigue to each of the stories he reads. He’s best known for narrating the Lisbeth Salander series by Stieg Larsson. His infallible ability to capture the author’s tone and inhabit the characters he reads allows him to narrate across a variety of genres and styles. He’s narrated everything from James Bond thrillers to sci-fi and non-fiction. He originally worked as a broadcaster for BBC Radio 4 before moving to the United States where he began narrating books. Now, he is the recipient of 16 Audie Awards, 75 AudioFile Earphone Awards, and has been named an AudioFile Golden Voice and an Audible Hall of Fame narrator.
Prentice Onayemi started his career by narrating English language learning programs before moving on to audiobooks. He’s narrated novels like Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue and The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. His background in theater has allowed him to narrate everything from classics to contemporary fiction and autobiographies. Onayemi is an Audie Award finalist whose performances have been praised as vivid thanks to his distinct baritone voice that adds life and color to every story he reads. His lyrical style masterfully captures a variety of cultural worlds.
Cassandra Campbell has made a name for herself as one of the most versatile and prolific audiobook narrators working today. She’s narrated more than 900 titles in a variety of genres including thrillers such as Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, nonfiction biographies like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, and coming of age stories like Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Campbell’s lyrical inflection has earned her a spot as an AudioFile Golden Voice. Over the course of her career she’s won multiple Audie and Earphone Awards, an Odyssey Award, and has been inducted into the Audible Narrator Hall of Fame.
Bahni Turpin’s melodic voice is as magical and vibrant as the stories she narrates. Her career as an audiobook narrator includes critically acclaimed works such as The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. She’s able to master a number of accents which allows her to embody a wide range of characters. Turpin started out as a stage and screen actor in Los Angeles before going on to narrate audiobooks. Over the course of her career she’s won 9 Audie Awards, 14 Earphone Awards, and 2 Odyssey Awards.
Davina Porter has received many accolades throughout her career as an audiobook narrator, including being named an AudioFile Golden Voice. Her refined performances have also extended to the classics, including Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. She’s best known, however, for narrating Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. She’s narrated more than 400 novels throughout her career and received multiple Audie and Earphone Awards.
In addition to being the iconic voice behind The First 48 television series, Dion Graham has narrated more than 250 novels. He’s best known for reading The Greatest by Muhammad Ali and The Wager by David Grann. His rich, emotive voice has earned him a spot in Audible’s Narrator Hall of Fame, as well as AudioFile’s Golden Voice list. Over the course of his career he’s received 9 Audie Awards, 71 Earphone Awards, and an Odyssey Award.
Robin Miles’ melodic tone has given voice to a number of women’s stories. She’s best known for narrating Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Having grown up in a largely immigrant neighborhood, Miles is particularly skilled at accents. This has given her the ability to embody a variety of characters from diverse cultural backgrounds in her narration work. Another AudioFile Golden Voice, Miles has received multiple Audie and Listen Up awards, and was inducted into the Audible Narrator Hall of Fame in 2017.
Though most people will know Alan Cumming from his work in movies and television like X-Men and The Good Wife, he’s also made a name for himself as a highly successful audiobook narrator. In 2014 he narrated his own memoir, Not My Father’s Son for which he won an Audie Award. He’s also narrated Bram Stoker’s Dracula alongside Tim Curry, and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series. His guttural voice and distinct Scottish accent give an unmatched energy to his readings.
Scott Brick’s career narrating audiobooks began in 2000 after spending 10 years performing with a Shakespearean Company. He has now narrated more than 800 novels, including Frank Herbert’s Dune, Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, and Landon Beach’s The Wreck. His mastery of intonation and understated style have won him numerous Audie Awards, Earphone Awards and a Grammy Award nomination.
Over the course of his career as an audiobook narrator, Jim Dale has read a number of critically acclaimed novels. His refined style and vocal control have allowed him to to embody hundreds of different characters. He brought to life the Harry Potter series, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm to name a few. For many children of the 90’s, his warm tone and clear English accent is nostalgic and familiar. Throughout his decades long career he’s garnered millions of fans. He’s received 10 Audie Awards, 2 Grammy Awards with 7 nominations, and was the first person inducted into the American Audio Hall of Fame.
Stephen Fry’s extensive background in acting, broadcasting, and comedy allows him to capture the tone and feel of each of the stories he reads better than anyone. His bright voice and clear intonation are iconic and masterfully bring to life familiar works like A Bear called Paddington by Michael Bond, Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. His impeccable voice work has earned him numerous awards, including an Audie Award, a Talkie Award, and multiple Golden Spoken Word Awards.
The clear tone and pacing of Lorelei King’s voice are reminiscent of that of a news anchor. This adds a unique quality to her readings that make the thrillers and mysteries she’s best known for narrating all the more ominous. Ann Rule’s novel The Stranger Beside Me, the true story of her encounter with serial killer Ted Bundy, feels as if it’s being broadcasted over the news with King narrating.
For anyone who lived through the spike in serial killers during the 1970’s and 80’s, that experience is all too familiar. King has also given a voice to the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, for which she’s received numerous accolades. She is the recipient of multiple Audie and AudioFile Earphone awards.
Neil Gaiman is best known for narrating his own children’s fantasy horror novels, including Coraline, The Graveyard Book, and Neverwhere. It comes as no surprise that he’s able to perfectly capture the tone and voice of each novel and character. Gaiman masters inflection and emotion in his performances and he’s received 2 Audie Awards and an Earphone Award for his narration work.
Vikas Adam’s warm voice and accent allow him to effortlessly narrate works across a number of countries, including America, India, Australia, and the UK, garnering an extensive fanbase around the world. He’s best known for narrating Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and The Golden House by Salman Rushdie, as well as the Heartstriker series by Rachel Aaron. Adam has an extensive background in theater, and has one and Audie and multiple Earphone awards for his audiobook narrations.
Fans will recognize Richard Armitage for his role as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit trilogy, but the actor has been a successful audiobook narrator since 2006. He’s best known for narrating The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, His & Hers by Alice Feeney, and his own crime thriller story Geneva, bringing the stories to life with his guttural and emotive voice. He has been nominated for several Audie Awards for his narration work.
Audiobooks are a fun, convenient way to consume stories. More and more people are turning to audiobooks as their chosen method of reading novels. The experience is often made all the more fun with a talented narrator. The voices of these award-winning narrators take the experience of reading to a whole new level, giving a voice to the characters and stories we love to read.