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Author Insights, Recommended Reads

The best voices in audiobooks: 6 narrators you have to hear


You’ll know it when you hear it. A good narrator can take a book from good to can’t stop listening until the final sentence has been uttered. These distinct voices, whether silky smooth or multi-faceted morphing into a full cast of characters, makes the story come to life through your headphones. It’s great to be read to, isn’t it?

The first time a narrator ever caught my ear was Jim Dale who lent his voice to all seven books in the Harry Potter series (shout out to Stephen Fry who narrated the UK versions — I won’t debate; they’re both terrific). Did you know there are over 100 characters in those books with distinct, sometimes non-human, voices? The act of remembering how to recreate those voices, and then actually pulling them off with emotion and expression, still boggles my muggle mind.

The following six voice actors bring an audible energy to the books they read, so much so that many have acquired a devoted following that anxiously anticipates their next narration, even if it’s a genre the fans don’t traditionally read. So with June as Audiobook Month, take a moment to appreciate the complex art of a good narration and listen to these well-known pipes behind your favorite books.

Simon Vance

This acclaimed British narrator and actor is well known for his versatile and engaging vocal performances, drawing listeners into the story. He’s earned numerous awards including 16 Audie Awards and 75 AudioFile Earphone Awards. He’s been nominated for more Audie Awards for single-voiced titles than any other male narrator.

Simon Vance audiobooks

Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin

Murder Your Employer by Rupert Holmes

The Girl in the Eagle’s Talons by Karin Smirnoff

The Burning White by Brent Weeks

Julia Whelan

This novelist, screenwriter, actor, and award-winning audiobook narrator has been praised for her emotional authenticity and ability to connect listeners to the author’s story. She won the prestigious Best Female Narrator Award in 2019 for her narration of Educated by Tara Westover, an unforgettable story enhanced by her performance.

Julia Whelan audiobooks

The Women by Kristin Hannah

Funny Story by Emily Henry

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Expiration Dates by Rebecca Serle

Bahni Turpin

Actress and narrator Bahni Turpin is best known for her emotional depth and character differentiation, earning her an Audie Award in 2018 for her powerful narration of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. As one of the top narrators in the industry, Turpin’s ability to convincingly portray characters of different ages and backgrounds is unmatched.

Bahni Turpin audiobooks

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown

Emily Woo Zeller

With the ability to adapt her voice to suit different storylines, this narrator, actress, and voice-over artist was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile Magazine in 2020. She’s narrated across many genres including science fiction, fantasy, young adult, and nonfiction.

Emily Woo Zeller audiobooks

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong

Scott Brick

This rich, versatile voice has narrated over 900 audiobooks — from fast-paced thrillers to historical reads — and won a hefty amount of awards from his work, too. He’s earned over 60 Earphones Awards, 5 Audie Awards, a Grammy nomination, and more for his dynamic delivery.

Scott Brick audiobooks

The Secret by Lee Child

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

The Firm by John Grisham

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

RELATED READ: The legendary voice of audiobook narrator Scott Brick

Santino Fontana

Best known as the voice of villainous Prince Hans in Disney’s Frozen, Santino Fontana is also a Tony Award winner and highly accomplished actor. His award-winning performances are memorable, if not chilling — particularly the obsessive and charming anti-hero, Joe Goldberg, in You by Caroline Kepnes.

Santino Fontana audiobooks

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Institute by Stephen King

Middle of the Night by Riley Sager

You by Caroline Kepnes

RELATED READ: Interview with actor, performer & narrator of the "You" series, Santino Fontana

*Title availability may vary by library & region.

Who could you listen to all day? Tell us your favorites on Instagram @Libby.App!

RELATED READ: The best new audiobooks for summer listening

Published Jun 03, 2024


About the Author

Annie Suhy has been working in the book industry since 2006. When she’s not working, practicing yoga, or petting cats, she’s doing paint-by-numbers and buying more plants. An avid poetry fan, her favorite collection is "The Splinter Factory" by Jeffrey McDaniel.


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