One of my absolute favorite things to do is to listen to audiobooks. I love books in any form, especially fiction novels, but over the past few years I've slowly transitioned more and more into listening to a lot of audiobooks rather than sitting down to read a hardcover, paperback, or e-book. Part of this has to do with the fact that I have a job that allows me to put in headphones and listen to something while I wash dishes, but I've made a habit of always having something new to listen to, whether that be new music, podcasts, or audiobooks. I want to always be filling myself with new ideas and new experiences so that I can be a better artist with all of my creative endeavors.
As I've listened to more and more audiobooks, I've started to truly appreciate the craft that is audio narration. The people that narrate audiobooks are true performance artists and it can make or break an audiobook for me on whether or not I like the voice of the narrator. So, because of this new appreciation, I decided to put together a list of my favorite narrators, and some recommendations on books that I enjoyed them narrating. I hope you come to appreciate these narrators just as much as I have.
5. James Yaegashi
I love the quirkiness of James Yaegashi's voice. I don't know a whole lot about him, but he has a very specific way of saying things, and with some of the characters that he narrates for in one of my favorite Brandon Sanderson novel's, Warbreaker, that just makes the audiobook. I would absolutely recommend any book that you're already interested in narrated by James Yaegashi--he's fantastic at what he does. And I totally recommend Warbreaker as well.
4. Stefan Rudnicki
Born in Krakow, Poland, Stefan Rudnicki is one of the true masters of the craft. He is an accomplished actor, both in stage, film, and voice acting, and has a deep, resonant voice that immediately draws attention. His narration is smooth, intelligent, and rich in all the right ways, and his performances as Ender's viewpoint in Orson Scott Card's Ender series are spectacular. Those are the only books I've heard narrated by him, but if there was ever another book I was interested in with him narrating, I would absolutely know I was in good hands. Or...a good voice? I don't know, that has weird implications, being in a voice. Anyway...yeah, Stefan Rudnicki is absolutely recommended (as well as the Ender Quintet by Orson Scott Card).
3. Kirby Heyborne
Now, my recommendation for this narrator is very specific, for one series in particular that he narrates. Unfortunately, Kirby Heyborne did not do the narration for the first book of the John Cleaver series by Dan Wells, but he has done every book since, and if you are interested in reading these books at all, you absolutely must listen to the audiobooks that Mr. Heyborne narrates. He nails the character's voice so completely that it kind of scares me. And yes, that's because the main character (through whose first-person perspective the story is told) is a teenage sociopath who is downright creepy. I haven't heard anything else the man has narrated, and I don't know how he changes his voice do something that isn't first person, but I would absolutely recommend him and the John Cleaver Series (I Am Not A Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, I Don't Want To Kill You, and the most recent The Devil's Only Friend) by Dan Wells.
2. Michael Kramer
This is the man that has begun to narrate most of Brandon Sanderson's work, and as such I have had no choice but to listen to his voice. Most notably, I've listened to his narration on The Stormlight Archive (The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance) and it is fantastic. He has a wonderful, rich voice sort of like Stefan Rudnicki, but he's definitely better at doing different character's voices than Rudnicki is, and that is one of the qualities that I most enjoy in an audiobook narrator. He also does Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series, if I'm not mistaken, so if you like Brandon Sanderson and want to get one of the audiobooks, look for Michael Kramer's name. He's one of the best narrators in the industry.
1. Cameron Beierle
My all-time favorite audiobook narrator of all time is and forever will be Cameron Beierle. He is, hands down, the absolute best in the business I have heard at doing unique character voices. He can also do such convincing women's voices that if you just heard the audio snippet of the character, you would think it's a woman reading the part. He reads my favorite book series, the Belgariad by David Eddings (and its sequel series), and so the characters I fell in love with through Eddings' words came to life in my ears with Beierle's voice. I don't know if I would ever be able to listen to anything else read by Cameron Beierle, however, simply because of the iconic-ness of his voice and the way he does the characters...but, oh well. If you have any interest in the Belgariad, you have to listen to the audiobooks. No, I'm serious. You absolutely have to. The voices are perfect in every way, and Cameron Beierle is just such a good oral storyteller... He's just great, and you need to listen to his voice. Trust me.
Well, there you go! There are some recommendations for you. And I know that some of you probably aren't that big into audiobooks, but I would ask you to give these narrators a try. You'd be surprised what a good narrator can do to enhance a story, and if you're always running around, doing housework, or something else like that that you can listen to music while doing, I'd try popping in an audiobook instead. You can do a lot of good reading that way.
As always, thanks for reading. Now, go listen.