Marcia Strykowski

Favorite Audio Books

I only average about an hour a day in the car on weekdays, but even with that amount of time, I’ve listened to lots of audio books over the past few years. It was difficult to narrow down my favorites. Here are the winners in no particular order and why I chose them:

audio favorites

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee—partly because it’s one of my favorite books, and partly because Sissy Spacek reads it—can’t beat that combination.

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman—mostly because Neil reads as beautifully as he writes, transporting the listener to another time and place.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd—a beautifully written and researched historical novel. I loved the characters, setting, and significance of this book.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson—the Major is a wonderful character and Peter Altschuler’s narration is spot on.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett—well written and well performed by three actresses—very entertaining.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—with five readers, it’s like live theater right in your car.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio makes the list, not for the audio in particular, but because it’s an amazing story for readers of all ages. A sample line: “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”

Additional children’s books I’ve especially enjoyed listening to were by Richard Peck and Jeanne Birdsall. And right now, I’m in the middle of The Book Thief. Took a chapter or two to get into it (mostly ‘telling’ and not much ‘showing’) but the writing and reading are strong and I’m now thoroughly enjoying.

There are many others I’ve liked, but haven’t mentioned (Night Circus, Hunger Games, Room, etc. etc.), yet I can still hear the characters’ voices. Once in a great while there will be an audio version that doesn’t work for me—sometimes because the performer’s voice has a slight inflection that makes all characters sound too similar in the same odd manner, but for the most part audio books are a wonderful way to read on the go.

To see a post of my favorite picture books, click here:


  1. mirkabreen

    My long commutes are off for a while, so I get to read pages. But I discovered that the (non-abridged) audio books were a good way to pass driving time, especially the stretches that didn’t require agile driving maneuvers…. 😉
    Good recommendations, all the above.


    • Yes, I always make sure the books aren’t abridged. Driving comes first, if you miss a page you can always track back. Many knitters enjoy them, too. Thanks, Mirka.


  2. leandrajwallace

    I have never listened to an audio book. I know, I know! =) I can imagine The Help was a fantastic one though, getting to hear the three distinct voices of the women. I’ve also wanted to read Wonder for awhile, heard nothing but good about it.


    • You’ll have to give them a try, Leandra. I get lots more reading done that way. 🙂


  3. I’ve never tried audiobooks, but maybe I should when I have to make the 4-hour round-trip drive to Portland.


    • Good plan, Ann. Lots to pick from at your local library. Enjoy Portland! (I was picturing Maine, but now that I think about it, could be Oregon, or…)


  4. Ashley

    I listened to the Harry Potter books that way!


  5. I had thought about audio books whilst driving, but finally decided that it would be too much of a distraction – for me, anyway.


  6. I can’t focus on other things when I’m listening to a story, that’s why so far I’ve only managed to listen to an audio book once (it was a Joan Aiken story). The titles you’ve read are great. I hope to get to Wonder and The Ocean at the End of the Lane soon!


    • Good choices for you to check out…it does take some focus, probably easier to enjoy while knitting, painting, or whittling.


  7. Great list. I too loved listening to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. A good audio book can be so very entertaining. Also loved Room and Fahrenheit 451..


  8. I’m not in the car for long enough stretches to really enjoy audio books. I’ve tried twice with The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and then again with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. Both times, when I got into the story, I felt like I wasn’t experiencing it deeply enough by just hearing it. I wanted to see the words on the page as well.


    • I’m sure I miss lines, but it’s worth it to me to fit the extra reading time in. If it’s a really good book, I put it on my list to read again, the real way. Thanks for your comment, Ruth!


  9. Anonymous

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  10. It sounds like audio books are really worth listening to. I’ll have to try some! I did listen to The Ocean at the End of the Lane when it was read on the radio, and I thought the reader was very good, although it was an abridged version and wasn’t read by Neil himself.


    • That’s interesting. Might be fun to compare different readings of the same work. I can’t imagine anyone could read Ocean better than Neil. Thanks for your comment!


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