2017 was an incredible year for memoirs narrated by their respective authors. They come in all shapes and sizes, from David Sedaris’ funny and heartwarming Theft, to the thought provoking Hunger from Roxanne Gay, to the critically acclaimed Born a Crime from Trevor Noah, and the bestselling Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.
The wonderful aspect of each of these memoirs is how different each one is and at the same time how each one caters to a wide audience.
It is a joy to listen to each author pour emotion into their own stories.
Memoirs feel that much more authentic and emotional when their respective authors narrate them. In fact author narrated books are done well in every genre.
Here is a list of audiobooks narrarated by their authors that I have really enjoyed.
The book is a collection of short stories of different myths in Norse Mythology that range from the creation myth to Ragnarok. Though every chapter tells a different myth, the book is written as a singular story in mind that ultimately culminates with Ragnarok. Every story found in this book is taken from traditional Norse Mythology souces, such as the Edda, and the author (of American Gods fame) makes them his own. Through the writing, Neil Gaiman’s style shines through turning the Norse gods into well-developed characters with an engaging and sweeping story. The audiobook is great as well; each chapter is episodic making it easy to pause and start. With the author narrating the audiobook, it adds to the whole idea of retelling a myth. Neil Gaiman has the perfect voice for this book, a rich, deep, British accent that helps sell the idea of the listening to an old tale. His pronunciations of words such as Mjolnir, Yggdrasil, Jörmungandr and many more are clear and wonderful to hear. This is a great entry level book for Norse Mythology and as well as for fans of Neil Gaiman as well.
Universal Harvester is a horror mystery set in Nevada, Iowa. In the book, the main character is a video store clerk who receives complaints about several video tapes having footage taped onto the store’s video tapes. The clerk soon discovers that the footage was shot in an abandoned barn outside of town. The story is as much about loneliness and grief as about discovering the mystery. The author, John Darnielle, is also a singer and songwriter for the band The Mountain Goats who have appeared on the Billboard Top 100 multiple times. His musical ability carries over to his narration of the audiobook. His voice is both subdued and lyrical a perfect fit for the somber tone of the story.
The critically acclaimed Kite Runner was a massive hit in 2004 selling over a million copies that year. The Kite Runner found massive success not only due to its heart breaking story but also in part because the book gave Americans an insight into a culture that at the time Americans only heard about in news reports. The novel centers around Amir, a young boy living in Afghanistan, and his friendship with Hassan until one day an event shatters that friendship. The audiobook is a treat to listen to. The author pronouncation of Afghan language and dialact is just as a delight to hear as Gaiman’s pronouncation of Norse words. The author’s natural cadence and familiarity with the subject matter make the story feel all the more real in a way that connects listeners to the harsh realities that the story goes over.
The 1986 novel by Brian Jacques is a classic for youth fantasy. From this novel, twenty two more were written, as well as two picture books and an animated TV show. The story is centered around the inhabitants of Redwall Abbey defending their home against a warlord. While the overarching story is simple, the book is written so well, filled with humour and wisdom it is hard to pull away from it. This audiobook sounds more like a radio play, having a cast of voice actors with the author as the narrator. Having others play the characters creates the illusion of a real world while having the author narrate reinforces the listener that this is the author’s story. Having a full cast and the author is wonderful mix for any world building novel and this book makes full use of the mix.