Get Dramatic With These Enhanced Audiobooks!

On October 30th, 1938, Orson Welles and a team of actors performed a radio play version of H. G. Wells’ War of The Worlds. Due to the realistic nature of the play (sound effects, talented actors, etc), many people—possibly up to a million—believed that what they were listening to on the radio was a REAL alien invasion. This caused widespread panic. Highways were jammed, people called 911 to ask for gas masks. In the end, Welles had to go on air to remind people it wasn’t real.

One of the things I love most about audiobooks is that they really bring books to life, much like the way in which Welles’ production made War of the Worlds seem real. Audiobooks can add an extra element of drama and excitement that doesn’t regular books just can’t achieve. Your enjoyment is enhanced by narration and special features such as music and sound effects. If you’re like me and you listen to audiobooks for enhancement, you’ll love these recommendations below!

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Full-cast

I LOVE full-cast audiobooks. It’s awesome to hear each character voiced differently, since it brings the whole book to life. It’s especially great when it’s a play, since they are written to be performed, not read.

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, narrated by Jennifer BealsJudy GreerBenjamin Bratt, Pablo Schreiber

This recording has an amazing full cast of narrators, which includes Robert Petkoff and Julia Whelan, and is a unique listen that feels more like a rock documentary than a novel.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties. Her voice is getting noticed, and she’s the kind of beautiful girl that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, and their lead singer Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

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Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, narrated by David Sedaris, George Saunders, Nick Offerman, and a full cast

If I could be a fly on the (studio) wall on any audio recording, it would be this one. There are 166 narrators, including some of my favorites, Nick Offerman, Susan Sarandon, David Sedaris, and more!

Set in February 1862, The Civil War is less than one year old. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery.

Based on this historical event, George Saunders tells an amazing story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical story into a supernatural realm that is both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

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A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, narrated by Robertson Dean, Cherise Boothe, Ryan Anderson, Dwight Bacquie, Robert Younis, Johnathan Mcclain

This is SUCH an interesting listen, and the full cast of narrators really bring out the idea that the book spans not just decades and countries, but also many cultures and characters.

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.

This story spans decades and continents and includes a range of characters such as assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts!

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Celebrity-narrated memoirs

There is nothing better than a memoir read aloud. I love the idea that the writer is reading their life story to you. You hear their passion and emotions in the narration when they recount their experiences, which is something you just don’t get from reading the pages of a book.

Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by Michelle Obama

It would be impossible to write a blog post about amazing memoirs without including this. Michelle Obama’s grace and intelligence comes across just perfectly in this memoir. The gravitas of the First Lady is there, but it also feels like you’re sitting with a friend, in a coffee shop, while she tells you stories about her life.

In her memoir, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. She describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

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The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: A Oral History by Megan MullallyNick Offerman, narrated by Nick OffermanMegan Mullally

You know that cute couple who joke and bicker back and forth, and you just wish that you could be just like them? Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally are that couple. I can’t imagine not listening to this in audio. They chat back and forth about their lives, their personal histories, how they met, and most importantly, what makes them such a perfect couple. By the end of the book I wanted to hug them both. I loved their little stories, how they finished each other’s sentences, and I laughed so hard at some points, I had to pause the book. A little risque at times, it’s not for everyone, but if you love this couple (and their love of puzzles) as much as I do, you’ll think it’s great.

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling, narrated by Mindy KalingMichael SchurB. J. NovakBrenda Withers

If you’re a fan of The Office or The Mindy project, then you probably love Mindy Kaling as much as I do. Mindy feels like a friend who you’re having a gossip session with.

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls.

Another laugh out loud listen, perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend, or what makes a great guy, or what is the perfect amount of fame? If so, you’ve come to the right book!

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Cinematic productions

Music can evoke many emotions, so adding it to an audiobook to further enhance the listening experience is a no-brainer!

Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray, narrated by Jonathan Davis

Some audiobooks send shivers down your spine. If you’re a Star Wars fan (and really, is there anyone who isn’t?) this will not disappoint. Set before Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, this novel focuses on Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as they navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future in this canon Star Wars novel.

When there are fighting scenes, you can hear lightsabers. When they encounter members of the Hutt Empire, there are special effects that make the narrator sound just like Jabba did in Return of the Jedi. You feel like you’re right there with them, or at least sitting in a movie theater!

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, narrated by Carly Robins

The Kiss Quotient was one of my favorite listens of last year. Funny, cute, and steamy, it was the perfect romance novel.

We have the “regular” version too, but if you’re looking for something a little different, the Booktrack edition adds an immersive musical soundtrack to the story, which really adds to the pep and fun that is this novel.

In The Kiss Quotient, The heroine, Stella Lane, works in a well-paid, technical job, making algorithms that predict customer purchases. However, her social life is not as successful as her professional life. Helen finds it hard to be in relationships, which she attributes to being on the Autistic spectrum, as well as a lack of romantic experience. So she comes up with the idea of hiring an escort to get “experience with a professional.” This hilarious read can get pretty steamy, but it’s a great read from a unique perspective and a neurodiverse author.

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Illuminae by Jay KristoffAmie Kaufman, narrated by Lincoln Hoppe, Johnathan McClain, Olivia Taylor Dudley

There’s something about Sci-Fi that really lends itself to cinematic productions, and Illuminae is no exception. Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more, this audiobook features a full cast and sound effects which adds to the whole immersive experience.

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.

As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

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