I only started reviewing audiobooks and audio plays in the middle of 2016, although I’ve been reviewing arts for over 30 years and I have been listening to full-cast radio plays for a long, long time. I’ve even produced a few myself!
All my preconceptions about audiobooks have been blown away this year – the modern audiobook is nothing like the ordinary readings of the past. Newer audiobooks often feature professional actors or readers who act out the parts with lots of emotion, different characterisations and a varying pace to suit the action. Some modern audiobooks even feature more than one reader, or music and sound effects.
If you’re not already listening to them, my absolute top recommendation is to forget what you think you know and give a modern audiobook a chance.
I’ve listened to more than 40 audiobooks over the past six months so I’m setting myself a challenge to listen to at least a hundred over the course of 2017. That’s how much I’m loving them and how fortunate I’ve been with the selections I’ve heard so far. My sincere thanks to the audiobook publishers, distributors, authors and readers who have made it possible.
And so, with great, great difficulty, I name the following audiobooks my Top 10 for 2016. My selection is based on audiobooks I’ve reviewed this year, not their actual release dates, and it’s far too hard to put them in any order other than to say they’re in my Top 10. I loved them all.
- Dan Dare: The Radio Adventures (Big Finish & B7 Media)
- Never Never, by James Patterson & Candice Fox (Bolinda Audio)
- The Widow, by Fiona Barton (Audible Studios)
- Different Class, by Joanne Harris (Penguin Random House Audiobooks)
- Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult (Bolinda Audio)
- Truly Madly Guilty, by Liane Moriarty (Bolinda Audio)
- The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware (Penguin Random House Audio)
- The Wrong Girl, by Zoe Foster (Wavesound Audio)
- The Dressmaker, by Rosalie Ham (Bolinda Audio & ABC Audio)
- The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins (Penguin Random House Audio)
Top 3 Audiobook Narrators for 2016
Like a favourite musician or actor, there are certain narrators I trust and love, and I would be happy to give an audiobook a go simply based on their involvement. I know they are consistently excellent.
With that in mind, I nominate the following three people as my favourite audiobook narrators for the year. I do so confidently, as I’ve heard more than one audiobook from each, although I’ve not reviewed all I’ve heard. Steven Pacey, for example, I’ve heard him read at least 5 audiobooks. If you can’t pick a title to listen to, look for a trusted narrator instead and you won’t be disappointed.
- Steven Pacey (Different Class)
- Caroline Lee (Truly Madly Guilty)
- Clare Corbett (The Girl on the Train, The Widow)