Behind The Mic: A Glimpse Into The Lives Of The Best Audible Narrators

If you’re a passionate listener, you’ve likely explored a plethora of audiobooks and the best audiobook services. Whether your tastes lean towards gripping thrillers, enlightening audio documentaries, or captivating science fiction epics, you’ve likely amassed a substantial collection of audio content. However, can you remember the audiobook that left a lasting impact on you? A truly inspiring piece of literature that reshaped your perspective, molded your worldview, or imparted a vital life lesson? Given the increased opportunities for self-analysis and contemplation in recent times, I’ve found myself pondering more frequently over the various forms of art—whether it’s movies, music, books, or other media—that have left an enduring impression on me throughout the years. This contemplation naturally led me to ponder the realm of audiobooks, prompting me to inquire with my fellow Audible editors about the audiobooks that altered the course of their lives. Their sincere and unguarded responses shed light on just how remarkable audiobook and audiobook services can be, even providing solace and companionship during the most challenging moments.

1- The Bell Jar By Editor Alanna: 

The opening lines of my treasured Sylvia Plath poem, “Elm,” draw to a close with the phrase, “I don’t dread it: I’ve lived it.” These verses contemplate the darkest moments, those that seem inescapable, offering a peculiarly comforting assurance that pain is ephemeral and that there are others who have navigated similar feelings of emptiness. My first encounter with Plath’s singular novel, “The Bell Jar,” transpired during my high school years. However, it wasn’t until my college days, while wrestling with my own mental health challenges, that I truly resonated with the character of Esther Greenwood—a reserved and observant soul concealed behind a veil of shyness, concealing a multitude of anxieties, obsessions, and melancholic preoccupations. Plath’s evocative prose, coupled with her intimate understanding of neurosis and depression, crafts a narrative that may be the most precise depiction of day-to-day life with a mood disorder I’ve ever come across. Moreover, it serves as a profound exploration of the intricate interplay between womanhood and the ceaseless clash of societal expectations and personal desires. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s introspective, one of the best audiobook narrators and haunting narration captures both the abyss frequently associated with depression and the occasional glimmer of hope and light that pierces through. This masterpiece is transformative in its ability to forge a connection with its listeners, empathize with their journeys, and deftly explore the peaks and valleys of mental illness while reminding us that we are never as isolated as we might perceive.

2- This Naked Mind By Editor Kat: 

Breaking free from alcohol consumed nearly a decade of my life, a journey that seemed all too familiar, given the abundance of recovery memoirs I immersed myself in during that period. In one of my beloved books, “Blackout,” Sarah Hepola paints a vivid metaphor, likening this process to lingering on a diving board, contemplating the leap into sobriety for an extended time. Interestingly, what finally propelled me to take that leap wasn’t a memoir, hitting rock bottom, or making a monumental life-altering decision. I can’t quite pinpoint the precise trigger, but on an ordinary day last year, I made the decision to download “This Naked Mind.” What I do know is that Annie Grace’s straightforward approach, which effectively displaced my lifelong attachment to alcohol with the empowering notion that it was not my ally and that without it, I was liberated, proved remarkably successful for me. Now, with 18 months of sobriety proudly behind me, I haven’t revisited the book, but I value having it in my collection as a potential wellspring of motivation for the future. Naturally, everyone’s journey is unique, and it’s imperative to seek guidance from a medical professional for safe quitting methods. Nevertheless, if you find yourself grappling with alcohol addiction, this straightforward tool is certainly worth a try, and I can personally attest that embarking on the path to sobriety is an immensely rewarding endeavor.

3- The Power Of Vulnerability By Editor Courtney: 

Over the past year or so, the term “vulnerable” has risen to prominence among enthusiasts of self-development, and I proudly count myself among their ranks. However, when I initially delved into the profound work of Brené Brown, it left an indelible mark on my psyche. Growing up as the daughter of a mother who insisted on perpetually upholding a flawless facade, the idea of maintaining an impeccable image had been deeply ingrained in me. Listening to Brené (whom I now affectionately refer to on a first-name basis) assert—with her trademark humor, unfiltered honesty, and genuine humility—that vulnerability isn’t just acceptable but also pivotal for fostering genuine creativity, meaningful work, and authentic relationships was a revelation of the highest order. I’m reasonably certain that, without the wisdom, truths, and guidance generously dispensed in this book, I wouldn’t have been equipped to navigate the tumultuous challenges of a pandemic as effectively as I have. So far, my journey has unfolded rather positively.

4- From Scratch By Editor Margaret: 

Three years ago, when I lost my husband, I found myself in dire need of resources, literature, support groups—anything that could offer guidance through the intricate path of grief. The term “widow” often conjures images of a silver-haired woman, surrounded by grown children and grandchildren. Yet, I, at 34 with just a few strands of gray hair, suddenly faced the task of raising my 3-year-old daughter on my own. Even before I embarked on my journey at Audible, I was an ardent follower of the Audicted podcast. It was during one of my conversations with my colleague, Editor Katie, that she mentioned a memoir centered on a young widow. My curiosity instantly ignited, prompting me to swiftly download the audiobook, conveniently timed with a road trip to visit family. As I traversed along I-95, tears streaming down my cheeks, I immersed myself in Tembi’s poignant narration of her own remarkably similar tale. In those moments, it felt as though some of the shattered fragments of my heart were slowly coalescing. Tembi gave voice to the disbelief, anger, and profound sorrow that had eluded expression for years after my husband’s passing. Becoming a widow was never a club I aspired to join, yet “From Scratch” illuminated a profound truth—I was not alone. In Tembi’s remarkable resilience, I discovered a wellspring of strength to reclaim a part of my own.

5- Bad Blood By Editor Luis: 

As I reflect on a truly mind-opening audiobook, my mind instinctively navigates to one of the most maddening scandals I’ve ever encountered: “Bad Blood.” This audiobook plunges deep into the whirlpool of controversy engulfing the health tech behemoth Theranos and its ‘visionary’ leader, Elizabeth Holmes. At the core of the company’s grand vision was a bold plan to revolutionize blood testing, boasting Theranos kits that promised to deliver a wealth of insights with just a minuscule blood sample, far surpassing conventional methods. The hitch in this grand scheme, however, lay in the inconvenient truth that their cutting-edge machine simply did not work, a fact known to both Holmes and the upper echelons of the company. In addition to peddling these unreliable contraptions, senior company officials inflated revenue figures and company valuation, among other shady practices. Now, what made this astounding narrative profoundly impact my existence? Well, among myriad reasons, it starkly highlighted the disheartening reality that the wheels of justice often turn—or fail to turn—based on one’s wealth and influence. Should Holmes and her cohorts face repercussions for their glaringly unethical deeds? Undoubtedly! Yet, the likely outcome, with fines and probation after nearly a decade of legal wrangling, paints a disheartening picture. Stories like this possess the power to metamorphose one’s perspective because they lay bare the inner workings of systems that were meant to be fair and impartial but, in practice, reveal a far murkier truth. It’s a revelation that leaves an indelible mark on one’s consciousness, challenging preconceived notions in a truly transformative manner.

6- Pass Through Panic By Editor Madeline: 

Over the course of my life’s journey, I’ve delved deep into the world of audiobooks, whether it be during my daily commute while tending to household chores, or strolling through serene landscapes—I’ve always had a book within arm’s reach. Among this vast collection of audiobooks, several have left an indelible mark on my existence. Yet, when tasked with pinpointing an auditory encounter that truly reshaped my being, one gem instantly springs to mind: “Pass Through the Panic” by Dr. Claire Weekes. This audiobook, with a runtime of just under two hours, and narrated by the trailblazing figure in cognitive therapy herself, stands out as a treasure trove of wisdom unlike any other I’ve encountered. Dr. Weekes’ soothing Australian timbre, combined with her unmistakable expertise and intimate insights, provided me with a profound sense of solace and bequeathed a reservoir of insights that have proven to be invaluable in my ongoing journey. Like many individuals, especially in the complex world we navigate today, I’ve grappled with anxiety, partly owing to my highly sensitive and emotional disposition. Dr. Weekes serves as an unerring guide, leading the listener through no-frills, judgment-free, clear-cut, and succinct lessons on mastering the intricacies of various anxiety-related challenges, unraveling the mysteries behind the symptoms so commonly experienced. To clarify, “Pass Through the Panic” isn’t a one-size-fits-all panacea for anxiety, but rather a stellar launching point for comprehending the labyrinthine nature of your struggles and embarking on the initial steps towards conquering life’s formidable trials.

7- Brave New World By Editor Emily: 

For many years, I embraced the role of a recovering English enthusiast, gravitating towards nothing but the most esteemed contemporary literary works. My bedside table proudly displayed the novels of Jane Austen, and I diligently traversed the territory of what’s commonly referred to as the literary canon. Even my book club, which often revolved around indulging in wine, remained exclusively devoted to classic literature. I can’t precisely pinpoint the catalyst that drove me to pick up “Brave New World,” but I distinctly remember my brother’s well-worn copy resting on his shelf from our childhood days. However, when I finally immersed myself in the audiobook, it delivered a revelation. It acted as the impetus that propelled me into the realm of fiction that I now hold close to my heart. The Shakespearian-style verbal clash (which Huxley likely didn’t intend, but it felt that way) between Mustapha Mond and John in the book’s conclusion appeared to mirror my own inner conflict: my deep-rooted affection for all things of the past and my growing awareness of the extraordinary narratives awaiting exploration in both the present and the future. “Brave New World” marked my maiden voyage into science fiction and dystopian genres, igniting a broader journey of open-minded listening. This transformation not only enhanced my professional skills but also bestowed upon me a newfound personal contentment.

8- A Little Life By Editor Tricia: 

When I ponder the stories that have left an indelible mark on my heart and psyche, “A Little Life” emerges as the one that rises above the rest. It’s a narrative that effortlessly weaves heart-wrenching emotions with profound beauty. The quartet of friends at its core—Malcolm, Willem, JB, and, most notably, Jude—have become like enduring landmarks in the landscape of my emotions. They are the kind of characters with whom you form a deep connection and come to hold dear. This lasting bond was forged through my immersion in their lives for more than 30 hours, during which the voice of the best audiobook narrator Oliver Wyman etched itself into the very fabric of my thoughts. His performance strikes a delicate yet unwavering balance, allowing me to gaze unwaveringly into the profound well of love and pain masterfully encapsulated in Hanya Yanagihara’s storytelling. “A Little Life” is a narrative that will forever be etched in my memory, an enduring testament to its profound impact.

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