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I wanted to recommend a few audiobooks, for those that might be interested. The following are my 5 favorites, in which the audio adds an extra dimension to the quality of the story–it’s not just someone reading you a book, but an experience.

1. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, read by the author

This is one of my favorite audiobooks ever. I’ve heard that all of Libba Bray’s audiobooks are really amazing (whether she reads them or not). One of my favorite things about this book is the “extras” that get thrown in–there are commercials, radio interviews, and the applications the girls filled out to be part of the pageant.

Imagine a cross between America’s Next Top Model and Survivor, but with teenage girls. When their plane goes down on a deserted island, the frightened survivors must find a way to fend for themselves. The longer they are on the island, however, the less the crash looks like an accident–and the less deserted the island appears.

Every character has a unique voice, and Libba Bray’s delivery is excellent.

2. Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, full cast recording

This one may not qualify as an audiobook for some people, but I’m counting it. It’s a short story (I think only 2-3 hours at most for me to listen to), but very cute and very funny. It has one of my favorite literary exchanges of all, and of course all of the characters are portrayed by quality actors and actresses. It’s more like listening to a radio drama than a book.

3. Shadowmagic by John Lenahan, read by the author

A non-traditional audiobook, the first two books in this series are available as podcasts on itunes for free.

I’ve waxed poetic about this series before, but I’m going to do it again–it’s a fabulous read for anyone interested in Celtic mythology, and will appeal to fans of Rick Riordan. There are three books in the series, though I haven’t listened to the last. I’m so dedicated to the audio versions, that I’ve bee putting off reading the conclusion until it comes out on itunes.

I will say that it took a couple of chapters for Mr. Lenahan to find his feet as a narrator, but as a former comedian and the author, he is uniquely suited to the task. Once he gets in his groove, this is a story that you can’t walk away from.

4. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, read by James Marsters

The Dresden Files for me is a series that is okay when eye-read, but when James Marsters reads it, it takes on an entirely new dimension. Every character has an individual voice and tone, with no repetition in the 12 books I’ve gone through so far. I feel like these books show his talent as an actor more than any of his screen work.

5. The Molly Murphy Mysteries by Rhys Bowen, read by Nicola Barber

I really wanted to rank this higher, because when it comes to the balance of story and narrator, the Molly Murphy books are my hands down favorite. When it comes to just ranking the audio side of things, though, this book is still strong enough to land in my top five, even without the extras of Beauty Queens, or the broad cast of Arms and the Man. Nicola Barber has one of the most pleasant voices I know. Her reading of these books feels like you are having a conversation with the main character, instead of just listening to a narrative. I’ve been putting of finishing the series because I want to continue it on audio, but can’t find it outside of Audible.