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For Readers: Blog

A sweeping cast of characters

by Book Geniuses on 2021-12-03T15:32:56-06:00 in Fiction, Books & Reading | Comments

This stellar selection of full-cast audiobooks will appeal to dedicated fans of the format and anyone who enjoys a story of epic proportions. Full-cast narration employs multiple narrators, which can range from a handful to 100 or more! The variety brings an extra energy to the audiobook, creating an almost cinematic experience. In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether you go for the masterful audio productions or the book copies of these titles, since a good read is in store either way.

Covers of The Cold Millions by Jess Walter; The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See; Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid


Told through multiple points of view, Jess Walter’s The Cold Millions is well suited to a full-cast approach. Set in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s, readers follow a pair of down-on-their luck brothers as their search for stability gets them caught up in the turbulent labor movement. Along the way, the brothers meet fascinating characters — some fictional, some historical — several of whom narrate their own chapter. The impact of these point-of-view switches is particularly effective in the audio version, where one main narrator takes the lead as the brothers and additional well-known voices from the audiobook industry step in to narrate chapters by new characters. [print | e-book | audiobook | large type]

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See follows the same audio format, with two lead narrators and a chorus of six others filling in as minor characters. Always a hit with book clubs, bestseller See has written a compelling and well-researched story that spans from a remote tea-farming village in China to an adoptive family in California years later. When Li-yan defies the strict expectations of the Akha culture in her small mountain village, she sets off on a path that will lead her to giving up her child to save her from certain death. Along with telling a moving story about family, See manages to deftly touch on the changing cultural traditions of China, the challenges of international adoption, and the surprising economic power of tea. [print | e-book | audiobook | large type]

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid made our 2019 Gift Guide and is worth mentioning again for its award-winning audiobook version. Written in the style of a tell-all celebrity interview, some say this captivating tale of the ups and downs of a 1970s rock group works best in audio format. Loosely inspired by Fleetwood Mac, Reid has recreated all of the backstage drama of a band discovering the cost of stardom during an unforgettable era, complete with the clashing personalities and unavoidable chemistry. Don’t be surprised if the voices of these larger-than-life characters sound familiar, as Judy Greer, Benjamin Bratt, and Jennifer Beals are just a few of the actors who contributed to the audio version. Reese Witherspoon’s production company just started filming a miniseries adaptation for Amazon, so keep an eye out in 2022 for the release. [print | e-book | audiobook]

Covers of Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders; American Gods by Neil Gaiman; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows


Named “Audiobook of the Year” in 2018 by the industry Audie Awards, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is a wholly original creation with an unprecedented 166 narrators. This stylistically complex novel is difficult to describe, but it takes place over the course of one night in 1862 as President Lincoln mourns the death of his son, Willie. As Willie lingers between life and death, otherworldly residents of the cemetery interject their own stories, arguments, and laments. The star-studded audiobook cast includes Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, and the author himself taking the helm as a trio of ghosts who drive the unusual story along. To keep track of all of the characters, you may want to page through a copy of the book as you listen along and savor the theatrical audio production. [print | e-book | audiobook]

Neil Gaiman combines contemporary fantasy and mythological roots in American Gods, a clever and darkly humorous road-trip tale. Just before he is released from prison, Shadow’s wife is killed under suspicious circumstances, and he is soon approached with a job by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who claims to be an old god. With a battle brewing between the waning old gods and the new gods of America, Shadow is roped into a power struggle beyond his wildest dreams as he travels the country to round up soldiers of mythological proportions. Gaiman is known for having excellent audiobook versions, and American Gods is no different with a vibrant full cast of narrators who bring the story to life. [print | e-book | audiobook]

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows has long been a popular title and reached a new generation of readers with a 2018 Netflix film adaptation. Whether it’s a familiar favorite or new to you, the audio version is worth a listen. The story is told through the letters of Juliet, a young author rebuilding her life in 1946 London, who begins corresponding with the residents of the island of Guernsey. She soon finds a fascinating if bittersweet subject for her next book: During the occupation, an eclectic group of islanders gathered under the guise of a book club to avoid catching the unwanted attention of the Germans. As Juliet’s bond with the book club members grows and she shares their joys and losses, she finds herself drawn to Guernsey and its remarkable residents. Five narrators embody the endearing members of the Society, radiating the charm, humor, and heroics of the characters with satisfying British accents that set the scene. [print | e-book | audiobook | large type]

‚Ź§Laura


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