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Best Audio Books To Take You Into September And Beyond

08/27/2014 04:25 EDT | Updated 08/28/2014 01:59 EDT
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As September nears, your inner perpetual student can't help but want to learn something new. So if you're usually a reader (like us!), why not try out some audio books for a change?

Considering how easy it can be to fit an audio book into your daily routine (say, while you're commuting to work, or cooking dinner), it's easy to see their appeal. And while the price of some of these sets can be a bit steep if you're just dipping your toes into the water, don't forget many libraries offer audio books for free (with a membership, of course), and there are many books in the public domain being recorded (with varying quality) and made available all the time.

Check out this list of 20 audio books to try out this fall, and please, let us know the exceptional ones you've come across. We'd love to add to the list!

Best Audio Books For Fall 2014

Harry Potter Boxset

Author: J.K. Rowling

Narrator: Jim Dale (U.S. version) and Stephen Fry (U.K. version)

Run time: 116 hours total

Why listen?: While Rowling's characters are unquestionably entertaining on the page, hearing them come to life while still getting the chance to imagine Hogwarts for yourself is undeniably appealing. Plus, it makes for a great project with the kids.

Available at: Pottermore (digital download), Indigo (CDs), Barnes & Noble (CDs), Amazon (CDs)

Bossypants

Author: Tina Fey

Narrator: Tina Fey

Run time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Why listen?: Fey's book reads like a stand-up comedy act, only one that is constantly funny, so it makes sense that would translate wonderfully (especially by the author herself) into an audiobook that can be played out loud.

Available at: Audible.com (digital subscription), Amazon (CD), Indigo (CD), Barnes & Noble (CD), iTunes (digital download)

The Handmaid's Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Narrator: Claire Danes

Run time: 11 hours

Why listen?: Danes' acting skills are perfectly matched with Atwood's description of a dystopian world where a woman's only function is to produce children, and the loneliness and isolation that comes with it.

Available at: Amazon (CD), Indigo (CD), Audible.com (digital download)

11/22/63

Author: Stephen King

Narrator: Craig Wasson

Run time: 30 hours, 44 minutes

Why listen?: This time-travelling story of going back to prevent president Kennedy's assassination is brought to life by Wasson, who acts out, rather than "reads" the story.

Available at: Amazon (CD), Indigo (CD), Audible.com (digital download), iTunes (digital download)

Outlander

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Narrator: Davina Porter

Run time: 33 hours, 8 minutes

Why listen?: Combining historical fiction, romance and science fiction, this first in a series of eight books is beloved by listeners for narrator Porter's portrayal of the myriad characters (and time travel, and love twists).

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Amazon (CD), Indigo (CD), iTunes (digital download)

Me Talk Pretty One Day

Author: David Sedaris

Narrator: David Sedaris

Run time: 5 hours, 51 minutes

Why listen?: No one can tell Sedaris' hilarious stories quite like Sedaris, as any fan of This American Life knows, so it's a joy to listen to him read his book in full.

Available at: Indigo (CD), Audible.com (digital download), Amazon (CD), iTunes (digital download)

2001: A Space Odyssey

Author: Arthur C. Clarke

Narrator: Dick Hill

Run time: 6 hours, 42 minutes

Why listen?: This book may best be known as a movie, but listeners completely adore how this format adds details to the plot and allows for imagination to really take over this tale of time and space.

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Amazon (CD)

The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success

Author: Megan McArdle

Narrator: Mia Barron

Run time: 10 hours, 38 minutes

Why listen?: Inspirational books work particularly well in audio book format, especially when they're not completely rose-coloured. Author McArdle is highly realistic about what it means to fail and how you can practically apply this to your life, while Barron delivers the news in a highly engaging fashion.

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), iTunes (digital download)

Animal Farm

Author: George Orwell

Narrator: Ralph Cosham

Run time: 3 hours, 13 minutes

Why listen?: This classic is a short book, but listeners love the dramatization of it in an almost play-like fashion (but be warned, if you haven't read it before, skip the first chapter, which acts as a summary)

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Amazon (CD)

1Q84

Author: Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (translator), Philip Gabriel (translator)

Narrators: Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, Mark Boyett

Run time: 46 hours, 50 minutes

Why listen?: The book is enormous (almost 1,000 pages), so the audio book is at least a bit lighter to carry around. The spoken version also manages to convey Murakami's fantastical world of a 1984 Tokyo (with a dose of romance, mystery and coming of age tales) with true humanity.

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Indigo (CD), Amazon (CD)

Delicious!

Author: Ruth Reichl

Narrator: Julia Whelan

Run time: 12 hours, 58 minutes

Why listen?: For those who love food, but don't want it brought to them in the form of non-fiction, Reichl's pseudo-memoir is a fun way to explore her palate, while at the same time, dreaming of the meals she describes.

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Indigo (CD), Amazon (CD)

Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys

Author: Billy Crystal

Narrator: Billy Crystal

Run time: 8 hours, 6 minutes

Why listen?: Crystal's categorizing of the gripes of getting old may be geared toward baby boomers, but anyone who has enjoyed his comedic genius at any point can find something to relate to — especially when he gets so personal.

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Indigo (CD), Amazon (CD)

My Beloved World

Author: Sonia Sotomayor

Narrator: Rita Moreno

Run time: 12 hours, 27 minutes

Why listen?: The first Hispanic and third female judge to the U.S. Supreme Court tells the story of working her way out of a poverty-stricken childhood into the highest legal appointment in the country with heart, honesty and even practical lessons. Moreno allows it to have the emotion it deserves, without veering into schmaltzy territory.

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Indigo (CD), Amazon (CD)

Breakfast At Tiffany's

Author: Truman Capote

Narrator: Michael C. Hall

Run time: 2 hours, 52 minutes

Why listen?: Short and sweet, Hall conveys each character with the unique personality Capote intended, and listeners have raved about forgetting who the actor even was until the end, because the story was so compellingly told.

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Indigo (CD), Amazon (CD), iTunes (digital download)

On The Road

Author: Jack Kerouac

Narrator: Will Patton

Run time: 11 hours, 8 minutes

Why listen?: There's probably no better book to listen to than this vast tale of road trips and beat poetry, in which the cadence of the words is so much of the story. Patton does a brilliant job, with reviewers saying he gives a three-dimensional element to the characters.

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Amazon (CD)

Motherless Brooklyn

Author: Jonathan Lethem

Narrator: Geoffrey Cantor

Run time: 10 hours, 9 minutes

Why listen?: Like On The Road, Motherless Brooklyn's narrator has a specific way of speaking (in this case, he has Tourette's syndrome), and the delivery by Cantor helps bring him to life. Of course, the story of a private detective hunting down his boss's killer is absorbing in its own right, but spoken aloud, it truly comes to life.

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Amazon (CD), Indigo (CD)

The Historian

Author: Elizabeth Kostova

Narrators: Joanne Whalley, Dennis Boutsikaris, Rosalyn Landor, Martin Jarvis, Robin Atkin Downes, Jim Ward

Run time: 26 hours, 5 minutes

Why listen?: With multiple narrators depicting many accents, this piece of historical fiction truly gets played out in this format, taking the listener from the U.S. to Eastern Europe flawlessly

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Amazon (CD), iTunes (digital download)

Bridget Jones's Diary

Author: Helen Fielding

Narrator: Imogen Church

Run time: 8 hours, 27 minutes

Why listen?: There's something about Bridget's stream-of-consciousness throughout the book that really, really works in an audio book format, especially given Church's spot-on delivery. This could be a great revisit if you read the book ages ago and want to experience it in an entirely new way.

Available at: Audible.com (digital download)

Room

Author: Emma Donahue

Narrators: Michal Friedman, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren

Run time: 10 hours, 52 minutes

Why listen?: Since the book is written in a 5-year-old's voice (and has been both commended and criticized for that), the opportunity to actually listen to it from that perspective gives listeners an entirely new take on the novel, which many have found they loved.

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Indigo (CD), Amazon (CD)

Anansi Boys

Author: Neil Gaiman

Narrator: Lenny Henry

Run time: 10 hours, 8 minutes

Why listen?: Gaiman has mad skills when it comes to creating entire worlds, and Henry is up to the task of conveying them to the listener. Combining mythical worlds with a sense of humour and dark human emotions, some have called this the ultimate audio book (despite not being narrated by the author).

Available at: Audible.com (digital download), Amazon (CD), iTunes (digital download)