Top 5 Audio Books… according to Narrator Tavia Gilbert

Audio month


I began narrating in the fall of 2007, so I’ve been a full-time narrator for almost seven years and have recorded close to 300 books. I have so many beloved projects, including Let Me Stand Alone — the journals of Rachel Corrie, many books of non-fiction by the brilliant Annie Dillard, several wonderful Carlotta Carlyle mysteries, Kate Christensen’s memoir, thrillers by Allison Leotta, science fiction by John Scalzi, young adult fiction by Katherine Paterson, children’s stories like The Wizard of Oz and the Velveteen Rabbit...and more. If you visit, you’ll see my complete audiobook listing, with my personal favorites highlighted in blue. I’m fortunate to have been given great books to voice throughout my career the years, and have some more fantastic book projects on the horizon.
Tavia Gilbert
Five amazing audiobooks? It’s very hard to choose just five, but here’s a list of a few favorite audiobooks!
The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green, narrated by Kate Rudd (young adult)
Kate inhabits this story, which has been such a smash hit in the last couple of years. I couldn’t stop listening to this book, and at the same time I couldn’t bear for it to end. I’ve never listened to an audiobook twice, but this might be the first multiple-listen experience. Kate was exceptional in her performance, fully bringing the characters to life, capturing every bit of wry humor, creating such a nuanced reading that I was absolutely captivated.
Rise & Shine, by Anna Quindlen, narrated by Carol Monda (contemporary fiction)
I love listening to Carol Monda’s narration, and this is a great performance of a compelling story. I’ve told Carol how I feel when she begins a story — I totally and completely trust her. I relax in her masterful presence, because I know that she will not make a wrong turn anywhere along the path. Her pacing is perfect, her characterizations spot on, her dialogue true to life, her heart completely open and her work completely in the moment. I’m a better narrator because I’ve listened to her work.
The Sunday Philosophy Club Series, by Alexander McCall Smith, narrated by Davina Porter (literary fiction/philosophy)
I adore Davina Porter’s narration of Isabel Dalhousie’s stories. Alexander McCall Smith is a captivating, charming, contemplative writer, and this series is just fantastic. Davina creates soulful, heart-felt, fiercely intelligent voice performances — she’s the perfect medium for the compassionate and thoughtful characters Smith writes. This team of writer and voice actor is unparalleled, and I luxuriate in the listening experience.
Call the Midwife, by Jennifer Worth, narrated by Nicola Barber (memoir)
I fell in love with the British television series, Call the Midwife, and later equally delighted in Nicola Barber’s narration of the memoir by Jennifer Worth. Nicola’s characterizations and accents are spot on, and I was riveted by the story. Call the Midwife fans will be pleased to hear story lines that they recognize from the TV show, but those unfamiliar with the series will quickly become devotees of the young British midwives and Catholic sisters whose lives make this a wonderful listen.
The Millennium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson, narrated by Simon Vance (thriller)
You cannot go wrong with a performance by Simon Vance, and the dark, terrifying, thrilling Swedish series is excellent. Simon is a master story-teller, and he was perfectly cast for this series. His characterizations are never over the top but always differentiated, the suspense horrifying with his subtlety and nuance, the timing and delivery impeccable. These books are not for the faint of heart, but they’re even better with Simon’s performance.
And a bonus question….
And this isn’t a funny narration story, but a sweet one:
Years ago, years after I graduated from Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, one of my most beloved college voice and speech teachers, Stephanie Kallos, left full-time acting and teaching to concentrate on her writing. 
Her first novel, Broken For You, was beautifully narrated by Anna Fields, one of the best narrators in the history of audiobooks. 
Anna died tragically when she was trapped in her Seattle recording studio during a flood; the loss to the audiobook community was enormous. 
When Stevie’s second novel, Sing Them Home, was published, I was very new to the narration art-form, but because it was the novel of a dear friend, I wanted the opportunity to do the project, and I campaigned for it. 
Being told that the novel was mine to voice came with a feeling of great responsibility, because I so wanted to make Stevie proud, I wanted to reach the bar that Anna Fields had set, and the story was long and complex and crazy challenging — multiple dialects, Welsh language, and singing, as well as several distinct main characters and about 100 characters in total, including a very young child, and a 100-year-old man — who sang in Welsh! 
It was a daunting project then, and it would be a daunting project now, six years and hundreds of books later. 
But I had a fantastic director, and we worked very slowly and carefully on the performance, and it won my first Earphones Award. 
Most importantly, Stevie loved the work, and I felt that I had, in fact, honored Anna Fields by taking everything I’d learned from listening to countless books she’d narrated, and doing the very best work I was capable of. 
Stevie is publishing her third novel next year, and we are both so hopeful that I will be invited to narrate the project. Her writing is extraordinary, and it’s so special voicing a story that someone I love carefully crafted, so I’d be thrilled to work with her again. Our fingers are crossed!

Please watch this site for June audio book related posts.  For every post you comment on in June that has this audio book symbol:

Audio month, Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

I will put you into a drawing for a $25 book certificate for each comment (Barnes and Noble or Amazon – your choice).  Winner will be drawn in July.

37 thoughts on “Top 5 Audio Books… according to Narrator Tavia Gilbert

  1. Nothing short of daunting to be faced with a cast and contents to that extent!
    That she’s willing to tackle the next book is total commitment to her friend and her art..

    A fellow Alexander McCall Smith fan, I just picked up another on friday.. anticipation =)
    Thanks for the intro to Tavia and her fascinating world.

  2. Personally I like the Flavia de Luce audiobooks; Jayne Entwhistle is amazing. I also like the Harry Potter books that were narrated by Jim Dale. The Hunger Games are another favourite.

    Haven’t listened to the ones that were suggested by your guest post, Shelia.

  3. I’m not a Call fan, but I love, love, love Davina Porter. And Simon Vance’s reading of the Millennium trilogy was brilliant.

      1. I bought one of his books once but have not attempted to read it yet. I am glad you cleaned up the “Call” comment, I thought you meant Call Of The Midwife which I think sounds like something you would enjoy…. I know I am going to look into it.

  4. Love this post!!! I had The Fault In Our Stars on my library to read book, but after reading this post, I’m going to switch it to the audio version. I’m not familiar with any of the other books except The Millennium Trilogy, but will check them out to see if I’d like to listen to any of them.

  5. I loved Call the Midwife, the tv series and Jennifer Worth’s memoir … I read the first book but I might try the next book in the series on audio. I love what Tavia says about Carol Monda’s narration, that’s enough to make me pick up Anna Quindlen’s Rise and Shine.
    Great post 🙂

  6. The Velveteen Rabbit is one of my all time favourite children’s books … I had no idea it was available on audio and narrated by Tavia Gilbert… how adorable!!

  7. I always like to know what audiobook narrators listen too. Loved TFIOS, and now I’m eyeing Rise and Shine and Call the Midwife. You are rocking audiobook month, Sheila!

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