The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
(Read by Jake Gyllenhaal)
Duration: 4 hours and 49 minutes
BAFTA-winning actor Jake Gyllenhaal becomes Nick Carraway, as he guides us through the glittering yet destructive pull of materialism in pre-Depression New York. He portrays all the ambivalences of Fitzgerald’s narrator, thrown into this world of decadence and obsession, while breathing new life into this endlessly re-readable novel.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
(Read by Sissy Spacek)
Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated here by Sissy Spacek. Performed in her southern accent (Spacek is from Texas!), she gives a warm and emotionally nuanced reading of this poignant American classic.
Duration: 12 hours and 17 minutes
(Read by Colin Farrell)
Duration: 8 hours and 17 minutes
If you’re new to James Joyce, this novel might be the best place to start. And what better way to experience it than hearing Colin Farrell, of In Bruges, dive into Joyce’s streams of consciousness with all the natural musicality of his Irish accent?
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
(Read by Maggie Gyllenhaal)
Duration: 7 hours and 24 minutes
Maggie Gyllenhaal captures Esther Greenwood’s intense struggle with mental illness in Sylvia Plath’s devastating semibiographical novel.
(Read by Dominic West)
Duration: 7 hours and 5 minutes
Dominic West gives a pitch-perfect performance as the narrator of Ishiguro’s hauntingly beautiful, Booker Prize-winning novel; his Mr Stevens, an ageing butler looking back upon his life in service with mounting regret, a carefully-constructed shell of English restraint, within which tempests rage.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
(Read by John C. Reilly)
Duration: 10 hours and 32 minutes
John C. Reilly, of Step Brothers and Stan & Ollie fame, gives a virtuosic performance as he narrates Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, set in a psychiatric hospital. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award (2012), which described it as “a performance to be remembered.”
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
(Read by Jeremy Irons)
Duration: 11 hours and 28 minutes
Jeremy Irons gave a brilliant performance as Humbert Humbert in the 1997 film of Nabokov’s most controversial work. Here, he reprises the role by narrating the whole novel. Irons’ mellifluous voice amplifies the beauty of Nabokov’s writing, while his reading renders the all-at-once sinister, deluded, and preposterous qualities of the character. A must.
Check out our other recommendations for audiobooks.