It was another great year for audiobooks. In 2011, we saw close to a 10% increase in unit sales (per the Audio Publishers Association 2011 Sales Survey) and many outstanding performances that are likely to remain with us well into the New Year. Who could forget Tina Fey’s hilarious reading of her memoir, Bossypants? Or Samuel L. Jackson’s now famous narration of Adam Mansbach’s Go the F**K to Sleep? Who could forget that in 2011 Frank Skinner—once again—took us inside the mind of Ozzy Osbourne with Trust Me, I’m Dr. Ozzy? Or that Jim Dale took us to a place called The Night Circus? Of the hundreds of audiobooks PW reviewed this year, here are the best of the best.


Untouchable by Scott O’Connor, read by Bronson Pinchot (Blackstone Audio)

PW said: “Pinchot—with a soft, easy delivery—lovingly brings this melancholy story and its diverse characters to life. His narration is smooth and compelling, while the voices he lends Whitley and his father fully realize their sadness and despair. But Pinchot also manages to infuse each scene with a sense of hope. The result is heartfelt performance of a rich and deeply moving story.”

11/22/63 by Stephen King, read by Craig Wasson (Simon & Schuster Audio)

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, read by Heather Corrigan (HighBridge Audio)

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, read by Ilyana Kadushin and Matthew Brown (Macmillan Audio)

This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman, read by Hillary Huber (Blackstone Audio)

Plugged by Eoin Colfer, read by John Keating (AudioGO)

40 Love by Madeleine Wickham, read by Katherine Kellgren (Macmillan Audio)

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø, read by Robin Sachs (Random House Audio)

Mayday by Nelson DeMille and Thomas Block, read by Scott Brick (Hachette Audio)

Borkmann’s Point by Håkan Nesser, read by Simon Vance (HighBridge Audio)

I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson, read by Sian Thomas (Random House Audio)


Moneyball by Michael Lewis, read by Scott Brick (Random House Audio)

PW said: “Scott Brick’s winning performance combines pitch-perfect narration that captures the spirit of Lewis’s text with a knack for reading sports stats, facts, and figures.”

Life Itself: A Memoir by Roger Ebert, read by Edward Herrmann (Hachette Audio)

Haiti After the Earthquake by Paul Farmer, read by various narrators (HighBridge Audio)

The Man Who Couldn’t Eat by Jon Reiner, read by Dan John Miller (Dreamscape Media)

The Killer Within: In the Company of Monsters by Philip Carlo, read by Kent Bateman (Blackstone Audio)

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow, read by Scott Brick (Penguin Audio)

Trust Me, I’m Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock’s Ultimate Survivor by Ozzy Osbourne, read by Frank Skinner (Hachette Audio)

In My Time by Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, read by Dick Cheney and Edward Herrmann (Simon & Schuster Audio)

Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall—From America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness by Frank Brady, read by Ray Porter (Blackstone Audio)

The King’s Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi, read by Simon Vance (Tantor Media)


The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, read by Josephine Bailey and Simon Prebble (Tantor Media)

PW said: “For a story told by a sequence of first-person narrators, Bailey and Prebble provide well-paced, alternating readings: Prebble’s Hart­right is steady, even-keeled, and sensitive; his Marian is bright and clear and blunt. Bailey’s Laura is equally well rendered: kind and young, sad and sweet. The voices that both narrators provide the host of other characters—including the hot-tempered Sir Percival Glyde and the devious Count Fosco—are attended with equal imagination and skill. A must-listen for mystery lovers.”

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett, read by Richard Ferrone (AudioGO)

Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck, read by Gary Sinise (Penguin Audio)

The Complete Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, read by David Timson (Naxos AudioBooks)

Ring for Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse, read by Nigel Lambert (AudioGO)

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, read by Roy McMillan (Naxos AudioBooks)


★ Drama: An Actor’s Education by John Lithgow (HarperAudio)

PW said: “Listening to Lithgow is as easy as watching him act. His delivery is seamless, his dedication to the performance unwavering. Not just a memoir but also a statement about the art of acting, this audiobook is an illuminating study of process and method. Listeners will find it hard to turn off.”

Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch, foreword read by Carol Burnett (Hyperion/Voice)

God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales by Penn Jillette (Brilliance Audio)

Ben Behind His Voices by Randye Kaye (Spoken Word)

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (Penguin Audio)


The Neil Simon Collection by Neil Simon, read by a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

PW said: “Simon fans are in for a treat in this collection of the superbly produced full-cast performances of 10 of his beloved plays, including Barefoot in the Park, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Lost in Yonkers, Biloxi Blues, and California Suite. Especially memorable are Richard Dreyfuss’s madcap portrayal of on-the-edge New Yorker Mel Edison in The Prisoner of Second Avenue; Eric Stoltz and Laura Linney’s turn as stressed out newlyweds in Barefoot in the Park; and David Paymer and Nathan Lane’s pitch-perfect versions of neurotic Felix Ungar and slothful Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple.”

Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov (L.A. Theatre Works)

The Graduate by Charles Webb, Buck Henry, Terry Johnson, and Calder Willingham (L.A. Theatre Works)

Sherlock Holmes Essentials, Vol. II by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (AudioGO)

The Noël Coward Collection by Noël Coward (L.A. Theatre Works)

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (L.A. Theatre Works)


★ Scott Brick for Moneyball (Random House Audio), Mayday (Hachette Audio), and Washington: A Life (Penguin Audio)

PW said about Moneyball, “Brick skillfully navigates an unsteady sea of information to produce a flawless reading that will keep listeners enthralled for hours”; about Mayday, “Scott Brick provides sizzling narration”; about Washington: A Life, “Brick provides compelling vocal inflection in portraying the narrative’s many personal and political dramas. Some of the most emotionally powerful renderings include the passages related to Washington’s struggles with the issue of slavery and the experiences of daily life in the slave community on his plantations and in the family household.”

Tina Fey for Bossypants (Hachette Audio)

Jim Dale for The Night Circus (Random House Audio)

Katherine Kellgren for 40 Love (Macmillan Audio)

Kristen Porter for Apollo’s Angels (Tantor Media)

Patti Smith for Just Kids (HarperAudio)


Bossypants by Tina Fey, read by the author (Hachette Audio)

PW said: “Fey never fails to entertain. Her conversational narration is superb, her comedic timing spot-on, and her stories laugh-out-loud funny. Additionally, Fey creates a host of unique voices for the many characters with which she crosses paths. Whether she’s climbing a dangerous mountain to impress an uninterested would-be boyfriend or holding court on parenting and gender roles, Fey leaves listeners laughing and longing for more. Totally addictive and utterly enjoyable, this audio is an absolute must for fans—and just about everyone else, too.”

Just Kids by Patti Smith, read by the author (HarperAudio)

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, read by David Pittu (Macmillan Audio)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, read by Jim Dale (Random House Audio)

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta, read by Dennis Boutsikaris (Macmillan Audio)

Apollo’s Angels by Jennifer Holmes, read by Kirsten Potter (Tantor Media)