Audiobooks came around in the 1930s, invented by the The American Foundation for the Blind for accessibility to reading. Today, audiobooks are an essential part of people’s lives around the world. And while going back to read a book after seeing the onscreen adaptation can feel like a chore — especially when that series has multiple books — some popular movies and TV shows have great audiobooks for you to catch what the adaptations left behind. These audiobooks are just as exciting as the films (or more), and perfect for the TV and movie lover.
The Harry Potter Series
The Harry Potter series consists of seven books made into eight full-length feature films. Each book follows Harry and his friends through their years at Hogwarts as evil forces seek to reclaim their power. For fans of the movies, reading the books can be a big commitment, but catching up on what the movies left out can be quite rewarding.
There’s contention between the best narrator for the books: Jim Dale for the U.S. versions, or Stephen Fry for the UK. Dale’s ability to hone in on each character’s voice makes for a performance akin to cinema, and although there are seven books to get through, listening while you are working out or driving on a long car ride will have you caught up in no time. The full Harry Potter saga is available on Audible, and you can choose between Stephen Fry or Jim Dale for your experience.
His Dark Materials
The three-part book series (and growing) was adapted into an HBO television series of the same name in 2019, with the newest season currently airing. The first instalment of His Dark Materials was released as a full-length film in 2007, titled The Golden Compass after the first novel. The story follows Lyra and her life companion, known as a demon, as they uncover the secrets of a powerful organisation.
The audiobooks are narrated by the writer Philip Pullman himself, along with a full cast of actors that make for an immersive listening experience. These audiobooks are great for getting the full story before watching the series, or after viewing the feature film.
The Lord of the Rings
The legendary trilogy is known for its descriptive landscapes, elaborate languages, and beautiful bond between heroic characters. You know the story: Taking place in Middle Earth, a series of powerful rings were created to unite the realms, but one ring was created in secret to rule them all and a group of unlikely heroes work together to destroy it.
Author J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing has a tendency to give long descriptions, and although a phenomenal story to read, it can be an endurance challenge. The audiobooks lessen the burden and allow for some easy listening in the car or before bed.
The thriller/suspense novel Gone Girl, written by Gillian Flynn, was adapted into a box office hit film in 2014, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. The film is a murder mystery about a husband whose wife goes missing and is suspected of killing her. The plot takes some surprising twists and turns, and the book is just as gripping.
“Take advantage of the rare opportunity to read a book and see a movie that can co-exist peacefully,” says reviewer Andrew Cattanach with Booktopia. The audiobook, narrated by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne, resembles listening to a true crime podcast as it draws you in. Listen to the audiobook before sitting down to watch.
The new hit series Lovecraft Country on HBO is a riveting story about family, control, and magic, set in the 1950s. This suspense horror/thriller is based on the novel of the same name by Matt Ruff, based on the novels and creatures of H.P. Lovecraft. There’s a lot packed into each episode of the series, leaving you wanting to know how much was from the books — and the audiobook makes for a great companion to the onscreen adaptation. Narrated by Kevin Kennerly, it gives context to the monsters and drives the suspense even more.
With Warner Bros.’ recent announcement, movie theatre blockbusters are coming to streaming a lot sooner than expected. Dune is listed as one of those films coming to streaming in 2021, so if you’ve never read it, the audiobook is your chance to get in the know before the film is released.
Narrated by Scott Brick, the audiobook currently sits at 4.7 out of 5 stars on audible. It’s a thrilling sci-fi adventure about a futuristic society and the fight for resources, and the audiobook is a great way to get acquainted with the new world in advance of the film.
The Colour Purple
The iconic book by Alice Walker has been adapted into a staged musical, and well-known film produced by Oprah Winfrey in 1985. The main character, Cealy, is seen as the ugliest girl in town, but works toward triumph despite abuse and ridicule. This Pulitzer prize-winning novel has been used in schools across the country for its writing and illustration of a uniquely Black experience. If you missed that book report assignment, but love the film starring Academy award winner Whoopi Golberg, the audiobook is your opportunity to experience it.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Made into an award-winning television show, The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel in which a number of women are used for their fertility to continue a harsh society. The dramatic story, written by Maragret Atwood, brings a mirror to our own modern society’s classism and sexism. If you’ve been waiting to read the book before watching the show, the audiobook can be an easier entry into the famous tale as actor Claire Danes narrates, providing a certain calm to the text, while at the same time relaying the sternness needed for the plight of the characters.