13 Audiobooks You Didn’t Know Were Narrated by Celebrities

Revisit your favorite bestsellers with these Hollywood stars.
Revisit your favorite bestsellers with these Hollywood stars. / Penguin Audio / Random House Audio / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

Audiobooks have the power to elevate and completely transform the way that a story is told. The celebrity memoir genre is a good example of this; in audiobook form, these works are often read by their authors, providing a one-of-a-kind experience that feels both deeply intimate and wholly immersive. But did you know that famous Hollywood stars often lend their voices to the realm of fiction, too?

In recent years, some of your favorite actors, comedians, and public figures have stepped behind the microphone to narrate the audiobook versions of celebrated fiction books, bringing everything from beloved childhood classics to hard-hitting contemporary stories to life. And thanks to services like Audible, accessing and enjoying these titles has never been easier.

Whether you’re brand new to the idea of consuming stories via earbuds or have already been incorporating audiobooks into your reading routine for years now, here are a handful of standouts that are (perhaps unexpectedly) narrated by celebrities.

1. Daisy Jones & The Six

Best celebrity audiobooks: "Daisy Jones & The Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid
"Daisy Jones & The Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid / Random House Audio / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

Before it became a smash hit series on Prime Video, the world of Daisy Jones & The Six was first immortalized in a 2019 novel written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, who has also penned several other bestsellers, including The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017), Malibu Rising (2021), and Carrie Soto is Back (2022). (Fun fact: All of Reid’s books are connected and set in the same universe.)

As in the show, Daisy Jones & The Six tracks a fictional 1970s rock band on their rise to stardom. The book is told through tell-all confessionals from each band member, where they spill long-kept secrets and rehash the drama that led to their highly publicized falling out. (Think Fleetwood Mac in their Rumours era—Reid wanted the book to read like a juicy Behind the Music episode.) The audiobook format lends itself well to a fictional oral history experience, which is only heightened by the cast here of 21 phenomenal voice actors, including Jennifer Beals (Flashdance), Pablo Schreiber (Orange Is The New Black), Benjamin Bratt, and Judy Greer.

2. Little Women

Best celebrity audiobooks: "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott
"Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott / Audible Originals / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

Over 150 years after its original publication, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women remains one of the most beloved classics of all time. The autofictional novel draws much inspiration from Alcott’s own life as it chronicles four sisters—Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth—coming of age and into their own in New England during the American Civil War.

The illustrious Laura Dern has been an avid fan of Little Women for years. In fact, she first read the book as a teenager with her grandmother, right around the time that she began contemplating a career in acting. But Dern’s history with Alcott’s work doesn’t end there. In addition to voicing the omniscient narrator in Audible’s exclusive audio remake, the Jurassic Park star also played Marmee March in Greta Gerwig’s 2019 film adaptation. (It proved to be the year of Little Women for Dern; the movie arrived in theaters on Christmas Day, just two days after the audiobook was released.)

3. Heartburn

Best celebrity audiobooks: "Heartburn" by Nora Ephron
"Heartburn" by Nora Ephron / Random House Audio / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

Hollywood icon Meryl Streep was a longtime collaborator with the late Nora Ephron. The pair worked together on Heartburn, the 1986 adaptation of the writer-director’s bestselling work, which is a fictionalization of the end of Ephron’s marriage with journalist Carl Bernstein. In the movie, Streep plays the lead role of Rachel Samstat opposite Jack Nicholson (who plays a D.C. political columnist named Mark—a not-so-subtle nod to Bernstein) in a performance that earned her the award for Best Actress at the Valladolid International Film Festival. 

When Streep was awarded the 32nd American Film Association Life Achievement Award in 2004, Ephron honored the star with a candid reflection that also revealed her signature wit: “She plays all of us better than we play ourselves, although it’s a little depressing knowing that if you went to audition to play yourself, you will lose out to her.” 

Perhaps that’s what made the actress a shoe-in when Audible set out to produce an audiobook version of Heartburn in 2013, just in time for the book’s 30th anniversary. Sadly, Ephron was never able to experience her novel via audio with Streep’s expert narration—she died of pneumonia as a complication of leukemia in 2012.

4. Dispossession

Best celebrity audiobooks: "Dispossession" by Tayari Jones
"Dispossession" by Tayari Jones / Audible Originals / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

The shortest audiobook on this list is author Tayari Jones’s Audible Original version of Dispossession, which clocks in at just under an hour. (If you listen to your audiobooks at normal speed, that is.) A reflection on race, class, and the complexities of motherhood, Jones’s novella is told from the point of view of Cheryl, an introspective middle-aged mother, as she grapples with a fractured relationship with her son. 

Tapped to bring this compelling character to life was Gabrielle Union, one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020, and who is best known for her performances in Scandal, 10 Things I Hate About You, and the early aughts sensation Bring It On, among others. Prior to Dispossession, Union first tackled the audiobook narration for her 2017 memoir We’re Going to Need More Wine. Since then, she’s also released a follow up, titled You Got Anything Stronger?: Stories.

5. Upstate

Best celebrity audiobooks: "Upstate" by Kalisha Buckhanon
"Upstate" by Kalisha Buckhanon / Macmillan Audio / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

“Baby, the first thing I need to know from you is, do you believe I killed my father?” Coupled with the late Chadwick Boseman’s raw and emotional inflection, the chilling first line of Kalisha Buckhanon’s debut novel Upstate is one that isn’t soon forgotten. The story itself follows Antonio and Natasha, a young couple who communicate through heart-wrenching letters over the course of a decade after Antonio is accused and then incarcerated for a shocking crime. 

Set in 1990s New York City, the tale shines a spotlight on rampant racial injustices and the harrowing realities of mass incarceration. But despite its heavy subject matter, Upstate is actually a work of young adult fiction; it earned an Alex Award from the American Library Association (ALA) in 2006 for its appeal to teen audiences. That same year, Boseman and actress Heather Simms’s performances in the audio version also earned the book the Audie Award for Literary Fiction.

6. The Lying Life of Adults

Best celebrity audiobooks: "The Lying Life of Adults" by Elena Ferrante
"The Lying Life of Adults" by Elena Ferrante / Random House Audio / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

True to the spirit of its title, The Lying Life of Adults zeroes in on the moody irreverence of adolescence. Readers find themselves inside the head of Giovanna, a teenage girl contending with the realization that her family isn’t always as truthful as she believes them to be. As in their four-book series of Neapolitan Novels, Elena Ferrante’s 2019 novel seamlessly incorporates reflections on faith, class, and family dysfunction throughout. 

The audiobook version’s release in 2020 marked Academy Award-winner Marisa Tomei’s debut as a solo narrator, which was, as the actress explained in a statement, a surprisingly visceral experience. “The recording was very emotional at times—both the director and I cried as we relived the trying, heartbreaking, and exuberant moments from our own girlhood, feelings so specifically captured in Ferrante’s otherworldly writing.” 

After following (and crying) along with Tomei, you can also watch the story unfold on screen; The Lying Life of Adults was recently adapted into an Italian-language Netflix series.

7. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Best celebrity audiobooks: "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" by Truman Capote
"Breakfast at Tiffany’s" by Truman Capote / Audible Studios / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

Michael C. Hall’s rendition of Breakfast at Tiffany’s on audiobook may feel like a slight departure from the darker characters he’s best known for—namely, his renowned portrayal of the titular serial killer on Showtime’s drama Dexter, as well as his first-ever on-screen role in Six Feet Under. (The Golden Globe Award-winning actor has also narrated audiobooks of classic novels on the other side of the genre spectrum, such as Stephen King’s cult-classic Pet Sematary.)

Hall effortlessly tapped into the passive and reserved mind of Truman Capote’s unnamed narrator for the sole audio version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, one of the author’s most recognizable works. The novella’s premise is simple: Our narrator meets and soon becomes intrigued by his beautiful and mysterious neighbor Holly Golightly. But as the two strike up an unlikely friendship, the protagonist must evade becoming entangled in her web of illicit arrangements.

Audrey Hepburn famously played the little black dress-wearing Holly in the book’s iconic 1961 film adaptation, but Marilyn Monroe was actually Capote’s first choice for the part. (And he wasn’t exactly shy about making that known.)

8. Piranesi

Best celebrity audiobooks: "Piranesi" by Susanna Clarke
"Piranesi" by Susanna Clarke / Bloomsbury Publishing Plc / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

Award-winning actor Chiwetel Ejiofor narrates the audiobook version of Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi, for which he earned an Audie Award for in 2021, for Audiobook of the Year. The story transports readers to a parallel world where the eponymous hero explores a seemingly endless labyrinth, reflecting on the idea of purpose, humanity, and isolation all the while.

Published in 2020, this long-awaited second novel from Clarke followed her widely beloved debut, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which came out 16 years earlier. Fortunately, Piranesi was worth the wait: The book received critical acclaim upon its release, collecting the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction and shortlist recognition for both the Costa Book Awards and the BSFA Awards, respectively.

9. Our Missing Hearts

Best celebrity audiobooks: "Our Missing Hearts" by Celeste Ng
"Our Missing Hearts" by Celeste Ng / Penguin Audio / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

You don’t necessarily have to have read Celeste Ng’s novels to be at least passingly familiar with her work. The author’s second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, was adapted into what became the most-watched drama in Hulu history, with actors Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon at the helm.

Following the show’s acclaim in 2020, Ng released Our Missing Hearts, her latest publication, in 2022. She worked on the dystopian literary thriller for nearly seven years, and in tandem with another project.

In 2022, two-time SAG Award-winning actress Lucy Liu made her debut as a solo narrator with the audiobook rendition of Our Missing Hearts. (Though you may also recognize her voice from popular animated series and films like Strange World, Star Wars: Visions, and Kung Fu Panda.) “Narrating a book in its entirety is a big task because you delve into the process of what the author is trying to express through the characters and through the story,” Liu said in a statement. “I hope listeners understand the impact of Celeste’s words about discrimination, racism, separating children from their families and the impact it has on humanity.”

10. The Color Purple

Best celebrity audiobooks: "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker
"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker / Audible Originals / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

Alice Walker took the world by storm in 1982 with The Color Purple, a work of fiction that made her the first Black author to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. (And in the same year, no less.) 

Often regarded as the author’s masterwork, the epistolary novel follows a Black Southern woman on a journey to self-discovery in spite of the excruciating abuse and poverty she faces along the way. Today, the modern classic is often taught in English classes across the country, though it’s just as frequently banned in schools for its explicit sexual content and outright depictions of violence. In fact, the ALA even cited it as one of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010-2019.

Since its publication, The Color Purple has been adapted into a variety of performance mediums, including a Tony Award-winning musical (an adaptation of it is hitting the big screen in December 2023) and a 1985 film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. (There’s also a 2018 Audible-exclusive audiobook that Walker herself narrates.) For Audible’s 2020 production of the novel, Samira Wiley of Orange Is The New Black takes over narrating duties, and breathes new life into the text through a heartfelt and personally meaningful performance. “I honestly feel like sometimes, Miss Alice Walker was writing just for me,” Wiley said in a behind-the-scenes video.

11. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Best celebrity audiobooks: "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Díaz
"The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Díaz / Penguin Audio / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

Prolific actor, writer, composer, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda is no stranger to vocal performances. In addition to creating and starring in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical In The Heights (2005) and the landmark cultural touchstone Hamilton (2015), he is also behind the soundtracks for some of your favorite animated films, including Moana (2016) and Encanto (2021). 

One acting credit on the almost-EGOT’s ever-growing resume you might not be as familiar with? Miranda (alongside actor Karen “KO” Olivo) narrated Junot Díaz’s widely beloved The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in 2016. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells the story of Oscar Wao, who Miranda considers to be one of his favorite fictional heroes of all-time. A deeply romantic, overweight teenager from New Jersey, Oscar yearns for connection, dreaming of one day finding love and becoming “the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien.”

12. Lincoln in the Bardo

Best celebrity audiobooks: "Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders
"Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders / Random House Audio / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

George Saunders, a professor of creative writing at Syracuse University, is heralded by many as one of the greatest short story writers of our time. His first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is a fictionalized account of Abraham Lincoln’s deceased son Willie, who finds himself among a chorus of ghosts in a strange purgatory of sorts. (In Tibetan Buddhism, bardo refers to the liminal state that connects death and rebirth—or more literally, it translates to “between two.”)

A star-studded company of 166 actors voice these restless spirits in the Audie Award-winning audiobook version of the highly acclaimed tome. The massive cast allows each character to have their own distinct voice, and includes big-name actors like Nick Offerman, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, and Bill Hader, as well as surprising cameos from Saunders, his parents, and even his former geology teacher. Upon its publication, Lincoln in the Bardo received the 2017 Man Booker Prize. The year after, it also earned finalist status for the Golden Man Booker, a special award for the literary honor’s 50th anniversary in which one title was crowned the best work of fiction from the last five decades of the prize.

13. Persuasion

Best celebrity audiobooks: "Persuasion" by Jane Austen
"Persuasion" by Jane Austen / Audible Originals / Audible; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)

“Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.” According to Academy Award-nominated actress Florence Pugh, this impassioned line from Jane Austen’s Persuasion is the best one in the entire novel. “Could you imagine if someone wrote a letter to you and that’s what they said?” she gushed in a promotional video for Audible.

You can hear Pugh’s own passion for Austen’s words in her stunning narration of the latest audio rendition of the timeless novel, which was released by Audible in late 2020 as part of their exclusive Jane Austen Collection. Written in the 1810s and published posthumously by Austen’s brother and sister, Persuasion is a second-chance romance that calls class and societal expectations into question.

Pugh’s performance of the classic comes on the heels of several other adaptations over the years, including its inaugural 1960 BBC miniseries and several stage productions. Most recently, Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth were portrayed by Dakota Johnson and Cosmo Jarvis, respectively, in Netflix’s 2022 feature film