One of the biggest questions listeners have when it comes to approaching a new audiobook is whether or not they'll enjoy the narration style. This is understandable, as audiobooks are at least a few hours long (with many clocking in at over 20 to 30 hours long!), and sticking with one person's voice for that time period can feel like a big commitment. Luckily, there are so many wonderful voice actors narrating audiobooks that you might just find yourself gravitating to certain books solely because of the narrator. It was difficult, but we rounded up ten of the best female narrators with a robust list of audiobooks under their belts. Find your new favorite below.
Bahni Turpin's range, incredible track record, and many accolades have landed her in Audible's Narrator Hall of Fame. She's a screen and stage actor who has voiced over 200 audiobooks in varying age categories, genres, and styles. She received the Odyssey Award for her performance of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and was named Narrator of the Year by Publisher's Weekly for her narration of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. She's also received accolades from AudioFile magazine and the Audio Publishers Association, winning multiple Audie Awards. Some of her best performances include American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, and The Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.
Saskia Maarleveld is a dynamic voice actress who is known for her ability to perform many accents across a wide genre of books—American, Irish, British, and more, sometimes switching seamlessly between accents in dialogue. She's won Audie Awards for Best Female Narrator and Best Multi-voiced performance in addition to AudioFile Earphones Awards. With over 300 audiobooks to her name, some of her best-known work include Kate Quinn's The Huntress and The Alice Network, as well as A Madness of Sunshine by Nailini Singh.
Robin Miles is an actress who has appeared on Law & Order and has since turned to audiobook narration—where she has become wildly successful. With over 300 audiobook performances and an incredible range for stories for kids and adults alike, it's no wonder she's honored in Audible Narrator Hall of Fame. She's won two Audie Awards, the AudioFile Golden Voice and Earphones Awards, and she's been a Grammy Award finalist. Some of her performances include Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston, the Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin, and The Vanderbeekers series by Karina Yan Glaser.
Marin Ireland may not have quite the extensive list of audiobook narration experience as some on this list, but she's definitely distinguished herself in the twenty or so audiobooks she's narrated so far. She's the recipient of an Audie Award for Best Female Narrator for her performance of Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, and she's narrated books by the likes of Fredrik Backman, Stephen King, and Alice Hoffman. She's also a stage and screen actor: you might recognize her from the TV series Sneaky Pete, or the movie The Miseducation of Cameron Post.
With nearly 400 audiobook credits to her name, Zackman is a well-known voice in full cast audiobook productions as well as voicing best sellers and award-winners. Zackman initially got her start in narrating romance novels, but she's since performed kidlit, sci-fi, fantasy, and nonfiction. She's the recipient of multiple Earphones Awards from AudioFile, and she's also a novelist as well. (Oh, and she he narrates her own books, of course!) Some of her notable performances include The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage, and I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara.
January LaVoy is another much-beloved narrator whose work spans genres and age categories. She's worked in theater, television, film, and has also done voice-over work in addition to narrating books. You might recognize her from One Life to Live or her roles on Broadway. Her audiobook awards include the AudioFile Golden Voice, multiple Earphone Awards, sixteen Audie Award nominations, and four Audie wins. She has also been named Audiobook Narrator of the Year by Publisher's Weekly. She narrates books by Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and Mary Higgins Clark, and is known for her performance of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold, and One Day She'll Darken by Fauna Hodel.
Most listeners will recognize Davina Porter as the voice of the bestselling Outlander series, but that's only the beginning of her diverse range and backlist. She’s voiced classics by Thomas Hardy, as well as books by Anne Perry, Alexander McCall Smith, and Elizabeth George. She's won two Audie Awards, and AudioFile's Lifetime Achievement Award for over twenty years of work in narrating audiobooks, and she can of course be found in Audible's Narrator Hall of Fame.
Emily Woo Zeller
Emily Woo Zeller is an actor, dancer, and voice-over artist…in addition to narrating over 300 audiobooks. She's received an Audie Award, a Sovas Voice Arts Award, and has been named on multiple “Best of” lists by AudioFile Magazine. She might be most recognizable to readers as the narrator of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, but other credits include numerous YA, science fiction, fantasy, and literary titles, such as The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, all of YA author Stacey Lee's titles, and Gulp by Mary Roach.
Romance readers will recognize Andi Arndt as one of the stars of romance audiobook narration, and it’s no secret why she's found in Audible Narrator Hall of Fame. She's a recipient of the Audie Award in Romance and an AudioFile Best Voices Award, and she has worked as a voice coach for years. She's narrated A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell, Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica in addition to many romance novels and series.
Soneela Nankani is an award-winning narrator with over 300 titles in many different genres including young adult, fantasy, romance, sci-fi, and nonfiction. She has garnered 16 Earphone Awards, nominations for Audie and SOVAS awards, and was recently awarded AudioFile’s Golden Voice Lifetime Achievement Honor. Her audiobooks have been featured in "Best Audiobooks" lists by AudioFile Magazine and The Washington Post among others. In her spare time, she loves to read (yes, really), learn languages, try new recipes, and travel. She lives in the DC area with her husband and two mischievous daughters.
Tirzah Price is a writer and contributing editor at Book Riot.