The Best Women Narrators to Listen to Right Now
These accomplished narrators elevate every story they touch. Here's a list of some of our favorite audiobooks performed by women.
January 4, 2021
When considering a new audiobook, one of the biggest questions listeners have is whether they'll enjoy the narration style. This is understandable, as audiobooks span at least a few hours —with many clocking in at more than 20 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 performing audiobooks that you might just find yourself gravitating to certain books solely on the strength of the narrator. It was difficult, but we rounded up 10 of the best women narrators with an extensive and diverse list of audiobooks to their credit. 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. A screen and stage actor, Turpin has voiced more than 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, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, and So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.
Saskia Maarleveld is a dynamic voice actress and prolific narrator with more than 300 audiobooks to her name. Raised in New Zealand and France, she is known for her ability to perform many accents and dialects—American, Irish, British, and more, sometimes switching seamlessly between them in dialogue.—across a variety of audiobook genres. She's won Audie Awards for Best Female Narrator and Best Multi-Voiced Performance, in addition to AudioFile Earphones Awards. Her outstanding body of work includes Kate Quinn's The Huntress and The Alice Network, as well as A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh.
Robin Miles is an actress who has appeared on Broadway and television shows including Law & Order, as well as a wildly successful audiobook narrator. With more than 300 audiobook performances and an incredible range for stories for kids and adults alike, it's no wonder she's honored in Audible’s Narrator Hall of Fame. She's won Audie Awards and Earphones Awards, has been named an AudioFile Golden Voice and a Booklist Voice of Choice, and was a Grammy Award finalist. Her acclaimed performances include Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston, Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, The Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin, and The Vanderbeekers series by Karina Yan Glaser.
Though Marin Ireland may not have quite the extensive list of audiobook narration experience as some on this list, she's definitely distinguished herself in the 20 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 Amazon Prime series Sneaky Pete or the Sundance prize-winning 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 recognized for her solo work on best sellers and award winners. Zackman got her start 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. Some of her notable performances include The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister, The Underneath by Kathi Appelt.
Her audiobook honors include multiple Earphone Awards, 16 Audie Award nominations, and four Audie wins, the AudioFile Golden Voice prize, and being named Audiobook Narrator of the Year by Publisher's Weekly. Known for her work on novels by best-selling authors such as Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and Mary Higgins Clark, LaVoy also stands out for her performance of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold, Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier, 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, received AudioFile's Lifetime Achievement Award for her more than 20 years of work behind the mic, and has earned a place in Audible's Narrator Hall of Fame.
Emily Woo Zeller is an actor, dancer, and voice-over artist…in addition to narrating more than 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 listeners as the narrator of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, but she also brings listeners joy through her work on numerous YA, science fiction, fantasy, and literary titles, including The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, Minimum Wage Magic by Rachel Aaron, The Downstairs Girl and all of YA author Stacey Lee's other 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’s Narrator Hall of Fame. She's a recipient of the Audie Award in Romance and an AudioFile Best Voices Award, and she’s also 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 her sizzling performances on many romance novels and series. —including pairing up with narrator Zachary Webber on Emma Chase’s audio-first duo, Getting Some.
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.