Our favorite full cast audiobooks are the perfect distraction.
Full cast audiobooks are my new favorite way to spend an evening. I used to associate them with long road trips under sunset skies but as I’ve had the luxury of staying at home more recently (to all the nurses and medical professionals on the front lines right now, thank you), I’ve been binge-listening to full cast audiobooks post-dinner (and more than occasionally, during dinner).
I personally love that I’m not tempted to switch to the news whilst listening to full cast audiobooks (because I play them on my phone and keep my phone far, far away from my bed until the battery dies).
And it’s truly been relaxing to be swept away into a story.
So without further ado, here are my favorite full cast audiobooks right now.
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Daisy Jones & The Six
Without a doubt, Daisy Jones & The Six is one of the most riveting full cast audiobooks I’ve listened to in a long time (even my husband, who hates romance, got invested in the storyline).
It’s the kind of audiobook you’ll want to listen to in one sitting (if you can) because the narration fits the characters perfectly (author Taylor Jenkins Reid had a huge say in picking the giant cast). The book is laid out like an oral history. And the band it follows feels so viscerally real (despite all the tropes of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll), you’d be forgiven for YouTubing Honeycomb live performance (which I did on more than one occasion).
Most of the main characters were grating (with the exception of Camila). And while that normally turns me off, I loved that about Daisy Jones & The Six. It made the story all the more real.
The Lady In The Van
The Lady In The Van is the BBC radio dramatization of Alan Bennett’s autobiography of the same name. The narrative is by the phenomenal Maggie Smith (whom you may recognize from Downtown Abbey and Harry Potter). Smith (as she did in the stageplay and movie) takes on the role of an eccentric old lady who parks her dilapidated old van on Bennet’s driveway for 15 years.
It’s an incredible story (narrated by a full cast) that tackles deeper issues (social responsibility, mental health) beneath a sweetly comedic surface.
First things first, Sadie is an extremely dark book (insert every trigger warning under the sun here). Somehow, I thought it would be light (as it’s marketed as a young adult novel) but nope. This book is tough to swallow (and I still haven’t fully stomached it).
But that being said, Sadie is hands-down one of the best full cast audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. The book is set up like a true-crime podcast and as a result, it’s the kind of title that needs to be listened to not read.
It’s a story of revenge and abuse and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. But it’s also a thriller that keeps you on your toes (you find yourself rooting for the narrator trying to find missing 19-year Sadie).
I’ve been a longtime fan of Karen Russell (ever since reading Swamplandia, followed by Vampires In The Lemon Grove). Russell’s short stories are quick to digest (and the stylistically creepy-but-comedic setup reminds me of Tim Burton’s films).
Each story in Orange World is taken on by a different narrator. And weird doesn’t even begin to describe the tales they wind. The characters find themselves in kooky, crazy, bloody, horrifying situations but Russell’s words are woven so beautifully, you won’t be able to pull away!
The Office: The Untold Story Of The Greatest Sitcom Of The 2000s
One of the most iconic shows of the 21st century (thus far), The Office is a cult favorite of many. Andy Greene’s behind-the-scenes backstory is yet another oral history featuring short interviews from scriptwriters, producers, directors, actors (see a pattern?).
This full cast audiobook is perfect for fans of the show. If you haven’t watched The Office, now is the time to binge-watch (we recommend starting with the British version before proceeding to the American run) and of course, binge-listening to the Untold Story in between.
Brief History Of Seven Killings
Marlon James’ book is a behemoth. It’s the kind of title that will keep you hooked (or exhausted) for days. The tome is split up into five sections and follows the complexity behind the assassination attempt of Bob Marley (who is simply referred to as the singer throughout).
Brief History Of Seven Killings is more-than an impressive historical-fiction-that-tends-towards-history-more-than-fiction (not just because it has 75 characters who are woven deftly into the storyline). It’s characterized by long sweeps of violence and darkness. It’s stuffed with notes of comedy. It’s a masterpiece much like The Godfather (but graphically brutal and not for the faint of heart).
It’s the kind of weighty title that demanded to be a full cast audiobook without ever saying a word (and it’s rumored that there might be a show coming out as well). The narrators absolutely deliver (at first, I was a little confused as to why their accents were slightly washed out but as the book progressed, I realized it might have been a production choice to engage a larger breadth of readers).
Six Of Crows
Six Of Crows is the only full cast book on this list that I have yet to finish (no spoilers in comments please). But I’m already completely obsessed. It’s a young adult heist novel written by the brilliant Leigh Bardugo (the kind of author whose writing you can’t get enough of). The storyline follows a group of criminal con artists led by Kaz (whom I’m decidedly in love with so far, despite all his flaws).
It’s worth a read for the characterization alone. And Six Of Crows feels like an adult novel (if you swapped the teens’ ages for the late twenties, I wouldn’t have batted an eye), which adds to the charm. This is the kind of book that you can quickly devour audiobook or no audiobook (but that doesn’t mean we don’t love the narration as well).
Poirot’s Finest Cases
Although I hold David Suchet in the highest regard as the best Poirot, John Moffat did an excellent job in the BBC radio productions that have since been compiled into Poirot’s Finest Cases. This is hands-down one of the most entertaining full cast audiobooks I have ever listened to (and as they are cozy mysteries, they aren’t heavy and can be listened to in one sitting).
Poirot’s Finest Cases is a full-cast audiobook set which I didn’t realize upon purchase (so you’ll receive The ABC Murders, After The Funeral, Death On The Nile, Peril At End House, The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd, Murder On The Orient Express, Three Act Tragedy, and Mysterious Affair At Styles all at once).
Lincoln In The Bardo
Read by a whopping hundred and fifty-plus (mostly celebrity) narrators, Lincoln In The Bardo gives a whole new meaning to full cast audiobooks.
Lincoln In The Bardo is a tough book to describe as it’s jagged and strange and all-over-the-pace. It’s a heartfelt surrealist literary delight more than a historical fiction. It’s gorgeously woven, despite the threads being scattered on loose ends of pages (I guess, in a lot of ways, the audiobook provides a better sense of direction compared to the physical novel).
Another cozy mystery series for Agatha Christie fans is the ever dynamic Agatha Raisin. Set in the Cotswolds, Agatha Raisin follows a dotty divorcee who deals with the mayhem of a poisoned quiche and a secretive salon owner amongst other adventures (prepare for the weird and bizarre and wonderful).
The full cast audiobook series stars Penelope Keith (who is one of my favorite actresses of all time). And in true Keith fashion, she brings Raisin to life through every tone, inflection, and pause. If you have an Audible credit (and love cozy mysteries), this is an amazing deal (as multiple books in the series are included for the price of one).
Did you enjoy this list of full cast audiobooks? Do you like full cast audiobooks (or do you prefer single narrators)? Let me know in the comments below!