The Best Female Narrators You Can Listen To All Day
February 13, 2023
These accomplished narrators elevate every story they touch. Here’s a list of some of our favourite audiobooks performed by women, available on Audible.
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, and sticking with one person’s voice for that period can feel like a big commitment. Luckily, there are so many excellent voice actors performing audiobooks that you might just find yourself gravitating to certain audiobooks based solely on the narrator’s strength. We’ve compiled a list of 12 of the best female audiobook narrators and some of the best audiobooks they’ve narrated. Find your new favourite below.
Bahni Turpin's range, incredible track record, and many accolades have landed her in Audible's Narrator Hall of Fame. Turpin has voiced over 200 audiobooks in varying age categories, genres and styles as a screen and stage actor. She received the Odyssey Award for her performance of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. She 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. 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 various audiobook genres. She's won Audie Awards for Best Female Narrator and Best Multi-Voiced Performance, in addition to AudioFile Earphones Awards. Her fantastic work includes Kate Quinn's The Huntress and The Alice Network and A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh.
Robin Miles is an actress who has appeared on Broadway and television shows, including Law & Order, and is a wildly successful audiobook narrator. With more than 300 audiobook performances and an incredible range of stories for kids and adults alike, it's no wonder she's honoured in Audible's Narrator Hall of Fame. Her accolades include winning the Audie Awards and Earphones Awards, being named an AudioFile Golden Voice and a Booklist Voice of Choice, and being 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 the extensive list of audiobook narration experience as some on this list, the American actor has distinguished herself in the 20 or so audiobooks she’s narrated. 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 audiobooks 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, Gabra Zackman is a well-known voice in full-cast audiobook productions and is recognized for her solo work on bestsellers and award winners. Born in Missouri, the American performer started narrating romance novels but has gone on to perform kidlit, sci-fi, fantasy and non-fiction. She has been awarded the Audie Award for Fiction and Audie Award for Young Adult Title. She is also the recipient of multiple Earphones Awards from AudioFile, and she's a novelist. Some of her notable performances include The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister and The Underneath by Kathi Appelt.
January LaVoy is an American actor and audiobook narrator. Her audiobook honours include multiple Earphone Awards, 16 Audie Awards nominations, four Audie wins, the AudioFile Golden Voice prize and being named Audiobook Narrator of the Year by Publisher's Weekly. She is known for her work on novels by bestselling 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. As an actor, LaVoy has starred in Broadway performances and appeared on TV shows.
Davina Porter is a British audiobook narrator with two native accents under her belt. She was born and raised in England to an English father and a Scottish mother. 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 voiced classics by Thomas Hardy and audiobooks by Anne Perry, Alexander McCall Smith, and Elizabeth George. She’s won two Audie Awards, received AudioFile’s Lifetime Achievement Award for more than 20 years of work behind the mic, and earned a place in Audible’s Narrator Hall of Fame.
Emily Woo Zeller is an actor, dancer, and voice-over artist, 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. Still, 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, Gulp by Mary Roach and The Downstairs Girl and all of YA author Stacey Lee's other titles.
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 of 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 non-fiction. 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, such as Kamila Knows Best by Farah Heron and His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie have been featured in the "Best Audiobooks'" lists by AudioFile Magazine and The Washington Post, among others. Besides her creative work, she leads a nonprofit organization. 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.
Another great audiobook narrator who earns a spot on our list is Julia Whelan. The talented actor and narrator has performed over 400 audiobooks across various genres. She is considered one of the best narrators in the industry, featured on AudioFile magazine's "Best of" lists multiple times. Her prestigious awards include Audible's Narrator of the Year, the Audie Awards for Best Female Narrator, and AudioFile magazine's Lifetime Achievement Golden Voice Award. Whelan is passionate about literature and acting, which shines through in her stellar performances in Cate Tiernan's The Sweep series and Nora Roberts's Chronicles of The One series.
Kate Reading is an award-winning narrator who has been recording audiobooks for more than 30 years. She has received numerous awards, including an Audie Award and AudioFile's Earphones Awards. She was named Narrator of the Year and Best Voice in Science Fiction and Fantasy by AudioFile, Reader of the Year by Publishers Weekly and featured at the Top of the List for the American Library Association in 2019. Besides her solo work, Reading is known for the stunning dual narrations performed with her husband, Michael Kramer. Together, they narrated Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive and Wheel of Time series, all recorded at their home studio in Maryland.