An Ultimate List of the Best Classic Audiobooks

Classic novels are wonderful to listen to — whether you’re returning to them for comfort or discovering a story for the first time. We’ve compiled a selection of the best classic audiobooks. From ancient stories to timeworn novels, family sagas to science fiction, there’s something for everyone on this classic audiobooks list!

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

Narrator: Sissy Spacek
Run time: 12h 18min

Why it's worth a listen: Told from the point of view of 10-year-old Scout Finch, Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel has become an enduring coming-of-age classic. The story centers on Scout’s father, country lawyer Atticus Finch, and his determination to work against the racial prejudice in his small Southern town. Academy Award–winning actress Sissy Spacek’s narration beautifully renders the spirit of Scout as she comes to terms with this turbulent time in history. Audiofile says, “Listening to the story can renew appreciation of the brilliant novel while also immersing you in the storytelling experience.”

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Narrator: Josephine Bailey
Run time: 21h 2min

Why it's worth a listen: Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre follows Jane through her young life and into adulthood, exploring her love for the mysterious and brooding master of Thornfield Hall, Mr. Rochester. The intimate first-person narrative makes Jane Eyre perfect for listening, as Audie Award–winning narrator Josephine Bailey brings you into the story and transports you to Jane’s world.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Narrator: Ruby Dee
Run time: 6h 45min

Why it’s worth a listen: Hurston’s seminal work is a deeply moving Southern love story told with wit, pathos and inspiring stories of the perseverance of Black women. The language is already poetic, but Ruby Dee adds a heightened sense of beauty and emotion to the words that pull out their deepest meaning.

 

Brave New World

Brave New World

Narrator: Michael York
Run time: 8h

Why it's worth a listen: Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World anticipates a future with disturbing advancements in psychological manipulation, classical conditioning, and reproductive technology. The end result is a society that is carefully monitored and controlled. Poignantly narrated by actor Michael York, the audiobook brings Huxley’s dystopia into terrifying focus.

Invisible Man

Invisible Man

Narrator: Joe Morton
Run time: 18h 39min

Why it's worth a listen: Ralph Ellison’s incomparable Invisible Man is a powerful saga of African American life in the early 20th century. At turns shocking and humorous, the story follows an unnamed African American man trying to find his place in the world. Ellison’s storytelling skills are enhanced by the inviting narration, which immerses you in the character’s life and struggles.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera

Narrator: Armando Duran
Run time: 15h 41min

Why it's worth a listen: Gabriel García Márquez’s tale of enduring love centers on Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. They experience a young, passionate love, but Fermina marries someone else, and Florentino fills the void with hundreds of affairs — but never loses the hope that one day he will win back Fermina. After being separated for decades, they are reunited, and Florentino gets the chance he has been waiting for. Armando Durán’s emotionally driven narration vividly brings to life the passion of their love affair and beautifully portrays Márquez’s sweeping, lyrical novel.

Middlemarch

Middlemarch

Narrator: Juliet Stevenson
Run time: 35h 38min

Why it’s worth a listen: Recently ranked in a BBC poll as  the best British novel of all time, this prolific tale portrays provincial life in Victorian England. Dorothea Brooke gets stuck in a loveless marriage while her counterpart, Dr. Tertius Lydgate, struggles to balance business and romance. Read by an Audie Award-winning narrator, Nadia May’s voice fits the text perfectly and astutely captures regional dialects.

Dracula

Dracula

Narrator: Greg Wise & Saskia Reeves
Run time: 18h 14min

Why it's worth a listen: Dracula is an 1897 gothic-horror novel that has become a staple of American pop culture. Count Dracula is an aristocrat, who leaves his home in Transylvania for England, intent on finding new blood and spreading his curse. The story is told through letters, newspaper articles, ship logs, and diary entries, which makes the audiobook all the more intriguing — and chilling!

The Good Earth

The Good Earth

Narrator: Anthony Heald
Run time: 10h 41min

Why it's worth a listen: The Good Earth is the 1932 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel about a humble Chinese farmer and his family, who proudly work the land until misfortune forces them to seek work in the city. This powerful story of family and home is deftly narrated by Anthony Heald, who beautifully interprets the author’s poignant and uplifting tale.

Odyssey

Odyssey

Narrator: Anthony Heald
Run time: 11h 28min

Why it's worth a listen: Homer’s Odyssey chronicles the many great adventures of Odysseus on his long journey home from the Trojan War. Rife with Greek mythology and folklore, Homer’s tale endures as one of the finest pieces of classic literature. The captivating audiobook narration transports listeners into Odysseus’s trials and vividly portrays his adventurous spirit, making the epic tale as compelling now as it was 2,700 years ago

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Narrator: Mirron Willis
Run time: 22h 1min

Why it's worth a listen: Published in 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s controversial Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an indictment of slavery that centers around Tom, an enslaved black man navigating cruelty and violence. With a narration by Audie Award winner Mirron Willis that brings the story to life, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an unforgettable listen.

1984

1984

Narrator: Simon Prebble
Run time: 11h 24min

Why it's worth a listen: In 1984, George Orwell crafts a totalitarian world controlled by the all-knowing, all-seeing Big Brother. In this world of ironclad government control, Winston Smith longs for a different life. But at what cost? Audie Award–winner Simon Prebble breathes life into this dystopian classic with his haunting narration that plunges readers into Winston’s chilling world.

The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye

Narrator: Toni Morrison & Ruby Dee
Run time: 3h

Why it's worth a listen: Toni Morrison’s debut novel, The Bluest Eye, tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, an 11-year-old black girl who yearns for her eyes to turn blue. Morrison’s masterful, melodic narration amplifies the experience, and her author’s note is not to be missed. Be sure to have tissues nearby before diving into this tragic and deeply profound classic.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Narrator: Kate Burton
Run time: 14h 55min

Why it's worth a listen: Betty Smith’s poignant coming-of-age tale centers on the life of 11-year-old Francie Nolan and her Irish immigrant family who have settled in Brooklyn. When Francie’s father dies, life becomes increasingly hard for the Nolan family — but Francie is determined to pursue her dreams of an education. Actress Kate Burton’s rich narration beautifully captures the joys and hardships of the lives of Irish immigrants in the early 20th century.

Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels

Narrator: Norman Dietz
Run time: 10h 48min

Why it’s worth a listen: Lemuel Gulliver adventures through four vastly different countries — Lilliput, the land of little people; Brobdingnag, the land of big people; Laputa, the land of intelligent-but-impractical people; and Houyhnhnm, the land of horses ‒ make this audiobook a perfect for imaginative listeners. This brilliant tale is deftly narrated by actor Gordon Griffin, who keeps readers engaged and entertained in a way that is accessible for all ages and intellects. 

 

East of Eden

East of Eden

Narrator: Richard Poe
Run time: 25h 19min

Why it's worth a listen: Set in the picturesque farmlands of California’s Salinas Valley, John Steinbeck’s masterpiece, East of Eden, follows the destinies of the Trask and Hamilton families. Epic and sprawling, Steinbeck’s tale tackles issues of identity, family, and lost love. This expansive tale is told by Richard Poe, whose narration astutely captures the emotions of the characters living in an era of American history where the people and the land were inextricably bound.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Narrator: John C. Reilly
Run time: 10h 34min

Why it's worth a listen: Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has become an American classic due to its keen insight into the human psyche. This memorable story explores life for the patients in a mental ward, including the brutal Big Nurse Ratched and boisterous, brawling Randle Patrick McMurphy, a new patient who tests the rules — and the tempers of the staff. Actor John C. Reilly is a dynamic narrator, employing many inflections to tell the story from the point of view of Chief Bromden, the silent half-Indian who witnesses McMurphy’s attempts to fight the establishment.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land

Narrator: Christopher Hurt
Run time: 16h 20min

Why it's worth a listen: Robert Heinlein’s classic science fiction tale, Stranger in a Strange Land, centers on Valentine Michael Smith, an earthling born and educated on Mars. When Smith arrives on Earth, he has superhuman powers and no concept of human behavior. How he adapts to his new world is a fascinating tale that helped define the science fiction genre. For readers new to Heinlein’s work, listening to Stranger in a Strange Land is an otherworldly experience thanks to the many voices of lively narrator, Christopher Hurt.

The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

Narrator: Anna Fields
Run time: 13h 42min

Why it's worth a listen: House of Mirth centers on the story of Lily Bart, a beautiful woman of New York City’s high society who was raised to marry well but has yet to find a husband by the age of 29. The novel follows her social fall and her eventual lonely life on the fringes. Dealing with issues of identity, belonging, and class, Wharton’s tale harkens to an era when women’s options were limited. Wharton's exquisite and unflinching prose is vividly rendered by Audie Award winning–narrator Anna Fields.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Narrator: Maya Angelou
Run time: 10h 13min

Why it's worth a listen: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a modern American classic featured on reading lists around the world. This poetic and intimate memoir captures Maya Angelou's difficult childhood, which was marked by racism and violence. Angelou’s voice resonates with emotion and conviction as she narrates her own powerful story, and will leave listeners teary-eyed.

Bleak House

Bleak House

Narrator: Paul Scofield
Run time: 3h 2min

Why it's worth a listen: It may be one of Charles Dickens’s lesser known novels, but Bleak House nevertheless stands as one of his finest literary works. This satirical novel cleverly examines the Victorian-era legal system through a complicated tale of mystery, violence, and romance. This abridged version distills the weighty tome in print to a tightly-paced and memorable tale. Academy Award and Golden Globe–winning actor Paul Scofield brings the story to life with his distinctive voice, making this a must-listen for fans of Dickens and British literature.

The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

Narrator: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Run time: 7h 25min

Why it's worth a listen: Sylvia Plath’s autobiographical novel is an evocative American classic. The story centers on Esther Greenwood, a beautiful, brilliant, and successful woman coming to terms with her mental illness. Golden Globe–winning actress Maggie Gyllenhaal’s narration skillfully captures Esther's journey and shifting psychological state.