Briefings Magazine

When Literature and Cinema Collide

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The question used to be whether to read the book or watch the movie. These days, of course, there is a third option, which is to listen to the audio version of a book narrated by the familiar voice of a favorite actor. A-list celebrities are venturing into the burgeoning audiobook scene, bringing life to children’s books, adding new textures to old classics, and even making personal memoirs more intimate by reciting them firsthand.

Audiobook revenues now top more than $1 billion a year, with almost a decade of double-digit year-over-year growth. As the industry expands, writers are beginning to write with an ear toward acoustic pitch, tempo, and prosody. So who does the reading becomes as important as who is cast in the lead role of a movie. Normally, the narrator is our own head, but we can’t always be trusted to heed the author’s intended inferences. Why not leave it to the pros? Here’s a Briefings roundup of great reads narrated by some of the greatest names in Hollywood.


by Kurt Vonnegut

James Franco


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Díaz

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo



by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adjoa Andoh


Go Set a Watchman

by Harper Lee

Reese Witherspoon


To the Lighthouse

by Virginia Woolf

Nicole Kidman



by Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey



by William Shakespeare

Chiwetel Ejiofor


The Poets’ Corner

by various poets

Morgan Freeman, Susan Sarandon, and others

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