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A composite image of celebrities Yael Stone, Miranda Tapsell, Claudia Karvan and John Safran narrating audiobooks
Photograph: Supplied

The best audiobooks read by famous Australians

If you want to read while doing the dishes or vacuuming, why not chill out out to these local legends doing it for you?

Written by
Stephen A Russell
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It's one of life's simple joys, flicking between staring out of a train window and flicking the pages of a must-read book. But it doesn’t work so well if you’re doing the household chores, gardening or driving. Especially driving folks: please don’t read and drive.

That’s when the joy of listening to an audiobook kicks in, or even just if your eyes are feeling a bit worn thin and need the night off. There are millions of brilliant audiobooks on the go, and some of them are even free. Plus there’s the added bonus of hanging out aurally with famous Aussies as they read the books of also famous authors – and even sometimes their own.

Here are a few of our fave books as read by famous Australians, and you can check out a list of international bookworm stars here too.

Love reading? Check out these great books set in Sydney and Melbourne

Listen in as these celebs read to you

The Sapphires and Top End Wedding star Miranda Tapsell is legit one of our favourite folks, and is pretty much the human equivalent of a ray of sunshine. Which is what makes her the perfect candidate to read to you if you just need a bit of a pick-me-up at any point. Plus Adelaide-based author Rose Hartley’s fun debut novel Maggie’s Going Nowhere is a total hoot. It’s about a woman who chucks it all in and heads off in a caravan when her life goes down the pan. 

Forget Ned Kelly. Did you know there was a queer bushranger called, we kid you not, Captain Moonlite, who was hung after a shoot-out with the cops in which he kissed his dying male lover? Honestly, could we make some room for this movie already? Because that’s the way journalist Garry Linnell tells the fall of this Irish preacher man in a non-fiction history book that reads more like a gripping novel. Holding the Man star Ryan Corr has the right amount of roguish larrikin in him for the job.

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Orange is the New Black star Yael Stone recently returned to live and work in Australia after a stint in the US and we’re so happy to have her back. We’re guessing The Island Will Sink auhtor Briohny Doyle is too, because it means she got to get Stone reading her follow up, Echolalia, which is a gripping yarn about a country town plunged into crisis by a tragedy.

John Safran reading 'Puff Piece'
Photograph: Supplied/Penguin

John Safran reading 'Puff Piece'

Melbourne-based documentary maker and true crime writer John Safran took a dive into murder in Mississippi for his debt book then followed it up with a look at Australia’s dark heart in Depends What You Mean by Extremist. His latest offering takes a closer look at big tobacco company Philip Morris’s pivot to vaping and uncovers more bad behaviour. Who better to get their head around reading his revelations than Safran himself?

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Renaissance woman Leah Purcell’s talents know no bounds, having recently added movie director to a pile of accolades that include playwright, actor and novelist amongst others. Retelling of the famous Henry Lawson story through a matriarchal First Nations lens, Purcell turned The Drover’s Wife into a play, a novel and a film, which she also directed. So of course the Wentworth star is also going to tackle narratorial duties too, and delivers with aplomb.

Pakistan-born NSW Senator Mehreen Faruqi has copped a lot since she stepped into the corridors of power in Canberra, becoming the first Muslim woman to be elected to any parliament across Australia. A force to be reckoned with who can give way better than the trash she sometimes gets, that’s not to say her passionate belief in the common good doesn’t come at a mighty personal cost. Listen to her narrate her own life story for some insight into why she keeps on keeping on.

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Rake star Richard Roxburgh brings his trademark rapscallion charm to this novel by author and Sydney lawyer Sarah Hopkins. It relays the strange tale of 16-year-old drug dealer diverted from jail at the last minute to head to a fancy country house with other gifted delinquents. But is this seeming save actually part of a much darker experiment? Listen and learn as Roxburgh helps you break free of the daily monotony.  

One of Australia’s finest comedians, the bone dry sass of Judith Lucy would appear to suggest an indomitable force that cannot be pierced by the idiocy of man. But truth is, famous and famously funny or not, we’re all liable to a bad dose of the heartache blues. These moments of vulnerability are at the core of Lucy’s raw revelations about how a bad breakup sparked an existential melt down, and set her on the path to embracing new possibilities. Taking on narration too, the only other choice could have been regular comic partner Denise Scott.

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Speaking of lengendary Australian comedians, who doesn’t want to snort-chortle questionable fluids through their nostrils while listening to Fisk and Utopia star Kitty Flanagan doing her thing? This audiobook is also very educational, teaching you, amongst other things, both the rignt and wrong ways to ditch someone. It’s probably a good thing that audiobooks are more often than not listened to in the privacy of our own home/car, because the kind of explosively messy laughter she provokes can get thoroughly embarrassing in the great outside.

If you talk about the frontline of forensic science in Australia, comedian and TV and radio host Meshel Laurie is probably not the first name that’s likely to pop into your mind. But she is a woman of many talents, having also penned this book about the work of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. She interviews the brave souls who sought for the truth amidst  horrendous situations including the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009. You'll hear a totally different side of Laurie.

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A tongue-in-cheek whiplashing of the insanely popular self-help book genre, actor, writer and comedian Julia Morris flags the folly in the subtitle of this irreverent audiobook, ‘Hilariously half-baked life advice from yet another deluded celebrity’. Reading her own deliberate silliness, she’ll teach you how to make the most of your life with hacks including how to (not) get shit done, how to say yes (and then cancel) and how to make it all about you. Because self-care is important, right?

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