As wonderful as it is to read books on the page, there is nothing quite like hearing an author read their own work out loud. An author knows their stories and poems better than anyone and will be able to interpret them in a special way only the author could. Luckily, there are plenty of online book readings by authors that you can watch and/or listen to for free. Here are ten of the best book readings online by famous authors.
1) Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian author of science fiction and fantasy. In this interview on the radio show “To The Best Of Our Knowledge”, Okorafor reads several passages from her novel, Lagoon. This novel blends magical realism and high-stakes action when a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier have to handle humanity’s first encounter with an alien ambassador in Lagos, Nigeria. In addition to reading bits of her novel, you get insights from the author about her book during the interview.
2) The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
This is another interview on “To The Best Of Our Knowledge”. This interview features N.K. Jemisin, an American science fiction and fantasy author who has won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in three consecutive years for all three books in her Broken Earth trilogy. The Fifth Season is the first book in that trilogy and tells the story of a woman who must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter at the end of the world. In between passages from the novel, Jemisin offers insights into the world of the trilogy.
3) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is the internationally bestselling author of books like American Gods, Neverwhere, and Stardust. On the HarperKids YouTube channel, you can find Gaiman reading the entirety of his Newberry-winning novel, The Graveyard Book. Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, The Graveyard Book tells the story of a baby who escapes the killer who murdered his family and ends up being raised by the ghosts and other creatures that inhabit a local graveyard. As you watch Gaiman read each chapter, you will be able to see illustrations by the book’s illustrator (and the cover artist for Gaiman’s The Sandman comics), Dave McKean.
4) “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor
Flannery O’Connor was an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist. She is known as one of the great writers of Southern Gothic fiction and her posthumously compiled Complete Stories was awarded the 1972 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. On YouTube, you can listen to her read the entirety of her short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” at Vanderbilt University in April 1959. This story appears in the collection A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories which was first published in 1955.
5) The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
B.J. Novak is an American writer, actor, comedian, and director. He is best known for his work as a writer, actor, director, and executive producer on the American adaptation of the British TV series, The Office. There is a video on YouTube of B.J. Novak reading his children’s book, The Book with No Pictures, to a group of schoolchildren. The book—as its title would suggest—is a book with no pictures that shows young children just how delightful the written word can be. This reading was done in 2014 at the Growing Up Green Charter School in Long Island, New York.
6) “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond” by e e cummings
Edward Estlin Cummee cummings reads “Somewhere I have never travelled…”ings (often presented in all lowercase as e e cummings) was an American poet, essayist, author, painter, and playwright. He is widely regarded as one of the most important poets of the 20th century. You can listen to him read his poem “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond” on YouTube. Critics consider this to be one of cummings’ best love poems. This poem was first published in 1931 in cummings’ poetry collection, ViVa. You can find a current copy of the poem in E. E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904–1962, which was published in 1994.
7) Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick
Marcus Sedgwick is a British writer, illustrator, and musician. His 2011 novel Midwinterblood won the Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association in 2014. During the pandemic, Marcus Sedgwick read the entirety of Floodland and put the readings up on his website. The futuristic fantasy tells the story of a young girl who survives on her own after the sea has risen and land has started to disappear. It won the Branford Boase Award in 2001.
8) “And Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry in her lifetime. You can watch her give a reading of her poem “And Still I Rise” on YouTube. In “And Still I Rise”, Angelou proudly proclaims that she will not let the hatefulness of society determine her success. This poem was published in the collection And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems in 1978.
9) Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey is an American actress, writer, comedian, and playwright known for her work as the head writer of Saturday Night Live and as the screenwriter of the film Mean Girls, which she also starred in. If you sign up for Audible’s 30-day trial, you can listen to her book, Bossypants. Bossypants is a 2011 humorous memoir chronicling Fey’s time spent managing her writing staffs at both SNL and 30 Rock.
10) Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
Jenny Lawson is an American author and blogger. She runs the very popular blog The Bloggess and has written and released several humorous memoirs. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir is another title that’s free with Audible’s 30-day free trial. In the 2012 memoir, Lawson describes her eccentric childhood, hilarious tiffs with her husband, and day-to-day observations. It’s a #1 New York Times bestselling book.
Author’s Bio: Jillian Karger was born in Ohio but has lived in and around New York City for over a decade. Since graduating from NYU in 2009, Jillian has had a long string of jobs doing things like scouting books to be adapted for film and researching trivia questions for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.
She has done freelance writing as well for sites like Cracked.com and had her Twitter jokes featured on BuzzFeed and funnyordie.com. Jillian has also self-published two novels on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Jillian-Karger/e/B07B894DNW).
Follow her blog posts about books and writing advice, read books and publish them for free at: https://www.fictionate.me.