Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

5 Audio Books to Listen to While You Work

When you’re at work, it’s impossible to pick up a good book and start reading. Obviously, you need to stay focused on the tasks at hand and can’t spend leisure time at the office. But if you’ve grown tired of listening to your favorite songs at work, and want to catch up on your reading, there’s a solution!

Audio books create fun, soothing background noise to help you pass the time while you work. Especially for creative jobs like writers, designers, and artists, a book playing in the background can also help encourage and foster your imagination.

If you think listening to an audio book would be too distracting then just continue listening to your tried and true jams. But it’s worth a shot! You can test the waters with any of these grade A audio books hand-picked for your enjoyment:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien performed by Rob Inglis Not only is this a great choice because the story is captivating, but there is also the movies, so you can become fully immersed in this mesmerizing world. This is worth the listen for Inglis’ version of Gollum alone, not to mention the voices of the many dwarves, Gandolf, and all of the other mythical creatures of Middle Earth that Bilbo Baggins and co. encounter.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling performed by Stephen Fry All the books and movies might be over, but you can still relive the magic with the audio book. If you’re looking for audio books that will keep you busy for a while, Fry has narrated all 7 books of the series, so you can listen as he brings all the wonder of Rowling’s wizarding world to life for hours and hours on end. If you’re living in America it might be tricky to get your hands on a copy of Stephen Fry’s version, but Jim Dale’s version is just as charming.


Bossypants by Tina Fey performed by Tina Fey Not only is this a very funny, inspiring book, but it’s narrated by the lovely and talented Tina Fey.. Bossypants was a very entertaining read, but it’s even better when you get to hear all of Tina Fey’s anecdotes told in her own voice. This one tops Amazon’s list of the best audio books of 2011, so you can be sure that it deserves its place on this list.


The Wild Things by Dave Eggers performed by Dion Graham If you’ve never heard of The Wild Things, it’s essentially the grown-up version of the beloved children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. You still get to enjoy all of the wild characters, but since this is the grown-up version the tone is not as lighthearted as the children’s book. Dion Graham has a voice deep and dark like the announcer in a movie trailer, which makes for very soothing background noise.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum performed by Anne Hathaway If you’ve been clicking your heels together three times all day while at work wishing it would send you home, then this is the audio book for you. While you work, get swept away to the wonderful world of Oz. Anne Hathaway really brings all of the characters to life with exciting voices, which makes this an extremely entertaining listen. This audio book is part of’s a-list collection, a collection of classic books narrated and performed by famous celebrities. Other options in this series include Claire Danes reading The Handmaid’s Tale, Samuel L. Jackson reading A Rage in Harlem, and Nicole Kidman reading To the Lighthouse.

Now instead of whistling while you work you can make some headway on the list of books everyone should read once in their lifetime. You can find some audio books on music streaming sites like Spotify and GrooveShark, or there are specific audio book sites like AudioLiterate, Books Should Be Free, and  AudioLiterate and Books Should Be Free allow you to stream and download audio books of classic literature for free since the works are now under public domain. charges a monthly fee of $14.95, so make sure you’re really into audio books before signing up. If all else fails, you can always head out to your local library and check some out!

What do you think? Will you be listening to audio books at work? Which of these audio books would you like to check out? Are there others you would add to the list?

Photos by Gwydion M. Williams, Pesky Library, andProvidence Public Library


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  1. Chase

    Super cool!

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Chase!

  2. Kat

    What? You mean 50 Shades of Grey on tape is NOT on the list of top audio books to listen to in the office? 🙂 If you are in a position to keep your train of thought throughout the entire day without being interrupted this is definitely a great alternative to music!

    • Jeff Porretto

      PLEASE tell me you’ve heard 50 shades of grey… read by Gilbert Godfrey. I’m not joking…. youtube it. It’s hysterical. =]

      • Jenna Markowski

        However, I will make an exception for 50 Shades of Grey read by Gilbert Gottfried! That video is so hilarious. Good call, Jeff!

    • Jenna Markowski

      Haha, personally, I would not like to listen to 50 Shades of Grey ever. But I agree, some days listening to audio books is just what’s needed to pass the time!

  3. QLP Kid

    I LOVE Tina Fey! I’m going to have to check that out 🙂

    -QLP Kid

    “It’s How the Midwest Was Won…”

  4. Kelly Bird

    I often get audio books from my local library. You can request them online and get anything you want delivered to your local library to pick up. It’s a great way to pass the time commuting in the car or even exercising and best of all it’s free! Great post Jenna!

    • Amanda

      Good point Kelly, that’s what I do too. That way, you only have to go to the library when what you requested is in. =)

      • Jenna Markowski

        Good call, ladies! Public libraries are the best.
        Thanks for commenting Kelly and Amanda! 🙂

  5. Amanda

    Great blog topic Jenna. As you know, I absolutely love audio books! I started listening to them last summer, and have “read” close to 50 so far. They can be pricey to purchase, so I rent mine from the library. Most of the time, I listen to them on my commute to and from work. But once in a while I’ll listen at work over my speakers (not headphones! Because as you know, I hate headphones). I don’t find it distracting to listen to the books while working, it’s just that I have to pay closer attention to them, than to music….so I find myself having to pause it often, to answer the phone, and to accept packages, and such.

    I would recommend audio books to anyone who doesn’t have time or the patience to sit and hold a book. I love the actors’ voices, and the way they pause at each perfect spot. It comes alive in your mind almost like a movie. =)

    • Jenna Markowski

      I sure do know that you love audio books. If you’re listening to that many it’s definitely a good call to hit up the library. It’s a great idea to listen to them during your commute. I haven’t tried that yet, but I probably should! You’re totally right — since you have to do a lot of different tasks throughout the day and be attentive to phone calls and emails, music is probably better than audio books for you at work.

      Since you’ve read so many audio books, you seem to be the resident audio book expert. Which one was your favorite?

      • Amanda

        Resident Audio Book Expert–I like it! I think I’ll add that to my resume. =)

        I have liked just about every book I’ve “read”….go figure, right!? I read a lot of variety, and a few series of books too. And some of my favorite authors are: James Patterson (especially his Michael Bennett series), Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steel and Janet Evanovich…and of course now I can’t think of some of the other names… but I really enjoyed reading The Hunger Games series, and one of my favorites is The Twilight Series. I have read Safe Haven by N. Sparks twice, that is a great one! I love mysteries, and romance stories the best….and usually listen to a new author randomly as I find them on the shelves. I am also sort of a financial/business nerd, so I like to read books on that too. Dave Ramsey is awesome! And the book Rich Dad Poor Dad is amazing!

  6. Eric

    The stuff I enjoy reading errs on Dickensian, and when you’re juggling 34342343 characters with vividly-painted locales and the like, I highly, highly doubt I could keep my train of thought throughout the day and process what I was listening to. Usually I’ll play film soundtracks. Establishes the mood of a particular story, but without all the words to tie my brain in a knot. 🙂

    However, I would agree these are highly under-utilized by the majority of people, and I can only imagine how much more intelligent folks would be if they used their commute time on the train – or in the car – to listen to a book instead of looping mindlessly through the Billboard Top 20.

    Smart stuff, Jenna!

    • Amanda

      When I worked with you guys, I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on an audio book either. It really depends on the kind of work you’re doing….but I would highly recommend them for a long commute–they’re great!

      • Jenna Markowski

        Ahh, yes. Dickens would be pretty hard to keep track of while working. Although, if it’s a book you’ve already read the voice in the background could be soothing. I really like your idea of film soundtracks, though! You’re right that it’s able to establish the story without being to distracting. Good call!

        I totally agree with you, Eric. If people aren’t reading books they could at least listen to them! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  7. Mandy Kilinskis

    I wish I could listen to audiobooks at work! Unfortunately, though, I would just end up transcribing the book into a blog post. So I’ll just have to stick with music.

    Still, they wouldn’t be a bad idea for my morning and evening commute. It’d be a nice change of pace! 🙂

    • Jenna Markowski

      That is a valid point. Luckily I’m able to keep the two separate so they create pleasant background sound when I can’t decide what I want to listen to (ie, today).

      It would be nice for the commute! Maybe it would make traffic a little more bearable? Ehhh, maybe not.

  8. Mike

    While I work? How about while I commute to and from work – an hour+ each way. I’ve got to take a trip to the library and grab an audiobook or two to ease the rush hour. =)

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thank you for commenting, Mike! You’re right, not everyone can listen to audio books while they work. But with a commute that long, listening to an audio book on the way could definitely help ease your pain during rush hour traffic! 🙂

  9. Rachel

    Great suggestions, Jenna! I’ve thought about getting a few audiobooks for work, though I haven’t tried any out yet. I do listen to the Comedy station on Pandora on occasion, so I’m sure I’d enjoy audiobooks as well (for the less thinking-intensive projects, at least). Blows my mind that you are able to listen to audiobooks while writing, Jenna! Your brain must rock at multitasking, haha. 🙂 Thanks for the awesome list!


    Hello Jenna,
    I usually listen to classics (The Hobbit, Harry Potter…) but Bossypants by Tina Fey was a great discovery, thank you!
    For audiosbook beginners offers short audio stories for free in English, French and Spanish, so it can also be helpful for practising those languages.
    At first it was difficult to work and listen to an audiobook at the same time but once you get used to it feels like days are much longer!

  11. Duncan Faber

    If I can make a recommendation, here’s a great site to download free audiobooks for kids.

  12. Abigail Young

    Nice post. I also love audio books. You can check out if you’re planing to buy audio books online. They offer audio books at a low price.

  13. Clariss Jeune

    Your post is very informative, I learned a lot and i like it.

    Cheers 🙂

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