By Dnalor 01 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
These are what I consider benchmark productions, the standards of excellence by which I judge other audiobooks and the narrators themselves:
★ 1984 (by George Orwell; narrated by Simon Prebble)
★ The Ghosts of Belfast (by Stuart Neville; narrated by Gerard Doyle)
★ A Happy Marriage (by Rafael Yglesias; narrated by Grover Gardner)
★ In Cold Blood (by Truman Capote; narrated by Scott Brick)
★ Life of Pi (by Yaan Martel; narrated by Jeff Woodman)
★ Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War (by Karl Marlantes; narrated by Bronson Pinchot)
★ The Millennium Trilogy (by Stieg Larsson; narrated by Simon Vance)
★ The Power of the Dog (by Don Winslow; narrated by Ray Porter)
★ The Sally Lockhart Quatrain (by Philip Pullman; narrated by Anton Lesser)
★ Shantaram (by Gregory David Roberts; narrated by Humphrey Bower)
★ The Thirteenth Tale (by Diane Setterfield; narrated by Bianca Amato & Jill Tanner)
★ To Kill a Mockingbird (by Harper Lee; narrated by Sissy Spacek)
There are those who have suggested that I should not have or proclaim a list of favorite audiobooks; but I do; and there is a certain disingenuousness in pretending that I can’t or don’t make a distinction between really good productions and truly great ones. If readers and/or listeners thought that I was indiscriminate in my listening tastes, then my credibility on being able to review or produce works is compromised. That said, I will never, ever make or publish a list of “Worst Audiobooks.” I may have criticisms to offer; but such a list doesn’t serve anyone well.
There are more than quite a few other audiobook narrators that I love and who I regularly listen to; but haven’t made the Pantheon; and there are audiobooks/narrators who have been bumped from the list (e.g. The Dead Series by Adrian McKinty; narrated by Gerard Doyle) was replaced by The Ghosts of Belfast (by Stuart Neville; narrated by Gerard Doyle.) The list evolves, and additions are rare. Most times I’m just waiting for that seminal performance that I know is within reach of the narrator, but for whatever reason, hasn’t happened for me yet.
I listen to about 50 audiobooks a year outside of the ones I work on, and this list covers the last 10 years or so of my listening to audiobooks. In each case, the casting, the material, the performance, and the production values are truly excellent.
Disclaimer: I worked on A Happy Marriage (by Rafael Yglesias; narrated by Grover Gardner), and have a personal relationship with Grover Gardner.
EDIT: 12/31/2015: To add picture of the Roman Pantheon at night (and attribution); To add star “bullet” points; To remove two titles from the Pantheon which were actually afterthoughts and not originally considered when I created the Audiobook Pantheon; To remove a phrase from the disclaimer associated with the one of the removed titles; to remove a disingenuous phrase from the disclaimer.