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Audiobooks in classics

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Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in Books on June 27, 2022
If you're looking for the best classic audiobooks and the best ways to hear them, this blog is for you! We'll cover what makes a book a classic, the benefits of classic books on audio, and how you can listen to any book.

    Audiobooks in classics

    Listening to classic novels as audiobooks can be a rewarding pastime. Maybe you’re thinking about re-reading the Mark Twain books you loved as a child. Perhaps you’d like to experience a science fiction story by Ray Bradbury, Jules Verne, or George Orwell. Maybe you’re in the mood for something spooky, like Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It could be that you’d like to solve a mystery alongside Sherlock Holmes in a book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Reading classic books is a fantastic way to exercise the imagination. It’s also a great way to learn about people of the past or find new ideas. Whatever the reason, classic books are an excellent choice for your next audiobook.

    If you’re looking for the best classic audiobooks, this blog is for you! We’re talking all about classic audiobooks. We’ll cover what makes a book a classic and the benefits of classic books on audio. 

    What defines a classic book

    Most people can easily list a few classic books off the tops of their heads. Books like Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield and Great Expectations are familiar titles. Many people read classic books by John Steinbeck in high school. People also think of ancient literature, like Homer’s Odyssey. These books are all great examples of classic literature.

    But what makes a book a classic? Is it any book that was a best selling book of its time? Is it any historical fiction book? Do short stories count as classic literature? Some people have different opinions about the criteria, but all classic books have certain things in common. These qualities make classic books a timeless choice for readers today, whether they’re students or adults. Some of the most common aspects that classic books have are that they are from an important era, tell readers something about a certain time period, or have a specific nature.


    One of the reasons classic books are still read by people today is because they are from a significant era of history. It’s common for books to affect people at the time they are written. But when modern people read classic books from other eras, it’s a valuable way to be educated about ways of life in different times. Certain books are notable because they made a meaningful impact on society. Others changed people’s opinions about world events, like wars. Some books reflect a time when day-to-day life was changing for humankind. 

    Classic books can show readers what life was like during important historical eras. Reading them is a way to learn how people lived during those times. Books can show us how people thought or what was important to them. When you read a book from years ago, it connects you to people who lived then. Across great lengths of time, we can still understand what life was like in a different era.

    Time periods

    Many people automatically picture an old book when thinking of a classic book. Classic books might be hundreds or even thousands of years old. However, not all classic books are hundreds of years old. Not all old books are considered classics. A story must stand the test of time to become a classic book. Because of this, classic books are commonly at least 50 years old. 

    Sometimes, when a new book comes out, critics will call it a “modern classic.” But until some time passes, it’s uncertain if the book will still be important many years later. Actual classic books won’t just have something to say to readers when they are first published. They will connect with readers throughout the years. When a book stays relevant to individuals over multiple generations, it is considered a classic.


    No matter when a classic book originates, it is always a book of high quality. Writers of classic books show artistic talent. Classic books like Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment can be very long. They can also be relatively short, like books written by Ernest Hemingway. Whether the writing is complex or quite simple, a classic book has universal appeal. Whether readers encountered the book when it was published, or several years later, they understand its themes. The book will appeal to people of all backgrounds and life experiences.

    Much of the time, an influential book impacted people when it was published and for years after. Whether a book by Dostoevsky or H.G. Wells, a classic book shares information about important ideas and tells stories that help readers consider new ways of thinking. A book with these characteristics becomes a special and unique contribution to literature. 

    5 Reasons to listen to classics on audio

    Whether you’re a student tackling assigned reading, a curious lifelong learner, or someone who wants to read more books for enjoyment, classic books are a timeless reading choice. While reading a book the traditional way can be helpful for study and relaxation, it’s not the only option readers have. Audiobooks offer several benefits to readers. Listening to someone read aloud is a valuable tool that can help you find the time for reading while improving your overall reading experience! Here are five reasons you should listen to classic books on audio.

    Time commitment is less intimidating

    Classic books have the power to connect readers with the great conversations and imaginations of history. Digging into classic literature is a top priority for those who enjoy reading. If you’ve decided to add more classic books to your reading list, it’s not always easy to find the time to make it happen. Sometimes it can feel like there’s never time to read the books on your list, especially when unabridged books are long. Enter audiobooks! Audiobooks can make the time commitment of reading the classics far less intimidating. With the option to listen to books, people can choose to read at a time and manner convenient for them.

    You can hear the author’s voice and tone

    You can hear the author’s voice and tone when you listen to a classic book rather than read it. Hearing the words of the story read aloud helps listeners hear them in a new way. When you read a book, you understand the words and passages. But when you listen to an audiobook, hearing the words read by a natural voice helps you focus on hearing the author’s meaning.

    A good narrator helps you get lost in the story

    Many people find it difficult to concentrate on reading. But with the help of a good narrator, you’ll find it much easier to get lost in the story. When a narrator gives a book emotion and a dramatic flair, a book becomes much more engaging and entertaining. As a result, you’ll easily focus on the book’s details.

    Re-listening to your favorites is a new experience

    Many classic books are so beloved that readers will read them repeatedly. Even if you’ve read a classic book before, listening to it read out loud can be a whole new experience. Reading and listening are different activities that engage your brain in unique ways. You’ll notice elements of the story you’ve never seen before.

    Some are more easily understood

    Since classic books are usually from another time period, the way it is written might be less familiar. The sentences might be more flowery, or the characters might speak in ways that seem less natural to you. Not to mention, not everyone finds it easy or appealing to sit for long periods and read a book. When you’re able to hear the audio version of a classic book, it’s much easier to understand and follow along with the plot.

    Best classic audiobooks to listen to again and again

    Audiobooks make it easy to find the time to make it through your reading list of classic books. Listening to classic books instead of reading them is a beautiful experience. Once you’ve discovered the joy of listening to a classic book, you will want to listen to more. To inspire your reading journey, here’s a list of some of the best classic books you can listen to on audio. 


    Persuasion was Jane Austen’s last published novel. This book is the story of Anne Elliot, a 27-year-old woman living in England in the early 19th century. As her family experiences financial troubles, they decide to cut costs by moving to another home. They rent their house to an Admiral and his wife. As it turns out, the wife’s brother was formerly engaged to Anne before going to war. Soon, they meet again for the first time in seven years, giving them both a second chance at love.

    Pride and Prejudice

    Pride and Prejudice follows the will-they-won’t-they romance between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth’s parents have five unmarried daughters, so they are excited when eligible bachelors Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy move nearby. But for Darcy and Elizabeth, it’s not exactly love at first sight. A tale of manners, social status, and, of course, romance, this is one of Jane Austen’s most popular novels.

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    When a horrible crime happens in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, it affects the lives of almost everyone who lives there. Harper Lee’s coming-of-age tale won the Pulitzer Prize in 1960. This book has been required reading for American high school students for years and remains a favorite for many who have read it. To Kill A Mockingbird explores themes of loss of innocence, justice, and courage.

    Anne of Green Gables

    Anne Shirley is an 11-year-old orphan girl sent by mistake to live with a middle-aged brother and sister. Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert hoped to adopt a boy to help them on their farm. When Anne arrives, it’s a disappointment at first. This tale follows Anne’s adventures as she begins to make a life in Avonlea and win over the Cuthberts. This book has often been adapted into films, television series, musicals, and plays.

    Jane Eyre

    In Charlotte Bronte’s tale, Jane Eyre’s life is never easy. She has a horrible relationship with her aunt. When she is sent to boarding school, things get even worse. Eventually, she accepts a job as a governess for a young girl at Thornfield manor. There, she meets her new employer, a man named Rochester. Over time, Jane secretly falls in love with the mysterious Rochester. But he’s a man with many secrets, and it’s a long road to Jane’s happily ever after.

    Mary Poppins

    The Banks family needs a new nanny for their two children, Jane and Michael. That’s when Mary Poppins enters their lives. But she’s not a typical nanny! Mary is quite strange. She has magical powers, which she uses to take the Banks children on many exciting adventures. This book is the first in a series of many tales about Mary Poppins’ adventures.

    The Great Gatsby

    This iconic story about the Jazz Age was published in 1925 and written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the novel, Nick Carraway recalls a memorable summer in New York. He makes friends with many wealthy people who are living decadent lives. He crosses paths with Jay Gatsby, a self-made man hoping to reconnect with his lost love. After helping Gatsby find Daisy Buchanan, Nick finds himself at the center of the fall-out from their secret affair. 

    The Count of Monte Cristo

    Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo tells of love, betrayal, and revenge. Edmond Dantes is young and in love. But that doesn’t last for long. His jealous friends accuse him of treason, sending him to jail for years. Many years later, he is released. He returns to his old friends and lover, disguised as the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo. He is determined to win back his lover and have revenge on the friends who betrayed him.

    Moby Dick

    Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville, is often considered one of the greatest American novels. This book tells of the voyage of the Pequod, a whaling ship. This ship is on a journey around the world, and the crew is full of interesting characters. The ship’s captain, Ahab, is obsessed with searching for Moby Dick, a giant Sperm whale. Ahab lost his leg in an encounter with the whale and is determined to find and kill it, no matter the cost.

    Gone with the Wind

    Gone with the Wind follows the main character Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett is the daughter of a plantation owner in Georgia. The novel follows her life before, during, and after the American Civil War. With this epic backdrop, she experiences love, tragedy, and other struggles. After the Bible, this is often considered a favorite novel of many American readers. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937 and became a popular film in 1939.

    Little Women

    This coming-of-age story focuses on four sisters living in Massachusetts. The March sisters are Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Throughout the story, the sisters grow from girls to women. Throughout the years, the sisters find the loves of their lives and pursue their dreams. They also must find ways to deal with life’s challenges. Louisa May Alcott based this story on her own life. Jo is based on her personality, while the other characters stand in for her family and friends.

    Uncle Tom’s Cabin

    Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in 1852, before the American Civil War. Uncle Tom is an enslaved person and is the focus of the book. Throughout the story, readers learn the events of his life and death. Harriet Beecher Stowe explores the ugly realities of practicing slavery and treating humans as property. This book greatly affected the thoughts and attitudes of Americans on slavery in the United States. 

    Reading great classic literature from times throughout history is a rewarding experience many people enjoy. Finding time to read books can be a challenge. Audiobooks are an ideal solution that allows readers to listen to books. They’ll find time to read in a way that works best for them and gain a richer reading experience. 

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    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

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