Audiobooks are the perfect travel companion. Picture: Pexels

London - No need to fill your suitcase with heavy tomes on your next holiday, the rising trend for audiobooks means you can now take a library abroad with nothing more than your phone and earplugs.

And while audiobooks were once slow, dreary readings by bored-sounding narrators, nowadays they are brought to life by unmissable performances by famous actors or the authenticity of hearing the author’s own voice.

You can hear Emma Thompson narrate Jane Austen’s Emma in a perfect match of tone and content, or Jake Gyllenhaal read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby with his unique American twang.

Here, we round up some of the best summer beach listens.

Becoming, by Michelle Obama

Narrated by Michelle Obama 

Being able to read about the Obamas’ time in the White House is already fascinating and compelling, but hearing the revelations in Michelle’s own voice elevates this phenomenal memoir even further.

It seems a wonderful privilege to have the former first lady speaking her own words straight into your ear, and her own reading gives the anecdotes extra meaning and emotion.

The memoir details her upbringing and education, her career as a lawyer and marriage to Barack, and their life as first family of the US.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

Narrated by Thandie Newton 

There is nothing like the voice of a modern, glamorous star to give a classic a contemporary feel.

Newton’s performance of this cherished classic makes you hear Bronte’s words afresh, however many times you’ve read them before.

The audiobook also casts Newton in a different light, her voice so soft, smooth and comforting to listen to that it’s hard to imagine her as the ruthless killer from "Line Of Duty".

Big Sky, by Kate Atkinson

Narrated by Jason Isaacs 

Atkinson’s adored detective Jackson Brodie is back after a nine-year hiatus, but the book’s only out in a £20 (about R350) hardback, making this audio version a money-saver, too. Brodie is now living in a North Yorkshire seaside village with his teenage son, but soon finds himself investigating modern slavery.

The book is read by Jason Issacs - best known for playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films - a popular and adept narrator, who has done all five Brodie novels with great flair.

This book has all Atkinson’s genius hallmarks: funny, sad, heartwarming and gripping.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

Narrated by Elisabeth Moss, Bradley Whitford, Amy Landecker, Ann Dowd 

This new recording of Atwood’s seminal book is read by US actress Elisabeth Moss, star of the Channel 4 television version, as well as other actors from the hit series. Inevitably, Moss embodies the lead character, Offred, perfectly and reads with grace and at an ideal pace.

It also makes the transition easy for fans of the TV show wanting to hear the original work, a dystopian novel which follows Offred, a "handmaid" forced to bear children for infertile families in Gilead.

Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

Narrated by 166 people, including Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, and Julianne Moore 

This Man Booker Prize-winning novel has been given the celebrity treatment in its translation into audiobook.

The story, which takes place over one night in a graveyard in 1862 and concerns the death of Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son, is told by a chorus of different characters; and in audio form, each one has been given a separate narrator.

That means an astonishing 166-strong cast featuring famous actors, musicians and writers as well as Saunders himself. It also makes for an intriguing guess-the-voice listen.

Daily Mail