Audiobook Recommendations

July 17, 2009

We were recently asked by a patron to put up a list of audiobooks we liked. We reviewed our reading history list in the Library catalog for reminders (go to My Account in the catalog and click on the My Reading History button for instructions) and have come up with a brief list of our favorites from the past year–in no particular order of appearance. It should also be noted that many of these books can be easily downloaded through the Library’s Overdrive service. Don’t hesitate to find your own favorites there.

Our Man In Havana  and  A Gun For Sale by Graham Greene  ~~ We listened to these two books back-to-back during a period of nostalgia for a more 50’s kind of time. Dosage recommendations: Be sure your martinis are ice cold and your dress is light and swishy. To be taken when overwhelmed by overwritten, overly-long contemporary espionage full of car crashes and blazing semi-automatics. These stories can raise the hair on your neck just like the cold muzzle of a gun.

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard  ~~ Our audio recommendations generally come with the proviso that the story is a good one but they make the list because an audio version/performance takes the listener a step further in enjoying the tale. The dextrous narration by Simon Vance brings the characters to life in the Man In The Iron Mask-like story.

In The Woods by Tana French  ~~ The Irish lilt in Steve Crossley’s narration enhances the sarcasm and humor in this gruesome mystery.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson  ~~ This audio performance made the book–light on mystery but heavy with interesting characters, scream along and we will definitely be listening to the sequel (to be released next week) The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Beat The Reaper by Josh Bazell   ~~ This book is so full of sarcasm, cynicism and terror, that the paper version just cannot compete with Robert Petkoff’s reading about a doctor, a former mafia assassin now in a federal witness protection program, fleeing from a cadre of hitmen after being recognized.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova  ~~ We are not usually drawn to vampire stories–our apologies to the millions of you who are, yet the group of narrators (Joanne Whalley, Martin Jarvis, Dennis Boutsikaris, Jim Ward, Rosalyn Landor, and Robin Atkin Downes) brought this beautifully written book to life. The descriptions of the settings in Europe are wonderful.

City Of Thieves by David Benioff  ~~ Ron Perlman perfectly narrates this harrowing buddy tale of two young men searching for a dozen eggs to save their lives during the siege of Saint Petersburg. This is a terrific story.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett  ~~ This is one of our favorites from 2009 and we’re not alone given its popularity at the Library. Read by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and Cassandra Campbell, with grace and emotional intensity, the story tells of the joys and sorrows of a group of women in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi and their struggles to overcome the racial divide that separates them.

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry  ~~ Another one of our very favorites, from 2008, it was short-listed for the Man-Booker Prize and is read wonderfully by Wanda McCaddon. Her voice lends itself perfectly to the forsaken character of Roseann McNulty, a beautiful, young Irish woman banished to an asylum for spurious reasons by the local priest after he has her marriage annulled. This is a must-read even if you don’t care for audiobooks. It’s so beautifully written we found ourselves listening to passages more than once.

Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome  ~~ Recommended to us as one of the funniest books ever written, a classic of English humor, we can’t disagree, especially with the spot-on narration by Frederick Davidson.

Case Histories and  One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson  ~~ Both of these books have versions read by Steven Crossley which we highly recommend as his ability to bring out the sheer fatigue and sarcasm of private detective Jackson Brodie are second to none. These mysteries are intricately and very enjoyably plotted.