These true tales range from the funny and flippant to the gritty and gruesome. Give nonfiction audio a try! You may find that nonfiction (which doesn’t always have a strong narrative thread you need to follow) is ideal for listening in stops and starts.
Devil in the White Cityby Erik Larson; this gripping tale of a serial killer at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago is so spellbinding, you’ll want to extend your commute to hear more!
Bossypants by Tina Fey, read by the author: this book is shriekingly funny. Truly one of the best audio books around – Fey is witty and direct, never sappy, and always gut-bustingly hilarious.
I Feel Bad About My Neckby Nora Ephron: Ephron’s candid observations on life and getting older are enjoyable and crisply humorous.
Zeitounby Dave Eggers: The gritty true story of the tribulations of Abduhlraman Zeitoun and his family in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
At Home by Bill Bryson, read by the author: see my review for a longer rant on the excellence of this very excellent book.
The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell, read by the author: You know Sarah Vowell’s voice already – she vocalized for Violet in Pixar’s The Incredibles. You’ll also recognize the many luminaries/musicians/comedians/TV personalities who make cameos in her delectable book – Conan O’Brien and Stephen Colbert, for example. Oh, and it’s full of intelligent and interesting essays about history and American culture, too.
The beginning of the audiobook version of this book is fun – especially if you are also a Little House fan. You’ll have many “I felt like that too!” moments, as the author describes her love of what she calls “Laura World.”
Wendy McClure, the author of The Wilder Lifeis on the extreme end of the Little House research continuum, however. After a while, I found myself withdrawing – wishing I hadn’t heard that bit of myth debunking. I was quite happy believing that most things in the books were based on emotional, if not factual, truth.
Of special interest are the details about how the tv series overtook the books in popularity and the legal battles over the “Little House” brand, or LHOP, as the author calls it.
The end is satisfying and thought-provoking. McClure ties in what she learned about how Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder told their stories with how she came to terms with memories of her mother.
Every day, I have to drive across the bridge to get to work and back home. Inevitably, cars are backed up for miles and I end up idling on I-74 for long periods of time. Luckily, I always have an audiobook in my glove compartment for just such an occasion, and the ones that I come back to most often are the Harry Potter series, written by J.K. Rowling. My personal favorite of the audio series is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
For an audiobook, the most important thing to have is a good narrator, and Jim Dale is one of the best. He has won countless awards for his vocal portrayals of Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the rest of the Hogwarts gang. Even if this is your fifth time hearing the story, Dale manages to evoke such excitement into his presentation of the text that it feels like a whole new experience. You feel as though you are there at Hogwarts carrying on a conversation with your fellow Gryffindors.
My favorite to listen to has to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Jim Dale gets everything right, from the light moments to the dramatic. I have found myself more than once having to pause the CD so that I wouldn’t be driving and crying over the climactic battle scenes at the same time. I highly recommend this series, or any other audiobook read by the fantastic Jim Dale.
Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, and Captain Hook have been reinvented so well that a generation from now no one might remember where J. M. Barrie’s original creation ended and Barry’s and Pearson’s begins. So far, the two have written three incredibly fat and action-packed volumes of Peter’s adventures with the “starstuff ” – the magical fallen stars that gave him his power and – in effect – rendered him immortal, though as a boy doomed never to grow up.
If you haven’t read this trilogy, you can’t wander through them; the books have to be read in order. Peter’s powers grow, as does the villainy of his foes. And readers are gently nudged out of the world that existed then and slid right into Neverland. If you like juvenile fantasy novels, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many better, more quick to read, or more inventive than these. The world is at once familiar and wondrous.
If you are going on a long trip, with or without children, this is a great book-on-CD set to listen to as Jim Dale (narrator for the Harry Potter series) takes you to the magical world of Peter Pan with his many voices.
Value added activities, isn’t that the current cliche? Well, this one works for me. I listen to books. I admit it, I’m practically obsessed with it. It doesn’t feel right if I turn on my car and there’s not someone telling me a story. Right now I’m listening to a Tami Hoag romance, Straight From the Heart. It’s one of those windows-closed books, you know, the steamy parts always seem to happen at stoplights. People look at you funny when they hear some of the things that come out of books. It’s one of the duties that comes with being a responsible listener, pay attention to what’s going on around you. Including who may be listening in.
I use audio books to broaden my reading list. I enjoy listening to my favorite authors being read, but I also will listen to a book that I would never take the time to read. Like a new title that everyone’s talking about but that is outside my usual choice. This has led me to find things I would have skipped over. I tried to read Wicked (by Gregory Maquire) twice and just couldn’t do it. I listened to it and loved it. It’s probably one of my favorite stories. I would have missed out on it if not for the Book on CD.
I especially like it when an audio book adds to the depth of a book. The reader’s are so important in this aspect of the genre. I have stopped listening because I just didn’t like the reader. But when they get it right, it’s magic. Jim Dale has become famous for his presentation of the Harry Potter books. C.J. Critt really nails Stephanie Plum’s character in the Janet Evanovich mysteries. But my favorites to listen to are James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux mysteries. Most are read by Will Patton, but all of the readers really set the mood for the sultry Louisiana scenes.
I listen other times, too, like while painting my living room. There’s no chore or long drive that an audio book can’t make better!
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