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The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. By Doris Kearns Goodwin. Read by Edward Herrmann. 2013. 37hr. Simon & Schuster Audio, CD, $75 (9781442353152).
Herrmann’s pleasant, authoritative baritone and effortless delivery bring immediacy to Goodwin’s text. He becomes invisible, letting the book’s many characters and polished prose shine in this intriguing Carnegie Medal–winning account of personalities, politics, and journalism.
Destroyer Angel. By Nevada Barr. Read by Barbara Rosenblat. 2014. 11.5hr. Macmillan, CD, $39.99 (9781427235480).
Perfect timing, thoughtful delivery, and the ability to extract fear, humor, tension, and 100 other emotions out of a single word characterize Rosenblat’s telling of this chilling survival story starring park ranger Anna Pigeon.
Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him. By David Henry and Joe Henry. Read by Dion Graham. 2013. 9hr. Tantor, CD, $42.99 (9781452615578).
In Graham’s splendid reading of this revealing portrait of comedic genius Richard Pryor, he channels Pryor, smoothly morphing into his voice as well as those of Miles Davis and Bill Cosby, among others. The writing is fantastic and the reading even better.
The Good Lord Bird. By James McBride. Read by Michael Boatman. 2013. 14.5hr. Dreamscape, CD, $59.99 (9781624067105).
This picaresque fictional memoir of former slave Henry Shackleford (part of abolitionist John Brown’s band) moves from one misadventure to the next, delightfully guided by Boatman’s expert and unforgettable narration of this inventive reimagining of events leading up to the Civil War.
Lord of Scoundrels. By Loretta Chase. Read by Kate Reading. 2014. 12hr. Blackstone, CD, $105 (9781482966213).
Reading’s narration elevates this classic Regency romance, creating a sparkling, not-to-be-missed performance: flawlessly paced, racy, humorous, heartwarming, and full of Chase’s trademark wit.
A Man Called Ove. By Fredrik Backman. Read by George Newbern. 2014. 9hr. Dreamscape, CD, $59.99 (9781629239804).
Newbern deftly narrates this thoughtful, charming tale of Ove, a curmudgeonly widower. He reads in an Everyman American accent that underlines the universal quality of Ove’s observations and might elicit chuckles, knowing nods, and even a few tears.
The Martian. By Andy Weir. Read by R. C. Bray. 2014. 11hr. Brilliance, CD, $14.99 (9781491526514).
Heartwarming humor and breathtaking suspense drive Bray’s tour de force characterization of a NASA astronaut presumed dead and left on Mars. He captures hero Watney’s dry wit with disarming emotional depth and combines taut, authoritative commentary with a spectrum of international accents.
MASH: A Novel about Three Army Doctors. By Richard Hooker. Read by Johnny Heller. 2013. 5.5hr. Tantor, CD, $34.99 (9781452617671).
Set aside your memory of the voices of the stellar casts of the movie and television versions and sink into Heller’s immersive and satisfying interpretation of Hooker’s brash black comedy that follows the antics of three army doctors in the Korean War.
An Officer and a Spy. By Robert Harris. Read by David Rintoul. 2014. 16hr. Books on Tape, CD, $45 (9780804165693).
With precise accents and a sense of drama that reflects the intensity of the prose and the urgency of the pacing, Rintoul expertly dramatizes this retelling of the Dreyfus Affair and lays bare the scandal and miscarriage of justice that shook France at the turn of the twentieth century.
Red. By John Logan. Read by Jonathan Groff and Alfred Molina. 2013. 1.5hr. LA Theatre Works, CD, $29.95 (9781580819329).
Molina reprises his role as towering artistic genius Mark Rothko and gives an emotionally charged performance in this Tony Award–winning play that brilliantly blends passion, intellect, and art.
The Testament of Mary. By Colm Tóibín. Read by Meryl Streep. 2013. 3hr. Simon & Schuster Audio, CD, $14.99 (9781442363472).
In her powerful and evocative reading, Streep embodies Tóibín’s Mary, a woman haunted by memories who delivers her sometimes startling message in a matter-of-fact manner that highlights the gorgeous but spare prose. A virtuoso performance of a provocative and acclaimed novel. (Top of the List winner—Adult Audio.)
The Warden. By Anthony Trollope. Read by David Shaw-Parker. 2013. 7.5hr. Naxos, CD, $41.98 (9781843796862).
Shaw-Parker’s sprightly narration enlivens Trollope’s classic novel and creates an irresistible listening experience. He skillfully inhabits the role of the companionable omniscient narrator, assuming a tone of mock pomposity as he guides listeners through the tangle of social and ecclesiastical issues.
White Fire. By Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Read by René Auberjonois. 2013. 13hr. Hachette, CD, $40 (9781619694620).
With flawless timing and faultless control of the lightning pace, Auberjonois delights listeners as he skillfully conveys an assortment of accents and quirky characters in this over-the-top story that mixes history and suspense in a Colorado mining town.
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