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January 1&15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Listen-alikes
In the seven listen-alike titles below, all of which blend multiple genres, the line between reality and fantasy is blurred, and exceptional readers make the unbelievable seem believable through understated tones and tongue-in-cheek wit. These audios reflect stories that are both great adventure and lots of fun.
The Eyre Affair. By Jasper Fforde. Read by Susan Duerden. 2010. 12hr. Books on Tape, CD, $90 (9781415966648).
Special Operative Thursday Next is a literary detective in a world as different from the real world as fact is from fiction. Duerden does everything right in her reading of the tale, bringing out Next’s pluck and vulnerability while portraying even the zaniest characters with restraint. And her matter-of-fact handling of the reality-bending moments makes listening to this witty tale even more fun than reading it.
The Graveyard Book. By Neil Gaiman. Read by the author. 2008. 8hr. Recorded Books, CS, $56.75 (9781436158794); CD, $77.75 (9781436158848).
Gaiman’s cultured British accent is the perfect vehicle for this gothic 2009 Newbery award–winning tale of murder, revenge, lost loves, and friendship. Ghosts and humans team up to save a baby who finds his way to a graveyard. Gaiman balances the scary stuff with calm, matter-of-fact conversational tones. Although a youth title, this appeals to adults as well.
The Heroines. By Eileen Favorite. Read by Charlotte Parry. 2008. 8hr. Recorded Books, CS, $61.75 (9781428185319); CD, $77.75 (9781428185333).
Thirteen-year-old Penny and her mother run a bed-and-breakfast for unusual guests—literary heroines who need a break from their dramatic story lines before returning to face tragic destinies. Parry turns in a virtuoso performance, deftly switching accents (American, British, Slavic) to voice characters—both real and imaginary.
The Resurrectionist. By Jack O’Connell. Read by Holter Graham. 2008. 11.5hr. HighBridge, CD, $34.95 (9781598875942).
Graham’s measured, perceptive reading keeps the unpredictable plot (the brain fluids of a comatose boy are in danger of being stolen) and comic-book-inspired dreamland setting filled with mad scientists and carnival freaks on track. Listeners remain balanced between fine lines of fantasy and reality.
The Sacred Book of the Werewolf. By Victor Pelevin. Read by Cassandra Campbell. 2008. 12hr. Blackstone, CS, $54.95 (9781433246753); CD, $60 (9781433246760).
A 2,000-year-old female werewolf, posing as a prostitute in contemporary Moscow, meets and falls in love with a Russian intelligence operative (also a werewolf) in this complex, allegorical tale. Campbell’s precise diction and understated inflection hints at the double meanings and subtleties of the prose.
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. By Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters. Read by Katherine Kellgren. 2009. 11hr. Brilliance, CD, $97.97 (9781441824356).
Kellgren offers an excellent reading of this Austen mash-up, including includes tongue-in-cheek repartee that honors the charm of the author’s original novel, spiced with humorous, rampaging mayhem and menacing aquatic monsters. Treading a fine line between characterization and caricature, Kellgren ably portrays upper-crust British characters, mysterious Pestilent Isle natives, and more.
Unseen Academicals. By Terry Pratchett. Read by Stephen Briggs. 2010. 14.5hr. Harper, CD, $39.99 (9780061868290).
When required to play a game of football to save a bequest, the wizards of Unseen University (who favor pies more than calisthenics) turn to the goblins, vampires, dwarfs, and humans for help. Briggs takes Pratchett’s kooky characters, puns, twists, and droll humor in stride with a low-key, high-fun performance.
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