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January 1&15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more The Listen List
All Involved. By Ryan Gattis. Read by Anthony Rey Perez and others. 2015. HarperAudio, CD, $24.99.
This cinema verité soundscape depicts gang-related murder and retaliation amid the chaos and confusion of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Seventeen individuals, including a Korean shopkeeper, Latino street hustlers, gritty cops, and sympathetic nurses, are artfully voiced by five actors evoking an emotional range from poetic reflection to brutal violence.
Listen-alikes: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates and read by the author (Books on Tape); City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg and read by Rebecca Lowman and others (Books on Tape); Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, by Sudhir Venkatesh and read by Reg Rogers and others (HarperAudio).
All the Old Knives. By Olen Steinhauer. Read by Ari Fliakos and Juliana Francis Kelly. 2015. Macmillan Audio, CD, $29.99.
In a single evening, two CIA agents and former lovers expose old memories and reveal differing perspectives on a terrorist attack. The interplay between Fliakos’ gravelly, world-weary tone and Kelly’s briskly controlled voice intensifies tautly stretched emotions and engenders a misplaced trust that is shattered by a final plot twist.
Listen-alikes: The Dinner, by Herman Koch and read by Clive Mantle (Blackstone Audio); Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn and read by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne (Books on Tape); A Perfect Spy, by John le Carré and read by Michael Jayston (Penguin Audio).
And Only to Deceive. By Tasha Alexander. Read by Kate Reading. 2015Recorded Books/Tantor Media, CD, $39.99.
After marrying to escape her socially pretentious mother, Lady Emily falls in love with the deceased husband she barely knew while investigating his questionable acquisition of Greek antiquities. Immersing listeners in nineteenth-century English society, Reading’s pitch-perfect accents and vibrant performance capture Emily’s transformation from privileged aristocrat to newly independent woman.
Listen-alikes: The Anatomist’s Wife, by Anna Lee Huber and read by Heather Wilds (Tantor Media); The Beekeeper’s Apprentice; or, On the Segregation of the Queen, by Laurie R. King and read by Jenny Sterlin (Recorded Books); Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear and read by Rita Barrington (Blackstone Audio).
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.By Erik Larson. Read by Scott Brick. 2015. Books on Tape, CD, $45.
Brick’s crisply evocative performance vividly conveys both the wartime atmosphere and the precise details of the sinking of the Lusitania by German U-boat 20. His dramatic narration of passenger and crew experiences, along with military and political machinations, propel listeners ever nearer to the inevitable and tragic conclusion.
Listen-alikes: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing and read by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio); The Guns of August, by Barbara W. Tuchman and read by John Lee (Recorded Books/Tantor Media); A Night to Remember: The Classic Account of the Final Hours of the Titanic, by Walter Lord and read by Martin Jarvis (Blackstone Audio).
Dracula. By Bram Stoker. Read by David Horovitch and others. 2015. Naxos AudioBooks, CD, $89.98.
Stoker’s classic horror tale, which introduces the iconic vampire Dracula, is brilliantly performed by an exceptional assemblage of British actors. Unfolding with quiet intensity, the well-matched voices result in fully realized characters that combine to create mounting psychological and sexual tension in this revelatory listening experience.
Listen-alikes: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley and read by Daniel Philpott and others (Naxos AudioBooks); The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova and read by Justine Eyre and Paul Michael (Books on Tape); The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson and read by Martin Jarvis (Blackstone Audio).
H Is for Hawk. By Helen MacDonald. Read by the author. 2015. Blackstone Audio, CD, $90.
Gracefully literate and whimsically humorous, MacDonald’s elegiac tone details her journey through depression while nuanced reflections on T. H. White’s The Goshawkprovide a counterpoint to her raw grief. In an experience as natural as sharing a confidence, she opens her heart and entrusts the listener with both words and voice.
Listen-alikes: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert and read by the author (Books on Tape); The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness, by Sy Montgomery and read by the author (Recorded Books/HighBridge Audio); Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed and read by Bernadette Dunne (Books on Tape)
The Invasion of the Tearling. By Erika Johansen. Read by Davina Porter. 2015. HarperAudio, DD, $34.99.
In this sequel to The Queen of the Tearling, Kelsea harnesses her strengthening magic and confronts the Red Queen while experiencing visions of an abused woman living in a vastly different civilization. Porter’s regal tone, varied cadence, and commanding delivery intensify the emotional connection of sharply delineated yet intertwined stories.
Listen-alikes: A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin and read by Roy Dotrice (Books on Tape); The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N. K. Jemisin and read by Casaundra Freeman (Brilliance Audio); A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan and read by Kate Reading (Macmillan Audio).
The Jaguar’s Children. By John Vaillant. Read by Ozzie Rodriguez and David H. Lawrence XVII. 2015. Books on Tape, CD, $40.
Locked inside a tanker truck, abandoned in the desert, 19 Latino immigrants are left to die. With authentic Spanish accents and riveting pacing, Rodriguez and Lawrence capture visceral feelings of claustrophobia and desperation. Flashbacks reveal exploitative agribusiness practices while frantic rescue appeals are made to an unanswered cell phone.
Listen-alikes: Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free, by Héctor Tobar and read by Henry Leyva (Recorded Books/Macmillan Audio); The Devil’s Highway: A True Story, by Luis Alberto Urrea and read by the author (Hachette Audio); The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi and read by Jonathan Davis (Brilliance Audio).
The Knockoff. By Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza. Read by Katherine Kellgren. 2015. Books on Tape, CD, $45.
Haute couture and social media collide in an absurdly entertaining face-off between Imogen, a fortysomething magazine editor, and tech-savvy Eve, her power-hungry former assistant. Kellgren nails technophobe Imogen’s elegant tone as well as Eve’s sharply contrasting millennial vernacular, adeptly capturing New York City’s fast-paced publishing world.
Listen-alikes: The Devil Wears Prada, by Lauren Weisberger and read by Bernadette Dunne (Books on Tape); Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby and read by Emma Fielding (Books on Tape); The Status of All Things, by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke and read by Amy McFadden (Dreamscape Media).
The Strangler Vine. By M. J. Carter. Read by Alex Wyndham. 2015. Recorded Books/HighBridge Audio, CD, $39.99.
Carter creates a ripping-good listen, weaving together a rich tapestry of adventure and historical authenticity in this captivating tale of a search for a social rebel. Wyndham’s narration conjures the oppressive atmosphere and constricting formality of 1837 British colonial rule through expert class inflections, Indian accents, and masterful pacing.
Listen-alikes: The Curse of the Pharaohs, by Elizabeth Peters and read by Barbara Rosenblat (Recorded Books); The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel, by Anthony Horowitz and read by Derek Jacobi (Blackstone Audio/Hachette Audio); The Perfect Murder, by H. R. F. Keating and read by Frederick Davidson (Blackstone Audio).
’Til the Well Runs Dry. By Lauren Francis-Sharma. Narrated by Ron Butler and Bahni Turpin. 2015. Recorded Books/Tantor Media, CD, $39.99.
Marcia and Farouk, married but rarely together, share a love that spans decades despite being buffeted by a strict social hierarchy and a need for independence. Ideally paired narrators Turpin and Butler create an immersive listening experience, capturing the characters’ unique dialects, from lilting Trinidadian rhythms to subtle East Indian tones.
Listen-alikes: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and read by Adjoa Andoh (Recorded Books); Land of Love and Drowning, by Tiphanie Yanique and read by Cherise Boothe and others (Recorded Books); Unburnable, by Marie-Elena John and read by Robin Miles (Recorded Books).
True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa. By Michael Finkel. Read by Rich Orlow. 2015. HarperAudio, DD, $24.99.
Disgraced journalist Finkel is thrown a lifeline when he learns accused murderer Christopher Longo, one of the FBI’s most wanted, has been using his identity. Orlow’s absorbing presentation is unobtrusive yet chilling and generates an emotional response as he gives voice to both author and accused in this riveting memoir.
Listen-alikes: Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, by Erik Larson and read by Scott Brick (Books on Tape); Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation, by Dean Jobb and read by Peter Berkrot (Recorded Books/HighBridge Audio); Out of Orange, by Cleary Wolters and read by Barbara Rosenblat (Blackstone Audio/HarperAudio).
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