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AudioFile's
Best Audiobooks of 2005

AudioFile's editors choose 38 must-hear audiobooks of the past year. All are intimate, amazing, unforgettable audio performances--the best of what the medium can do.

AnchorTOP 10 FICTION

FAHRENHEIT 451 Ray Bradbury
Read by Scott Brick (Books on Tape)
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THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY Douglas Adams
Read by Stephen Fry (Random House Audio/Books on Tape)
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THE LOST MOTHER Mary McGarry Morris
Read by Judith Ivey (HighBridge Audio)
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THE MARCH E.L. Doctorow
Read by Joe Morton (Random House Audio/Books on Tape)
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THE MASTER Colm Tóibín
Read by Geoffrey Howard (Blackstone Audiobooks)
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THE MERMAID CHAIR Sue Monk Kidd
Read by Eliza Foss (Penguin Audio/Books on Tape)
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THE NINTH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX Liz Jensen
Read by Gerard Doyle, Jeff Woodman (Recorded Books)
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PORTUGUESE IRREGULAR VERBS Alexander McCall Smith
Read by Paul Hecht (Recorded Books)
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A SLIGHT TRICK OF THE MIND Mitch Cullin
Read by Simon Jones (HighBridge Audio)
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THOSE WHO SAVE US Jenna Blum
Read by Suzanne Toren (Recorded Books)
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2003 marked the 50th anniversary ofFAHRENHEIT 451--the kind of perennial classic that supports multiple audio editions and finds new fans in every generation. Audiophiles can hear Ray Bradbury reading his own work; Scott Brick's new recording is equally compelling and, as our reviewer noted, "even more chilling and disturbing today." The medium of spoken word seems especially appropriate for Bradbury, who wrote in the afterword to his story collection QUICKER THAN THE EYE: "I don't wait for inspiration. It jolts me every morning. Just before dawn, when I would prefer to sleep in, the damned stuff speaks between my ears with my Theater of Morning Voices."
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THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY is a different kind of classic--a cult hit that's as popular today as it was 30 years ago. This year brought a big-screen version and a new audio edition, both of which featured Stephen Fry to hilarious effect. Fry is the voice of the Harry Potter audiobooks in the UK, but across the pond, U.S. listeners have been treated to Fry's readings of A BEAR CALLED PADDINGTON as well as his own RESCUING THE SPECTACLED BEAR this year. We'd like to hear him do more--perhaps starting with Hitchhiker sequel THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE?
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AnchorTOP 6 FAMILY LISTENING

ELDEST Christopher Paolini
Read by Gerard Doyle (Listening Library)
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HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE J.K. Rowling
Read by Jim Dale (Listening Library)
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KIRA-KIRA Cynthia Kadohata
Read by Elaina Erika Davis (Listening Library)
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MAGYK Angie Sage
Read by Allan Corduner (Harper Audio/Recorded Books)
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MYSTERY! MYSTERY! FOR CHILDREN Jim Weiss
Read by Jim Weiss (Greathall Productions)
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PRIVATE PEACEFUL Michael Morpurgo
Read by Jeff Woodman (Recorded Books)
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Jim Dale (who was honored as best male narrator in last year's Audie Awards) toured around the country this summer in unprecedented narratorial support ofHARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE--and received rock star treatment wherever he went. That's what we call audio magic. Some lucky fans even got Dale's voice on their answering machines, reminding them to pick up the book (as if they needed reminding!). In another landmark this year, Harry finally emerged from the audio dark ages when all six books in the series became available as digital downloads exclusively through Apple's iTunes Music Store. There's even a limited edition Hogwarts iPod.
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AnchorTOP 3 AUDIO ORIGINALS

AMERICA (THE AUDIOBOOK) Jon Stewart et al.
Read by Jon Stewart et al. (Time Warner AudioBooks)
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AB

THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY: THE TERTIARY PHASEDouglas Adams
Read by Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, and a Full Cast (Audio Partners/BBC Audiobooks America)
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LOST & FOUND SOUND AND BEYOND The Kitchen Sisters, Jay Allison
Read by Francis Ford Coppola et al. (HighBridge Audio/NPR)
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AUD


Fans of "The Daily Show" brand of fake news got their first taste of America on audio: It was released as an exclusive download from Audible.com a week before the print book hit bookstore shelves. The audiobook, narrated by Jon Stewart and other "Daily Show" cast members, went on to be an Audie Award Finalist and win the spoken word Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. We said it was "liable to become a classic of political satire."
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AnchorTOP 5 BIOGRAPHY & HISTORY

1776 David McCullough
Read by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster Audio/Recorded Books)
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MY LIFE SO FAR Jane Fonda
Read by Jane Fonda (Random House Audio)
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GARLIC AND SAPPHIRES Ruth Reichl
Read by Bernadette Dunne (Books on Tape)
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THE PONTIFF IN WINTER John Cornwall
Read by John Lee (Books on Tape)
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READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN Azar Nafisi
Read by Lisette Lecat (Recorded Books)
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MY LIFE SO FAR was probably the highest of the high-profile celebrity memoirs to debut in 2005, but amid all the hype, listeners were treated to an especially intimate experience (and the closest most people will come to sitting down and having a cup of tea with Jane Fonda). She recorded both the abridged and unabridged versions because, as she says in an interview included with the audiobook, "I want my life in my voice." Jane's not the only skilled author-reader on our list: David McCullough brings erudition and gravitas to his engaging histories, including this year's 1776.
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AnchorTOP 4 CONTEMPORARY CULTURE

BLINK Malcolm Gladwell
Read by Malcolm Gladwell (Time Warner AudioBooks)
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FIRE IN THE HEART Deepak Chopra
Read by Deepak Chopra (Audio Renaissance)
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THE JOURNEY OF CRAZY HORSE Joseph Marshall III
Read by Joseph Marshall III (HighBridge Audio)
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THE WORLD IS FLAT Thomas L. Friedman
Read by Oliver Wyman (Audio Renaissance/BBC Audiobooks America)
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"Stories, as far as I'm concerned, are the best way for people to get to know about each other," says Lakota storyteller Joseph Marshall III. Marshall has been getting his message out--and people are listening. His collection THE LAKOTA WAY was published by the small Native American music label Makoché in 2003 and won an Audie Award. It was followed by THE JOURNEY OF CRAZY HORSE (HighBridge) and QUIET THUNDER (Sounds True), both Earphones Award winners. AudioFile's review of THE JOURNEY OF CRAZY HORSE raves, "Marshall still keeps listeners on the edge of their seats, rooting for Crazy Horse and the lost Lakota way of life."
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AnchorTOP 10 MYSTERY & SUSPENSE

ALONE Lisa Gardner
Read by Holter Graham (Random House Audio)
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DARK VOYAGE Alan Furst
Read by George Guidall (Recorded Books)
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DEAD I WELL MAY BE Adrian McKinty
Read by Gerard Doyle (Blackstone Audiobooks)
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JANE AND HIS LORDSHIP'S LEGACY Stephanie Barron
Read by Kate Reading (Books on Tape)
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ONE SHOT Lee Child
Read by Dick Hill (Brilliance Audio)
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RUMPOLE AND THE PENGE BUNGALOW MURDERS John Mortimer
Read by Bill Wallis (Audio Partners/BBC Audiobooks America)
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SHERLOCK HOLMES THEATRE Sherlock Holmes, Yuri Rasovsky
Read by Martin Jarvis, Kristoffer Tabori, et al. (Blackstone Audio)
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TRANSGRESSIONS: CHASING SHADOWS Walter Mosley, Joyce Carol Oates
Read by Michael Boatman, Anne Twomey (Audio Renaissance)
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THE TRUDEAU VECTOR Juris Jurjevics
Read by Robertson Dean (Penguin Audio/Books on Tape)
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WITH NO ONE AS WITNESS Elizabeth George
Read by Donada Peters (Books on Tape)
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You could call author Lee Child and narrator Dick Hill partners in crime--Hill has narrated all of Child's audiobooks starring former military cop Jack Reacher. Child told AudioFile that Hill's interpretation of Reacher is so convincing that he now hears it when he reads his work to himself. "Dick's just got it, period." AudioFile's review calls ONE SHOT, the latest Reacher thriller, "the ultimate disc-turner."
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Donada Peters (aka Wanda McCaddon) and Elizabeth George are another longtime author-narrator team who work in perfect harmony--even though the two have never met. McCaddon has narrated 13 of George's Scotland Yard mysteries, including the newest, WITH NO ONE AS WITNESS. McCaddon considers narrating the books to be "a joy" and enjoys interpreting George's "well-drawn, complex characters." George's characters have been interpreted for the screen as well--"The Inspector Lynley Mysteries," starring Sharon Small as Barbara Havers and Nathaniel Parker (also a narrator--listeners can hear him reading Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series) as Thomas Lynley, air on PBS.
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AnchorUN = Unabridged   AB = Abridged   AUD = Audio program
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