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Best Audiobooks of 2010

These are the stories that kept us riveted to our headphones and speakers, that urged us to take the long way home, to stay up past our bedtimes, to keep listening for five more minutes. On the following pages, you’ll find some truly great listens--in history and fiction, mystery and young adult, biography and contem­porary culture, and multi-voice productions that span genres--and profiles of the narrators who transform words on a page into art for the ear.




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AnchorBEST AUDIOBOOKS - FICTION

THE BOY WITH THE CUCKOO-CLOCK HEART Mathias Malzieu
Read by Jim Dale (Blackstone Audiobooks)
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THE CHILDREN’S BOOK A.S. Byatt 
Read by Rosalyn Landor (Random House Audio/Books on Tape)
Read Review 

THE CORAL THIEF Rebecca Stott 
Read by Simon Prebble (Tantor Media)
Read Review 

FREEDOM Jonathan Franzen 
Read by David Ledoux (Macmillan Audio/AudioGO)
Read Review 

THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK Doris Lessing 
Read by Juliet Stevenson (Naxos AudioBooks)
Read Review 

MATTERHORN Karl Marlantes 
Read by Bronson Pinchot (Blackstone Audiobooks)
Read Review 

NEMESIS Philip Roth 
Read by Dennis Boutsikaris (Audible, Inc./Brilliance Audio)
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A SECRET KEPT Tatiana de Rosnay 
Read by Simon Vance (Macmillan Audio/AudioGO)
Read Review 

THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET David Mitchell
Read by Jonathan Aris, Paula Wilcox (Recorded Books)
Read Review 

THE TOWER, THE ZOO, AND THE TORTOISE Julia Stuart
Read by Jonathan Cowley (Random House Audio)
Read Review 

A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD Jennifer Egan 
Read by Roxana Ortega (AudioGO)
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AnchorAudioFile’s review says it all: “Masterful describes not only Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel but also David Ledoux’s reading of the book. From the beginning,FREEDOM is a gripping tragicomedy featuring Walter and Patty Berglund, whose lives unravel as they and their children confront their innermost selves. Ledoux’s performance is every bit the equal of Franzen’s brilliant dialogue and vivid characters. His voice inhabits the characters’ psyches, sharing their loves, fears, and anxieties. Ledoux gives a vibrant performance, imbuing each character with a unique voice and tone. As a result, the listener is drawn deeper into the story, experiencing every moment with the Berglunds as they try to cope with the changes in the world and in their home. FREEDOM demonstrates the power of both the written and spoken word.”
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AnchorMATTERHORN is a heartrending, nerve-jangling novel of the Vietnam War. Narrator Bronson Pinchot makes sure that listeners are right there in the jungle with Lieutenant Waino Mellas and the men of Bravo Company, feeling all of their tension and fear. AudioFile‘s review declared that Pinchot “should get a medal for his extraordinary portrayals”--listeners are sure to agree.
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AnchorBEST AUDIOBOOKS - CHILDREN & FAMILY
LISTENING
Ages 4-8

KNUFFLE BUNNY TOO Mo Willems
Read by Mo Willems, Trixie Willems, et al. (Weston Woods)
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MATH CURSE Jon Scieszka
Read by Nancy Wu (Weston Woods)
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ONE BEASTLY BEAST Garth Nix
Read by Stig Weymss (Bolinda Audio)
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THE SCRAMBLED STATES OF AMERICA TALENT SHOW Laurie Keller
Read by Jon Carroll, David de Vries, Diana Canova (Weston Woods)
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SHREK! William Steig
Read by Stanley Tucci (Macmillan Audio/AudioGO)
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THIS JAZZ MAN Karen Ehrhardt
Read by James “D Train” Williams (Live Oak Media)
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Ages 8+
THE CARDTURNER Louis Sachar 
Read by Louis Sachar (Listening Library)
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CARRY ON, MR. BOWDITCH Jean Lee Latham
Read by Jim Weiss (Greathall Productions)
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COSMIC Frank Cottrell Boyce
Read by Kirby Heyborne (Harper Audio)
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THE DEATH-DEFYING PEPPER ROUX Geraldine McCaughrean
Read by Anton Lesser (Listening Library)
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KEEPER Kathi Appelt
Read by Kathi Appelt (Simon & Schuster Audio)
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SENT Margaret Peterson Haddix
Read by Chris Sorenson (Recorded Books)
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SPACE STATION RAT Michael J. Daley
Read by Daniel Bostick (Full Cast Audio)
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TIME QUAKE Linda Buckley-Archer
Read by Gerard Doyle (Simon & Schuster Audio)
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THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY Adam Rex
Read by Bahni Turpin (Listening Library)
Read Review 

AnchorJohn Scieszka, the first National Ambassador of Books for Young People and the mind behind Guys Read, tackles the thorny challenge of learning math in THE MATH CURSE. From AudioFile’s review: “‘The Math Curse’ is a curse every child can identify with—one through which life becomes one big math problem—getting dressed, going to school, eating lunch—you name it. Nancy Wu’s appealing and inquisitive narration complements the humor in the writing, captivating young listeners. The musical accompaniment is effective, and engaging sound effects enhance the story. Overall, music and narration come together to give life to the protagonist as she copes with letting numbers know who’s boss.”
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AnchorBEST AUDIOBOOKS - MYSTERY & SUSPENSE

BURY YOUR DEAD Louise Penny
Read by Ralph Cosham (Macmillan Audio/AudioGO)

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FAITHFUL PLACE Tana French
Read by Tim Gerard Reynolds (Recorded Books)

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THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST Stieg Larsson
Read by Simon Vance (Random House Audio/Books on Tape)

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THE GLASS RAINBOW James Lee Burke
Read by Will Patton (Simon & Schuster Audio/Recorded Books)

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MIDNIGHT HOUSE Alex Berenson
Read by George Guidall (Penguin Audio/Recorded Books)

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OUR KIND OF TRAITOR John le Carré
Read by Robin Sachs (Penguin Audio/Books on Tape)

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PRESUMED INNOCENT Scott Turow
Read by Edward Herrmann (Hachette Audio)

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THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR Daniel Silva
Read by Phil Gigante (Brilliance Audio)

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61 HOURS Lee Child 
Read by Dick Hill (Brilliance Audio)

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SPIES OF THE BALKANS Alan Furst 
Read by Daniel Gerroll (Simon & Schuster Audio/Recorded Books)

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THREE STATIONS Martin Cruz Smith 
Read by Ron McLarty (Simon & Schuster Audio)

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AnchorOne of our favorite mysteries of the year also gave us a new narrator to watch. Tim Gerard Reynolds fully inhabits the character of undercover cop Frank Mackey, who is distanced from his family by personal conflict and returns to the Dublin neighborhood where he grew up and experiences the changes of time. “Fans of crime fiction should not miss this audiobook,” AudioFile’s review raves. “The cold case that brings Mackey home entwines the listeners with the emotions of young love and youth, the dreams of escape from dysfunctional families, and the harsh realities of dead-end lives. Reynolds delivers local Dublin accents and slang with astonishing skill. FAITHFUL PLACEis unstoppable.
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AnchorLee Child had two blockbuster thrillers released this year--61 HOURS and WORTH DYING FOR-—both Reacher thrillers, both narrated by Child’s longtime audio partner, Dick Hill. We maintain that audio is the way to experience this series: “Dick Hill has portrayed Reacher since the beginning. His spare narration style is a perfect fit for the man whose only possession is a folding toothbrush. Understatement is Reacher’s trademark—-until he gets jacked up with moral outrage, a not uncommon occurrence. That’s when the real power of Hill’s performance hits the listener. His passion and pacing deliver all the aggression, power, and good-guy sensitivity Reacher is known for.” Intrigued yet?
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AnchorBEST AUDIOBOOKS - HISTORY & HISTORICAL
FICTION

ATLANTIC Simon Winchester
Read by Simon Winchester (Harper Audio/Books on Tape)

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BOARDWALK EMPIRE Nelson Johnson
Read by Joe Mantegna (Audible, Inc./Brilliance Audio)

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THE BURNING LAND Bernard Cornwell
Read by Stephen Perring (Harper Audio/Recorded Books)

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BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE Dee Brown
Read by Grover Gardner (Blackstone Audiobooks)

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COLONEL ROOSEVELT Edmund Morris
Read by Mark Deakins (Random House Audio/Books on Tape)

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GET CAPONE Jonathan Eig
Read by Dick Hill (Tantor Media)

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LAST CALL Daniel Okrent 
Read by Daniel Okrent (Simon & Schuster Audio)

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THE RED QUEEN Philippa Gregory
Read by Bianca Amato,
Graeme Malcolm (Simon & Schuster Audio/Recorded Books)

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AnchorWith this year’s COLONEL ROOSEVELT, Edmund Morris completes his cele­brated Roosevelt trilogy, following THE RISE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT (1979, released in a new unabridged recording this year, also read by Mark Deakins) and THEODORE REX (2001). In the final biography, Morris focuses on Roosevelt’s family, his expeditions, and his spiritual beliefs, in addition to Roosevelt the politician. We love Deakins’s interpretation of Morris’s research and subject. “Mark Deakins’s rich, warm voice is clear and measured. His foreign pronunciations are careful. Overall, his narration supports Morris’s empathetic biography of this most straightforward yet enigmatic of men.
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AnchorGreat historical novels don’t come around as often as we’d like, which is why we’re excited that 2010 was such a banner year for audiobooks in this genre. Philippa Gregory’s THE RED QUEEN is a prime example, read by two skilled narrators. AudioFile’s review raves: “Bianca Amato expertly guides listeners through Margaret Beaufort’s turbulent life-—from reluctant bride (she was forced to marry four times) to the agony of childbirth to her seething jealousy of Elizabeth Woodville and her limitless ambitions for her son, Henry. As the War of the Roses rages (bloody battle scenes are read by Graeme Malcolm), Margaret’s fortunes rise and fall and rise again. Philippa Gregory is the queen of British historical fiction, and Amato’s performance in this second book in The Cousins War series is regal and riveting.
Read Review 
AnchorBEST AUDIOBOOKS - BIOGRAPHY & CULTURE

AT HOME Bill Bryson
Read by Bill Bryson (Random House Audio/Books on Tape)

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THE BEAK OF THE FINCH Jonathan Weiner 
Read by Victor Bevine (Audible, Inc.)

Read Review 

BRIGHT-SIDED Barbara Ehrenreich
Read by Kate Reading (Macmillan Audio/AudioGO)

Read Review 

EARTH (THE AUDIOBOOK) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart 
Read by Jon Stewart et al. (Hachette Audio/AudioGO)

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A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS Dave Eggers
Read by Dion Graham (Recorded Books)

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NEVER CRY WOLF Farley Mowat 
Read by Adam Sims (Naxos AudioBooks)

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OBAMA’S WARS Bob Woodward
Read by Boyd Gaines (Simon & Schuster Audio)

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THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE! Marilyn Johnson 
Read by Hillary Huber (Tantor Media)

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TIGER John Vaillant 
Read by John Vaillant (Random House Audio/Books on Tape)

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TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE Erin Arvedlund 
Read by Karen White (Tantor Media)

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WASHINGTON Ron Chernow 
Read by Scott Brick (Penguin Audio/Books on Tape)

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AnchorAuthor Bill Bryson is a familiar voice in listeners’ ears, and for years, he’s brought us along on his exploratory rambles. His latest, AT HOME, is “nothing less than a history of people’s search for comfort. Bryson fans will not be surprised at just how much humor he manages to wring out of inventions gone awry and mankind’s attempts to overcome cold, dark, unpleasant existences. Bryson has the perfect voice and attitude to deliver his own work. He never uses a plain word when he can come up with one that does a better job tickling our imaginations, and when he nails it, we hear it in the smile in his voice.”
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AnchorAnother book about George Washington? Emphatically, yes. Ron Chernow’s celebrated tome, WASHINGTON, shows how successful even weighty historical biographies can be on audio, given the capable care of the right narrator. “At 42 hours, the book could challenge the most interested listener,” AudioFile’s review says. “But Scott Brick pulls it off. His mellow voice is easy to listen to, and he varies it to add emphasis when needed and to break up the pace. The book as a whole is interesting, revealing, and clearly authoritative, and Brick’s reading is an excellent complement.”
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AnchorBEST AUDIOBOOKS - AUTHOR-READ

THE COLOR PURPLE Alice Walker
Read by Alice Walker (Recorded Books)

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COMMITTED Elizabeth Gilbert
Read by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin Audio/Books on Tape)

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LIT Mary Karr 
Read by Mary Karr (Harper Audio)

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MANHOOD FOR AMATEURS Michael Chabon
Read by Michael Chabon (Harper Audio)

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MEDIUM RAW Anthony Bourdain
Read by Anthony Bourdain (Harper Audio)

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THIS TIME TOGETHER Carol Burnett
Read by Carol Burnett (Random House Audio/Books on Tape)

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VENETIA KELLY'S TRAVELING SHOW Frank Delaney
Read by Frank Delaney (Random House Audio/Books on Tape)

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WHY MY THIRD HUSBAND WILL BE A DOG Lisa Scottoline
Read by Lisa Scottoline (Macmillan Audio/AudioGO)

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Anchor“Reading my own books on audio has an effect on the way I write,” Frank Delaney says. Delaney’s BBC radio training serves him well—narrating his own audiobooks, he uses his gentle, thoughtful voice to full effect. “The relationship between writer and reader is an intimacy between strangers, people who would never meet, and the relationship between the audiobook listener and the narrator of the audiobook is the same relationship.” With such regard for the art of the spoken word, it’s no surprise that Delaney’s reading of VENETIA KELLY'S TRAVELING SHOW is perfectly rendered as audio listening, a feast of hilarious, improbable details and memorable characters, all magically intimate and emotionally real. Delaney promises a new book in 2012—-we can’t wait to hear it!
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AnchorWhere we most often appreciate hearing an author’s own voice is in autobiographical accounts—the intimate experience of hearing authors sharing their own personal stories can make up for even a less-than-professional narration. Happily, Elizabeth Gilbert is warm and competent in the role of narrator. COMMITTED continues the story begun in EAT, PRAY, LOVE, and delivered in Gilbert’s friendly voice, it’s akin to a fascinating story shared with a friend over many cups of tea. Gilbert’s humor and acknowledgment of her own foibles come through clearly in her delivery, making her story easy for any listener to relate to.
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AnchorHow could anyone less than Carol Burnett herself do justice narrating her memoir,THIS TIME TOGETHER? AudioFile’s review raves: “One of the things Carol Burnett is famous for is her practice of ‘bumping up the lights’ in the TV studio and skillfully fielding candid and often-hilarious questions from her audience. Inspired by those moments, the award-winning comedian warmly presents engaging anecdotes from her personal life and career, ranging from her adolescence in Hollywood and early television and Broadway experiences to her TV successes, marriages, famous and infamous friends, and family. Burnett’s bright and engaging tone brings to life both funny and sometimes-strange experiences with Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, and her variety show cast, among others. As she tells stories about her remarkable life, this upbeat audio provides keen insights on an American treasure.”
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AnchorBEST AUDIOBOOKS - YOUNG ADULT
THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE Jacqueline Kelly
Read by Natalie Ross (Brilliance Audio)

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INCARCERON Catherine Fisher
Read by Kim Mai Guest (Listening Library)

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MOCKINGJAY Suzanne Collins
Read by Carolyn McCormick (Scholastic Audiobooks)

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REVOLUTION Jennifer Donnelly
Read by Emily Janice Card, Emma Bering (Listening Library)

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THE ROCK AND THE RIVER Kekla Magoon
Read by Dion Graham (Brilliance Audio)

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THE SISTERS RED Jackson Pearce
Read by Erin Moon, Michal Friedman, Suzanne Toren
(Hachette Audio/AudioGO)

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THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE Jandy Nelson
Read by Julia Whelan (Brilliance Audio)

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THE 10 PM QUESTION Kate De Goldi
Read by Stig Wemyss (Bolinda Audio)

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WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON John Green, David Levithan
Read by Macleod Andrews, Nick Podehl (Brilliance Audio)

Read Review 
AnchorIn Jennifer Donnelly’s historical novel,REVOLUTION, dual narrators Emily Janice Card and Emma Bering deliver an accomplished audio duet, portraying a variety of characters from different time periods and walks of life, including a contemporary 17-year-old girl, a 60-year-old French historian, a Middle Eastern rap singer, and plenty of French revolutionaries. Gabrielle de Cuir, who produced the audiobook, notes, “Emily has mastered both the intimacy and the larger storytelling skills of audiobook reading. She captures the wit and the tremendous pathos of this troubled teen. She’s amazing. There was considerable French to be conquered here, and she does it with aplomb. Emily herself is 
a skilled musician, and so the role of the guitar-playing Andi certainly resonated with her. Emma Bering, who reads the mirror role of Alexandrine, gives a spitfire performance as the young woman trapped in the French Terror.”

Read Review and listen to an excerpt
AnchorBEST AUDIOBOOKS - MULTI-VOICE PRODUCTIONS
ENSEMBLE
BURNING CHROME William Gibson
Read by Jonathan Davis, Dennis Holland, Kevin Pariseau, Victor Bevine, Jay Snyder, Brian Nishi, L.J. Ganser, Oliver Wyman, Marc Vietor (Audible, Inc.)

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HOUSE RULES Jodi Picoult
Read by Rich Orlow, Andy Paris, Nicole Poole, Mark Turetsky, Christopher Evan Welch (Recorded Books)

Read Review 
LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN Colum McCann
Read by Richard Poe, Gerard Doyle, Carol Monda, Johanna Parker, Ramon de Ocampo, Chris Sorenson, Patricia Floyd (Recorded Books)

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NOCTURNES Kazuo Ishiguro
Read by Mark Bramhall, Kirby Heyborne, Lincoln Hoppe, Simon Vance (Random House Audio/Books on Tape)

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ROOM Emma Donoghue
Read by Michal Friedman, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren (Hachette Audio)

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THE SWAN THIEVES Elizabeth Kostova
Read by Treat Williams, Anne Heche, Erin Cottrell, Sarah Zimmerman, John Lee (Hachette Audio/AudioGO)

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THIS BOOK IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU Pseudonymous Bosch 
Read by Joshua Swanson, Cassandra Morris, Bryan Kennedy, Peter Kim, 
Suzanne Toren, Gabra Zackman, Robert Petkoff (Hachette Audio/AudioGO)

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FULL CASTS
BRADBURY THIRTEEN Ray Bradbury 
Performed by Bryce Chamberlain, Coleman Creel, and a Full Cast
(Blackstone Audiobooks)

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GOLDEN AGE STORIES SERIES L. Ron Hubbard 
Performed by a Full Cast (Galaxy Audio)

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THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MICKEY SPILLANE’S 
MIKE HAMMER 
Mickey Spillane, Max Allan Collins 
Performed by Stacy Keach and a Full Cast (Blackstone Audiobooks)

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SAINT JOAN Bernard Shaw 
Performed by Amy Irving, Edward Herrmann, and a Full Cast
(Blackstone Audiobooks)

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THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES Molière 
Performed by William Brown, Kevin Fox, and a Full Cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS C.S. Lewis 
Performed by Andy Serkis, Geoffrey Palmer, and a Full Cast
(Focus on the Family)

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STARCLIMBER Kenneth Oppel 
Performed by David Kelly and the Full Cast Family (Full Cast Audio)

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THE TIME MACHINE H.G. Wells 
Performed by Robert Glenister and a Full Cast (AudioGO)

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TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY John le Carré 
Performed by Simon Russell Beale and a Full Cast (AudioGO)

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AnchorL.A. Theatre Works’ audio theater collection spans everything from modern dramas to classic plays such as Molière’sSCHOOL FOR WIVES. With an all-star stable of Hollywood actors, including Mark Ruffalo, Edward Asner, Mary Stuart Masterson, Steven Weber, Richard Dreyfuss, and many, many more, LATW’s unique repertoire and performances are unequaled. “The entire cast brings an easy charm and decidedly American accent to Molière’s comedy,” AudioFile’s review said about School for Wives. “They excel at clearly communicating the meaning of Richard Wilbur’s rhymed-verse translation of the original French. A classic delight.” And just one of many delights that await listeners looking for outstanding theater performances on audio.
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AnchorWho could have guessed that pulp fiction would make a comeback, finding new life in the form of delightfully over-the-top audio theater performances? Someone at Galaxy Audio obviously knew, because 150 stories later, the Golden Age Stories have been made enduring all over again. Jim Meskimen, who directed the audio dramas as well as acted in them, characterizes the appeal for everyone involved: “I know for a fact that all the actors who get a chance to perform the pulp stories by L. Ron Hubbard in front of a live audience think it’s a special and fun experience; there’s nothing like it. The audience response is always strong—they’re creating it along with you, and the stories are colorful and exciting. It’s a forgotten art form, but in its simplicity and immediacy it has a lot of power to entertain.”
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