Audible Book Recommendations - Post yours here

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Kate Hunter

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I'm in the middle of several at the moment but I'll try and rate some of the ones I've finished. All are the unabridged versions.

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult ****

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate -- a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister -- and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves. My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? - Summary mercilessly stolen from play.com

I though this audiobook would be more to do with medical ethics but the focus seems to be more on the family dynamic, with great emphasis put on the relationship between different sets of sisters. The production of this audiobook was for me one of the things that set it apart from some others, using a full cast instead of a single narrator really help me to identify with each character and won it the Audie Award Winner, Multi-Voiced Performance, 2005. For me this was a good audiobook but not a "I really, really have to listen to that again" type of book.

Dude, Where's My Country? by Michael Moore *

Michael Moore is on a mission in his new book: Regime Change. The man who slithered into the White House on tracks greased by his daddy's oil buddies is one of the many targets in Mike's blistering follow-up to his smash #1 Stupid White Men, the biggest selling nonfiction book of the year. Now no one is safe: corporate barons who have bilked millions out of their employees' lifetime savings, legislators who have stripped away our civil liberties in the name of "homeland security," and even that right-wing brother-in-law of yours (yes, we all have one) who manages, year after year, through his babbling idiocy, to ruin Thanksgiving dinner. From Audible

Hated it. I've read (as in regular books) the rest of Michael Moore books and usually find them interesting and funny however this one just annoyed me. Firstly since Michael Moore has gained such fame I can recognise his voice and this guy sounds *nothing* like him, I don't know why this annoyed me so much in this case, but every time I started to listen I thought that the narrator didn't have the energy or passion that MM did. Secondly I felt much of the material were points he had made elsewhere and listening to them again was just tiring. Also as time has gone on his subject matter has gotten less and less funny for example think back to TV nation when he went to Russia to find a long range missile pointed at Flint He could make that funny but Bin Laden less funny. This is of course completely subjective and I'm sure many people will enjoy this as I enjoyed reading that previous ones.


The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger *****

This extraordinary, magical novel is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, a librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was 36, and were married when Clare was 22 and Henry 30. Impossible but true, because Henry has Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his past, present, and future. The Time Traveler's Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare's marriage and their passionate love for each other.

This was the second Audiobook I ever listen to and absolutely loved it. Again this has a multiple readers, and William Hope and Laurel Lefkow who read for Claire and Henry (and I think for the other characters as well but I could be wrong) are my absolute favourite narrators. I thought I would have trouble keeping up with all the shifts in time but the book is so well written that I could pause in any place and still be able to pick up the story easily enough. Although it is a love story the characters don't fall into the trap of being perfect people torn apart by there circumstances but are more well rounded and flawed than in many other love stories.
 

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Update

5* Benjamin Franklin UA Walter Isaacson's lively biography of this remarkable man -- scientist, philosopher, franschisor (really, of print shops), and founding brother. Left me with a warm feeling and gratitude for Franklin. Audible only has abridged 7:17 version vs UA 25:00. Lot to miss.

4+* Mountains Beyond Mountains. Tracy Kidder's true story about a remarkable doctor fighting poverty and TB in Haiti and other parts of the world. Inspiring and interesting. Avail Audible. Was made more interesting to have recently listened to The Dew Breaker and its Haiti roots.

4+*True Notebooks. Mark Salzman (Lying Awake; Iron & Silk) takes on teaching creative writing in the Juvenile Justice Prison. Poignant true story of dead-end kids with unfulfilled and mostly unrealizeable promise and capacity. Avail audible

5* 1776 David McCollough has another fine book that takes the reader beyond dull history and into the mind of Washington and others in this crucial year of US history. Slow start picks up. Read by the author -- could have done better. Avail audible UA and A

All my listens were unabridged.

Hey, hey, hey -- audible has improved its search: search results show book cover, short description, user rating, author, narrator, length. Quite an improvement to the previous two-step search. Slow tonight on the last day of the $9.95 sale.
 
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Bufflehead

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If you did not like Last Orders, please try Waterland. Waterland is the book Swift should have won the Booker and is one of my favorites, ever.

On the reply to my Atonement post, everyone is ofcourse entitled to their opinion, and I can easily see how that book is not for everyone. But, to say Atonement was poorly written is a very strong statement, much stronger than not enjoying the novel.
 

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BigD said:
Anyone listen to (or listening to) the Narnia books by Lewis? Read by Mr. York?

Would like to know your thoughts on it...

Thanks,
Denise
I have listened to ths 1st 2 of 7 so far and have really enjoyed them. IMHO they have been done very well.
 

robert

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Bufflehead said:
...

On the reply to my Atonement post, everyone is ofcourse entitled to their opinion, and I can easily see how that book is not for everyone. But, to say Atonement was poorly written is a very strong statement, much stronger than not enjoying the novel.
I agree, "... is a very strong statement, much stronger than not enjoying the novel." Another contrarian view, said much better than I could ever have, from sarafmc, an Amazon.com reviewer :
Astonishingly tedious., June 18, 2005

Astonishingly, because of all the rave reviews!

I could not care was going to happen on the next page, the narrative meandered around pointlessly, the writing was literate but nothing special, the characters were inconsistent and hard to believe in or care about, I suspected the author of a certain amount of misogyny*, and historical inaccuracies cropped up with great regularity. The plot had no momentum and the descriptions were lackluster. To say it starts slowly is to put it mildly. A book can't be great if the first quarter of it is a plod! No great novel does that to readers.

I add this to the list of bestsellers with great reviews, wonders of marketing, that I wish I hadn't wasted money on.

I read a lot of fiction of all kinds, and I love many authors, old and new, who require some patience. This book did not reward me. Who knows, all these other people loved it so perhaps you will too. But I'd check it out of the library, if I were you.
*(I had to look it up: Hatred of women: "Every organized patriarchal religion works overtime to contribute its own brand of misogyny" (Robin Morgan). yourDictionary.com

I stand by my opinion and respect that of yours and many others who put mine in the distinct minority.

Edit: Out of curiosity, I went back and perused the all negative and a few of the positive of the first 100 of 487 amazon.com reviews. I would guess that the negatives are at least 1/3 of the reviews with many of those criticising the writing. Clearly, the book engenders strong reaction -- both positive and negative -- with few in the middle.
 
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robert

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4.5*Everything Is Illuminated: A Novel, Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel contains a book the fictional Jewish hero writes alongside the story about the search and discovery of the hero’s Lithuanian roots. Humor, pathos, tragedy (holocaust), and extremely interesting and well-developed characters permeate the story-within-a-story book. One of the main characters speaks English with fascinatingly humorous choices of words. To be a movie in Sept 05. 11:36 UA NetLibrary and Audible.

Reviews are mixed on this book, with quite a few negative ones, so check it out carefully to be sure it is your cup of tea.

New York Times Review (free registration)
 
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robert

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Book Title Sources (unfortunately not all available as audiobooks)

Some sources of quality book lists:

TOP 100 HARVARD BOOK STORE BOOKS

The 100 most meaningful books of all time.

2002 survey of around 100 well-known authors from 54 countries voted for the "most meaningful book of all time" in a poll organised by editors at the Norwegian Book Clubs.
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Robert Teeter’s What Books to Read page with links to
Book Reviews, including RSS feeds,
Great Book Lists
Award Winners
American Library Association Recommendation Lists
Automated on-line book Recommendation Services (give them criteria and site gives you book recommendations) http://www.allreaders.com/ and http://www.whichbook.net/
And more.

Click on Teeter’s home page to see more
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Oprah’s Book List with links to individual book reviews:
 

robert

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Oprah's Book Club Library

Updated with availability on 7-2-05 at NL = Net Library or AC = Audible.com:

Here is the list of Oprah's books. Not all are on audible, and I have not listened to or read all of them, but there are enough jewels on the list to reasonably believe they are all or mostly good books.

Oprah's Book Club Library


NL-AC - Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
No - Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell
The Best Way To Play by Bill Cosby
NL - Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
No - The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
AC - The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
No - Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
AC - Cane River by Lalita Tademy (Abridged only)
AC - The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
AC - Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
no - Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
No - The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard
AC - Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
no - East of Eden by John Steinbeck
AC - Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons (Abridged only)
No - Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
AC - A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
AC - Gap Creek by Robert Morgan (Abridged only)
AC - The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
no - The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
No - Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
AC - House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
No - I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
AC - Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio (Abridged only)
No - Jewel by Bret Lott
AC - A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (Abridged only)
No - A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
No - The Meanest Thing To Say by Bill Cosby
No - Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
No - Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
No - One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
AC - Open House by Elizabeth Berg
No - Paradise by Toni Morrison
No - The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
No - The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
NL - The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
No - The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
No - River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
No - She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
No - Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
No - Songs In Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris
No - Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir
AC - Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi (Abridged only)
No - Sula by Toni Morrison
AC - Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby
No - Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
AC - A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons (Abridged Only)
AC - We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (Abridged Only)
No - What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
No - Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
No - While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
AC - White Oleander by Janet Fitch (Abridged only read by Oprah)
 
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mallu2u

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Right now I am listening to "The Alienist" by Caleb Carr. Surely recommend it. Set in 1896, its a story about a serial killer. Think its based on a true story. Long audiobook but quite interesting.
 

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5+* Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky's classic 1866 novel was a forerunner of the movement from romaniticism to modern realism (presenting life as it really is). Crime and Punishment describes investigative techniques and psychogical characteristics of criminal mind that pre-date and anticipate Freud and modern criminal interrogation. The police investigating officer may remind you of a polished Peter Faulk's Columbo, or vice versa.

From the title and early descriptions of the main character's state of mind, the listener knows much of what will happen over the course of the book. In no way does this knowledge detract from the power of this novel as Dostoevsky examines the state of mind of the principal character and leads the reader through unpredictable twists and turns of the multi-hued characters and sub plots. Highly recommend for 25 hours of excellent listening. Narrator's voice does not lend itself to fast listen.

See this excellent Cliffs Notes Introduction to this novel (click here). It may be helpful to view the list of Characters (here) and to click on |< at the top of either page to see more Cliffs notes information on this novel.

Available at NetLibrary and audible.com
 
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arsolot

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The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

This is a highly enjoyable book. It is extremely well written and very thought-provoking.

The reader does a first-rate job. The reader's use of his voice is quite subtle, but very effective.

The book is set in Victorian England and provides one a very close examination of life in those times. Very interesting comparisons between modern times and the Victorian days. For instance, the protagonist, engaged to be married, is very troubled when he falls in love with another woman, but doesn't think twice about sex with a prostitute.

Highly recommended.
 

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Harry Potter

Edit 9-8-05: Harry Potter now avail iTunes Music Store -- Jim Dale narration.

Check out e-bay for good deals on Harry Potter complete sets of CD's or DVD mp3's as well as individual copies of the the Half Blood prince. All are unabridged. Look at e-bay item 6971470746 , for example. Note restricitions. Search ebay for Harry Potter Audio Books, or for specific titles. If you do an advanced search and check completed sales only, you can get an idea of past auction results.

I have just discovered BuyerTools, freeware which will place last minute bids (last 15 seconds, actually) for you as well as group bids. With group bids, you can set up bids for several Harry Potter auctions with individual price limits, and should you win an auction, the remaining group bids will be cancelled. I have seen no spyware or spam from it thus far. You have to have an always-on internet connection for this to work (So Buyertools can make the bid for you).

Then use MarkAble to convert to iPod files with the CD wizard.

Some of the versions are UK, read by Stehen Fry, but most of the Half Blood Prince versions and some of the complete versions are read by Jim Dale. Both narrators are highly regarded.
 
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arsolot

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Harry Potter

I've listened to several Harry Potter books. Jim Dale is excellent. I've listened to Order of the Phoenix narrated by Stephen Fry, and he's even better.

I've got the Jim Dale version of Half Blood Prince on hold at my local library. I'm 24th of 220 holds, but there are 59 copies of the audiobook.
 

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Re: The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

arsolot said:
This is a highly enjoyable book. It is extremely well written and very thought-provoking.

The reader does a first-rate job. The reader's use of his voice is quite subtle, but very effective.

Highly recommended.
Is your recommendation for the unabridged BBC WW book read by Paul Shelley? There's also a very good (but abridged) reading of this work narrated by Jeremy Irons.
 

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Re: Re: The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

moriond said:
Is your recommendation for the unabridged BBC WW book read by Paul Shelley? There's also a very good (but abridged) reading of this work narrated by Jeremy Irons.
Sorry for the confusion. The one that I have is the one read by Paul Shelly. I'm sure that J. Irons is very good as well, but I prefer unabridged audio books when possible.

Again, I think that Paul Shelly's work on this book is first-rate.
 

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(Audio) Author Interviews for Audiobooks Recommended in this Forum

I occasionally like to listen to author interviews, because in the best cases they offer insights into the books, the circumstances under which they were written, and the authors themselves. There have been some excellent suggestions about sites in past forums postings. I summarize some of these here (with credits to the contributors), and make general suggestions for sites with good interviews.

The interviews are available in a range of formats: transcripts, mp3 downloads (some with podcast subscriptions), streaming video, and streaming audio. Some of these have question and answers with a moderator, others open up to listener questions. Many interviews are about books that others have recommended in this thread. Unless noted, interviews are RealAudio streaming recordings.

  • Wired for Books http://www.wiredforbooks.org/ suggested by arsolot in a 03-24-2004 forums post contains a series of excellent author interviews. Of particular note are the archived interviews conducted by Don Swaim for his nationally syndicated CBS radio program, "Book Beat". This daily broadcast ran for more than ten years and focused on books and authors. The uncut author interviews that provided material for his shows are available in their entirety, and form a compendium of many recent and significant English-language authors, speaking about their work. The audio and video content of this site, run by Ohio University's Telecommunications Center, goes well beyond interviews. This Chronicle of Higher Education article gives a flavor of the range of material.
  • SFFAudio http://www.sffaudio.com/ was suggested by Alex Wilson in a 04-24-2005 thread on Sci-Fi Audiobooks Review Sites. Earlier this week SFFaudio added The Diane Rehm Show (npr) with its weekly Readers Review program to their Online Audio page. An hour-long interview with the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell from October 2004 is particularly interesting. Susanna Clarke describes how she came to write this work, and answers questions from the audience at the end.

    A few of SFFAudio's Reviews are of authors reading their own works in the course of radio interviews. Of special note is their selection of an interview with William Tenn on WNYC's Spinning on Air in November 2002. The whole program is slightly under 2 hours long. Apart from the interview, William Tenn (aka Philip Klass) gives an excellent reading of his story, "On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi!"; skip 41 minutes into the RealAudio program to catch its start. The whole story is 67 minutes long, and Tenn does a wonderful job. The Spinning on Air archives seem to go back 3 years, so try to catch this one soon.
  • The Lannan Foundation http://www.lannan.org/ In a 08-15-2004 forums post Audible.com Insufficiently Eclectic? Other Recommendations (please post your own) Periphrast noted that Audible spoken word recordings read by authors were particularly sparse, and suggested a number of alternative sources of audio material on the web. The Lannan Foundation audio archives contain several hundred hours of programs, including more than 15 years worth of recorded material from their sponsored programs of Lanan Readings & Conversations - a public events series held in Santa Fe, NM bringing authors before audience. Some examples of series authors who have recommended audiobooks in the present forum thread:
    -Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Bonesetter's Daughter) March 05, 2002
    -Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake) December 1, 2004
    -Michael Cunningham (The Hours, A Home at the End of the World, Specimen Days) November 14, 2001

    The Lannan audio archives also include the interviews of Michael Silverblatt (see KCRW's Bookworm)
  • Bookworm http://www.kcrw.com/show/bw This weekly radio broadcast is also available as a podcast, and is billed as: A must for the serious reader, "Bookworm" showcases writers of fiction and poetry -- the established, new or emerging -- all interviewed with insight and precision by the show's host and guiding spirit, Michael Silverblatt. You can also subscribe to Bookworm podcasts in iTunes and obtain programs as mp3 downloads for up to 30 days after broadcast. Programs generally feature a specific book and author combination, although sometimes shows feature a few authors discussing a theme or topic.

    RealAudio streaming versions of past programs are available in the searchable archives along with program descriptions. Examples of interviews on titles previously recommended in this thread are:

    -Jhumpa Lahiri (January 22, 2004) The Namesake
    -Yann Martel (September 11, 2003) The Life of Pi
    -Alice Sebold (August 29, 2002) The Lovely Bones
    -Jeffrey Eugenides (February 13, 2003) Middlesex
    -Margaret Atwood (August 7, 2003) Oryx and Crake
    -Marilynne Robinson (March 17 & 24, 2005) Gilead
  • Online Audio and Video Recordings: UC Berkeley Lectures and Events http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/audiofiles.html This is another site suggested in Periphrast's 08-15-2004 forums post, and is a link to the Media Resources Center collection of Berkeley's Moffitt Library. The entries on this web page include interviews, but extend to a larger list of lectures and readings. Since they have been collected over a long period, many of these items don't correspond directly with current recommended readings. Still, consider listening to Aldous Huxley speaking about modern techniques for controlling human behavior along with your audiobooks for Brave New World or 1984, or hearing Robert Frost read this own poetry. Other recordings include physicist Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer (who directed the project to develop the atomic bomb during WWII and afterward lobbied for international control of atomic energy to avert the nuclear arms race) speaking about the problems of Atomic Energy, Bishop Desmond Tutu speaking on human rights, and many others, including several modern poets reading their own works. Some of these programs are also available in RealPlayer streaming video format.
  • BBC Radio 4 Bookclub http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/bookclub/ conducts interviews hosted by James Naughtie that are available under the Listen Again section of the page. These interviews are notable for the very active participation of audiences in the question portion. Recent interviews covering recommended books in this thread include
    -Bill Bryson (February 2005) A Short History of Everything
    -Terry Pratchett (July 2004, listed under Highlights) Mort
  • Booknotes http://www.booknotes.org C-Span's Brian Lamb interviewed contemporary non-fiction authors for the 16 year period from 1989-2004. The audio programs are available for purchase from Audible.com and many book descriptions (e.g., Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking, David McCullough's Truman, etc.) contain links to the Booknotes interview. However, you can also browse the archives of the site and read transcripts for every show, listen to streaming audios of the interviews, and watch streaming videos for roughly 500 of the 800 interviews in the archives.
  • TimesTalks http://www.nytimes.com/criticschoice/ Brief streaming RealPlayer streaming video clips from the TimesTalk lectures with links to John Irving (Cider House Rules) and Jon Stewart (America). [Books given in parentheses have been recommended in this forum, they are not discussed in these very short samples. For other short TimesTalk video samples on non-book subjects see past highlights and A Times Talk Event: Bono.
Serendipity rules. An interview with V.S. Naipaul (may need to register at NY Times to read) showed up just as I was reading A Bend in the River to test out the OverDrive library audiobook experience as discussed in this post. Naipaul's quotes on the decline of the novel and on Islam, China, India and the 21st Century are available in mp3 format.

Interview information can be saved as separate audio tracks and added to iTunes, added in pdf files (for transcripts) along with images such as suggested here. (I've been wanting to thank carbon rods a long time for that reference without using a gratuitous post). In future, iPod users may be able to use ChapterTools to add web links to their audiobooks.

You can almost certainly find other sites for specific books, especially soon after they are released. And, of course, there's other great material at these sites for books that haven't yet been released through Audible, and may be harder to find. A good starting point for audio interviews of new works is the ABA's Bookselling this Week: On the Radio site. YMMV
 
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zarvox

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Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell is just phenomenal. This is one example where I think the audiobook is much more entertaining than the paper book. It's mainly Vowell's unusual voice, but a lot of other people including Conan O'Brien and Jon Stewart play parts. The book is both funny and insightful, with lots of interesting and surprising tidbits.

I also love all three of the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin, which have been recommended many times here. But for those it may be better to first read them the old-fashioned way.
 

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The Sound and the Fury

William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury is among the best audio books I've had the pleasure of listening to.

The book is challenging, interesting and well-written. It's especially challenging in the first chapter, which is told in the first person of a severely mentally adult, in stream-of-conciousness style. I'm re-listening to that first chapter now, after completing the book. The book is interesting as a novel about the decline of a Southern aristocratic family.

The narration by Grover Gardner is clearly among the best, if not the best, I've had thus far in over 70 audio books in the past two years.

Highest recommendation.

Nb: "re-tarded" is spelled like that to avoid the #'s that are automatically placed in lieu of the word ######ed.
 
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