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whatsthtagain

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Sarah Vowell's

Partly Cloudy Patriot and

Assasination Vacation

History, Humor, read by the author very touching at times

Total Recorder for $11.95 let's one download any streamable content.
NPR has archived of a lot of author interviews and book reviews
search at npr.org. Terry Gross' Fresh Air is a very good source here
 

robert

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5* Bee Season by Myla Goldberg

Edit 10-11-05: Bee Season, was named a New York Times Notable Book in 2000 and made into a film.


Goldberg's first novel creates a dramatic and gripping unraveling of a family of fully-developed and realistic characters. 25 yo author narrates very effectively and gives a delightful interview at end of audio. The title does not do justice to the book. The totally unexpected spelling bee successes of the daughter are merely a vehicle for the story as each of the four principal characters search for greater meaning to thier lives.

Available at NetLibrary. Not available at audible.com
 
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robert

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4* Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac

This classic novel written in the late 19th century is regarded by many as Balzac's finest. The writing is superb, but the dreary circumstances and fickle human relations conveyed in the novel create a melancholy mind-set. All-in-all, I much preferred reading about people reading Balzac than reading Balzac (the excellent Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie)
 
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robert

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5*The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Audible)

Zafón's European best-selling and long novel luxuriates in its Barcelona setting. A bit of a literary page turner as a young boy grows to young manhood searching for the story behind the author of a book he has come across and loves. The lives of the boy and the mysterious author begin to parallel in a plot full of surprises. The narration is puncuated with occasional piano music written by Zafón himself. Well translated and narrated.

The Washington Post says: ...anyone who enjoys novels that are scary, erotic, touching, tragic and thrilling should rush right out to the nearest bookstore and pick up The Shadow of the Wind. Really, you should.

Edit: Thanks to moriond:
Carlos Ruiz Zafón's Shadow of the Wind was the subject of an author interview on KCRW's Bookworm (November 18, 2004):

http://www.kcrw.com/cgi-bin/db/kcrw...tmplt_type=show
 
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robert

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3.5*Atlas Shrugged (A)by Ayn Rand

Even though I am an economic conservative and somewhat agree with Ayn Rand's philosophy, I found the extreme caricatures, dated language and social mores, unrealistic hyperbole relative to political systems in a 1940's vision of a 1955 US in Vol 1 of 3 of audible's unabridged Atlas Shrugged, tedious. So, I bought a new cassette tape version of the abridged version on e-bay for little less than the two remaining volumes cost at audible and converted the cassettes into iPod files (see Guide 2 and supplement) to finish listening. I usually avoid abridged versions, but was pleased that I had left the UA version. As a transparent vehicle for Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, the plot and characters were thin but not totally off-putting. I found Ayn Rand a lesser Margaret Atwood. One must keep in mind that Atlas Shrugged was written in the late 40's by an author who had experienced first hand the excesses of communism/socialism and appears to have extrapolated those experiences into a vision of the future with this novel as a vehicle for expressing her philosophy. The radio address given by John Gault (at one hour to completion in the abridged version) sums up her philosophy nicely.

The audio book version was released in 1951 and the audible.com audio quality is poor. However, my tape conversion to iPod bookmarking file was very satisfactory audio quality. I will soon offer for resale on ebay the audio cassette set along with a cd of bookmarking iPod files (5 hour segements, of course, since even longer mp3 bookmarking files skipped out of the audio and lost my bookmark).

Many others clearly disagree with my assessment since this audio is one of audible.com's best sellers.

2.5*Cod: A biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky This 7:37 audio book is interesting enough as it describes how cod had an economic, political, and social impact upon the world. However, it eventually is overwhelmed by the same sort of filler described in the huge number of recipes for preparing cod. Like potatos in the recipes, the recipes themselves become an extender for the book, giving it length but not substance. Substance is used up about half way through. However, like Germs, Guns, and Steel, this book provides insight into how overlooked factors often strongly influence peace, politics, and economics.

5*Typhoon by Joseph Conrad This short (3:13) classic book retains its freshness with an entertaining account of a ship, its crew and "passengers," and their encounter with a typhoon. Great for short attention span youngsters, and fun for adults. Conrad's colorful pen brings special life to this story.
 

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3*Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins. This long (16:48) audio does not live up to its seductive title. If you like my 4/5 recommendations, you probably will not like this book. Irreverent, flippant, sometimes offensive, perpetually young-man-of-the-world with an axe to grind, in-your-face, CIA operative embarks on a journey that will possibly entertain, bore, fascinate, offend, or confuse you with highly colorful, frequently redundant, imaginative prose that fizzles out in a weak ending. Robbins fans love this book, but make certain you share their enthusiasm before embarking on any of his books.

4+*The Lady and the Unicorn. Paralleling 3.5*Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier has woven clever and unpredictable fiction around
the breathtaking tapestries now hanging in the Paris Musée de Cluny.
Even having seen the tapestries, re-visiting them at this site during their descriptions in the audiobook added enjoyment to the audio. Male narrator is weak; Female narrator fine.

Roberts Audible Book sorta literary Recommendations consolidates and replaces the post, with its 120+ audio books, far exceeds maximum post length.
 

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I don't know if you've seen any of his BBC television programmes in the US, but former Monty Python star, Michael Palin has a terrific catalogue of travelogues that is a great listen! Dry humour and observations as he navigates the world.

Originally he tried to copy the Jules Verne character Phineas Fogg by travelling around the world using only the transport availabe at the time the book was written.

The original TV series, then made into a great audiobook, was Around The World In Eighty Days.

He's also travelled... Pole to Pole.
Sahara.
Full Circle.

A great listen, and the TV series is very well recommended too!

Steve
 

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ChelSE said:
I don't know if you've seen any of his BBC television programmes in the US, but former Monty Python star, Michael Palin has a terrific catalogue of travelogues that is a great listen! Dry humour and observations as he navigates the world.
Thanks for the tip! These look fascinating. If you have any advice on where to find these, please let us know. It appears that a couple are available on Audible, but advice about where you found the others would be appreciated.

John-Mark
 

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Stensvaag said:
Thanks for the tip! These look fascinating. If you have any advice on where to find these, please let us know. It appears that a couple are available on Audible, but advice about where you found the others would be appreciated.

John-Mark
Audible currently has 5 Palin travel books: Full Circle: A Pacific Journey with Michael Palin, Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Himalaya, and Sahara
 

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moriond said:
Audible currently has 5 Palin travel books: Full Circle: A Pacific Journey with Michael Palin, Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Himalaya, and Sahara
Thanks! I had the "unabridged" filter on, because I pretty much hate to purchase abridged works from Audible, but your post is helpful.
 

ChelSE

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Hi again,
I'm not allowed to post hyperlinks as I'm a new contributor, apparently, but amazon would get you some relevant feedback!

The posted items are really first class..........trust me!!:)))

Incidentally. I forgot to mention that Full Circle doesn't mean the equator, but a trip around the Pacific Rim.... maybe more interesting to some of you!!

Steve

EDIT...
Further to the above, the UK iTunes store has the audiobooks mentioned, some unabridged, some abridged.
 
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I went back a few pages to see if this was already posted but didn't see it but sorry if it is -
Going Postal - by Terry Pratchett and narrated by Stephen Briggs - 11 hrs & 27 mins.

5*- Arch-swindler Moist von Lipwig never believed his crimes were hanging offenses, until he found himself with a noose around his neck, dropping through a trap door, and falling into...a government job? Getting the moribund Postal Service up and running again, however, may be an impossible task. Worse, the new Postmaster could swear the mail is talking to him. Worst of all, it means taking on the gargantuan, money-hungry Grand Trunk clacks communication monopoly and its bloodthirsty piratical head, Mr. Reacher Gilt.

But it says on the building 'Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Glo m Of Ni t'...Inspiring words (admittedly, some of the bronze letters have been stolen), and for once in his wretched life Moist is going to fight. And if the bold and impossible are what's called for, he'll do it; to move the mail, continue breathing, get the girl, and deliver that invaluable commodity that everyone requires: hope.

I found this book to be very funny, read well and help my attention. It got me from the very beginning and I would highly recommend this audiobook.
 

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4-*Churchill by Roy Jenkins 37:31 audible.com

NYT’s review (free subscription required) – overly favorable review, IMHO.


Francis J. Mcinerney (Top 50 Amazon reviewer with 21,159 helpful votes) gives 4* in a very thorough review in which he says: “If a reader were to select this work by Jenkins they would not gain a complete insight into the legendary figure that Sir Winston Spencer Churchill is… The primary differences between the two books I mention are of style and completeness. Martin Gilbert in an accomplished historian, while Mr. Jenkins writes from a perspective of a man who sat in the House of Commons, witnessed Churchill in action, and documents his life primarily as a politician. There are formative episodes that are not included at all, which in the end prevents this very fine work from being a well-rounded documentary …” and suggests “Sir Martin Gilbert's single volume work [Churchill: A Life – not available NL, OD, or audible] remains the standard.” See Mcinerney’s full review (click here) , currently second down in reader reviews at amazon.

For my entire and consolidated audio book recommendation list, click on link 7 in signature below.
 
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robert

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Robert's Audio Book Recommendations Blog Now Fully Edited (hopefully)

Robert's Audio Book Recommendations Blog
ROBERT'S AUDIO BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
Short descriptions of mostly literary audio books ranked from 1 (worst) to 5 (best) stars (*). Few mysteries, page-turners, science fiction, romance, or abridged.
has been edited to include, where I did not have a description, audible.com's short description and possibly more, and duplicates deleted. It is amazing how many of the books are no longer available on audible. Some recommendations carry Average Customer Ratings. Ideally, all should look something like this:

4+*Wish you Well UA 10:01 David Baldacci. Lovely story requiring modest suspension of credulity. Two young, urbane NYC children abruptly & tragically transferred to the Appalachian mountains of SW Virginia to join their great grandmother. Mountain farming without electricity & phone in the 40s. Average Customer Rating: 4.37 ( based on 98 vote(s) )Short Description: This is the story of Louisa May Cardinal, a precocious 12-year-old girl living in the hectic New York City of 1940 with her acclaimed but sadly underpaid writer father...
Unfortunately, few have the Customer Rating or length of play. Perhaps in time, and certainly for audio books added as listened to. The blog is currently four times the max length allowed for an iLounge post, so it has become necessary and much easier to maintain a blog than several posts (now that I have discovered the word add-on for editing and updating google's eblogs).
 
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robert

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War and Peace and Forsyte Saga

Stensvaag said:
I have listened to dozens of audiobooks, amounting to hundreds of happy hours, over the past three years. "War and Peace" is still my #1 favorite, but I have a new #2 -- The Forsyte Saga. This is a long book that takes just a bit of time to get into, but the arc of the story is wonderful, tracing an extended British family over three generations at the end of the Victorian age. I hated to have it end.

This book is available from Audible.com, and even though it runs to more than 42 hours, it used up only one book credit. GREAT value!
Stensvaag,

There are three versions of "War and Peace" at audible, one abridged at 5:10, each requiring only one book credit. May be the best value per hour on all of audible.com for what is cited as possibly the greatest novel ever written:

Which narrator did you listen to? Was he good? Edit: See below on reviews trashing Zimmerman narration.

War and Peace (Unabridged)
Author: Leo Tolstoy
Narrator: Frederick Davidson
Audio Length: 60 hours and 42 min.
Price: $48.97
Release Date: 09-01-1998
Provider: Blackstone Audiobooks
Average Customer Rating: 4.78
( based on 9 vote(s) )
Short Description: Often called the greatest novel ever written, War and Peace is at once an epic of the Napoleonic wars, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit.... more ...

The Davidson narrated version is available at OverDrive.

-OR-

War and Peace (Unabridged)
Author: Leo Tolstoy
Narrator: Walter Zimmerman
Audio Length: 62 hours and 18 min.
Price: $81.87
Release Date:
Provider: Books on Tape
Average Customer Rating: 3.91
( based on 77 vote(s) )
Short Description: Leo Tolstoy's sweeping epic describes Russia between 1805 and 1820, centering on the 1812 invasion of... more ...

I may want to select the narrator who takes two hours longer since his voice may be more suited to listening at faster speed.

Can't imagine how the abridged reduces 60+ hours to 5+:

War and Peace
Author: Leo Tolstoy
Narrator: Neville Jason
Audio Length: 5 hours 10 min.
Price: $18.89
Release Date: 01-01-1995
Provider: NAXOS AudioBooks
Average Customer Rating: 3.5
( based on 8 vote(s) )
Short Description: War and Peace is one of the greatest monuments in world literature. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars... more ...

Thanks,

Robert

Edit: Upon looking at the reviews of Each audio version, I find several strong complaints about the Zimmerman narration and this review at the Davidson narration:

4* Audible listens!
Reviewer: ired, from Grapevine, TX, USA Date: February 16, 2005

Subscribers asked for a better narrated version of the awesome "War and Peace," and quietly Audible recently offered this superb rendition. The narration is excellent and unlike the droning Zimmerman, Frederick Davidson brings the material and the characters to life. My opinion of Audible has risen substantially, and I am thoroughly enjoying one of the greatest novels ever written.
 
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Stensvaag

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War & Peace: Versions

Robert asks which version of War & Peace I listened to. I listened to the Walter Zimmerman one. Was his reading a bit robotic? Probably. It certainly seemed that way at the beginning. At the time, I was so blown away by the book that Zimmerman's narration did not concern me.

Apparently, Audible now offers a different version, precisely because so many folks complained about the Zimmerman one. There is no way that I can compare, really, because I spent 62 hours with Zimmerman and got lost in the story. If the consensus is that the other one (Davidson?) is read better, by all means pick it.

I would say that a 5-hour abridged version is for sissies. You gotta get the whole thing!
 

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Frederick Davidson

I've listened to a few P.G. Wodehouse books read by Frederick Davidson. Davidson is excellent and, I would guess, one of the best readers available. I'm certain his reading of any book would add to the experience.

I know nothing about Zimmerman.

I'd be very interested in War and Peace, but 62 hours is quite a commitment!
 

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decision made: Davidson version is available at OverDrive.

Arsolot, thanks for the comments on Davidson. Some very good long books are a good reason to subscribe to audible's much more flexible Ultimate Listener Plan -- just committ a couple or more months to the one audio book. I quailed at my first 40 hour book (The Company), but found it quite manageable. It just takes getting into and if the book is worthwhile, sucks you in. I just finished Churchill at 37:00+ hours. I do hope for a narrator whose narration satisfactorily accomodates faster listen -- especially on a long book.

I am finding Linda Greenlaw doesn't, after all, accomodate faster, so I am listening to my first bookmarking mp3 on my nano.

Thanks.
 
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