I love to listen to audiobooks while I walk, exercise, or drive. Here are my favorite fiction audiobooks from the past few years. Many of them can be downloaded them from Audible.com to listen to on your iPod or MP3 player or to burn to CD. Others are available on CD or cassette.
Author: Patrick O'Brian. I'm the last person to care about a naval sailing series, but these are extremely enjoyable books. Each character from Captain "Lucky Jack" Aubrey to his friend Dr. Stephen Maturin and their crew and loves in the early 1800's British Navy are complex and interesting. The writing is packed with humorous comments and asides. After awhile you can tell the quarterdeck from the poop. I love losing myself in this series anytime I want a guaranteed good listen. This is the first novel of the long series. I won't fear getting to the end of the series as I think I'll love listening to them all over again.
Author: Douglas Adams. Read by Stephen Fry, this is a wonderful unabridged romp through this humor/science fiction classic. You almost want to pause it every 30 seconds to savor the wit packed into each sentence. When the Earth gets demolished to make way for an intergalactic bypass, Arthur Dent and Trillian begin their madcap journey through the galaxy.
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides. I rank this as the best listen ever, despite a plot summary that sounds odd at best. Put any reservations aside and leap into the history of the Stephanides family through three generations from Smyrna, Turket to Detroit and Grosse Pointe. A genetic quirk impacts the life of a girl - who really isn't quite a girl. Packed with humor and tragedy, and it gets all the little details right. I loved narrator Kristoffer Tabori's performance.
Author: Arthur Golden. The story of the life of a village girl who becomes a top geisha in early 20th Century Japan, this book is rich in details and human drama. It takes you into the hidden world of the education and training of a geisha. I had never read much of Japanese culture before, and this lush book is a wonderful immersion in it.
Author: Yann Martel. Once again the plot sounded odd to me, but it is a fantastic listen. A boy from India ends up on a life raft with only animals as companions, including a tiger. Will they survive? The narrator uses a pleasing Indian accent, and the story is full of insight into animal and human behavior. It's another one I couldn't stop listening to until the end.
Author: Jonathan Franzen. A classic dysfunctional American family of today has to deal with the advancing Parkinson's disease of their father. Each character has their own self-absorbed stories and is forced to deal with the family crisis. While some found this book a bit of a downer, I found it to have a lot of humor and truth, and I look forward to the author's future books.
You haven't experienced Harry Potter until you've listened to it performed by Jim Dale. This unabridged CD version of the first Harry Potter book will get you started. Jim Dale makes the characters come to life for folks like me who are a bit short on imagination. Great for the whole family. This got me addicted to buying the entire series on tape or CD.
Author: Nelson DeMille. This action thriller follows Det. John Corey as he tracks a Libyan assassin who is picking off aviators who flew in the US mission that bombed the compound of Khaddafi. It is a great listen as we get into the minds and motivations of both sides. DeMille is one of my favorite authors, and his books are at their best when read by Scott Brick. OK, OK - I'd listen to Scott Brick reading the phone book, but this is the book that got me started in Brick fandom.
Author: Ron McLarty. Smithson Ide weighs too much, smokes and drinks too much, and has little going on in his life at a dead-end job. He loses his sister to mental illness and his parents in a car crash. This sets him off on a cross-country bicycle ride. His life's story and the stories of those he meets along his quest are full of simple emotion and truth. The author reads the story in a wonderful performance that brings it all to life.
Author: Jennifer Weiner. Cannie Shapiro receives a horrible shock as her ex-boyfriend writes about their sex life in a national magazine - that "loving a larger woman is an act of courage in our world." This sets her off on a comic/tragic journey to weight loss, a traumatic pregnancy, and depression. Not to worry, there is a happy ending. Women readers will identify with many of the things Cannie goes through.