Extra Long Audiobooks

This is THE definitive biography of founding father Alexander Hamilton, from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow, author of Washington: A Life. Many readers know it as the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. This well-written biography reads like a novel, and makes the fascinating life story of a fascinating man spring off the page.
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Eliot's hefty masterpiece combines her "study of provincial life" with a close look at several young couples who fall (or think they fall) in love. Who will find lasting happiness, and who won't, and why? By focusing on the narrow disappointments and particular joys of this small community, Eliot cuts to the heart of human nature. A novel about love, happiness, and second chances.
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This is on my TBR list because so many of you have RAVED about it, especially on the podcast. From Publishers Weekly: "In Harkness's lively debut, witches, vampires, and demons outnumber humans at Oxford's Bodleian Library, where witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont.... Harkness brings this world to vibrant life and makes the most of the growing popularity of gothic adventure." Add Audible narration for $11.99.
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In 1933, a young child disappeared without a trace. In 2003, a disgraced young detective stumbles upon the cold case and soon discovers its ties to one of England's oldest and most celebrated mystery writer (think Agatha Christie). I absolutely loved reading a mystery novel about a mystery novelist: the pages are filled with fascinating references to the fictional author's writing process and working life.
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From the publisher: "Best-selling author Alexandre Dumas—who also wrote The Three Musketeers—tells this heartbreaking yet heroic tale of Edmond Dantes who takes revenge on the men responsible for his unjust fourteen-year imprisonment, keeping him from the woman he loved and the life he was supposed to live. The Count of Monte Cristo is a must-have for any home library or literary aficionado." The companion audiobook narrated by Bill Homewood has an impressive 4.7 rating! Meredith surprised me by raving about this on episode 11 of What Should I Read Next, because I'd always thought of it as a dry, dusty classic. Since then I've discovered lots of her fellow readers who adore it. They describe it as a darn good story, about a man thrown into prison for a crime he didn't commit and his quest for retribution.
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Fashion, romance, and ... espionage. If you loved Casablanca, try this novel set during the Spanish civil war. Sira Quiroga works her way from dressmaker's assistant to a premier couturier, putting her in contact with the wealthy and powerful. When the British government asks her to spy for them as World War II gears up, she agrees, stitching secret messages into the hems of dresses. Translated from the Spanish, and the dialogue is a little bumpy in places, but the story is worth it. Is it perfect? No way. But engrossing? Definitely.
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Setting: Tokyo, 1984. A young woman begins to notice troubling discrepancies in the world around her, which makes her think she's living in a parallel reality, which she names 1Q84, the "Q" standing for "question." The two storylines converge over the course of the year, exploring fantasy, self-discovery, religion, love, and loneliness. The translation itself has been highly praised. On my TBR because a friend who loves it calls it "the longest book you'll never, not once, lose interest in."
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“Happy families are all alike;” begins this classic novel, “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” If you’ve never read Anna Karenina, a great time to find out why William Faulkner called this novel “the best ever written.” Whether or not you agree, you’ll be glad you read it.
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This is one of the few nonfiction works on this list, from the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. An essential read about a slice of forgotten American history detailing the decades-long migration of almost six million black citizens from the South to the North and West between 1915 and 1970, hoping for a better life, and how their resettlement changed the face of America. Wilkerson focuses on the stories of three individuals, giving us both an intimate portrayal and Big Picture view of what they experienced and how this changed the country.
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Talk about big fat books: This time-travel romance series has 9 books to date, totaling 9,381 pages, 300+ hours on Audible, and incorporating time travel, the Scottish highlands, romance, drama, and history. As she tells it, Gabaldon intended to write a realistic historical novel, but a modern woman kept inserting herself into the story! She decided to leave her on the page for the time being—it's hard enough to write a novel, she'd edit her out later—but would YOU edit out Claire? I didn't think so. You could happily lose yourself in this series (but heads up for racy content and graphic torture scenes).
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This one's on my TBR, because it's been highly recommended by readers with great taste. Also because the publisher calls it "an intellectual and emotional jigsaw puzzle of a novel for readers of A. S. Byatt’s Possession and Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book. From Library Journal: "This astonishing third novel from Kadish introduces readers to the 17th-century Anglo-Jewish world with not only excellent scholarship but also fine storytelling. The riveting narrative and well-honed characters will earn a place in readers' hearts."
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I nearly included this in the Summer Reading Guide but decided maybe not too many of you would be interested in a 672 page book published in 1971. But this book is pretty incredible in structure. A sweeping novel, a commentary on marriage–why it works, why it fails. It’s a Pulitzer winner, but its dream sequence ending feels like a copout.
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From the publisher: "Set in mid-1970s India, A Fine Balance is a subtle and compelling narrative about four unlikely characters who come together in circumstances no one could have forseen soon after the government declares a 'State of Internal Emergency'. It is a breathtaking achievement: panoramic yet humane, intensely political yet rich with local detail; and, above all, compulsively readable."
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The story begins with a murder, and the lonely, introspective narrator devotes the rest of the novel to telling the reader about his role in it, and how he seemingly got away with it. The setting is a small Vermont college, the characters members of an isolated, eccentric circle of classics majors, who murder one of their own. Strongly reminiscent of The Likeness in setting, Crime and Punishment in plot, and Brideshead Revisited in tone. I finally read this recently, and now I understand why opinions differ widely on Tartt's debut novel: it's a compelling—and chilling—tale, but there's not a single likable character.
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Book of the Month members chose The Heart's Invisible Furies as their book of the year in 2017. BOTM judge Liberty Hardy describes it: "Laugh, cheer, and weep as John Boyne takes you on an unforgettable journey through the Dickensian life of one of the greatest new protagonists in literature! It has been a long time since I have loved a character as much as I love Cyril Avery. As the book moves from 1945 to 2015, we follow sweet, well-intentioned Cyril from Dublin to Amsterdam to New York City as he embarks on a series of humorous and heartfelt adventures. This novel is perfect for fans of John Irving and Frank McCourt. It’s big, bawdy, and brimming with heart. This novel is a thing of magic, it absolutely floored me."
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This is Steinbeck's most ambitious novel, and in his opinion, his finest work. ("I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this.") My high school English teacher assigned us The Grapes of Wrath instead, so I didn't read this until a few years ago. The title references the fall of Adam and Eve, and the subsequent embattled relationship between brothers Cain and Abel. Grounded thoroughly in its California setting, interweaving the stories of two Salinas Valley families, Steinbeck's magnum opus feels tragic, yet hopeful.
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Michelle Obama’s memoir is breaking literary records and it’s easy to see why. The former First Lady recounts growing up on the South Side of Chicago, meeting her husband Barack, and exactly what it’s like to watch your husband run for and then win the presidency. She doesn’t shy away from the hard parts of her story, such as miscarriage and the racism she’s encountered over the years, and reflects on how her experiences have shaped her and the woman she’s still becoming. A moving, inspiring, engaging read.
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This big, fat, Pulitzer-winning novel has been on my radar for years, so I chose it as one of my 2016 Reading Challenge picks to inspire myself to finally cross it off the list. It's not the kind of book I expected to love: the story revolves around a 3000 mile cattle drive from a dusty Texas border town to the unsettled lands of Montana in the 1880s. Yet I enjoyed it so much. I listened to the audio version of this one (all 36 hours of it—although thankfully at 1.5x speed it didn't take *quite* that long).
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In the second of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, which can be read in any order, detective Cassie Maddux is pulled off her current beat and sent to investigate a murder. When she arrives at the scene, she finds the victim looks just like her, and—even more creepy—she was using an alias that Cassie used in a previous case. The victim was a student, and her boss talks her into trying to crack the case by impersonating her, explaining to her friends that she survived the attempted murder. The victim lived with four other students in a strangely intimate, isolated setting, and as Cassie gets to know them, liking them almost in spite of herself, her boundaries—and loyalties—begin to blur. A taut psychological thriller that keeps you guessing till the end.
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