Great Audiobooks

Ready Player One Ernest Cline
Dystopian novels abound, but they’re not usually this fun. It’s 2044 and the world is in shambles, so who can blame Wade Watts if he’d rather live in a virtual reality than the real one? Like many of his peers, Wade spends his waking hours by himself, logged into a virtual reality game, racing through a computerized scavenger hunt in which his success depends on his knowledge of obscure ‘80s pop culture references. Sounds like geek heaven, right? But here’s the thing: I couldn’t care less about video games or John Hughes movies, but this exceptional book hooked me from page one. The audio version (read by Wil Wheaton) is fantastic. Suspenseful, funny, and insightful.
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Renowned travel writer Bryson takes to the Appalachian Trail in this laugh-out-loud travel memoir. After returning to America after 20 years in England, Bryson reconnects with his home country by walking 800 of the AT’s 2100 miles, many of them with his cranky companion Katz, who serves as a brilliant foil to Bryson’s scholarly wit. A superb hiking memoir that skillfully combines laugh-out-loud anecdotes with serious discussions about history, ecology, and wilderness trivia. Droll, witty, entertaining.
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Sweet 21-year-old Shandi "fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K” when he steps between a gunman who's high on drugs and her 3-year-old son. When the crisis is over, Shandi hurls herself into a new mission: getting him to love her back. Her blond god Thor that she fell in love with so quickly turns out to be a brilliant geneticist, whose genetic makeup contains some “specific duplications and deletions.” What Shandi doesn't realize is she's stepped into the middle of someone else's love story, not her own—but that story proves to be far more interesting than she ever could have dreamed. This was a runner-up for the post about the best summer reading for your Myers-Briggs personality type.
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When he was 19, Frank Mackey planned to run off with his girlfriend Rosie Daly: they would cut ties to home, get married, and start a new life in England. When Rosie didn't show, Frank assumed she changed her mind and left without him. But 22 years later, Rosie's suitcase is found hidden in their planned meeting spot. Frank never got over her, and he'll do whatever it takes to uncover what happened. Frank's qualities make him a first-class detective: he's painfully honest and willing to deal with unpleasant truths. He knows his weak spots, expects the sucker punch. He believes the most important thing every man should know is what he would die for. Depressing, but French tells a great story. This is the third book in her Dublin Murder Squad series, which can be read in any order.
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I couldn't get into this as a hardcover but then a friend with great taste suggested I give the audio a try. I started again from the beginning, and this time this grumpy old man story hooked me. Don't you love when that happens? A great narrator can truly make or break the reading experience. George Newbern's accents—especially for Ove—are fantastic. I laughed and cried and couldn't stop listening. But do yourself a favor: don't even think about finishing this novel in a public place, and consider removing your mascara first.
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I was warned this beautiful and heartbreaking story would suck me right in and it certainly did. The year is 1791, and an orphaned Irish girl is brought to a Virginia plantation as an indentured servant and makes her home among the slaves. The story is told alternately by the orphan Lavinia and 17-year-old Belle, the half-white illegitimate daughter of the plantation owner, who becomes Lavinia's de facto mother figure. The story keeps a brisk pace, propelled forward by rape, corruption, lynching, and occasionally, love. Whether you've already read it or are thinking about it, don't miss Kathleen Grissom talking about how this story came to be on episode 78 of What Should I Read Next.
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In this debut we follow the adventures of Alice Whitley, a young and innocent 23-year-old who's given a plumb assignment by her NYC publisher: fly to California to help an unusual family of two, by serving as personal assistant to the reclusive bestselling author who's agreed to write her first book in decades. But Alice soon discovers her only role is to serve as child-wrangler to the author's exceptionally quirky 9-year-old, who's constantly getting into trouble while dressing as a 1930s movie star, complete with top hat.
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From the publisher: "#1 New York Times bestselling author Louse Penny's beloved Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery novels have received critical acclaim, won numerous awards, and have enthralled millions of readers. Featuring Chief Inspector of Homicide Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec."
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A road-trip-from-hell as a romantic comedy? Yep. Moyes’s latest novel is a departure from her previous works, this time focusing on a single mom, her weird kids, and a geeky tech guy. Financially strapped Jess can’t afford to send her math whiz daughter to a decent school, but then a scholarship opportunity arises—in Scotland, and she can’t afford to drive there. Enter Geeky Ed, who owes her a favor, but mostly wants a chance to think about anything besides the insider trader scandal he’s embroiled in. The story is told from four different points of view, with different voices for each, which makes the audio version great. Quirky and endearing.
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From the publisher: "From the #1 New York Times bestselling author behind the upcoming Starz original series The White Princess, a gripping new Tudor story featuring King Henry VIII’s sisters Mary and Margaret, along with Katherine of Aragon, vividly revealing the pivotal roles the three queens played in Henry VIII’s kingdom."
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When a deadly dust storm cuts their mission short, astronaut Mark Watney’s crew makes an agonizing decision to return to earth without him. They saw his biosigns go flat: they believe they’re leaving his body behind. But Watney is very much alive, and now he must find a way to survive on Mars, in a damaged station, with limited food and no communication. Next step: to cobble together a rescue plan. Think Cast Away, in outer space. Funny, thrilling, and surprisingly plausible.
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