It’s hard to believe that it is already December. At college, the fall semester is drawing to a close. Finals loom. Christmas draws nears. And according to some sources, the apocalypse lurks just around the corner.
In between my studies, Christmas shopping, and my musings on the subject of doomsday, I’ve been reacquainting myself with my favorite books. However, as neither my school nor any shopping centers are within walking distance of my house, I have spent a good deal of time in the car—and I’ve taken my books, in the form of audiobooks, along with me.
The experience has been delightful. I love having stories read aloud to me. Let me share a few of my all-time favorite audiobooks with you. Maybe you’ll discover something new to read or listen to over the holidays!
10) Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman. Read by Gerard Doyle, Emily Gray, Virginia Leishman, and Simon Prebble. This is a sequel to Daphne du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca. I listened to it on cassette and fell in love with the diverse talents of the ensemble. I enjoyed piecing together the book’s various mysteries, as well as hearing Rebecca’s tale told in her own voice.
9) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Performed by Stefan Rudnicki and an ensemble cast. I didn’t expect to love this novel as much as I did; I usually balk at science fiction. But Ender’s Game is amazing. Card’s prodigies are people in their own right—I could root all day for Ender and his sister Valentine and even appreciate the cold genius of their monstrous brother, Peter. The novel is full of consequences and compromises and visceral conflicts. The cast that performs Ender’s Game was surprising. While not every narrator has an equal part, and the narration occasionally feels uneven, each voice fit the story.
8) The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. Read by Alexandra O’Karma. This is an old, nostalgic favorite, one of the defining audiobooks of my childhood.
7) The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. Produced by the BBC Radio and performed by an ensemble cast. Another defining series of audiobooks—or more properly, radio plays—from my childhood. There were sound effects and the narration was wonderful, and though the stories were abridged, the performances were lively enough that I didn’t mind.
6) The Perilous Gard, by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Read by Jill Tanner. Another childhood love. Tam Lin is one of my favorite folktales, and I love how Elizabeth Marie Pope re-imagines it. Kate Sutton is one of my all-time favorite heroines, and the Fair Folk took my breath away.
5) The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde. Read by Simon Prebble. I love Jasper Fforde’s imagination. The idea of characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes living mundane lives drew me to this book initially. Businessman Humpty-Dumpty, the homicidal Ginger Bread man, and Simon Prebble’s narration kept me there.
4) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Read by Jeremy Irons. Nabokov’s elegant prose plus Jeremy Irons’ voice equals audible chocolate. Jeremy Irons is truly the perfect narrator. He performs the “unreliable narrator” with conviction. The humor translates brilliantly (making this one story I could not listen to while driving), but the poignancy and horror of the story is ever present.
3) The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. Read by Simon Vance. “Napoleon with dragons,” sums up the main idea behind these seven fantasy/alternate history novels. It is the one series about dragons that I love unconditionally. Novik re-imagines the world of Napoleon brilliantly. The dragons are a natural part of the societies in which they live (either among humans or separate from them), and are as thoroughly realized characters as any of the humans. Simon Vance has a distinct voice for every character.
2) The Giver by Lois Lowry. Read by Ron Rifkin. I listened to this story at least once a month for years as a child. The simplicity of Lowry’s prose and plot, and the profundity of her story, are breathtaking. I always found Ron Rifkin’s narration to be rather comforting.
1) The Bartimaeus Sequence, by Jonathan Stroud. Read by Simon Jones. Some days, just thinking about this series tickles me hard enough to make me laugh aloud. Jonathan Stroud’s skill at characterization, suspense, and worldbuilding are phenomenal, and Simon Jones’ narration is perfect. I’ve listened and re-listened to the first three books in this series (my favorites) so many times that I’ve lost count.
What books are you reading or listening to this holiday season? Tell us about some of your favorites!
Stephanie Morris is a WriterHouse intern, a college sophomore who majors in something new every week, an aspiring writer of Gothic horror and speculative fiction, and a voice actor. This post originally appeared on audiblecandy.blogspot.com. (Image courtesy of thanunkorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)