In the world of book publishing, audiobooks may not be part of the mainstream, but they are no longer a curio. The question, "What should I listen to?" occurs more and more. Individuals from all walks of life now fit listening to a printed text into everyday life.
The Monitor asked Robin Whitten, executive editor and publisher of Audiophile magazine, to suggest a wide range of recorded books our readers might sample. "It's always fun to trade favorites," she says. Here is her mixture of old and new titles - abridged and unabridged formats - that she says are best bets for listening.
West With The Night - Beryl Markham
Read by Julie Harris
Audio Partners, $29.95
Six cassettes, 9 hrs., unabridged
Aviator and adventurer Markham's narrative of life in Africa in the 1920s and '30s, the excitement of big game, her fascination with horses, airplanes, and men.
Truman - David McCullough
Read by the author
Simon & Schuster Audio, $25
Four cassettes, 6 hrs., abridged
McCullough's insightful biography of Harry Truman is enriched by the author's presentation. Additionally, clips of Truman's speeches and piano playing enliven the program.
Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
Read by the Author
Simon & Schuster Audio, $24
Four cassettes, 4.5 hrs., abridged
Frank McCourt recounts his Irish childhood with great humanity. Hearing his own expression of those years is mesmerizing, and his singing of his mother's songs a joy.
Having Our Say - Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delaney with Amy Hill Hearth
Read by Whoopi Goldberg
Audio Renaissance Tapes, $16.95
Two cassettes , 3 hrs., abridged
Sadie and Bessie capture the hearts of listeners when they introduce their 100-year lives. Goldberg has only to provide a voice for their remarkable view of American history.
Short Stories & Letters
Jewish Short Stories From Eastern Europe and Beyond -
Sholom Aleichem, Isaac B. Singer, et al.
Read by Leonard Nimoy, Peter Riegert, Jeff Goldblum ,et al.
Natl. Yiddish Book Center, $80
Nine cassettes, 13 hrs.
Nimoy introduces each of more than 30 stories with a thoughtful commentary. With an abundance of talent, some 26 actors complete this wonderfully crafted program rich in heritage and narrative style.
Zora Neale Hurston Stories -
Zora Neale Hurston
Read by Renee Joshua-Porter Audio Bookshelf, $22.95
Two cassettes, 3 hrs., anthology
Hurston's stories touch both the rural black South and the Harlem Renaissance. With a fluid, mellow voice, Joshua-Porter delivers Hurston's wonderful sense of language and makes the dialogue sing.
Ernest Hemingway Short Stories - Ernest Hemingway
Read by Alexander Scourby
Listening Library , anthology
Six cassettes, 6 hrs., $44.68 Two cassettes, 2 hrs., $15.95
Alexander Scourby's legendary voice (National Geographic specials) combined with Hemingway's classic stories make a compelling program.
Hemingway's image-rich descriptions are beautifully realized.
Lincoln's Prose - Abraham Lincoln
Read by George Vail
Commuter's Library, $16.95 (each)
Two cassettes, 2.75 hrs., anthology
Lincoln' s letters, speeches and prose offer an insightful portrait. George Vail's resonant voice captures the nuances of these writings, delivering an immediacy that brings Lincoln's warmth, humor, and steel to life.
Mystery & Suspense
The Bank of Fear - David Ignatius
Read by George Guidall
Recorded Books, $75 (Rental $17.50)
Nine cassettes,12.75 hrs. Unabridged
Ignatius's compelling thriller involves Iraqi financial and political interests in London. George Guidall presents this tale of intrigue with chilling characterizations.
In The Presence of the Enemey - Elizabeth George
Read by Donada Peters
Books on Tape, $120 (Rental $14.50)
Fifteen cassettes, 22.5 hrs. Unabridged
Peters captures Inspector Thomas Lynley and his coterie of gentry sleuths with perfection. Peters has recorded seven of George's mysteries.
Here, a devious kidnapping reunites a tabloid editor and a British MP.
Trunk Music - Michael Connelly
Read by Dick Hill
Ten cassettes, unabridged $25.95; Two cassettes, abridged, $16.95
LAPD detective Harry Bosch, who's in trouble with his superiors again, investigates Las Vegas-Hollywood money laundering. Dick Hill delivers Bosch and his police colleagues with an astute feel for the characters.
Call For The Dead - John le Carr
Read by Michael Jayston
Chivers Audio Books, $39.95
Four cassettes,4.75 hrs., unabridged
This British version of one of le Carr's early George Smiley novels is a treat. Michael Jayston captures Smiley's subtle brilliance and deftly enhances the sinister nuance of le Carr.