4 classic audiobooks

Four recent audiobooks bring new life to titles that should not be forgotten.

1. 'Norse Mythology,' by Neil Gaiman

(Read by the author; Harper Audio; 6 CDs; 6.5 hours; $29.99/www.audible.com download; $23.95)

It is not a surprise that the author of "American Gods" would be interested in Norse mythology, but this lively and witty retelling surpasses expectations. The language is modern and the stories are clear and concise, which is not how this listener remembers Norse mythology from college. Gaiman begins with an explanation of the players and then sets the stage with "before the beginning there was nothing." He reads with a style almost ariose, reminding us that we are, after all, listening to tales handed down through oral tradition. Gaiman is a graceful narrator, easily slipping between humor and tragedy, capturing the heightened drama of the gods without overdoing his performance.  Grade: A –


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