Four audiobooks to keep you company

Turn up the volume (and the heat) with this month’s selections, including a spine-tingling thriller and a complicated mystery.

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

This November, curl up by the fire and listen to the Monitor’s audiobook picks of the month: An audio original, a thriller, a Holocaust story with magical realism, and a meditation on the environment.

“The World That We Knew” by Alice Hoffman
Read by Judith Light; Simon & Schuster Audio; five hours

Actress and narrator Judith Light has a memorable voice, with a soothing, moderately deep timbre and a cadence like no other. However, she sometimes overdoes it and one wishes she had pulled back a bit, as this story is dramatic enough without her underscoring it vocally. This unusual mash-up of history and folklore gives you a lot to think about in a Holocaust story. Trying to save her daughter, a Jewish mother creates a golem (a creature formed out of inanimate matter) to guide her daughter to safety. The ramifications of that act are not what anyone expects. Grade: A-

“I Eat Men Like Air” by Alice Berman
Read by Elizabeth Evans; Audible Original; 14 hours

Courtesy of Audible

This audio-only mystery, which is currently not available in print, is a steamy and quite adult look at the fallout from a particularly ugly evening in which a party went off the rails. It is really less a mystery than an exploration of complicated and troubled people navigating a world of privilege in which little is denied. The writing is a little sloppy, but the characters are intriguing and sometimes quite humorous. The material is mature and includes violence. Grade: B

“The River” by Peter Heller
Read by Mark Deakins; Random House Audio; seven hours and 30 minutes

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

This is an entertaining thriller set in the deep woods of Canada when a late summer canoe trip goes horribly wrong. There is a fire driving out the animals, a deranged man, and a woman in peril. Though not his strongest novel, anything by Peter Heller is going to be entertaining, and this is, though it is also a bit disjointed and somewhat repetitive. However, he successfully captures the male psyche, so his dialogue and motivations all seem believable. Narrator Mark Deakins is fabulous. He adds subtext and edginess as needed, but never emotes. Grade: B

“We Are The Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast” by Jonathan Safran Foer
Read by the author; Macmillan Audio; four hours

Courtesy of MacMillan

Jonathan Safran Foer has a lot to say about what we have done to the planet and how we can change it – mostly by reducing our intake of meat. However, this audiobook is somewhat less than user friendly in that it relies heavily on a stream of consciousness that is too meandering to fully keep our attention. Foer’s personal life features heavily in each chapter and what we really need are solutions that he does not readily offer. This collection of essays is read by the author, which he does with deliberation but not a lot of emotion. There is some deep thinking going on here, but it feels unfinished and needed a stronger, surer narrator. Grade: B-

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