‘The Lehman Trilogy’ leads the top audiobooks of October

An epic immigration story that flows like poetry, a kid-friendly adaptation of Shakespeare, and more great audiobooks made our list this month.

HarperAudio, Audible Studios, Scholastic
“The Lehman Trilogy” by Stefano Massini, “My Life as a Villainess: Essays” by Laura Lippman, “Just One Damned Thing After Another” by Jodi Taylor, and “Tales from Shakespeare” by Tina Packer.

There may not be as much to do out in the world these days, but there are many new tales to be heard – especially if you’re looking for things to do inside during the first days of autumn. This month, the recommendations include a long novel told in blank verse, Shakespeare plays turned into prose, a rollicking science fiction caper, and a bold memoir.

“The Lehman Trilogy” by Stefano Massini; translated by Richard Dixon
Read by Edoardo Ballerini; HarperAudio; 13 hours and 40 minutes

This story is nothing short of amazing – and not for everyone. Written in blank verse and quite long, it represents a time commitment, but for fans of literary fiction, wordplay, historical fiction, and American culture, this is well worth the time. Originally written in Italian, this translation is lyrical and enjoyable (though not light listening) as it follows the original Lehman Brothers from Germany to America. The story stays with the family through several generations, always focusing on the main three partners in the family’s investment business. Narrator Edoardo Ballerini is exceptional, delivering various international accents while maintaining a lyrical cadence that flows like poetry. This is a remarkable, thought-provoking listening experience. Grade: A+

“Tales from Shakespeare” by Tina Packer
Read by the author; Scholastic; five hours and 30 minutes

This delightful collection of 10 adapted Shakespeare plays is not only fun to hear, but also very useful for parents currently homeschooling their children. Expect a nicely varied selection of the Bard’s major comedies and tragedies condensed into short story form. Tina Packer, who was born in England and has spent most of her life performing Shakespeare, does an excellent job of bringing each story to life with a performance that is discernibly dramatic but never over-the-top. The stories (as well as four of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches) are energetically read by Packer, who really lets her inner actress out and leaves us wanting more. Grade: A-

“Just One Damned Thing After Another” by Jodi Taylor
Read by Zara Ramm; Audible Studios; nine hours and 30 minutes

If you are a fan of “Dr. Who” or time travel adventures in general, then buckle up – because there are over 20 books and short stories in the “Chronicles of St. Mary's” series, of which “Just One Damned Thing After Another” is the first installment. Hidden in St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research is a secret program allowing academics to travel through time and document actual events as they happen. The newly recruited Madeleine Maxwell must navigate dangerous missions and even more treacherous office politics in this complex story. Expect romance, danger, twisty subplots, and well-defined characters you can’t help but like. Narrator Zara Ramm does not alter her voice much, though she creates solid regional accents and easily captures the upbeat, fast-paced nature of these novels. There are a few mild sex scenes and some cursing, but this series is generally fine for young adults and up. Grade: A-

“My Life as a Villainess: Essays” by Laura Lippman
Read by the author; HarperAudio; five hours and 50 minutes

Laura Lippman, best known for her detective fiction, is funny, honest, sometimes vulgar and often very relatable, especially if you are a woman of a certain age. She really isn’t much of a villain, though she does get herself into trouble occasionally with her shoot-from-the-hip style. Lippman is a better writer than narrator, as she lacks some polish, but she’s conversational and there is something to be said for hearing an author tell her own story and punch up her own jokes. Opinionated and often funny, she is forthright about motherhood at 60, microwaves, and mean girls. Not for audiophiles who are easily offended. Grade: B+

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