Make mundane tasks go by faster with an audiobook

Posted: Thursday, November 26, 2009

As you're getting ready for the holidays, take some of the drudgery out of your tasks with an audio book. Look for bestsellers like "Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford, and "Unaccustomed Earth" by Jhumpa Lahiri. Take on Diane Gabaldon's latest blockbuster (all 46 hours), "An Echo in the Bone," or opt for something shorter, like one of several Louis L'Amour audiobooks.

"Plum Pudding Murder," by Joanne Fluke, read by Suzanne Toren.

This murder mystery is filled with Christmas cheer. All Hannah Swenson wants when she stops by the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot is her paycheck: what she gets is another dead body. The owner of the lot, Larry Jaeger, has been shot, but was it his ex-wife? His current girlfriend? Or one of his exasperated investors? Hannah's burning the candle at both ends, trying to keep up with holiday orders at The Cookie Jar and solve Larry's murder, as well as juggling two relationships at once, but as always, she comes out ahead. With plenty of yummy recipes to put you in the holiday mood.

"White Witch, Black Curse," by Kim Harrison, read by Marguerite Gavin.

This complex addition to the Hollows series explores supernatural investigator Rachel Morgan's life after the death of her lover, Kisten. Though she is now apprenticed to a demon, Rachel is much more concerned with the identity of Kisten's murderer, the failing health of two of her pixie friends, and hunting down the new predator which has moved into her territory. This is not the most strongly-plotted book in the series, however, the well-developed personalities of Harrison's characters will keep you riveted. Gavin's reading is particularly engaging when the pixie characters appear, and though this is the latest in the series, it's perfectly listenable as a stand-alone (though perhaps less rich).

"All the Living," by C.E. Morgan, read by Julia Gibson.

When Aloma meets Orren at the orphanage where she grew up and now lives and teaches, they are immediately attracted to each other and quickly become inseparable. And when he gets word that his mother and brother have died in a car accident, she agrees to return to his family tobacco farm, where they will begin new lives. The problem is that Aloma, whose parents died when she was only three, has no real idea what it takes to be a couple, and Orren, whose father is long gone and who is numb from his recent bereavement, can't help her. Compounding this, Aloma (whose dream is to be a concert pianist) finds that the piano Orren has promised is nothing like what she's used to at the orphanage. At loose ends and desperate for real music, she begins playing for church services and finds herself in a triangle of loneliness and need with the church's pastor. Morgan writes beautifully, choosing words with care, and Gibson delivers them into listener's ears with poetic precision.

"The Cheese Monkey," by Chip Kidd, read by Bronson Pinchot.

Set in 1957, this is a fictionalized account of the author as art major. A coming-of-age story along the lines of "Catcher in the Rye" (but substituting earnest hilarity for angsty depression), this follows Kidd through encounters in the world of graphic design with his (perhaps certifiably nuts) professor and a class full of fellow inquisitive and creative college students. Alternately humiliated, praised, and taunted to greatness by Professor Winter Sobeck, the Art 127 class works at breakneck speed to reach the enlightenment which Sobeck offers, and it's safe to say that by the end, neither they nor the reader will see the world around them in quite the same way ever again. Bronson's delivery, though frenetic, is always understandable, and matches the whirlwind pace of the story well.

"Family Man," by Elinor Lipman, read by Jonathan Davis.

When Henry Archer pays a condolence call on his ex-wife, he recognizes a photo on her mantel as that of the hairdresser around the corner. It's also his beloved step-daughter, whom he hasn't seen since he and her mother divorced when Thalia was a child. The two are delighted to be reunited, and Henry, a lonely gay lawyer with a successful career, offers struggling actress Thalia the benefit of his years in law when she's offered an iffy, but real-life role. When she moves into his basement apartment, the ensuing complications bring new relationships into Henry's life in this warm and funny family novel.

•••

All the public libraries will be closed today, Nov. 26, for Thanksgiving. The Valley Library will be open on Friday, Nov. 27th from 12-5 p.m., and the downtown and Douglas libraries will reopen on Saturday, Nov. 28.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold, visit www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.



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