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Between the Lines: Audiobooks for relaxed summer listening

Published: Sunday, Jul. 1, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 7AANDE

Heard any good books lately? As in audiobooks, which are a growing segment of the multimedia market.

The Audio Publishers Association ( is "the voice of the audiobook industry," and makes note of how listening habits compare to reading habits, genre-wise. Essentially, they parallel each other. The listeners and readers who were polled prefer mystery-thriller-suspense, best- sellers, general fiction and nonfiction, just like readers.

Summertime reading is ever-popular, yes, but so is summertime listening. Given that, here's a sampling of new audiobook releases.

From Macmillan Audio


• "Shine Shine Shine" by Lydia Netzer, read by Joshilyn Jackson: Drama and pathos take over the lives of a suburban mother and her astronaut husband.

• "Where We Belong" by Emily Giffin, read by Orlagh Cassidy: Secrets from the past change the lives of two women and their families.

• "The Nightmare" by Lars Kepler, read by Mark Bramhall: The sequel to the best-selling "The Hypnotist."


• "Gangster Squad" by Paul Lieberman, read by Robert Petkoff: The Mob vs. the LAPD. The movie is due this fall, starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Sean Penn and Emma Stone.


• "Spark" by Amy Kathleen Ryan, read by Ilyana Kadushin and Matt Brown: The second title in the "Sky Chasers" series.

From Harper Audio


• "The Janus Affair: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel" by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, read by James Langton: British secret agents Wellington Books and Eliza Braun must save England once again.

• "The Unseen" by Katherine Webb, read by Claire Wille: Trouble comes to an English village in 1911, with the arrival of an occultist and a housemaid escaping the law.


• "Cronkite" by Douglas Brinkley, read by George Guidall: A thorough (and thoroughly entertaining) biography of newsman Walter Cronkite, "the most trusted man in America."

• "Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet" by Andrew Blum, read by the author: The journalist explores the physical "nuts and bolts" side of the Internet.

A reader's summer book list

Recently, we asked you to share your summer reading lists with other readers. You responded with dozens of eclectic titles. So each week in this column we'll include a reader's list.

Remember: Books have long shelf lives. They may be on summer reading lists, but that doesn't mean they're new.

For starters, we heard from Gary Miller, president of the Roseville City School Board. He emailed to tell us he "just finished "The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine' by David Brock."

Now he's switching back and forth between several titles. "I am currently halfway through 'The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson' by Robert A. Caro. A fascinating story and very difficult to put down.

"Also, I'm in the process of reading 'The Presidents Club' by Nancy Gibbs, and 'December 1941' by Craig Shirley.

"On my (to-be-read) list are 'Beyond Outrage' by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and 'The Obama Hate Machine' by Bill Press."

Miller helps oversee a kindergarten through eighth-grade district.

"One of my major issues is our libraries – how many books and computers are there, and what shape are they in," he said. "When I walk into a bookstore, I see the kids asking their parents to buy books for them. It's really exciting."

A magazine of our region

Issue No. 5 of Sacramento-based California Northern magazine is available for $6.95 at bookstores and newsstands, as well as at Whole Foods, Walmart, Costco and other locations.

The twice-yearly magazine specializes in examining Northern California's "new regionalism," said Casey Mills, publisher and editor-in-chief.

"It explores the region's culture, environment, history and identity (via) essays, long-form journalism, literature, poetry and photography," he said.

Among the contents of the new issue is an interview with novelist-essayist-biographer Gerald W. Haslam; two pieces on Occupy Oakland; a migrant worker's transition to owning an organic farm; a road trip to Oakdale; a hike through Point Reyes National Seashore; fiction and poetry.

For a subscription:

'Life of Pi' soon on big screens

Some books that skyrocket to the tops of best-seller lists owe a partial debt of gratitude to word of mouth – still the best form of advertising – especially when it comes from the thousands of reading groups around the country.

That was the case in 2002, when "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel was "discovered" and became a phenomenal best-seller and darling of book clubs.

On its face, it's the story of teenage shipwreck survivor Pi Patel and his 221 days on a lifeboat with four zoo animals, including a 450-pound tiger. But it's much more than that.

Now fans are eager for the Nov. 21 release of the 3-D movie, directed Ang Lee and co-starring Irrfan Khan, Gérard Depardieu, Tobey Maguire, Adil Hussain and Shravanthi Sainath Tabu.

To watch a clip, go to, the online edition of Entertainment Weekly magazine.

Notable nonfiction titles

Two titles from opposite ends of the nonfiction spectrum are catching the attention of book critics.

One is "Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero" by Larry Tye (Random House, $27, 432 pages). Superman doesn't look 75 years old, but he is an alien, after all. Here, journalist Tye (author of "Satchel") details the Man of Steel's history and gives credit to the "creators, designers and performers who made him the icon he is today."

The other, much more serious book is "Death at SeaWorld" by David Kirby (St. Martin's $26.99, 480 pages; on sale July 17).

In February 2010, an 11,300- pound bull orca named Tilikum killed his trainer, Dawn Brancheau, at SeaWorld Orlando. Kirby's investigation goes well beyond that tragedy, addressing the controversy over keeping killer whales in captivity at marine mammal theme parks, and the 20-year battle between them and animal-rights activists.

That just about covers it

A major part of marketing a book is coming up with the best possible cover to fit the material. Something provocative, but not over the top; stylized, but not too artsy. It's tough, and book sales can ebb and flow on the strength (or not) of the cover design and art.

The creative folks at have brainstormed to come up with what they think are The 50 Coolest Book Covers. Included are "The Godfather," "In Cold Blood," "Jurassic Park"...

See for yourself at

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