Heard any good books lately? Probably.
The Audio Publishers Association reports that the audiobook segment of the $27 billion books industry continues to grow. Further, it cites the results of a survey about why people like them: “I can listen in my car,” “They’re portable” and “They help me multitask.” Toward the bottom of the list is, “I like being read to.”
Audiobooks are convenient, entertaining travel companions for road trips and the daily commute. Try these titles from two of the biggest players. All the Macmillan titles listed here are $40; the Simon & Schuster titles are $30 to $50.
Note that the “voice talent” on an audiobook is critical to its success. That job is usually performed by members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a national labor union. Also, unabridged audiobooks, in which the source material has not been condensed, are more popular than abridged, even though they cost more.
• “Resistant” by Michael Palmer, read by Robert Petkoff: A manmade epidemic is unleashed on the United States. This is Palmer’s 19th medical thriller.
• “Small Blessings” by Martha Woodroof, read by Lorelei King, who narrates Janet Evanovich’s “Stephanie Plum” audios: An English professor is leading a quiet life in a small college town when he’s suddenly informed by an ex-lover that the son he didn’t know he had is on the way for a visit.
• “I’ll Be Back Right After This” by Pat O’Brien, read by the author: In his frank memoir, the veteran sportscaster anecdotally recalls the celebrities, sports stars and politicians he’s interviewed and hung out with, and speaks frankly about “the demons” that nearly killed him.
• “The Kraken Project” by Douglas Preston, read by Scott Sowers: An artificial-intelligence program code-named Dorothy goes rogue and hides inside the Internet, threatening humankind’s existence. Preston and novelist Lincoln Child are the co-authors of the popular “Pendergast” series, starring a Sherlock Holmes-type FBI special agent.
• “The Long Way Home” by Louise Penny, read by Ralph Cosham: Chief inspector Armand Gamache has retired from the Sûreté du Québec and put homicide investigations behind him, but agrees to help find a neighbor’s missing husband.
• “Driving with the Top Down” by Beth Harbison, read by Orlagh Cassidy: An unlikely trio of women — an antiques dealer, her friend who’s running away from her husband and hiding secrets, and a teenage girl – take a long and tumultuous road trip.
• “Midnight In Europe” by Alan Furst, read by Daniel Gerroll: The best-selling author sets his 14 novels in a brief period in Europe shortly before and during World War II. This one finds a Spanish emigré to Paris involved in an arms-smuggling scheme.
• “Walking On Water” by Richard Paul Evans, read by the author: Alan Christoffersen lost his wife and his business, and embarked on a cross-country walk to find new meaning in life.
• “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, read by Zach Appelman: Events during World War II bring together a blind girl with a secret, and a boy who is drafted into the Hitler Youth movement.
• “City of Heavenly Fire” by Cassandra Cloare, read by Jason Dohring and Sophie Turner: The conclusion of the best-selling “Mortal Instruments” YA fantasy series. The Shadowhunters want to save the world from the Demons.
• “All Fall Down” by Jennifer Weiner, read by Tracee Chimo: A happily wed businesswoman with a loving family quietly slips into addiction to prescription drugs. Can she climb out on her own?
• “Magnificent Vibration” by Rick Springfield, read by the author: The rock ’n’ roller-actor’s debut novel is a strange journey about a guy who finds a phone number that connects him with God. Consequently, he and a sexy travel companion named Alice are given a mission.
• “Counterfeit Lies” by Oliver North and Bob Hamer, read by Peyton Tochterman: An undercover FBI agent-assassin is caught in an international web of intrigue and danger. North once worked in counterterrorism for the National Security Council. Hamer spent 26 years with the FBI, some of it in undercover operations.
Worth a look in print
This pairing could work well in the natural world:
• “The Outdoor World of the Sacramento Region,” co-edited by Peter J. Hayes, Peggy Kraus-Kennedy and Molly Keller (American River Natural History Association, $17, 236 pages,www.arnha.org
): Take along this field guide to spot all of our area’s flora and fauna; with descriptions and more than 250 color drawings.
• “The Big, Bad Book of Botany” by Michael Largo (William Morrow, $19, 416 pages): This combination of history, mythology, lore, science and sheer entertainment takes us on a tour of the world’s most unusual plants. With B&W illustrations.
Or consider one from this eclectic trio:
• “I’ve Still Go It ... I Just Can’t Remember Where I Put It” by Jenna McCarthy (Berkley, $16, 320 pages): If women are in need of a very funny yet practical “middle-age manifesto,” this is it. The 40-something wife and mother passes on the wisdom she’s learned from trying to face the fact that she’s not quite who she used to be.
• “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Eddie Campbell (William Morrow, $22, 80 pages): In typical Gaiman fashion, the novella moves beyond appearances. It’s a poetic, philosophical journey to self-discovery that happens to be presented as a quest by adventurers to find gold in a remote cave in the mountains of Scotland.
• “Just My Typo,” compiled by Drummond Moir (Three Rivers, $12, 192 pages): Typographical errors show up everywhere, all the time. Some are more egregious than others, as this collection (with context) shows. How about these sentences from various job applications: “I have a graduate degree in unclear physics.” “I am a rabid typist.” “As part of the city maintenance crew, I repaired bad roads and defective brides.”