Henry David Thoreau
Read by Archibald MacLeish
Caedmon Audio, $12
One cassette, complete selections
Thoreau's essays have a special place in the hearts of many readers, but it may have been some time since we've reflected on his 1845 journal chronicling natural beauty and praising the simple life. This remastered recording made in 1968 by Archibald MacLeish revives two familiar voices. Poet and educator MacLeish has the clear, polished voice of his beloved New England and eloquently reads Thoreau's observations.
THE CAT WHO SANG FOR THE BIRDS
Lillian Jackson Braun
Read by George Guidall
Putnam Berkley Audio, $17.95
Two cassettes, abridged
Recorded Books, rental $13.50
Five cassettes, unabridged
Lillian Jackson Braun delights fans with the 20th caper of Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats in "The Cat Who...." series. George Guidall is a master narrator and well-versed in Qwill, journalist-sleuth, and his clue-finding cats. Just now, Qwill's rural life in Moose County, 400 miles north of everywhere, is upset by a deadly fire, suspicious land deals, and the usual encounters with neighbors and friends. Guidall's wry delivery enlivens the wordplay and his Siamese voice is a treat.
TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE
Read by the author
Brilliance Audio, $23.95
Three cassettes, unabridged
In this journal Mitch Albom made with his former Brandeis professor, Morrie Schwartz, listeners share a moving chronicle as the young man and the older man talk about life lessons: marriage, death, family, loneliness, fear of aging. Morrie, confronted with a terminal illness, shares his thoughts and fears with gentle humor and frankness. Albom's weekly visits provide a framework for their discussions, which often digress into family history and comments on today's culture. Albom offers a vivid portrait, but an actual taped conversation with Morrie added at the end of the program is a moving footnote.
GREAT NARRATIVE POEMS OF THE ROMANTIC AGE
Samuel Coleridge, George Crabbe, John Keats, William Wordsworth et al.
Read by Samuel West, John Moffat, Sarah Woodward
Naxos Audio Books, $11.98
Also CD, $13.98
Two cassettes, (CD) anthology
A stunning introduction to six Romantic poets: Keats, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Morris, and Crabbe. Each narrative poem is long enough to reveal the poet's style. The three narrators are beautifully cast. Samuel West is truly brilliant, giving evocative, powerful readings. Naxos Audio Books does an excellent job with liner notes, including biographical notes on each poet and comments on the importance of each selection.
THE FLORIDA KEYS WEST FLORIDA
Robert Magee and Barney Hicks
Read by Grover Gardner, Kimberly Schraf, and Barney Hicks
One cassette (Florida Keys) $9.95
Two cassettes (West Florida) $15.95
Designed to be travelogues as listeners drive, these original audio programs are of equal interest to armchair travelers who want to know about the history and lore of West Florida and the Keys. As the program follows Interstate 75 through West Florida, mile markers are noted for listeners to orient themselves as they drive. Grover Gardner, in resonant, mellow voice, is a pleasant guide. His obvious interest sparks yours, as he digresses to a story about a local hero or historical site. The programs include local history and early settlements, notes on marine ecology and wildlife, as well as attractions or stops listeners might want to make.
* Robin Whitten is the editor of AudioFile, a bimonthly magazine of reviews and features on audiobooks. For more information: 800-506-1212 or RAudioFile@aol.com