When it comes to memoirs, audio books (in CD format) — especially those by celebrities — should be read by their authors. The words just don't sound the same when they're not reading, although there are exceptions to every rule.
Back to Work
Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy
Random House Audio, $30, 5 hours, read by the author
There's a note of urgency in the former U.S. president's voice as he outlines solutions for the current economic crisis. The CDs are supplemented by a PDF file of charts referenced by Clinton.
Hachette Audio, $29.98, 5.5 hours, read by the author
The "30 Rock" star gives a hilarious performance of her memoir that retraces her "steps to figure out what factors contributed to this little soccer nerd developing into this fancy glamour lady who secretly prefers to be this weirdo on roller skates in a wig. For clarification you can check the PDF!"
Great by Choice
Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All
Jim Collins and Morton T. Hansen
Harper Audio, $39.99, 8 hours 45 minutes, read by Jim Collins
A must for execs: The author of "Good to Great" and his co-author offer coping mechanisms for companies facing economic instability and international volatility.
Hyperion Audio, $29.99, 7 hours, read by the author
Sure, the voice belongs to Jane Lynch, and she gives a no-frills reading of her memoir. But there's that signature deadpan delivery that keeps evoking Sue Sylvester from Fox's "Glee." Fight it as much as you want, but you can't help imagining that awful-looking jumpsuit.
How I Got This Way
Harper Audio, $39.99, 9.5 hours, read by the author
"It was so different when I started," says Regis Philbin at the beginning of this memoir of his rise to broadcasting success and racking up nearly 17,000 hours in front of TV cameras. Philbin has a knack for sharing his excitement with live audiences, and he does the same here with readers as he shares anecdotes of his early TV appearances and much more.
In My Time
A Personal & Political Memoir
Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney
Simon & Schuster Audio, $29.99, 20 hours, read by the author and Edward Herrmann
A glimpse not only into the nearly 40-year career of the former U.S. vice president but also of a Nebraska boyhood, his family and what fueled his ambition to move to the center stage of American politics.
Seriously … I'm Kidding
Hachette Audio, $26.98, 3 hours, read by the author
Stories and anecdotes from the talk show host/comedian's busy recent years (becoming a Cover Girl and making a compost heap are among the highlights). The only drawback of an audio book is that you can't watch her dance.
Simon & Schuster Audio, $49.99, 24.5 hours, read by Dylan Baker with an introduction by the author
The author describes being invited by Jobs to write this biography, and then veteran actor Baker takes over, rendering the life of Apple's visionary founder with a clear, engaging style.
Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy
Advice From Rock's Ultimate Survivor
Hachette Audio, $29.98, 6.5 hours, read by Frank Skinner
Ozzy can still rock the stage with the best of them, but for this collection of columns picked up by Rolling Stone magazine, he leaves the reading to British comic Frank Skinner, whose crisp delivery suggests what the Prince of Darkness sounded like years ago.
FICTION AUDIO BOOKS
In the case of fiction, most audio books this season need to follow only a single principle: Give a clean, clear presentation. Many veteran readers in this year's batch also give unique voices to each character that take listeners deeper into these imagined worlds.
Random House Audio, $40, 12 hours 31 minutes, read by the author
No one knows a book's characters better than their creator, and Lindsay is just right (of course) in this new tale of everyone's favorite good-guy serial killer … but you can't help wanting to hear the voice of Michael C. Hall from the hit Showtime series.
The Gormenghast Trilogy, Titus Awakes
Mervyn Peake, Maeve Gilmore
Naxos, $58.50, 18 hours 37 minutes, ready by Rupert Degas
Degas' effortless reading of Mervyn Peake's trilogy (and a final installment by Peake's widow) doesn't overperform this moving story of a fantastic kingdom where a boy named Titus lives.
Listening Library/Random House, $60, 31 hours, read by Gerard Doyle
Though there are battles aplenty — not to mention a heroic flying dragon — to tempt any narrator, Gerard Doyle resists theatrical excess and delivers a clean, clear version of this concluding installment of Paolini's bestselling fantasy cycle.
Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 10 hours, read by Dennis Boutsikaris
Boutsikaris gives a balanced presentation of Perrotta's story of the lives of those left behind after the biblical Rapture — or something closely resembling it — takes place on Earth.
The Marriage Plot
Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 16 hours, read by David Pittu
Pittu lends a calm, authoritative — and slightly world-weary — air to Eugenides' novel of a romantic triangle among classic literature devotees in the years after their graduation from Brown.
H. Rider Haggard
Naxos, $28.98, 5 hours 17 minutes, read by Bill Homewood
Homewood employs a proper British pronunciation that fits the mood and time period of Haggard's classic tale of a Cambridge academic's adventure in search of a legendary African queen.
The Son of Neptune
The Heroes of Olympus, Book Two
Listening Library/Random House Audio, $50, 13 hours 27 minutes, read by Joshua Swanson
Percy Jackson shares the stage with other demigods trying to understand a vague prophecy as they battle unkillable monsters up and down the West Coast.
When Elves Attack
A Joyous Christmas Greeting From the Criminal Nutbars of the Sunshine State
Harper Audio, $15.99, 5 hours 5 minutes, read by Oliver Wyman
For a little subversive yuletide thrill, try this wacky comic crime novel set in Florida. Oliver Wyman perfectly inhabits Dorsey's characters, starting with sweet old Edith Grabowski, who's as frank about sex as Dr. Ruth: "I'm 93 years old, and I've decided to stop having sex. I guess you just reach a certain age."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times