Arts & Entertainment

Audio books

LiteratureArts and CultureTelevisionEntertainmentJane LynchDick CheneyRegis Philbin

NONFICTION

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

Bill Clinton

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.

Bossypants

Tina Fey

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.

Happy Accidents

A Memoir

Jane Lynch

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

Regis Philbin

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

Ellen Degeneres

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.

Steve Jobs

Walter Isaacson

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

Ozzy Osbourne

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.

Double Dexter

A Novel

Jeff Lindsay

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.

Inheritance

Christopher Paolini

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.

The Leftovers

A Novel

Tom Perrotta

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

A Novel

Jeffrey Eugenides

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.

She

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

Rick Riordan

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

Tim Dorsey

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
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LiteratureArts and CultureTelevisionEntertainmentJane LynchDick CheneyRegis Philbin
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