Full-cast recordings, or “dramatizations” of great books can elevate the material to a whole new level. Consider the following Audible titles:
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, A Signature Performance By Tim Curry [Unabridged] (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $9.95 or 1 Audible member credit) – From Amazon:
This version of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, masterfully narrated by Tim Curry, was available for a limited time last year, and now it’s back. This one-of-a-kind performance puts a unique spin on a treasured classic, and served as the inspiration for the exciting new line of Audible Signature Classics, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with Elijah Wood, and Heart of Darkness with Kenneth Branagh. Tim Curry performs this timeless holiday story in a deliciously dark tone, returning it to its Dickensian roots with a vivid imagining of Victorian London and just the right touch of outrageous fun.
A Christmas Carol has constantly been in print since its original publication in 1849, and has been adapted for stage, television, film, and opera. It has often been credited with returning the jovial and festive atmosphere to the holiday season in Britain and North America, following the somber period that emerged during the Industrial Revolution.
The story opens on a bleak and cold Christmas Eve as Ebenezer Scrooge is closing up his office for the day. As the story progresses and Christmas morning approaches, Scrooge encounters the unforgettable characters that make this story a classic: Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and, of course, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
World War Z [Abridged] (4/5 stars, currently priced at $14.89 or one Audible member credit) – From Amazon:
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of 30 million souls, to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet.
He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.
Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the 12-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.
The all-star roster of celebrity narrators includes Alan Alda, John Turturro, Jurgen Prochnow, Henry Rollins, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner and more.
American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition [Unabridged, A Full Cast Production](4/5 stars, currently priced at $23.15 or one Audible member credit) – From Amazon:
First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now, discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this 10th anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.
A storm is coming….
Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life. But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.
Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. It is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own.
Along the way, Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing – an epic war for the very soul of America – and that he is standing squarely in its path.
Relevant and prescient, American Gods has been lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Washington Post Book World)…
The cast of performers includes Dennis Boutsikaris, Daniel Oreskes and Sarah Jones.
Dracula [Audible Edition, Unabridged] (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $26.21 or FREE for Audible members) – From Amazon:
Because of the widespread awareness of the story of the evil Transylvanian count and the success of numerous film adaptations that have been created over the years, the modern audience hasn’t had a chance to truly appreciate the unknowing dread that readers would have felt when reading Bram Stoker’s original 1897 manuscript. Most modern productions employ campiness or sound effects to try to bring back that gothic tension, but we’ve tried something different. By returning to Stoker’s original storytelling structure – a series of letters and journal entries voiced by Jonathan Harker, Dr. Van Helsing, and other characters – with an all-star cast of narrators, we’ve sought to recapture its originally intended horror and power.
This production of Dracula is presented by what is possibly the best assemblage of narrating talent ever for one audiobook: Emmy Award nominees Alan Cumming and Tim Curry plus an all-star cast of Audie award-winners Simon Vance (The Millenium Trilogy), Katherine Kellgren (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Susan Duerden (The Tiger’s Wife), John Lee (Supergods) and customer favorites Graeme Malcolm (Skippy Dies), Steven Crossley (The Oxford Time Travel series), Simon Prebble (The Baroque Cycle), James Adams (Letters to a Young Contrarian), Nicola Barber (The Rose Garden), Victor Villar-Hauser (Fun Inc.), and Marc Vietor (1Q84).
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Signature Performance by Elijah Wood [Unabridged] (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $21.83, or for Audible members: $17.46 or one Audible member credit) – From Amazon:
Audible is pleased to announce the premiere of an exciting new series, Audible Signature Classics, featuring literature’s greatest stories, performed by accomplished stars handpicked for their ability to interpret each work in a new and refreshing way. The first book in the series is Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, performed by Elijah Wood.
Ernest Hemingway said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn”. One hundred years after its author’s death, this classic remains remarkably modern and poignantly relevant. In this brand new edition, Elijah Wood reads Huck in a youthful voice that may be the closest interpretation to Twain’s original intent. His performance captures the excitement and confusion of adolescence and adventure. Best of all, the immediacy of Wood’s energetic reading sweeps listeners up and makes them feel as though they’re along for the ride, as Huck and Jim push their raft toward freedom.
Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh [Unabridged] (4/5 stars, currently priced at $21.83, or for Audible members: $17.46 or 1 member credit) – From Amazon:
Prose that demands to be read aloud requires a special kind of narrator. For the Audible Signature Classics edition of Joseph Conrad’s atmospheric masterpiece, Heart of Darkness, we called upon four-time Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh.
Branagh’s performance is riveting because he reads as though he’s telling a ghost story by a campfire, capturing the story’s sense of claustrophobia, while hinting at the storyteller Marlow’s own creeping madness. Heart of Darkness follows Captain Marlow into the colonial Congo where he searches for a mysterious ivory trader, Kurtz, and discovers an evil that will haunt him forever.
With this landmark work, Conrad is credited with bringing the novel into the twentieth century; we think Branagh brings it into the twenty-first.