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8 New Audiobooks for Summer

Great listens for long walks, road trips — or whatever floats your boat

spinner image from left to right audiobooks gentleman of jazz by ramsey lewis then harold and maude by colin higgins then farrel covington and the limits of style by paul rudnick then the librarianist by patrick dewitt then the honeymoon crashers by christina lauren then the white lady by jacqueline winspear then the wisdom of morrie by morrie shwartz then flags on the bayou by james lee burke
Blackstone Publishing (2) / Simon & Schuster Audio / HarperAudio / Simon & Schuster Audio Originals / HarperAudio / Blackstone Publishing / Simon & Schuster Audio

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy audiobooks, whether you’re on vacation, gardening or out for a long drive or walk. These eight recent releases offer something for every taste.

Gentleman of Jazz: A Life in Music by Ramsey Lewis and Aaron Cohen
Read by Dion Graham

4 hours, 49 minutes

Graham offers brisk narration appropriate to this story about the energetic life and celebrated career of legendary jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis, a three-time Grammy winner who recorded some 80 albums and made major contributions to 20th-century music. He brings the icon’s own first-person chapters to life — from his piano lessons during his youth in 1930s Chicago, where he learned classical techniques, and onward to his later musical triumphs.

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Harold and Maude by Colin Higgins
Read by Barbara Rosenblat

4 hours

The audio portrayal of this story may have even more charms than the quirky, classic 1971 film upon which it’s based. Written by Higgins, who also released an accompanying novel, the black comedy features young Harold — strange and obsessed with death — who strikes an unlikely friendship with Maude, a sunny 79-year-old free spirit, after they meet at a funeral. Rosenblat, a seasoned narrator (she performed the first book ever recorded at Audible, in 1999), is a marvel: Her performance is witty, sympathetic and perfectly controlled.

Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style by Paul Rudnick
Read by Daniel Henning

14 hours, 18 minutes

Rudnick’s fictional memoir of Nate, a neurotic wannabe playwright from New Jersey, is an exuberant, unapologetic celebration of gay life. The story is centered around Nate’s love affair with a stunningly handsome, wealthy man he meets at Yale (the titular Farrell Covington), and follows their subsequent decades together. It’s witty, explosive and life affirming. Henning narrates it in an over-the-top theatrical manner appropriate to the drama of the tale.

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The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt
Read by Jim Meskimen

10 hours, 2 minutes

In this tribute to reading, books, libraries and the people who love them, listeners meet retired librarian Bob Comet, whose seemingly uneventful life in Portland, Oregon, is rich with kindnesses, challenges and triumphs. His routine is altered when, during his morning walk, he encounters a lost woman, returns her to her care home and surprises himself by volunteering there. Meskimen portrays Bob with heartbreak and humor, though every character is relatable and endearing in this gem of a novel, which has a deeply moving conclusion.

The Honeymoon Crashers by Christina Lauren
Read by Jessica Marie Garcia, Harry Shum Jr. and a full cast

4 hours, 47 minutes

This robustly produced romance is an audio original, written by Christina Lauren — the pen name of author duo Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. Its focus is Ami, who’s had a rough go of her divorce and believes her failed marriage is a family curse. She wants to make sure everything goes well at her sister’s wedding (everyone got sick from food poisoning at her own disastrous wedding reception), so she reluctantly accepts the help of her brother-in-law’s best man, a carefree surfer. It’s a fun story, with each character’s dialogue delivered by a different actor. Sound effects enhance the action without overshadowing the narrative. (Out Aug. 1, 2023)

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The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear
Read by Orlagh Cassidy

10 hours, 6 minutes

Fans of Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series will be intrigued to discover a brave new heroine, Elinor White. The story jumps in time from White’s current life in Britain in 1947 to her recruitment in the Belgian Resistance as an adolescent during World War I and her work as an SOE agent in the fight against Nazi Germany. Narrator Cassidy brings a keen ear for British accents and nuance to each character’s personality.

The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively & Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz  
Read by Steven Weber, Rob Schwartz (foreword)

7 hours, 32 minutes

The late Morrie Schwartz was the subject of Mitch Albom’s hugely best-selling 1997 book Tuesdays With Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man and Life’s Greatest Lesson. Actor Steven Weber narrates Schwartz’s guide to aging, edited by Schwartz’s son Rob and rich with the author’s timeless wisdom. With moving personal stories and observations, Morrie invites listeners to age proactively and live authentically, filling their later years with joy and loving connections.

Flags on the Bayou by James Lee Burke
Read by MacLeod Andrews, Michael Crouch, Dana Gourrier, Marin Ireland, January LaVoy, Ray Porter, James Lee Burke [Epilogue]

8 hours, 53 minutes

Edgar award-winner Burke tells the story of an enslaved woman on the run in Louisiana after she’s been accused of murder, as the Civil War roils the South. But this dark, transporting novel also includes all manner of humanity, including a ragtag collection of Union and Rebel soldiers, enslavers and a deranged colonel leading a band of marauding Confederate killers. An ensemble of six talented narrators tell their stories, which neatly intertwine.

You can also check out the audio versions of other hot new summer books we’ve highlighted, both fiction and nonfiction.  

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