The books you listen to

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The Independent Culture
Strongly recommended for a Christmas present, Penguin English Verse (Penguin, 18hrs, pounds 50) is a cavalcade of verse from Thomas Wyatt to Wilfrid Owen, read by nine fine actors and edited by Paul Driver as "an anthology for the ear", by rhythmic balance and tonal contrast rather than strict chronology. Innovatively packaged as a gift set with six pairs of cassettes, each flanked by the complete text of the poems.

Also pricey, but worth it, is Talkies-award winner Wives and Daughters (Cover to Cover, 25hrs30, pounds 44.99). Prunella Scales skips effortlessly between innocence and experience as she reads Mrs Gaskell's unforgettable story of a doomed marriage and its aftermath.