Forget top summer reads – here are our top five summer listens


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Thursday 21 August 2014 13:04

Lounging by the poolside with a book – it’s perhaps the defining image of a civilised summer holiday. Free from the stresses of work, we can take the time to reacquaint ourselves with the classics – or perhaps indulge in something a little lighter.

One disadvantage of this time-honoured tradition, however, is the weight of carrying all that reading material around. And this is where the growing trend for digital audiobooks really comes into its own. An online audiobook retailer like lets you download digital audiobooks which you can listen to on your smartphone, tablet or MP3 player. Because of course, your hands need to be free to hold that cocktail glass…

Here are five suggestions for audiobooks to listen to this summer.

The Miniaturist

One day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman moves to a grand house in Amsterdam to be the wife of Johannes Brandt, an illustrious merchant trader – and is presented with a present, a cabinet-sized replica of their home. As Nella learns more about the world of Brandt, his sister Marin and the strict society they are part of, she begins to appreciate the potential dangers they face. And she increasingly wonders whether the creations of the mysterious miniaturist which furnish the model house are linked to their real-life counterparts. The Miniaturist is a beautiful tale that plays around with ideas of appearance and truth - an unforgettable story of betrayal and retribution.

The audiobook edition of the miniaturist is read by the author, Jessie Burton.

Click here to listen to the sample of The Miniaturist.

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt, the acclaimed author of The Secret History and The Little Friend, was named among Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014 after her latest book The Goldfinch became an international bestseller. The Goldfinch follows the story of teenager Theo Decker and the effect a tragic accident has on his life. It’s a powerful examination of love, obsession, and the power of art.

Tartt, who has narrated other audiobook editions of her novels herself, handpicked the narrator David Pittu because she felt he interpreted her characters so well. The Goldfinch was winner of the Pulitzer Prize For Fiction 2014, was Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize 2014 and was an Audie Award Finalist in 2013.

Click here to listen to the sample of The Goldfinch.

The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith

When detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling was published in 2013, some readers wondered how a debut novelist could be so accomplished. It didn’t take too long for the truth to emerge: the book’s author, Robert Galbraith, was in fact none other than world-famous Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

The Silkworm is the follow-up to that book – the next in the open ended series - and has earned equally positive reviews for its gripping narrative, focusing on the death of an author whose latest manuscript could destroy many distinguished literary reputations. One of the main draws is the developing relationship between the central character, maverick private detective Cormoran Strike, and his young assistant, Robin Ellacott. Narrated by Robert Glenister, star of the BBC’s Hustle, this book has all the verve, skill and gusto that you’d expect of Rowling…sorry, of Galbraith.

Click here to listen to the sample of The Silkworm.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Experience the thrill of the critically acclaimed sci-fi film in this official novelisation, narrated by Christian Rummel – a New York based actor with over 100 audiobook recordings to his name.

Part of 20th Century Fox’s reboot of the original Planet of the Apes series from the sixties and seventies, the story follows on from 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It describes the struggle between a group of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar, and the few humans who survived a devastating virus a decade earlier. While cinema audiences were wowed by the film’s special effects, the ideas, the emotional depth of the stories and the complex relationships between characters – whether ape or human – means there is more than enough for listeners to get stuck into to as well.

The fragile peace that the two sides reach doesn’t last long, as they are brought to the brink of a war that will determine the Earth's dominant species.

Click here to listen to the sample of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

Alan Karlsson is in an old people’s home and his 100th birthday celebrations are being planned. But Karlsson has other ideas and one day, slips out of his bedroom window into the flowerbed.

When an attempted robbery leaves the elderly man with a suitcase full of drug money, it’s the start of quite an adventure that takes in (among other things) a band of travelling companions, a very friendly hot-dog stand operator, a few deaths, an elephant and incompetent police. This joyous, whimsical tale has been a European publishing phenomenon and the look back over Karlsson’s life (including encounters with some of recent history’s most significant figures) have led the book (now also a film) to be compared to Forrest Gump. But the charm of this quirky, generous tale is ultimately unique – and irresistible. Narrator Peter Kenny draws out the full extent of its dry humour.

Click here to listen to the sample of The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.

Listening to your favourite books has also just become easier with the new Whispersync for Voice, which allows readers to seamlessly switch from reading a Kindle book and listening to the corresponding audiobook without losing their place.

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