Aubrey/Maturin Series by Patrick Obrian read by Patrick Tull: Master and Commander is the first in the series of Jack Aubrey novels. Establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship’s surgeon and intelligence agent, against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars.
True Grit by Charles Portis read by Donna Tartt: In the 1870s, young Mattie Ross learns that her beloved father was gunned down by his former handyman. But even though this gutsy 14-year-old is seeking vengeance, she is smart enough to figure out she can’t go alone after a desperado who’s holed up in Indian territory. With some fast-talking, she convinces mean, one-eyed US Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn into going after the despicable outlaw with her.
Dead I Well May Be by Adrian McKinty read by Gerald Doyle: Appointed by a crime boss to lead a gang of Irish thugs against rival powers in Harlem and the Bronx, young illegal immigrant Michael Forsythe falls out of favor when he seduces his employer’s daughter.
Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse read by various readers: P.G. Wodehouse’s hilarious tales of Bertie and Jeeves provide a rollicking romp through the trials and tribulations of Britain’s upper crust society.
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters read by Juanita McMahon: Growing up as a foster child among a family of thieves, orphan Sue Trinder hopes to pay back that kindness by playing a key role in a swindle scheme devised by their leader, who is planning to con a fortune out of the naive Maud Lilly.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Suzanna Clarke read by Simon Prebble: The year is 1806. England is beleagurered by the long war with Napoleon, and it is hundreds of years since practical magic faded into the nation’s past. The reclusive Mr. Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey is the one practicing magician still remaining. Challenged to demonstrate his powers, Norrellcauses statues to speak and sing, and sends a thrill through the country. He proceeds to London, where he raises a beautiful young woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Norell is challenged by the emergence of another magician, the brillant novice Jonathan Strange. Norrell agrees to take Strange as a pupil and the young magician joins England’s cause to lend the army his supernatural skill on the battlefield. Strange becomes obsessed with the found of English magic, the Raven Kin and risks sacrificing his partnership with Norrell and everything else.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov read by Jeremy Irons: Humbert Humbert attempts to justify his love for and obsession with the barely adolescent Dolores Haze, known as Lolita. Humbert’s cross-country flight with his adored nymphet ends with her betrayal of him with his rival, the evil Quilty, who pursues Lolita not out of love but out of lust and selfishness, and who functions as a kind of double for the more pure-hearted (if perverse) Humbert.
Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess read by Tom Hollander: Shocking, radical, and undeniably thought-provoking, A Clockwork Orange remains the most enduring novel by Anthony Burgess–a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Literature. With the tone of a nightmarish comedy, Burgess satirically envisions a warped future in which gangs of sadistic youths rule the streets after dark. Meet Alex, a 15-year-old boy who enjoys rape, ultraviolence, and Beethoven.
On the Beach by Nevil Shute read by Simon Prebble: A war no one fully understands has devastated the planet with radioactive fallout from massive cobalt bombing. Melbourne, Australia is the only area whose citizens have not yet succumbed to the contamination. But there isn’t much time left, a few months, maybe more — and the citizens of Melbourne must decide how they will live the remaining weeks of their lives, and how they will face a hopeless future.
Woman in White by Wilkie Collins read by various readers: Heroine Marian Halcombe and her sleuthing partner, drawing master Walter Hartright, are pitted against the diabolical team of Count Fosco and Sir Percival Glyde, in a tale of murder, intrigue, madness, and mistaken identity.