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February 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
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Novels and stories with sports themes attract audiences beyond sports junkies. In John Grisham’s touching baseball tale Calico Joe, narrator Erik Singer flexes his vocal chords, consistently voicing characters’ emotions, personalities, and motives. The titles listed below (including two youth selections) stick with a sports theme and feature distinctive readings and excellent production values.
The Art of Fielding. By Chad Harbach. Read by Holter Graham. 2012. 16hr. AudioGO, CD, $89.99 (9781611131840); DD, $69.99 (9781611131857).
Basketball Jones. By E. Lynn Harris. Read by Mirron Willis. 2009. 7hr. Books on Tape, CD, $60 (9781415960424).
With gusto and delight, Willis reads this modern version of a screwball comedy, in which professional basketball player A. J. Richardson marries a basketball groupie who isn’t pleased to discover her husband has been supporting a secret male lover for the past seven years. As outrageous gambits and unexpected outcomes pile up, Willis propels listeners to the masterful conclusion.
Casey at the Bat. By Ernest Lawrence Thayer. Read by Yadu and others. 2005. 35min. Maestro Classics, CD, $16.98 (9781932684032); DD, $9.98 (9781932684032). Gr. 3–6.
The familiar nineteenth-century baseball poem is read by Yadu and performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in this exuberant title that includes historical background on the beloved poem and a discussion of the music score. This entertaining and informative production transcends age levels, holding wide appeal for all listeners.
Leverage. By Joshua C. Cohen. Read by Kirby Heyborne and Paul Michael Garcia. 2011. 13hr. Blackstone, CS, $29.98 (9781441775290); CD, $45 (9781441775306). Gr. 10–12.
This hard-hitting sports novel, in which two boys deal with a gang of sadistic football players, can be enjoyed by both adults and teens. Heyborne captivatingly portrays talented gymnast Danny, while Garcia takes on the role of introverted football player Kurt, who has a tortured past and a good heart. Both readers successfully mimic supporting characters, some of whom are bigoted, hateful villains.
Playing for Pizza. By John Grisham. Read by Christopher Evan Welch. 2007. 7hr. Books on Tape, CS, $60 (9781415946626); CD, $60 (9781415946633).
Former NFL quarterback Rick Dockery signs on with an Italian football team, and narrator Welch navigates the roster of tough-guy voices of the comically macho football players, differentiating them by changes in tone, inflection, and Italian-accented English. He also successfully switches gears to read luscious descriptions of regional Italian cuisine and culture.
Sudden Death. By David Rosenfelt. Read by Grover Gardner. 2005. 6hr. Listen and Live, CD, $29.95 (9781593160579).
During his investigation of a murder involving a football player accused of killing a teammate, defense attorney Andy Carpenter discovers similarities with earlier cases in this well-crafted mystery. Gardner reads Carpenter’s role brilliantly, giving him the right balance of playfulness and curiosity as he impishly tosses off frequent asides and witticisms.
Testimony. By Anita Shreve. Read by Nick Sullivan and others. 2008. 8.5hr. Books on Tape, CS, $100 (9781415960943); CD, $100 (9781415960363).
A sex videotape of a freshman girl and three basketball players rocks a prestigious Vermont prep school, and collateral damage mounts up. Fourteen readers, including Ellen Archer and Sherman Howard portraying the parents of a town student who meets a tragic end, narrate this gripping story told from varying viewpoints.
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