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By on November 1, 2008
RoadKing Mag

Robert Ludlum’s
The Bourne Sanction
By Eric Van Lustbader
Read by Jeremy Davidson
15 CDs  18 hours

It’s another twisty tale of identity confusion with the unflappable Jason Bourne, former intelligence agent, chasing down bad guys. And all the bad guys are here: Islamic terrorists, evil Russians and even some WW II Nazis. They have a big plot to destroy something major in the U.S. Bourne gets drawn in to stop it. Working against him on the other side is a man who seems like his evil twin — equally indestructible, sly and deadly. But where Bourne is haunted by a past he can’t fully remember, his nemesis is driven by a past he can’t forget.

It’s a lot of story, leaving the listener guessing about who’s fighting for good, who for evil, who will betray who and who will end up dead. But it’s the action scenes that stand out — fighting and chasing sequences so vividly written that each bone-cracking punch and knife-avoiding feint can be seen and felt by listeners as if they were watching a film rather than listening to an audiobook.

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do
By Tom Vanderbilt
Read by David Slavin
5 CDs  6 hours
(abridged version)

This could well be the perfect audiobook to pop in while driving. Listen to the psychology behind merging, as you see it happening right in front of you. Ponder the paradoxes of congested highways. Why is it that more roads is not the answer — why could it, in fact, be part of the problem? Why does everyone believe they are superb drivers, and why are they wrong? (Yes, maybe even you.) And what can we learn about traffic patterns by watching ants?

Author Tom Vanderbilt has explored every traffic study available, talked to the experts and then translated a lot of dry statistics  into a breezy and entertaining, information-packed audiobook.

An unabridged audiobook — 11 CDs/13 hrs — is available at libraries.

The Last Lecture
Randy Pausch with
Jeffrey Zaslow
Read by Erik Singer
4 CDs,  4.5 hours

Pre-YouTube, Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch might never have become a celebrity. Luckily, after he delivered his “Last Lecture” in September 2007, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, his moving speech on realizing childhood dreams was uploaded to the Web and ultimately touched millions.

Before his death in July, Pausch teamed with New York Times journalist Jeffrey Zaslow to turn his speech into a book. The Last Lecture contains expanded versions of many of the lecture’s anecdotes about his career and upbringing. But he also shares more personal stories, such as the eventful hot-air balloon ride he and wife Jai took on their wedding day, how he coped with his diagnosis, and what the reaction to his lecture meant to him.

What ultimately makes The Last Lecture so compelling is that, while Pausch’s situation is unbearably sad, the story he tells isn’t.

Whether he’s describing how it felt to realize his own childhood dream of experiencing zero gravity, or imparting sly advice like “When there’s an elephant in the room, introduce him,” his joy and good humor is palpable. Pausch’s life may have been shorter than many, but he lived it more fully than most.

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