Great American Audiobooks

4 Jul

Great American AudiobooksAcross the USA, the 4th July brings parades, fireworks, barbeques and a“Star-Spangled Banner” all in celebration, commemorating the United States’ declaration of independence from Great Britain. On this side of the pond, it’s a great chance to appreciate some of the most important American literature, which is also available on audiobook. Here are six, which truly capture their times, the thoughts, struggles and culture of their characters and give us an insight into various parts of US modern history.

The Great Gatsby
Long before Baz Luhrmann’s visually epic remake, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote this classic, exploring themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess in 1925. The focus of the story is the mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby, the man who has everything, but one thing will always be out of his reach…

Fitzgerald shows us the garish society of the Roaring Twenties, with obsessions of money, ambition, greed and the promise of new beginnings. But although the era of focus is almost 90 years ago, even to this day, the plot stands the test of time.

Buy The Great Gatsby audiobook

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A familiar story in schools in the United States, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn may be one of those books that, over here, many know of, but not so many have actually read. But there’s no denying the fact that Mark Twain is one of the most fascinating writers of all time. Whether you’ve read his books, seen the adaptations in the cinema, or shared his inspirational quotes on Facebook, you’ll notice that he is, as a writer and humourist, timeless.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is noted for the colourful descriptions of people and places along the Mississippi River as well as the often scathing look at racism.

Buy The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn audiobook

The Grapes of Wrath
Published in 1939, John Steinbeck’s award winning novel is set during the Great Depression and follows a poor family of tenant farmers. The Joad family are driven from their home in Oklahoma by drought, money troubles and changes in the financial and agricultural industries. They head to California for work, land and a future, only to discover thousands like them are also on the move.

By February 1940, 430,000 copies of this, the best-selling book of 1939 had been printed. It has been discussed, criticised and read countless times and is known for Steinbeck’s passionate depiction the struggles this poor family, much like many others went through.

Buy The Grapes of Wrath audiobook

Tales of the City
A little less heavy than the other choices, but no less relevant. Armistead Maupin’s wonderfully written series, set in San Francisco gives us a realistic taste of the city’s culture, people and lifestyles.  The story follows Mary Ann Singleton, a young secretary, fresh out of Cleveland, as she tumbles into a brave new world of laundromat Lotharios, pot-growing landladies, cut-throat debutantes, and Jockey Shorts dance contests.

Buy Tales of the City audiobook

Ethan Frome
This is one of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edith Wharton’s most powerful stories. It follows Ethan Frome as he scrapes a living from his woodlot and lives in an unhappy marriage with his hypochondriac wife, Zeena. The arrival of his wife’s cousin, Mattie brings a ray of light into his life, leading to him falling in love with her, but stifling conventions of the time determine their fate.

One of the most fascinating elements of this is that themes of this story mirrored real events in the life of the author.

Buy Ethan Frome audiobook

Fahrenheit 451
Written in 1951, Fahrenheit 451 tells a story, set in a dystopian future. The protagonist, Guy Montag is a fireman, whose job is to burn books, which are outlawed, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Unhappy in his marriage and shocked by a sequence of events, Montag fights back against the status quo, but the Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

Written by Ray Bradbury in the 1950s because of his concerns at the time, the classic novel of a post-literate future describes world that he thought might become real decades later.  This stands alongside Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ as a visionary account of Western civilization’s enslavement by conformity.

Buy Fahrenheit 451 audiobook

What is your favourite American novel?

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