The Mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America.
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  • The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Timothy Egan
    • Narrated By Patrick Lawlor, Ken Burns
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1346)
    Performance
    (763)
    Story
    (775)

    The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since, and the stories of the people that held on have never been fully told. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and author Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region.

    Laurie says: "more than grapes of wrath"
    National Book Award Winner, Nonfiction, 2006
  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By M.T. Anderson
    • Narrated By Peter Francis James
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (31)

    He is a boy dressed in silks and white wigs and given the finest of classical educations. Raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers, the boy and his mother, a princess in exile from a faraway land, are the only people in their household assigned names. As the boy's regal mother, Cassiopeia, entertains the house scholars with her beauty and wit, young Octavian begins to question the purpose behind his guardians' fanatical studies.

    Shelly M. Felton says: "Compelling"
    National Book Award Winner, Young People's Literature, 2006
  • Europe Central

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By William T. Vollmann
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (22)

    Assembling a composite portrait of these two warring leviathans and the terrible age they defined, the narrative intertwines experiences both real and fictional: a young German who joins the SS to expose its crimes, two generals who collaborate with the enemy for different reasons, the Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich laboring under Stalinist oppression.

    Armen says: "A Must Listen"
    National Book Award Winner, Fiction, 2005
  • The Year of Magical Thinking

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Joan Didion
    • Narrated By Barbara Caruso
    Overall
    (1337)
    Performance
    (459)
    Story
    (463)

    "Life changes fast....You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." These were among the first words Joan Didion wrote in January 2004. Her daughter was lying unconscious in an intensive care unit, a victim of pneumonia and septic shock. Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, was dead. The night before New Year's Eve, while they were sitting down to dinner, he suffered a massive and fatal coronary. The two had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years.

    Darwin8u says: "Sharp, sometimes funny, but always clear & precise"
    National Book Award Winner, Nonfiction, 2005
  • The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Jeanne Birdsall
    • Narrated By Susan Denaker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (136)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (68)

    This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel's sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel's owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.

    Neily says: "Happy Accident"
    National Book Award Winner, Young People's Literature, 2005
  • Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Kevin Boyle
    • Narrated By Lizan Mitchell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (101)
    Performance
    (48)
    Story
    (47)

    The grandson of a slave, Dr. Ossian Sweet moved his family to an all-white Detroit neighborhood in 1925. When his neighbors attempted to drive him out, Sweet defended himself, resulting in the death of a white man and a murder trial for Sweet. There followed one of the most important (and shockingly unknown) cases in Civil Rights history. Also caught up in the intense courtroom drama were legal giant Clarence Darrow and the newly formed National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

    Anthony Freyberg says: "Defending Your Life"
    National Book Award Winner, Nonfiction, 2004
  • Three Junes

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Julia Glass
    • Narrated By John Keating
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1166)
    Performance
    (294)
    Story
    (299)

    Three Junes is a vividly textured symphonic novel set on both sides of the Atlantic during three fateful summers in the lives of a Scottish family. Three Junes "almost threatens to burst with all the life it contains...extraordinary," says Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours.

    Dagmar says: "Beautiful Narration of a Wonderful Story!"
    National Book Award Winner, Fiction, 2002
  • Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Robert A. Caro
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (403)
    Performance
    (265)
    Story
    (270)

    Master of the Senate carries Lyndon Johnson's story through one of its most remarkable periods: his 12 years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. Once the most august and revered body in politics, by the time Johnson arrived the Senate had become a parody of itself and an obstacle that for decades had blocked desperately needed liberal legislation. Caro shows how Johnson's brilliance, charm, and ruthlessness enabled him to become the youngest and most powerful Majority Leader in history.

    Jeff says: "DROP JAW AMAZING!!"
    National Book Award Winner, Nonfiction, 2002
  • The House of the Scorpion

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Nancy Farmer
    • Narrated By Raul Esparza
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (236)
    Performance
    (149)
    Story
    (151)

    When El PatrĂ³n dies at the age of 146,14-year-old Matt escapes Opium with the help of Celia and Tam Lin, his devoted bodyguard who wants to right his own wrongs. After a near misadventure in his escape, Matt makes his way back home and begins to rid the country of its evils.

    Allison says: "Don't let the back dissuade you!"
    National Book Award Winner, Young People's Literature, 2002
  • The Corrections

    • ABRIDGED (9 hrs)
    • By Jonathan Franzen
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    Overall
    (689)
    Performance
    (135)
    Story
    (140)

    The Corrections is a grandly entertaining novel for the new century - a comic, tragic masterpiece about a family breaking down in an age of easy fixes. Richly realistic, darkly hilarious, deeply humane, it confirms Jonathan Franzen as one of our most brilliant interpreters of American society and the American soul.

    Charles says: "A memorable book; flawless narration"
    National Book Award Winner, Fiction, 2001
  • True Believer

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Virginia Euwer Wolff
    • Narrated By Heather Alicia Simms
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    What's new in LaVaughn's life is Jody, a boy she knew as a child who's come back to the housing project where she lives. Jody is like a miracle: he smells like chlorine; he calls her "little buddy;" he goes with her to the dance. It's just as if he's in love with her. Except not quite.

    Helen says: "This is a fantastic book..."
    National Book Award Winner, Young People's Literature, 2001
  • In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Nathaniel Philbrick
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (689)
    Performance
    (325)
    Story
    (331)

    The ordeal of the whaleship Essex was an event as mythic in the 19th century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the 20th. In 1819, the Essex left Nantucket for the South Pacific with 20 crew members aboard. In the middle of the South Pacific the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than 90 days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, disease, and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival.

    Craig says: "Fascinating"
    National Book Award Winner, Nonfiction, 2000
  • Embracing Defeat

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By John W. Dower
    • Narrated By Edward Lewis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (133)
    Performance
    (52)
    Story
    (54)

    This illuminating study explores the ways in which the shattering defeat of the Japanese in World War II, followed by over six years of American military occupation, affected every level of Japanese society. The author describes the countless ways in which the Japanese met the challenge of "starting over", from top-level manipulations concerning the fate of Emperor Hirohito to the hopes, fears, and activities of ordinary men and women in every walk of life.

    Keith R. Finch says: "Pulitzer Prize Winner!"
    National Book Award Winner, Nonfiction, 1999
  • When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Kimberly Willis Holt
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (62)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (21)

    Nothing ever happens in Toby's small Texas town. Nothing much, that is, until this summer, which is full of big changes. It's tough for Toby when his mother leaves home to become a country singer. And Toby takes it hard when his best friend Cal's older brother goes off to fight in Vietnam. But now their sleepy town is about to get an even bigger jolt with the arrival of Zachary Beaver, billed as the fattest boy in the world. Toby is in for a summer unlike any other, a summer sure to change his life.

    A User says: "A Great Listen!!"
    National Book Award Winner, Young People's Literature, 1999
  • Holes

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Louis Sachar
    • Narrated By Kerry Beyer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (492)
    Performance
    (228)
    Story
    (237)

    Stanley Yelnats isn't so surprised when a miscarriage of justice sends him to a juvenile detention center. After all, his family has been ridden with bad luck ever since a one-legged gypsy put a curse on his great-great grandfather. He is told that the hard labor he must perform, digging five-foot holes in the dried up soil where Green Lake once sat, is meant to build character. But it soon becomes clear to Stanley that the warden is really using the boys to search for something very valuable.

    Jannice says: "Holes"
    National Book Award Winner, Young People's Literature, 1998
  • Cold Mountain

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Charles Frazier
    • Narrated By Charles Frazier
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (606)
    Performance
    (231)
    Story
    (232)

    One of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain is a masterpiece that is at once an enthralling adventure, a stirring love story, and a luminous evocation of a vanished America in all its savagery, solitude, and splendor.

    M. Dunn says: "Cold Mountain (Unabridged)"
    National Book Award Winner, Fiction, 1997
  • Sabbath's Theater

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Philip Roth
    • Narrated By David Dukes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (122)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (41)

    Once a scandalously inventive puppeteer, Mickey Sabbath at 64 is an aging, raging powerhouse, defiantly antagonistic and exceedingly libidinous. But after the death of his longtime mistress, Sabbath embarks on a turbulent journey into his past.

    Joshua says: "A great book by a great writer"
    National Book Award Winner, Fiction, 1995
  • How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter

    • ABRIDGED (2 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Sherwin B. Nuland
    • Narrated By Sherwin B. Nuland
    Overall
    (152)
    Performance
    (74)
    Story
    (75)

    There is a vast literature on death and dying, but there are few reliable accounts of the ways in which we die. The intimate account of how various diseases take away life, offered in How We Die, is not meant to prompt horror or terror but to demythologize the process of dying, to help us rid ourselves of that fear of the terra incognita.

    Ruth says: "Required reading for those still breathing"
    National Book Award Winner, Nonfiction, 1994
  • The Shipping News

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Annie Proulx
    • Narrated By Robert Joy
    Overall
    (189)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (39)

    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, The Shipping News shows why E. Annie Proulx is recognized as a gifted and original writer. When Quoyle, a 36-year-old, third rate newspaperman, learns that his two-timing wife has abandoned him and their two daughters, he returns to his ancestral home on the Newfoundland coast, to rebuild his life. We also recommend Proulx's, Accordion Crimes.

    Karen says: "Find the unabridged version!"
    National Book Award Winner, Fiction, 1993
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