Length: 6 hr, 47 min
Reader: John Greenman
The book: To my mind, Tom Sawyer is the quintessential book of summer. No other novel captures quite as well the possibility, freedom, and laziness of being released from the obligations of school. Even now that I'm an adult summer still carries an echo of the magic that Twain distills into this book.
I've mentioned before that Twain does not write novels so much as a series of short stories connected by place and character. Most of Tom Sawyer follows this pattern, but toward the end, Twain brings several threads together into something resembling a plot. It is not the plot, however, but the humorous episodes that most people remember when they think of this book: Tom convincing the other boys to whitewash a fence, Tom and Huck faking their deaths, Tom cheating to win a Bible at Sunday School. These episodes are what makes Tom such an unforgettable character and what makes this book a true classic.
The reader: Reading aloud a book like this requires considerable talent in order to convey Twain's unique brand of humor, which can range from subtle to slapstick. John Greenman does an admirable job of translating this humor to the spoken word. His voices for characters like Huck Finn and Aunt Polly are particularly memorable while his narration carries the hint of a smirk at the outrageous pranks that Tom pulls.