by Patrick O’Brian (Random House Audio, $25), read by Tim Pigott-Smith, abridged, approx. 5 hours
O’Brian’s 20 books about seafaring Jack Aubrey and secret agent Stephen Maturin overflow with rich nautical detail. His bright, erudite prose and Piggott-Smith’s many-voiced read sweep us back to the Age of Sail aboard a British man-of-war. In this tenth of the series, you can almost feel the sails fill and taste the salt spray as Capt. Aubrey rounds the Horn amid the music of Mozart and the chaos of castaways, shipwrecks, and murder.