Hungry? Approaching those golden arches or that chicken bucket on a pole? You may keep driving after hearing “Fast Food Nation,” in which author Eric Schlosser blames the decline of our culture and health on the fast food industry. How did our kids get so fat and sassy and diabetic? This book is a real jaw-dropper, and makes a strong case that post-war America has become the homogenized enemy of our former rugged individualism due to the proliferation of fast food restaurants on every street corner. Americans now want everything pre-packaged, predictable and instantly available. And what does instant gratification mean for the food that’s now in malls, in schools and displayed on billboards to lure you in for a quick fix? Junk so bad for you there should be skull and crossbones on the wrappers. Read by Rick Adamson, this well-researched audio book is more than just an indictment of slaughterhouse practices and those pedaling soda to 8 year olds, it is a fascinating history of how the chain store phenomenon has become a mentality, and why we eat what we do. (Random House Audible/9 hours)
Enter Anthony Bourdain, the macho gourmet who wrote the bestseller “Kitchen Confidential.” In his new book, “A Cook’s Tour,” he’s on an around-the-world adventure searching for what he calls the perfect meal. Bearing a disdain for the American diet, Bourdain goes where few food critics have gone before, with a bent for danger and the unusual. Like eating blowfish, which can be deadly if served improperly, or Cambodian cuisine as Khmer Rouge thugs watch with automatic weapons. (Harper Audio/6.5 hours)
Believe it or not, there are other western writers besides Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey. Are they as good? Well, Willa Cather was for sure in Books in Motion’s “O Pioneers!” Max Brand was another. Ralph Compton is not in this group, but if you’re just looking for entertainment, and don’t mind a few clichés, try “Riders of Judgment,” narrated by the “tailor-made” western voice of Texan Jim Gough. It’s about a woman’s quest to revenge her father’s death, killing them one by one, while she hides her identity by pretending to be a man. Have you heard this plot before? Probably so, it’s a standard of the genre. It doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Another title from Otis Audio is Matt Braun’s “The Last Stand,” about a Cherokee fighting a range war against a broken U.S. treaty. Minor sound effects enhance these productions. (Otis Audio/6 hours each)
In “The Light and the Glory,” writers Peter Marshall and David Manuel contend America was founded and guided by spiritual influences as revealed in the Bible, and we’ve gotten off track. Are we one nation, under God, or not? This in-depth historical examination of U.S. history is as fascinating an argument as you’re likely to find. The Christian authors uncovered some surprising examples, and tell how they found them. One example is a document of Christopher Columbus in which he says he was guided by God, and not the stars, to discover America. Reader Raymond Todd keeps it as lively as a Nova science narrator might. (Blackstone Audiobooks/16.5 hours)
Mystery writer Robert Crais has a good thing going in “Lullaby Town,” about a private dick hired by a movie mogul to find his wife. But he loses me when the plot develops into a full-blown mob-connected, money-laundering scheme. It is well read by narrator James Daniels. (Brilliance Audio/6 hours)
For a detour off the beaten path, join me in a collection of short radio dramas titled “Mystery & Mirth For Anyone Stuck In Traffic.” In one play, a couch potato is forced to confront his obsession. In another, a hen-pecked wimp buys a Harley to spite his mother-in-law. Then there’s the Japanese fisherman who, while being given a lie detector test for the National Enquirer, claims to have caught — and thrown back — the Loch Ness monster as being “too small.” Full sound effects enhance this 90-minute production of 12 brief plays, which took more than six months to edit with the help of a dozen actors. The publisher will donate a portion of the proceeds to Sun Sounds Radio Reading Service for the Blind.
To rent or purchase audio books, dial Talking Book World toll free at 1-888-546-6910 or e-mail TBWAZ@aol.com. While you’re at it, order one of reviewer Jonathan Lowe’s three award-winning suspense novels on audio: “Postal,” “Caribbean Coup” or “Dark Fire.”