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Book World: Sound on! 6 perfect audiobooks to kick off your summer.

“Pineapple Street” by Jenny Jackson  (Penguin Audio/Handout)
By Katherine A. Powers Washington Post

There are, I know, audiobook listeners who believe that summer offers the opportunity to take on something serious and immensely tedious – perhaps Leo Tolstoy’s “Resurrection” or Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” (63 hours!). Reasonable people, however, leave all that for another, preferably distant, day and seek audiobooks unencumbered by profundity or messages of moral improvement. To that end, here are six in which buoyancy and humor reign.

1. ‘Pineapple Street,’ by Jenny Jackson

Jenny Jackson’s debut is the story of immensely rich people saddled with wealth’s daunting problems: prenups, trust funds and tennis strokes among them. Middle-class Sasha has married old-money Cord Stockton of Brooklyn Heights, and it’s rough. Cord’s sisters call her “the gold digger,” though, happily, they have their own problems. The story moves along a familiar path, one dotted with pitfalls, recoveries, rich-person satire and eventual harmony. It’s absurdly satisfying, not least because of narrator Marin Ireland’s fine performance. She distinguishes between characters marvelously, shading her voice to project their personalities and emotional state so effectively that we feel we know them – though, naturally, they would not deign to know us. (Penguin Audio, 81/2 hours, $31.50)

2. ‘Swamp Story,’ by Dave Barry

Dave Barry narrates his latest novel in a calm, seemingly serious voice, never mind the endearing silliness of what he’s reading. Jess Braddock is frustrated living in the Everglades with her baby, ex-boyfriend – an aspiring reality star whose idea of acting is whipping off his shirt – and his lecherous friend. While the two men get on with drinking, drugging and dreaming of success, Ken Bortle of Bortle Brothers Bait and Beer is hatching a scheme to lure tourists to the brothers’ justly unfrequented store. This entails employing a bibulous ex-newspaperman kitted out as the “Everglades Melon Monster,” which naturally becomes a TikTok sensation. Also in play are buried treasure, a pair of ex-cons, a presidential candidate and, of course, a python. (Simon & Schuster Audio, 8 hours, $17)

3. ‘Lucky Jim,’ by Kingsley Amis

Kingsley Amis’s 1954 book is, despite its unreconstructed attitude toward women, one of the funniest novels ever written. Nearly 70 years after publication, it now appears as an audiobook (Blackstone, 92/3 hours). Disaster-prone Jim Dixon, lecturer in medieval history (which he hates) at a red-brick English university (ditto), is under the thrall of Professor Welch, department head, enthusiast of medieval “music” and a bore of the deepest dye. Jim, with no other job prospects, must curry Welch’s favor, including enduring a madrigal weekend with the Welches. The sheer awfulness of this results in a drunken fiasco, depicted in loving detail. Further unpleasantness ensues. Narrator James Lailey delivers the story with brio, never overplaying the comedy but conveying the mood and mien of the characters as they appear to Jim, foremost among them being the frightful Welch. (Blackstone, 92/3 hours, $29.37)

4. ‘Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers,’ by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Jesse Q. Sutanto’s latest is the coziest of mysteries, complete with a little old lady sleuth, endless cups of tea and a dinner party where all the suspects convene about the murder of a very disagreeable man. One morning, Vera, a 60-year-old widow living in San Francisco’s Chinatown, finds the man dead on the floor of her failing tea shop. The police say the death was accidental, but Vera sets about her own investigation, bringing together the dead man’s wife, child, brother, a couple of people he’d swindled and an exasperated police officer. Funny and sweet, the book is superbly narrated by Eunice Wong, whose versatile voice moves from character to character with ease and persuasiveness. (Penguin Audio, 103/4 hours, $28)

5. ‘Welcome to the Circus of Baseball,’ by Ryan McGee

ESPN writer and commentator Ryan McGee narrates his own book about working as an intern for the Class A Ashville (N.C.) Tourists during the 1994 baseball season. McGee’s Southern voice is boyish and boisterous as befits the carny atmosphere of the minors and his own youthful excitement at playing a part behind the scenes at a storied ballpark. The author worked a variety of messy and obnoxious jobs, all amusingly described, and provides a fascinating look at the nitty-gritty of running a ballpark. Though generally cheerful, McGee strikes a melancholy note lamenting Major League Baseball’s gutting of the minor leagues whereby 40 teams were eliminated in 2020 to local dismay, civic impoverishment and the further demolition of what was once the national pastime. (Random House Audio, 83/4 hours, $28)

6. ‘The Chinese Groove,’ by Kathryn Ma

I started Kathryn Ma’s novel after other readers told me how funny it is. I quickly discovered that it is – but also that it is psychologically penetrating, culturally astute and a brilliant character study. Shelley, a young Chinese man with a fantasy version of America stuck in his head, travels to San Francisco to study and make a fortune. He presents himself at the house of Ted, a distant cousin who, Shelley mistakenly believes, is rich and powerful. Ted, dismayed, gathers that Shelley intends to live with him and his wife. Though Shelley is out for the main chance, he is also sincerely looking for family connection, and his essential goodness emerges as his route to his survival. James Chen’s narration is stunningly good; he tailors his voice and manner to the various characters, among them the initially naive but alert Shelley, two vexatious, complicated old men, two fraudsters who sound like it, all of them and others as real in Chen’s delivery as they would be in life. This is one of the best novels I’ve listened to this year. (Random House, 101/4 hours, $28)

Katherine A. Powers reviews audiobooks every month for the Washington Post.