Dr. Gridlock, in a recent column, asked for more information about books on tape, including a "Top 10" list. As usual, our readership proved a great resource. Some comments:

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

All those road-raged drivers can take heart: There is an immense variety of audio books out there to soothe the rough edges of any commute. From biographies to popular fiction, taped books can make the worst traffic snarl bearable.

I have learned that with taped books, you will sometimes listen to a book you'd never take the time to read. My best friend is admirably driving her way through "War and Peace."

Here are two major resources for book rentals for those who don't have time to get to a library or book store:

* Books on Tape (1-800-626-3333) in Newport Beach, Calif. It publishes the Top 10 list of most popular audiocassettes you are looking for. Its Web site is www.booksontape.com.

* Recorded Books Inc. (1-800-638-1304) is right here in Calvert County, Maryland. Its Web site is www.recordedbooks.com.

Call either service and get a catalogue. You can order using a credit card. Rentals are usually for a month. When you're done, put the tape back in the original box, seal it and drop it in the mail. Postage is prepaid. Rental cost is about $10-$15, and the books are unabridged.

My current book tape is "Rough Justice," by Lisa Scottoline. It is apropos for gridlock in that it is set in a blizzard that shuts down the city. The characters scramble not only to resolve the conflict but to just get around.

I try to never be without a book tape. I highly recommend them for driving-stress survival, and I hope you will share your readers' book tape recommendations.

Kathy Blumenstock


Road Relaxation

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My wife drives from Sterling to Mount Vernon Hospital every day and listens to books on tape each day. They help her relax and put her in a better mood when she gets home.

Anything by Patricia Cornwell makes for good listening. Many of her stories are set in the Washington metropolitan area, plus the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore, Richmond and Tidewater area.

Hugh Riddle


Shortening the Commute

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Books on tape make all commutes too short. The public library is the place to get the tapes (free), and the limited selection contributes to one of the joys of the experience: reading things you would never have thought of reading in print.

In the past few years, I have learned about salvage vessels on the North Atlantic, the fall of Berlin, Teddy Roosevelt, Homer's "Iliad," backpacking in China and a score of other subjects I never knew could be so interesting.

Margaret Fisher


Educational Tapes

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

For educational tapes, try the Teaching Company (1-800-832-2412), offering lectures by the most talented professors in the country.

I never had a classical music education, but I'm getting one in my vehicle through dynamic professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Although I'm female, I also love the series of novels about the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars, by Patrick O'Brian. Be sure to get tapes narrated by Patrick Tull, as he is a gifted reader and actor.

Mary Vogel


Books for the Family

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

We have a 9-year-old son and have, as a family, enjoyed the following recorded books:

The Ramona stories by Beverly Cleary, expertly read by Stockard Channing; "The Indian in the Cupboard" and its sequels; "The Three Terrible Trins" by Dick King-Smith.

All of these are available in the children's rooms of the Montgomery County library.

I should point out that any adult looking for a way to relieve stress should consider these stories, regardless of whether children are along.

Sally Stokes

Silver Spring

Mountaineering in Your Car

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My favorite is "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer. He is the one who reads the book in some editions, and hearing the account of the Everest disaster in his voice is incredible. You won't want to stop the car.

Barbara Collura

Fairfax County

Traditional Favorites

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My favorite is "To Kill a Mockingbird," read with great sensitivity and Southern charm by Sally Darling.

I've also found the Garrison Keillor "Prairie Home Companion" tapes to be a godsend when traveling with parents.

Deb Nixon


Even Good for Metro

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I used to commute downtown via New York and Rhode Island avenues, using book tapes to relax. Now I commute by Metro, and still use book tapes to ease that journe.

Harise Poland


List of Bestsellers

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

For a list of audio book bestsellers, try www.usatoday.com/life/enter/books/audio.htm.

I hope this will be of use to you and your readers. Apparently it is updated every Friday.

Denise R. Gooch, M.D.

St. Louis University Hospital, Missouri

Drive to the Library

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The best book on tape I've ever found is "The Trumpet of the Swan," read by its author, E.B. White. I got it at the library for my 6-year-old daughter, but her grandmother and I wound up listening to it, too.

The wonderful story and Mr. White's performance kept my daughter listening for an hour or more at a time. She read along with the book, and this got her interested in reading other books!

Debby Fancher


Top Rental Cassettes

Here is a list of the top 10 audio rentals, from Books on Tape Inc.


1. "The Testament," by John Grisham, read by Frank Muller.

2. "Rainbow Six," by Tom Clancy, read by Michael Prichard.

3. "The Simple Truth," by David Baldacci, read by Jonathan Marosz.

4. "A Man in Full," by Tom Wolfe, read by Michael Prichard.

5. "The Hammer of Eden," by Ken Follett, read by Alexander Adams.

6. "Cold Mountain," by Charles Frazier, read by the author.

7. "Memoirs of a Geisha," by Arthur Golden, read by Bernadette Dunne.

8. "Low Country," by Anne Rivers Siddons, read by Kate Reading.

9. "Point of Origin," by Patricia Cornwell, read by Kate Reading.

10. "The Vampire Armand," by Anne Rice, read by Jonathan Marosz.


1. "A Walk in the Woods," by Bill Bryson, read by Rob McQuay.

2. "Into Thin Air," by Jon Krakauer, read by Philip Franklin.

3. "Hostile Waters," by Huchthausen/Kurdin/White, read by Geoffrey Howard.

4. "The Professor and the Madman," by Simon Winchester, read by David Case.

5. "Undaunted Courage," by Stephen E. Ambrose, read by Barrett Whitener.

6. "Personal History," by Katharine Graham, read by Frances Cassidy.

7. "Three Roads to the Alamo," by William C. Davis, read by Dick Estell.

8. "A Monk Swimming," by Malachy McCourt, read by David Case.

9. "The Man Who Listens to Horses," by Monty Roberts, read by Jonathan Marosz.

10. "Lindbergh," by A. Scott Berg, read by Lloyd James.

Dr. Gridlock is enjoying this so much we'll do a second column on the subject later this week. In that column we'll have the Top 10 list from Recorded Books Inc. and come up with more listening ideas for vacation, errand and commuter driving.

Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and on Wednesday or Thursday in the Weekly and Extra sections. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or e-mail him at drgridlock@washpost.com. The Doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.

Springfield Interchange Update


1. From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the left lanes of Old Keene Mill Road (both eastbound and westbound) will be closed from Backlick Road to Commerce Street, for construction of the Amherst Street bridge. One lane will remain open in each direction.

Tuesday and Wednesday:

2. From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the left lanes of South Frontier Drive (both northbound and southbound) will be closed from Franconia Road to Mall Entrance No. 3 (Springfest), for construction of a storm drain. One lane will remain open in each direction.

Tuesday through Thursday:

3. From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (and from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday), the left lane of Franconia Road will be closed from Loisdale Road to Backlick Road, for paving work. One lane will remain open.

4. From 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., two lanes of southbound Interstate 95 will be closed between Commerce Street and Old Keene Mill Road, for construction of a temporary bridge. One lane will remain open.

5. From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., the right lane of southbound Amherst Avenue will be closed between Bland Street and Springfield Boulevard, for barrier setting and bridge construction. One lane will remain open.

Wednesday or Thursday:

6. From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the right lane of northbound I-95 will be closed between Newington and Old Keene Mill Road, for sign work. Two lanes will remain open.

Wednesday through Friday:

7. From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, the right lane of westbound Old Keene Mill Road will be closed between Backlick Road and Commerce Street, for utility line relocation. One lane will remain open.

For updates on lane closures, check www.springfieldinterchange.com or call toll-free 1-877-95-95-222 to reach VDOT information operators.

SOURCE: Virginia Department of Transportation

NOTE: Northbound I-95 traffic bound for Franconia or Old Keene Mill Roads must take the new Exit 169A, turn left at the light at Loisdale Road and go north to Franconia Road. The old Exit 169B is no longer available.