March 14, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

George Guidall has set what may be a record: Over two decades, the former Guiding Light regular has narrated more than 850 audiobook titles (he’s lost count), from a 45-hour unabridged Don Quixote (”In all my humility, it’s a terrific book,” he says) to the complete works of cat-fancying mystery writer Lilian Jackson Braun. ”George is so chameleonlike that he’s castable in a remarkable range of materials,” says Claudia Howard, executive producer at Recorded Books LLC, who has worked with Guidall since 1989. ”I like to throw him contemporary stuff followed by artistic stuff followed by intellectual stuff followed by cheesy stuff.”

Four days a week, Guidall, 66, commutes from New York’s Westchester County to the Manhattan office of Recorded Books, making notes in his books on the train. He then sequesters himself in an 8-foot-by-8-foot booth with dictionaries and coffee for six hours at a stretch. ”When I get in that booth, I’m home,” says Guidall. Fans apparently agree. ”I’ve been in good Broadway shows where people have waited backstage,” he says, ”but nothing in the theater matches the devotion and commitment of audiobook listeners.”

Authors also appreciate Guidall’s mellifluous baritone and scrupulous preparation (he’s a stickler for pronunciation); Stephen King and Tony Hillerman have both specifically requested him for projects. Who does Guidall most like to read? Wally Lamb, Jodi Picoult, and Alan Furst. Oh, and Marcel Proust. ”I tried three times to read Swann’s Way and failed. But when I had to perform it, I got right into his skin,” Guidall says. ”I get my jollies by making believe I’m the author of the books I narrate.”

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