New releases of audio books:Soul Man

-"The Art of Simplicity," by Thomas Moore, read by the author; Simon & Schuster Audio, two cassettes, two hours, abridged:

The best-selling author of "Care of the Soul," and "Soul Mates" explains what is and is not meant by simplicity and offers practical tips for living more simply. You don't have to retreat to your own little Walden Pond to live a simple life, Moore says. You don't have to give up money, either. You don't even have to live in the country. But living simply does involve paying attention to your inner self, and for that you do need times of quiet reflection to gain access to your intuition and imagination.

A former monk and psychotherapist, lecturer, writer and musician, Moore is one of the leading voices of the "soul" movement, which addresses spiritual needs. This book is less philosophical and more pragmatic than his other works.

Troubled Waters

-"Parting the Waters, America

in the King Years 1954-63," by Taylor Branch, read by Joe Morton and CCH Pounder; Simon & Schuster Audio, four cassettes, six hours, abridged:

The book, which won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, traces early stages of the civil rights movement. Politics and religion converged in the black churches of the South. The churches gave sustenance to the ordinary folks living under oppressive Jim Crow laws and were the base of leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At the heart of the book is the young King, whose unsurpassed preaching skills and passionate leadership helped launch the civil rights movement in the 1950s. But Branch also shows times when King wrestled with doubts over his course of action and to what extent he should work within the political system and particularly with the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s.

The second book in Branch's trilogy, "Pillar of Fire," has just been published. It picks up in 1963, where this book leaves off. Between the abridgement and the two different readers, the tape comes off a little choppy in places.

It's the Bulge, Stupid

-"Fitness for Dummies," by Suzanne Schlosberg and Liz Neporent, read by Suzanne Schlosberg; one cassette, 1 1/2 hours, abridged:

This tape is really meant for couch potatoes who wouldn't know a Stairmaster from a Barcalounger. It's from the same folks who have brought us all those "for Dummies" books that have proliferated like bunnies in recent years. The humor is also a tad simplistic. But if it gets you on your feet, then it has done its job. Along with exercise tips, they offer suggestions on how to get started on designing a home gym.

Liz Neporent is co-author of "Buns of Steel" and "Abs of Steel." Suzanne Schlosberg, contributing editor to Health and Shape magazines, is an upbeat and breezy narrator.