For any travellers, there is inevitable downtime. Whether it’s sitting at an airport waiting for your next flight or cruising down a lonely stretch of highway, a good audio book serves as a great way to distract, entertain, or educate. The best ones do all of the above. Here is a list of some of our favourites we’ve enjoyed over the years.
By Carl Hiaasen
From the Publisher: Roy Eberhardt has recently, and unhappily, arrived in Florida. “Disney World is an armpit,” he states flatly, “compared to Montana.” Roy’s family moves a lot, so he’s used to the new-kid drill. Florida bullies are pretty much like bullies everywhere. But Roy finds himself oddly indebted to the hulking Dana Matherson. If Dana hadn’t been sinking his thumbs into Roy’s temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is the first interesting thing Roy’s seen in Florida.
Our 2 Cents: What a hoot! Sorry, couldn’t help myself. While tagged as a children’s story, this is a tale for all ages. Funny, charming, and a story well told, you will be pleasantly surprised with this engaging tale of mystery and discovery.
By C.S. Lewis
From the publisher: In the epic fantasy, The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis depicts a magical world where human children and talking animals join together in a battle against evil. The unabridged audiobook digital set, available only on iTunes, contains all seven books in the series: The Magician’s Nephew
Our 2 Cents: Get ready for a lot of excuses to keep your travels going as you listen. Immersing yourself in this unforgettable world will keep you enthralled for hours with this classic.
By Khaled Hosseini
From the publisher: Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of 30 years of Afghanistan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.
Our 2 Cents: An epic exploration of what it’s like to live as an Afghani woman. Western listeners will be deeply drawn into a brutal tale of war, culture, and resilience.
By Anne Cassidy
From the publisher: Kate Rickman seems just like any other 19-year-old girl. She goes to university, she dates nice, normal boys, and she works in her local tourist office at the weekend. But Kate’s not really normal at all. “Kate” is in fact a carefully constructed facade for a girl called Jennifer Jones…and it’s a facade that’s crumbling fast. Jennifer has spent the last nine years frantically trying to escape from her horrifying past. Increasingly desperate, Jennifer decides to do something drastic. She contacts the only other girl who might understand what she’s dealing with, breaking every rule of her parole along the way. Lucy Bussell is the last person Jennifer expects any sympathy from, but she’s also the last person she has left.
Our 2 Cents: Does redemption exist? Can we be truly forgiven? These themes are delved into in the sequel to Looking for JJ. The quick paced narrative propels us between Exmouth and London as we learn about what happened to Jennifer Jones after she killed her friend when she was 10 years old.
by Cheryl Strayed
From the publisher: A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an 1100-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe and built her back up again. At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. After her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State – alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than an idea: vague, outlandish, and full of promise. But it was a promise of piecing together a life that had come undone. Strayed faces rattlesnakes and bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and intense loneliness of the trail. Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
Our 2 Cents: If you ever wanted the inspiration to strap on your own hiking boots, this is the story for you.
By Bill Bryson
From the publisher: A Short History of Nearly Everything is Bill Bryson’s quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization. He takes subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry, and particle physics, and aims to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. In the company of some extraordinary scientists, Bill Bryson reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.
Our 2 Cents: We thoroughly enjoyed reading A Short History of Nearly Everything, but listening to Richard Matthews narration is simply marvellous. His delivery is chatty and his dry comic timing is nearly flawless. A great book about the history of the sciences really comes alive in this edition.
By Gillian Flynn
From the publisher: Marriage can be a real killer. One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times best seller Gillian Flynn, takes that statement to its darkest place in this unpausable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Our 2 Cents: A deliciously devilish and twisted story about a couple exploring the nether regions of their relationship.
By Amy Poehler
From the publisher: In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much). Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, and including a star-studded guest list of vocal appearances from Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even Amy’s parents Yes Please is chock-full of words, and wisdom, to live by.
Our 2 Cents: You definitely want to listen to this one. One of improv’s greatest performers offers a fantastic rendition of her memoir.
By Charles Frazier
From the publisher: National Book Award, Fiction, 1997 One of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain is a masterpiece that is at once an enthralling adventure, a stirring love story, and a luminous evocation of a vanished America in all its savagery, solitude, and splendor. Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, Inman, a Confederate soldier, decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains and to Ada, the woman he loved three years before. His trek across the disintegrating South brings him into intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign. At the same time, Ada is trying to revive her father’s derelict farm and learn to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away. As it interweaves their stories, Cold Mountain asserts itself as an authentic American Odyssey: hugely powerful, majestically lovely, and keenly moving.
Our 2 Cents: A spell-binding story with a plot weaving love and adventure that’s written by and read by a natural born story teller. It’s no wonder it won the National Book Award in 1997.
By Lois Lowry
From the publisher: December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve-year-old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man, the man called only the Giver, he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world. Told with deceptive simplicity, this is the provocative story of a boy who experiences something incredible and undertakes something impossible. In the telling it questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs.
Our 2 Cents: A moving story that questions what it means to truly live. As travellers, we know the answer to that one 🙂
Others of note: One can’t go wrong listening to the Harry Potter series. John Grisham is one of the most entertaining writers of our age and great for road trips.
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