Audiobooks that Make Any Road Trip Better
Dept. of Speculation (Dreamscape) is one of those rare novels that's almost more bewitching as an audiobook than as a printed one. The author's melodic, tender voice narrates vignettes about marriage, turning the fragmented passages of the novel's pages into a fluid and candid examination of what keeps a couple together through the challenges of parenthood, health crises, betrayal, work difficulties and—worst of all?—bedbugs. An unnamed Wife narrates the story, revealing her small secret shames (realizing she has to be given a false deadline in order for her to get her daughter's school supplies in on time) her small private pleasures (catching herself, the mother of a grade-schooler, swaying on the subway platform imagining she's holding an infant). Most every listener will see herself—or, rather, her selves—here, as the Wife develops from an aspiring twenty-something with "WORK, NOT LOVE" scrawled on a Post-It above her desk, to a thirty-something trying to live by the exact opposite credo, to a wife, a mother and finally, someone who isn't sure she wants to be married anymore. An ideal travel listen for those hours spent looking out the window—considering the scenery, be it what you're looking at now or what's still yet to come.
— Stephanie Klost
Oh, the thrill of the open road with Fey riding shotgun. Recorded with her older daughter in the sound booth, the audiobook is full of ad libs, inside info on the legendary SNL Sarah Palin sketch, and unprompted riffs and rants on breastfeeding, eating food off the floor, and being an older virgin. Let your summer (mis)adventures begin!
There's nothing like the mix of love and aggravation in a mother-daughter relationship. The laughter, tears, taunts, and—fine, we'll admit it—occasional pearls of motherly wisdom all are part of the package. And they're delivered tenfold in this collection of essays. We get to be flies on the wall as the mother-daughter writing team fights, makes up, and hurls barbs just like you and your mom. Only, you know, better written, with less screaming in dressing rooms...
Fog, passion, steam engines, tweed, fog, wartime despair, desperate lovers, more fog—no one does doomed London romanticism like Graham Greene. Just try to keep a stiff upper lip while listening. Frankly, we don't think it can be done, thanks to the vocal stylings of the achingly dour Colin Firth.
The Snow Queen is quintessential New York listening, whether you're gliding across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset or mired in midtown gridlock. Read by Claire Danes, this new novel tells the story of two brothers, a tragic illness, and their shared search for courage and understanding.
Birmingham, Memphis, D.C., Montgomery. Explore U.S. history via a listening tour of the battlegrounds of the civil rights struggle. We highly recommend this inspiring collection of King's speeches, with introductions by Rosa Parks and other heroes of the movement.
Stuck Stateside this summer? Escape to Botswana with ace private investigator Mma "Precious" Ramotswe. McCall Smith's world is an exotic cocktail of brightly colored caftans, refreshing red-bush tea, philanderers, an evidence-concealing crocodile, and one missing boy feared gone forever. Between the whiff of danger and the warmth and sunny efficiency of Botswana's female Sam Spade, you may never want to close this case.
Yet more evidence that summer reading doesn't have to be full of empty calories. This memoir by the Pakistani girl who survived a brutal attack to become a beacon of hope spurred a global call to action. We guarantee her story, read by Archie Panjabi (Kalinda on The Good Wife), will change you.
Think you know seduction? Think you know where to draw the line? You don't know anything until you've heard this tour de force read by Jeremy Irons. In the guise of Humbert Humbert, the silver-tongued actor casts a hypnotic spell of tender carnality that will rattle even the most reserved listener.
After 7½ million years, a computer finally has the ultimate answer to the universe. Curious? The BBC Radio recordings of the science fiction series have that and more, including a full cast, sound effects, and sluglike bureaucratic aliens bent on destroying planet earth. A respite from the humdrum for all ages.
Revolving around substance abuse, Quebec separatism, junior tennis, and entertainment terrorism, this postmodern, tragicomic opus is a contemporary classic and essential listening. Daunted? Don't be: It'll sustain an entire cross-country journey—with about 15 hours of material left over.
*Plus 7.5 hours of endnotes