It was 2011, and my family and I were stranded on a desolate stretch of Colorado prairie, waiting for the second time that trip for a tow truck to pick up our lemon of a minivan and haul it to be fixed. I burst into frustrated tears as my children literally played with locusts by the side of the road. (The locusts made our trials seem biblical in scope.) But one thing made our travel challenges bearable: listening to Okay for Now, one of Gary Schmidt’s fantastic young adult novels, on audiobook. Among breakdowns, tow trucks, and locusts, from Michigan to Colorado and back again, we listened and were transported from our troubles.
Fueled by the omnipresence of handheld devices, the popularity of audiobooks is surging. Previously, buying (or borrowing) an audiobook meant being chained to your CD player, but now you can go anywhere and listen to a book (or poetry, Scripture, audio dramas, and podcasts).
As many hit the open road this summer, audiobooks could be the ultimate family bonding agent, the charm for getting everybody and their devices on the same page. With or without kids, listening to a story is just a wonderful thing to do.
Looking for something to listen to this summer? You’ll fall headphones over heels for one of these fresh listens:
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee, by Jeff Zentner. Narrated by Sophie Amoss and Phoebe Strole. Listening Library. Run time: 10 hours, 20 minutes
A young-adult novel about two high school seniors who host a campy creature-feature show called Midnite Matinee on the local cable station. (See our review online: bit.ly/2Xo7hMM)
Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You, written and narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Headline Publishing Group. Run time: 46 minutes
A short collection of the Hamilton creator’s most optimistic tweet-length pep talks.
Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Narrated by Rachel McAdams. Audible Studios. Run time: 9 hours, 22 minutes.
Heartwarming and surprisingly funny, this Canadian classic is revisited with McAdams’ sprightly narration.
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders. Narrated by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, Carrie Brownstein, Miranda July, Lena Dunham, et al. Random House Audio. Run time: 7 hours, 25 minutes.
Written by George Saunders, a favorite of Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Writing, this critically acclaimed novel about Lincoln’s grief has an all-star cast of narrators.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis. Narrated by LeVar Burton. Listening Library. Run time: 4 hours, 54 minutes.
LeVar Burton shines at highlighting the funny and the tragic in this modern classic about a family from Flint, Mich., who travel to a racially explosive South.
Unashamed, written and narrated by Lecrae Moore. christianaudio.com. Run time: 5 hours, 30 minutes.
The two-time Grammy-winning rap artist shares lessons learned through deep adversity and an unwavering faith in Jesus.
The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom. Narrated by Bernadette Dunne. christianaudio.com. Run time: 9.5 hours.
The classic memoir with deft new narration.
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, narrated by Ian Morgan Cron. christianaudio.com. Run time: 9 hours, 17 minutes.
A practical, wide-ranging way of understanding Enneagram wisdom and exploring its connections with Christianity.