Your summer 2019 road trip audiobook playlist

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Vancouver Public Library and V.I.A. have teamed up to help you discover new reads, hidden book gems and surprising literary finds. 

Car audio system/Shutterstock

Planning a road trip this summer? Don’t leave home without a downloadable audiobook or two. Entertain, and maybe even educate, the occupants of your vehicle with these fiction and nonfiction titles, including some family-friendly picks. The hours on the road will fly by while you are immersed in these stories. Bon voyage!

Becoming by Michelle Obama

19 hours, 3 minutes

Michelle Obama’s memoir chronicling her journey from the South Side of Chicago to the White House is the biggest selling book of 2018. Overcoming race, class, and gender barriers, Obama embodies the American dream. She was born into a working-class family in a Chicago ghetto, studied at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, worked as a corporate lawyer, and raised two daughters with her husband as the First Lady of the United States. Narrating the audiobook herself, Michelle Obama’s familiar voice personalizes her story. Intimate, surprising, and at times laugh out loud funny, Becoming will be enjoyed by all ages alike.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

8 hours, 17 minutes

Listen to this audiobook and travel around the world with mediocre novelist Arthur Less. In an attempt to avoid the upcoming wedding of his ex-boyfriend, and to forget his 50th birthday and his publisher’s rejection of his latest novel, Arthur Less accepts invitations to sometimes dubious literary events in San Francisco, New York, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, and Japan. His search for love and meaning is filled with comical mishaps, misunderstandings and mistakes. A funny and touching book, Less is the winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize.

Summerland by Michael Chabon

15 hours, 28 minutes

Travel to Summerland, a magical location linked to an alternate world populated with characters from myths and fairy tales, while listening to Michael Chabon’s audiobook. Eleven-year-old Ethan and his friends are recruited to help a band of fairies stop the trickster Coyote from destroying the world. Summerland is a story for all ages from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chabon.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval N. Harari

15 hours, 18 minutes

Listen to this audiobook and travel through the whole of human history, from the dawn of Homo sapiens around 200,000 BCE to the Scientific Revolution.  Discover how Homo Sapiens succeeded in dominating over other similar species through the cognitive, agricultural and then scientific revolution. “Destined to become a modern classic in the vein of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Sapiens is a lively, ground-breaking history of humankind told from a unique perspective.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

15 hours, 48 minutes

Described as ‘fiendishly brilliant’, this book includes two murder mysteries in one novel.  A classic whodunit, which pays homage to Agatha Christie and her detective Hercule Poirot, is embedded in a contemporary mystery set in the publishing world. A missing last chapter, the suspicious death of the author, and unexpected plot twists make this book an ‘ingeniously original’ addition to the genre. “The verdict: twice the mystery, twice the clues, twice the wit, and twice the fun.”– Publishers Weekly.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

11 hours, 8 minutes

On the Road is the classic road trip novel and the defining text of the Beat generation. Join narrator Sal Paradise, his friend Dean Moriarty, and their fellow vagabonds on meandering trips across America and into Mexico searching for freedom and authentic experiences. Kerouac’s free-flowing prose and his sense of language as jazz are particularly well-suited to the audiobook format.

Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood

10 hours, 2 minutes

Short stories, or in this case ‘tales’, are a great choice if your road trip itinerary has a lot of scenic stops. This collection of nine tales, presented by seven narrators, (the highlight being the author herself reading the titular story), reverberates with themes of aging and dying, and the battle of the sexes. This is classic Margaret Atwood at her imaginative and witty best. “Look at these tales as eight icily refreshing arsenic Popsicles followed by a baked Alaska laced with anthrax, all served with impeccable style and aplomb. Enjoy!” – Ursula K. LeGuin.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

15 hours, 27 minutes

Listen to this audiobook and travel to a place called the Stillness, where apocalypses occur as regularly as weather patterns. Each new disaster is called a season. An oppressive caste system exists. Science and magic have an uneasy relationship. Essun begins a quest to rescue her daughter, but it becomes something else entirely. Big surprises and secrets are revealed. This is the first book in Jemisin’s Broken Earth series. Follow up with The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky – three Hugo Award-winners in a row.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

30 hours, 37 minutes

Time travel anyone? Listen to this audiobook and travel from 2011 to September 9, 1958 at 11:58 am. Teacher Jake Epping steps into the past at the behest of his friend Al, with a mission to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating President Kennedy on 11/22/1963. When he gets to Texas, things are complicated by a romance with Sadie, the school librarian. King has said that he struggled with the idea for this book for 30 years, and also that he will never write another time travel book.

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

7 hours, 8 minutes

Listen to this audiobook and travel to a dystopian future Canada that has been ravaged by climate change and pollution. Fifteen-year-old Métis Frenchie and his Indigenous companions are travelling north, hiding from the “recruiters” who are hunting them for their bone marrow. Marrow is being “harvested” because it can restore the lost ability to dream in non-Indigenous people. This book is a timely, cautionary tale written in elegant prose.