Summer is officially here, and many of us are hitting the road to visit family and friends, explore a new locale, or to just get away from the daily hustle and bustle of things. Why not travel with a story? Whether you’re planning a trip or just looking for a hot summer listen, here’s three audiobooks worth giving a spin:
In the summer of 1973, twenty-one year old Devin Jones leaves the east coast (and his girlfriend) to take a temporary job at Joyland, an old-time amusement park in North Carolina. Adopting the role of a “Happy Helper,” it’s his job to sell fun, but there’s more in store for Devin after he befriends Mike, a terminally-ill ten year old with psychic abilities. Through Mike, Devin learns about the ghost of a young girl that was murdered four years earlier who now adds a real scare to the Horror House, and Devin sets out to find her killer. With a strong sense of place and a voice for each character, reader Michael Kelly tells the tale like a memoir. And, with an unsolved murder, ghosts, teenage angst, depression, and heartbreak, Joyland is a coming-of-age story that will also appeal to young adults.
Summer is the season with the longest days and the shortest nights, so imagine all the possibilities, prospects, and opportunities. Well, travel enthusiast and writer Bill Bryson does this—in 1927 and what a summer it was! Think of Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic; Babe Ruth trying to beat his own home run record; Gutzon Borglum starts sculpting Mount Rushmore and Henry Ford upgrades the Model T to the Model A. Throw in some notorious personalities like gangster Al Capone and anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, some calamities like the onset of the Great Depression and the flooding of the Mississippi River, and One Summer is a compilation of history lessons you won’t forget. Overlaying major events with an interaction of characters, Bryson brings this narrative non-fiction to life with his usual wit and charm.
The culturally and economically diverse Copakens and the Tetherlys are joined together by more than just marriage, but the unexpected deaths of John and Becca from an auto accident only one hour after their wedding ceremony. After tragedy strikes, new beginnings follow. For example, John’s brother, Matt, develops a budding romance with Becca’s, sister, Ruthie, while working on the boat John longed to complete; John’s cousin, a budding violin player, warms the heart of Becca’s musically-inclined, aging grandfather; and Jane, John’s mother, who works as a house cleaner, finds a middle ground in a shared grief with Becca’s well-to-do mother, Iris. Spanning two families and four summers, Red Hook Road is well-crafted and read with care that illustrate how loss, mourning, and grief can reveal the unique, individuals of small-town life.