Audio Spotlight: Stories that Take You Away

by Denise

A few weeks ago, Marina shared audiobooks that eased her commute. Like Marina, I rely on audiobooks for company while on the road. Whereas Marina tends toward nonfiction audiobooks, I thrive on fiction. My eyes on the road, a section of my mind relaxes by wandering into fictional worlds brought to life by the alchemy of author and narrator. Here are some of the stories that have taken me away:


Post-apocalyptic stories are not usually beautiful and mesmerizing. But, Kirsten Potter’s narration of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven is almost meditative as we delve into characters before, during and after a deadly flu pandemic.

Narrator Christine Lakin brings the chill and thrill to Holly Black’s post-vampire apocalypse gem, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. You might be stopped dead cold in traffic, but at least you’re not quarantined with vampires in their own prison town.

Historical Fiction

Dominic Hoffman’s melodic narration enhances the power of Yaa Gyasi’s gorgeous novel, Homegoing. Spanning three centuries, this saga follows two lines of a family split apart by the slave trade. One sister is shipped to America as a slave. The other, the wife of the British governor of the Cape Coast Castle, stays in what becomes Ghana.

I don’t consider myself a fan of pirate stories, but James Langton’s recital of Eli Brown’s Cinnamon and Gunpowder changed my mind. Perhaps it’s the red-headed woman pirate, the mouth-watering meals prepared by the kidnapped chef, or the fascinating portrayal of life on the high seas, but this audiobook is a completely original escape. Let the traffic jam!

France during the German Occupation of World War II is not an unusual setting, but Jo Baker’s  A Country Road, A Tree provides a fresh take. Before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Irish writer Samuel Beckett chose to return to Nazi-occupied Paris and join the Resistance. Now that’s a story!

Psychological Suspense

These two psychological suspense novels center around travels of the super rich gone horribly awry. Escape to the world of the privileged and the ambiguities of the mind.

A private jet flying from Martha’s Vineyard to New York crashes into the ocean. Robert Petkoff’s narration of Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall explores the undisclosed lives and secrets of the characters on the plane, seeking to unravel the cause of the tragic accident.

The holds queue for Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 has been quite long and so I was thrilled when my turn finally arrived. Imogene Church’s voice added the perfect spooky quality to this mystery. Who dumped a woman off a private cruise in the middle of the North Sea? Did it even happen? Unfortunately, this audiobook breaks my fundamental expectation for CD audiobooks and driving– the tracks are too long. If I miss a key detail (while focusing on driving), I want to quickly backtrack and replay. Not so with this audiobook. Some tracks were nearly half an hour long! I had to replay an entire commute just to catch one detail. But I was so invested in the story that I kept listening. That’s how good the story is!

Are you an audiobookphile? Do you listen and drive? Share your favorite road trip companions in the suggestions!

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2 responses to “Audio Spotlight: Stories that Take You Away”

  1. Janet says:

    Joshilyn Jackson narrates her own audiobooks and is fabulous. I feel like it’s like having a girlfriend who spins an awesome yarn sit in the front seat of my car to entertain me with a great story. My favorites are “A Grownup Kind Of Pretty” and “Someone Else’s Love Story”.

    I like nonfiction, too, and especially love memoirs. I just finished Sara Bareilles’ “Sounds Like Me”. I could listen to Glennon Doyle Melton’s “Love Warrior” on repeat from now until the end of time. There is something great about hearing people tell their own stories in their own words and voices.

  2. Oh, Janet. You’ve just done terrible things to my For Later shelf… Thanks!

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