I don’t know about your part of the world, but here in central Pennsylvania we’re finally enjoying some lovely spring weather, which is made all the nicer as the fruit trees come into blossom. These days I’m all about shaking off the indoor stuffiness and getting ready to open the windows and spend time outside.
The changing season also means I need to schedule some spring cleaning days, both indoors and out. You know the chores: cleaning windows, sweeping off the deck, weeding the garden, and planting the annuals. Whoa! I’m tired just thinking about it. Here’s where I’m grateful to be an audiobook listener. Nothing perks up my spring cleaning mood faster than getting lost in a good story. I can trim the hedges at the same time as I’m trying to solve a mystery or wondering whether the hero of the story will find true love.
Today’s Take 5 recommendations are all about keeping you company while you get ready for easy summer living. I’ve picked titles that I’ve listened to and that are short enough to start and finish in either a single afternoon or over the course of a weekend (the longest is just about 10 hours). Most of the audiobooks are fun and light, but one is an intense thriller.
I’ve also suggested two audiobooks that are appropriate for family listening. Play one of these through a speaker while everyone pitches in to clean the porch or straighten the garage. Once all the work is done, keep on listening while you and your helpers enjoy some well-deserved lemonade and cookies.
Be prepared to laugh while listening to Elinor Lipman’s GOOD RIDDANCE (8 hrs.), which is a light contemporary rom-com about a young woman trying to get a fresh start in New York City while coming to terms with the discovery that her late mother may not have been perfect. Road trips, desperate attempts to cover up family secrets, pop culture references, and the possibility of romance for Daphne and for her widowed father create the fun. Mia Barron’s performance highlights the characters’ personalities and makes the humor pop.
For a gripping story that will keep you working in the garden all day, try Peter Heller’s THE RIVER (7.25 hrs.), an outdoor thriller about a late-summer canoe trip that takes a dark turn. College friends Wynn and Jack are enjoying a relaxing vacation, camping and fishing along the river, until they spot signs of a forest fire. As they hurry downstream, they note disturbing behavior from the other campers they meet, and soon we—and the boys themselves—begin to doubt whether they’ll escape the river unscathed. Narrator Mark Deakins skillfully builds the tension as the boys’ fear grows and the action picks up.
Even though PAY ATTENTION, CARTER JONES (5.25 hrs.) by Gary D. Schmidt is geared to middle-grade listeners, this story deals with real-life issues that all of us can connect to. On the surface this is a funny tale of how the all-American Jones family adjusts to the unexpected addition of a British butler to their home. Besides the craziness of getting used to domestic help, 12-year-old Carter is also coping with an active-duty military father and the loss of his younger brother to illness. Narrator Christopher Gebauer’s award-winning performance brilliantly captures both sides of this audiobook.
If you like to get in on the ground floor of a mystery series, then queue up DEATH IN PROVENCE (10.25 hrs.) by Serena Kent. Set in the south of France, this light murder mystery features a middle-aged woman who is looking for a new start after a divorce and early retirement. Penelope isn’t your ordinary British ex-pat transplanted to Provence. Because she used to work in the forensics lab of the Home Office, a couple of murders don’t scare her off. Quirky characters and lots good food and drink round out the story. Antonia Beamish’s nicely rendered accents and smoothly read dialogue will hold your interest through hours of spring cleaning.
Put Sandhya Menon’s FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE (9.5 hrs.) on speakers and ask your teenagers to lend a hand with the seasonal chores. This easy-to-listen-to audiobook is about Twinkle Mehr, an Indian American teenager who dreams of becoming a filmmaker but thinks she has a million strikes against her. The story is told mostly through Twinkle’s diary entries (read by Soneela Nankani), with a few sections from a boy’s perspective (read by Vikas Adam), and offers more depth than a cute teen rom-com. Twinkle’s home life is difficult, and she has many life lessons to learn about love, friendship, and the dream of fame. Both Nankani and Adam tap into their inner teens, making it easy to connect to the characters.
I wish you luck with your spring cleaning, and I hope at least one of these audiobooks will keep you company as you get your garden ready for summer.