Today marks the official first day of summer — what better day to share our summer audiobook listening recommendations? AudioFile happens to be located in Maine, aka Vacationland (that’s our beautiful coastline above), so we know how to do summer! Our staff picks include fiction, nonfiction, and family audiobook recommendations for all of your road trips, camp-outs, evening strolls, and long weekends.
Are you a weather watcher, or someone who likes to spend your summers in the garden? Then this is a must-listen, with narrator Nicholas Guy Smith as your genial guide. German ecologist Peter Wohlleben (THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES and THE INNER LIFE OF ANIMALS) investigates secrets of the garden and the plants, animals, and weather that make up his hyper-local environment. It’ll inspire even non-gardeners to get outside and observe the natural world just outside your door.
—Jenn Dowell, Managing Editor
Comedian Trevor Noah tells his compelling story of growing up during Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa—and manages to make much of it funny. A born mimic, he provides spot-on voices for everyone from his mother to Nelson Mandela and a generic white guy he calls “Brian,” even adding snatches of Afrikaans and Xhosa to the mix. This performance won the 2018 Audie for Best Male Narrator. Can’t wait for the movie!
—Elizabeth Dodge, Reviews Editor
There is something about listening to a well-written book read by a talented narrator while walking through the woods of Maine during the summer which cannot be topped. Knowing the author went to college in Maine upped the ante so that I enjoyed the audiobook even more during this experience. With the squirrels running up into the trees and the birds quietly chirping, I had a memorable backdrop for absorbing Anthony Doerr’s ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the story is brought to life by narrator Zach Appelman, who deftly handles characters of many ages, genders, and nationalities. Though the story is filled with melancholy, there is a lightness to the listen due to the skill of those involved.
—Michele Cobb, Publisher
Juneteenth finds me deep into Colson Whitehead’s vivid depiction of African enslavement and young Cora’s escape from the horrors of a Georgia plantation. The author’s imagined story is based on documented history and rings entirely true in Bahni Turpin’s brilliant narration. For summer listening? Definitely!
—Priscilla Grant, Contributing Editor
IN SUNLIGHT OR IN SHADOW has both the hallmarks and the satisfaction of a good summer season listen. Editor Lawrence Block’s done a great job (as he usually does in corralling anthologies) of getting well-known authors to offer up short stories based on a variety of painter Edward Hopper’s works, with a full cast performing them. One most drenched in summer is Nicholas Christopher’s “Rooms by the Sea,” in which Hopper’s painting of that name takes on new magical realism properties both steeped in the season and unnerving.
—Francisca Goldsmith, Contributing Editor
I was lucky enough as a kid to get to spend my summers at a weeks-long sleepaway camp on a lake in Maine — I learned how to canoe and swim for ages in lake water, and I especially loved learning to weave. This partly must be why I love the LUMBERJANES so much! While my camp lacked any mermaids, unicorns, dinosaurs, or moon moles, it was a safe space to be myself and run around in the woods with close friends. Whether or not you and your kids have read any of the comic series, your family should seek out these two audiobook adventures before your own long car rides to the woods, the beach, or summer camp. Amanda Leigh Cobb’s bright narration and Mariko Tamaki’s LOL-worthy writing in UNICORN POWER and THE MOON IS UP will get your whole car laughing. The struggles that the Roanoke campers face, while full of supernatural beings and out-of-this-world adventures, all boil down to what it means to be a good friend and how best to be yourself.
—Emily Connelly, Assistant Editor