The Cure to Road Trip Boredom
Tomorrow, if I get my shit together in time, I will be heading down south for a little holiday with my two children. Because I live in the arctic (okay, no I don’t, but it sure as hell feels like it sometimes), going to southern BC means driving for a minimum of 12-hours. With the amount of times I have to pee, construction, food breaks, fuel breaks, the need to run my son, and just miscalculation, those twelve hours can easily become fourteen or fifteen.
You caught the part when I said I am going with my two children, right? No husband mentioned. Just me and two children. Alone. In a car for a minimum of 12 hours. With no additional help.
Am I worried?
Is that because they have a plethora or ipads, iphones, ipods, portable gaming devices, and so forth?
Nope. I actually seriously restrict my children’s screen time on a drive to only the times when I want to control the stereo.
Why aren’t I freaking out about this considering that my children will not be occupied for a twelve-hour drive?
Because they will be. Because we listen to audiobooks. Yes, that is right, audiobooks. Audiobooks that not only make the drive easier and more appealing for the kids, but also, if chosen well, for the driver as well. Everyone can be happy and entertained and, miracle of miracles, they see the scenery! They do not miss this beautiful country we live in because they are actually looking out the window! And not only that, but they laugh, they smile, and they are listening too closely to argue or kick each other’s seat or cross each’s other’s arbitrary line.
So where do you get these audiobooks? Well, I am not really a library user. I don’t like to feel obligated to return the books I read, I want to hold onto them as long as I want. But, there are audiobooks at the library. These usually come in the old school form of CDs (ha, old school. When I first started listening to audiobooks they were called Books on TAPE. Yes, tape. Good luck plugging one of those into your USB port).
Where do I get my audiobooks? Well, I get them from audible.com where I pay a monthly fee to get one credit per month that basically equals one audiobook a month. One audiobook at a fraction of the price that you’d pay in a store. And I can save up the credits so when I do go on a big trip, I can download several books so we have choice. A book for me, and a book for the kids. It’s great. (I also listen to books when I walk, when I clean the house, when I paint, etc. So those credits rarely get a chance to build up, but this is about road trips so I will not pursue that further.) I believe audiobooks.com is another option very similar to audible. And the nice thing is, the book then downloads right to any of your devices, your kids devices, your spare devices (because one just isn’t enough anymore, is it?) so you have it wherever you go.
But you have to pay? What if you don’t want to pay? Then don’t! The first book is free to try out. Then you can cancel. But here’s the thing, your road rage will disappear, the kids’ boredom will disappear, and the fact that you can all enjoy yourselves together, without faces glued to screens, will sell you on it. Trust me. Or don’t. Your choice, I’m only trying to make things more enjoyable for you.
(And no, I’m not sponsored by Audible. I’m pretty sure they have no idea who I am and that my audience is just not large enough for them to bother with me. But that’s okay. This is not for them. This is for YOU!)
Okay, so you’ve downloaded audible, your suitcase is packed, you’ve got coffee, water, snacks for the road, your destination plugged into google maps. But how do you decide what to read?
Well, I’ll help you with that. At least, I’ll give you a few starting places. Let me begin with those that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike.
- The Hero’s Guide to Saving the Universe, by Christopher Healy.
“What is the plural of Prince Charming?”
That is a question my son put to many people after listening to this book. Yes, he just walked up to them and asked it without so much as a hello. And he grinned when he told them it’s, “Not Prince Charmings, but Princes Charming. Charming is an adjective.”
And so goes the tale of the Four Princes Charming who seek their own identity. They are four individual people, not one, and they would like to be treated as such. Wait…why don’t I just paste the book jacket description here. Why reinvent the wheel?
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.
Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.
Debut author Christopher Healy takes us on a journey with four imperfect princes and their four improbable princesses, all of whom are trying to become perfect heroes – a fast-paced, funny, and fresh introduction to a world where everything, even our classic fairy tales, is not at all what it seems.
©2012 Christopher Healy (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
Do you remember the tv show Perfect Strangers? With Balkie Bartokamous (yeah, I probably spelled that wrong). Well, Balkie is the narrator, or should I say, Bronson Pinchot, and he is AMAZING! Each prince has a different accent as do all the people from their respective kingdoms. And he gives life and voice to the many different trolls, giants, sprites, dwarves and witches you’ll find along the way. A few times we wondered, are we laughing because this book is so funny (which it is) or because the voicing is just so over the top awesome? Even though this book could stand on its own, I think in the case of Bronson Pinchot, he makes the audio version way better than anything you could come up with in your own mind. Listen to this book. Enjoy it and appreciate the talent of both writer and actor. It has provided us with over 30, yes, 30 hours of pure enjoyment that actually continues long after we’re out of the car.
2. Anything by Roald Dahl.
We have listened to the BFG, narrated by David Williams, and Danny the Champion of the World, narrated by Peter Serafinowicz. Both have been great. These are nice, shorter stories (about 4 hours instead of 10-14) that you can’t help listening to with a smile on your face. Roald Dahl is the master of words, especially those he’s created, and to listen to them float about your ears as the scenery whizzes by is not to be missed.
3. The Percy Jackson Series, by Rick Riordan, narrated by Jessie Bernstein.
We went on so many road trips last summer we were able to make it through the entire Percy Jackson Series. We would finish one and start the next. Jessie was a great narrator, sounding very much like the guy who played Percy Jackson in the movies, but there was also the right amount of suspense and mystery combined with magic and fantasy to keep us hooked. The kids would get in the car and say, “Turn on Percy Jackson!”
4. The Land of Stories, written and narrated by Chris Colfer.
Chris Colfer is just so enjoyable to listen to. His voice is so high that he just makes this entertaining. But I will admit, there were a few too many, “he saids, she saids,” for me to have kept listening. My kids loved it, however, it was just I who couldn’t take it anymore. I’m hoping that by the 3rd, 4th, and more books, he’s corrected this habit, but until then, I just wasn’t able to do it.If you can get past this little flaw, then have at it, because it is really fun and interesting to listen to. And what kid doesn’t want to get dropped in the world of fairy tales?
We have also listened to many other books, and anything that appeals to you is worth a try. My daughter has listened to all the Anne of Green Gables books on audible and they also have all the Harry Potters. The nice thing about them is that you are involved in the kid’s story as much as they are, so you hear what they are listening to and you have things to talk about even when the stereo is turned off.
In terms of adult audiobooks, there are so many that I can’t even begin to list them all here. But a few we have really enjoyed, and by we, just me but I also mean my husband and I, my husband who has no attention span and never wanted to listen to anything but music who now asks me to download a good book before we hit the road anywhere because it makes the trip go by so much faster. It’s like a long movie you can lose yourself in while still keeping your eyes on the road.
- The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kid, Narrated by Jenna Lamia, Adepero Ouye, Sue Monk Kidd.
Audible Editor Reviews
Editors Select, January 2014 – The Invention of Wings is a powerful, sweeping novel set in the American Deep South during the nineteenth century inspired by real events. Sarah Grimke is the middle daughter – the one her mother calls difficult and her father calls remarkable. On her eleventh birthday, Hetty ‘Handful’ Grimke is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift. Sarah knows what she does next will unleash a world of trouble… putting into motion the kind of change that never comes easy. The Invention of Wings evokes a world of shocking contrasts, of beauty and ugliness, of righteous people living daily with cruelty they fail to recognize; and celebrates the power of friendship and sisterhood against all the odds. I was hesitant to keep this book as my personal pick for January after I heard it became the next selection for Oprah’s Bookclub 2.0. After all, what more could a book ask for? But as I dug deeper and read more and more of this novel I could not let it go. It is truly one of those rare books that, in my opinion, hit all the marks of great writing: Lush language full of imagery set within as story profoundly grounded in the real world where the characters become a part of you. I can’t wait to re-live the book in audio with narrator Jenna Lamia (The Secret Lives of Bees, The Help) and actress Adepero Oduye (12 Years a Slave) taking on the roles of Sarah and Hetty – I can’t think of better voices for these characters. What an amazing way to kick-off 2014! —Tricia, Audible Editor
It was the southern drawl of one of the characters that did it for me. I was instantly pulled in just by the sound of her voice. An entire world I was not privy to was opened up for me in this story about southern women and slavery. But the thing was, it wasn’t your typical, heart breaking story of abuse and cruelty. There was so much more to it than that. And when I listened to the author’s note at the end and realized the main character was based on a real person, that these events did take place, I was breathless. It’s a point of view very rarely taken in the stories about slavery and I was so grateful to have listened to it.
2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.
This is just funny. And it is narrated by the writer, so it’s just Mindy Kaling talking about her life. It’s great.
3. Anything by Brene Brown and other inspirational Non Fiction books you’d otherwise never read.
I never finish Non Fiction, except in audiobook form. I don’t know what it is, but if I am going to sit down and read a book, I want to be carried into a world of make believe. But when I am driving, there is such a good feeling comes from taking inspiration from others, or learning something new, or feeling like you’ve made discoveries about yourself and the world. It’s like those endless hours on the road weren’t wasted because you stepped out of the car a more knowledgeable, enlightened, inspired, or just happier human being.
4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, written and narrated by Neil Gaiman.
Audie Award Finalist, Narration by the Author or Authors, 2014
Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, 2014
Sussex, England: A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet sitting by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean), the unremembered past comes flooding back. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie – magical, comforting, wise beyond her years – promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. A stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
©2013 Neil Gaiman (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
Narrated by Neil Gaiman. Did I mention that? He is one of my favorite authors with an amazing gift for word-smithing and giving reality a supernatural boost, and to hear him read his own words only makes those words better. Is it just because he has an accent? Maybe. But I felt like I was hearing the words as he heard them in his own head, and that, for me, only makes an incredible story that much better.
I’m starting to think this might have to be a regular occurrence, this blog about audiobooks, because I just don’t have time to name them all. Hopefully that will give you a good start on your summer holidays and make the drive to wherever you are heading go by not only faster, but better than you could have imagined.