Shelf Life: Audiobooks to rock a road trip

Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 5, 2018

This winter, I was cleaning the snow from my car and accidentally broke the antenna off the roof in the process, meaning it can no longer pick up any radio stations.

The silver lining of this predicament is that I have discovered the wonder of audiobooks! You can check them out free of charge from the library on CD or digitally on your device via the North Carolina Digital Library.

Whichever way to choose to access them, audiobooks are a great way to pass the time in your vehicle, be it on your daily commute or a fun summer road trip.

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Here are a few titles to get you started:


“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling

Has anyone not read Harry Potter? Well, I hadn’t (oh the shame considering I am a youth service librarian) so I decided to give it a listen. Jim Dale does a fantastic job performing all of the distinct character voices and has a whopping seven Grammy nominations as a narrator.

“Esperanza Rising” by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Trini Alvarado is the bilingual narrator for this historical novel about Mexican-Americans working on farms during the Great Depression. The book focuses on Esperanza, the daughter of wealthy landowners, whose life is changed radically after a traumatic turn of events.

“The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate

One of my favorite children’s novels, his heartbreaking but hopeful story centers around Ivan, a gorilla who has lived in a circus-themed mall for many years. Narrator Adam Grupper beautifully does the voices for Ivan as well as elephants Ruby and Stella and Bob the dog.


“The Darkest Minds” by Alexandra Bracken

Amy McFadden narrates this dystopian survivalist tale, centered around Ruby, a teenager with “special abilities.” She was sent to a brutal government rehabilitation camp at 10 years old and now, six years later, she is on the run with a group of kids who have escaped the camps.

“Gabi, a Girl in Pieces” by Isabel Quintero

Named a “Best Book of 2014” by Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal, the audiobook is brought to life by narrator Kyla Garcia. Join Gabi through all the ups and downs of her senior year of high school as she deals with her dad’s drug addiction, a friend’s pregnancy and more.

“Ghost” by Jason Reynolds

This uplifting story is about 13-year-old Castle Crenshaw, aka “Ghost,” one of four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team. A National Book Award finalist, it deals with themes of racism and poverty and is excellently narrated by the talented Guy Lockhart.


“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah

This book tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, in 1939 German-occupied, war-torn France. AudioFile says narrator Polly Stone’s “French accents add authenticity and a sense of place to her reading.”

“Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson

The author narrates her own memoir, which is both hilarious and offers insight into the mind of someone with mental illness. She examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and joyfully explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest.

“Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain

Published 18 years ago, this book elevated Bourdain to celebrity status, and is once again gaining popularity due to the author’s recent death. It is both a memoir and a behind-the-scenes look at restaurant kitchens, described as intense, unpleasant and sometimes hazardous.

Jen Pace Dickenson is the youth services librarian for Polk County Public Libraries. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit or call 828-894-8721.