Vacation can be stressful for a bookworm. We know your struggle: you can’t wait to use your time off to tear through some brand-new reads, but each hardcover you pack brings you dangerously closer to your bag’s weight limit, and you’re already anxious about which books to cram into your carry-on and which to leave in your suitcase. We’ve got just what you need—seven fantastic audiobooks, perfectly timed to your travel plans and paired with your final destination. Note: the timing of the trips approximately matches that of the audiobooks. If they’re not exactly right, please take it up with Google Maps.
Trip: Flying from Chicago to Anchorage, Alaska (round-trip)
If you're one of those people who doesn't like the heat and would rather see an icy mountaintop outside your hotel window than a beach, I don't understand you, but Fredrik Backman does. In this wonderful novel, the small community of Beartown is struggling just to survive, but when it looks like the beloved junior ice hockey team might have a shot at the national championship, the town pours its hopes for the future into these young athletes. O Magazine aptly described the heart-wrenching book: "Think Friday Night Lights for Swedes."
Trip: Flying from NYC to Miami (round-trip)
This complicated relationship story may not be your typical "beach read," but I promise that the love triangle at its heart will keep you turning the pages quickly. Chris and Katherine, together for almost a decade, seem to have the perfect relationship. That is, until Chris tells Katherine about a crush he's developing on a girl at the Laundromat, and Katherine encourages him to ask her out, setting into motion a tumultuous, emotional year that none of them could have predicted. NEXT YEAR, FOR SURE is the kind of love story that'll make you see all other love stories differently.
Trip: Flying from Philadelphia to Boulder, CO (round-trip)
If you're planning a camping weekend or a trip to a state park, make Adrian Mandrick your guide. With more than 800 birds catalogued on his "life list," he has the third-highest count in the North American region, and an anonymous tip about a rare species could be all it takes to propel him to the very top. While Adrian's own journey (and life) spirals out of control in this fast-paced novel, Chris White's message of environmentalism comes through loud and clear throughout, and the book will leave you feeling a deep connection to the natural world.
Trip: Train from London to Glasgow (round-trip)
Don't let the ordinary setting of ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE fool you. Yes, the story takes place mostly at Eleanor's mundane office, her one-bedroom apartment, and on small-scale adventures to the pub or the grocery store. But once you settle in with this completely original protagonist, you'll never want to leave her side. When Eleanor's extreme loner tendencies and strange routines are challenged by a blossoming friendship, she begins to open up emotionally, and her story unfolds with infectious humor and heart. By the time you reach Eleanor's hometown, you'll feel like you've made a lifelong friend. Check out this brilliant debut this summer, and you'll be ahead of the curve when Reese Witherspoon brings it to the big screen.
Trip: Driving from LA to San Francisco (round-trip)
Aja Gable's ambitious debut novel falls somewhere between a love story and a family story—with friendships so deep, this eccentric group feels more like a chosen family. Meet the four gifted musicians form the Van Ness Quartet: Daniel, the skeptic; Jana, ambitious and intense; Brit, beautiful and still reeling from the loss of both her parents; and Henry, a prodigy on the viola. Rotating through each character's perspective, the novel follows their successes and struggles over the course of many years. Experience this moving story as you cruise toward San Francisco, where these four unforgettable characters came together in the first place.
Trip: Flying from LA to Shanghai (one way)
In this novel, Lisa See explores the timeless theme of mother/daughter relationships in a completely original way. Much of the story takes place in a remote Chinese mountain village, where the Akha people work as tea farmers and depend on ancient rituals to uphold order and routine. When Li-Yan begins to question the community's customs, and eventually has a baby out of wedlock, she's forced into exile and has to brave the unknown modern world. THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE is a book club favorite—if you still can't stop talking about it once you get back home, check out our highlights from Off the Shelf's Facebook Live discussion with Lisa See.
Trip: Flying from Boston to Paris (round-trip)
This book is just about as well-reviewed as they come: it's a Pulitzer Prize winner, a National Book Award finalist, a New York Times and Amazon "Best Book of 2014," and the list goes on. But it's a whopping 531 pages, so grabbing the audiobook and saving it for a long flight might be your best bet. If you've got a European getaway planned, dive into this inventive and lyrical novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in Nazi-occupied France.
The lives of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy become intertwined amidst the devastation of World War II in this stunningly intricate exploration of heartbreak, morality, and survival. Through simple yet tender narration, the audiobook highlights the profound humanity of the story.
Narrated by Zach Appelman