July typically sees a huge spike in Aussie’s getting their international travel fix, but with Mediterranean backpacking, North American road trips and New Zealand skiing off the cards (at least, for now) we’ve rounded up the best audiobooks from Audible to fill the overseas travel-sized void in your heart.
Now you can “earscape” to your favourite holiday destinations and not feel like you’re missing out on that overseas getaway.
If your would-be holiday included Spanish tapas, Parisian culture and Santorini sunsets here are a few listens to get you closer to that European summer:
1. Almost French, by Sarah Turnbull, narrated by Caroline Lee:
After backpacking her way around Europe, journalist Sarah Turnbull is ready to embark on one last adventure before heading home to Sydney. A chance meeting with a charming Frenchman in Bucharest changes her travel plans forever. Acting on impulse, she agrees to visit Fredric in Paris for a week. Put a very French Frenchman together with a strong-willed Australian girl and the result is some spectacular – and often hilarious – cultural clashes. Language is a minefield of misunderstanding and the simple act of buying a baguette is fraught with social danger.
But as she navigates the highs and lows of this strange new world, from the sophisticated cafes and haute couture fashion houses to the picture postcard French countryside, little by little Sarah falls under its spell: passionate, mysterious, infuriating, and charged with that French specialty – seduction. And it becomes her home
©2004 Sarah Turnbull (P)2011 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
2. The High Mountains of Portugal, by Yann Martel, narrated by Mark Bramhall.
The High Mountains of Portugal is a suspenseful, mesmerising story of a great quest for meaning, told in three intersecting narratives that touch the lives of three different people and their families, and taking us on an extraordinary journey through the last century.
We begin in the early 1900s, when Tomás discovers an ancient journal and sets out from Lisbon in one of the very first motor cars in Portugal in search of the strange treasure the journal describes.
Thirty-five years later, a pathologist devoted to the novels of Agatha Christie, whose wife has possibly been murdered, finds himself drawn into Tomás’ quest. Then, 50 years later, Senator Peter Tovy of Ottawa, grieving the death of his own beloved wife, rescues a chimpanzee from an Oklahoma research facility and takes it to live with him in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, where the strands of all three stories miraculously mesh together.
©2016 Yann Martel (P)2016 Penguin Random House LLC
3. The Pilgrimage, by Paulo Coelho, narrated by Sean Runnette
The Pilgrimage paved the way to Paulo Coehlo’s international best-selling novel The Alchemist. In many ways, these two volumes are companions – to truly comprehend one, you must read the other.
Step inside this captivating account of Paulo Coehlo’s pilgrimage along the road to Santiago. This fascinating parable explores the need to find one’s own path. In the end, we discover that the extraordinary is always found in the ordinary and simple ways of everyday people. Part adventure story, part guide to self-discovery, this compelling tale delivers the perfect combination of enchantment and insight.
©2006 Paulo Coelho (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
4. The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson, narrated by Nathan Osgood
Twenty years ago Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his adopted country. The hilarious book that resulted, Notes from a Small Island, was taken to the nation’s heart and became the best-selling travel book ever and was voted in a BBC poll the book that best represents Britain.
Now, to mark the 20th anniversary of that modern classic, Bryson makes a brand-new journey around Britain to see what has changed. Following (but not too closely) a route he dubs the Bryson Line, from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath, by way of places that many people never get to at all, Bryson sets out to rediscover the wondrously beautiful, magnificently eccentric, endearingly unique country that he thought he knew but doesn’t altogether recognize any more.
Yet, despite Britain’s occasional failings and more or less eternal bewilderments, Bill Bryson is still pleased to call our rainy island home. And not just because of the cream teas, a noble history, and an extra day off at Christmas.
Once again, with his matchless homing instinct for the funniest and quirkiest, his unerring eye for the idiotic, the endearing, the ridiculous and the scandalous, Bryson gives us an acute and perceptive insight into all that is best and worst about Britain today.
©2015 Bill Bryson (P)2015 Recording and music (p) Transworld Audiobooks
If your dream destination included skiing, hiking and Queenstown spas we recommend these winter warmers:
1. Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer, narrated by Philip Franklin
One of the inspirations for the major motion picture Everest, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Keira Knightley.
This is the true story of a 24-hour period on Everest when members of three separate expeditions were caught in a storm and faced a battle against hurricane-force winds, exposure, and the effects of altitude, which ended the worst single-season death toll in the peak’s history.
In March 1996, Outside magazine sent veteran journalist and seasoned climber Jon Krakauer on an expedition led by celebrated Everest guide Rob Hall. Despite the expertise of Hall and the other leaders, by the end of summit day eight people were dead.
Krakauer’s audiobook is at once the story of the ill-fated adventure and an analysis of the factors leading up to its tragic end. Written within months of the events it chronicles, Into Thin Air clearly evokes the majestic Everest landscape. As the journey up the mountain progresses, Krakauer puts it in context by recalling the triumphs and perils of other Everest trips throughout history. The author’s own anguish over what happened on the mountain is palpable as he leads his listeners to ponder timeless questions.
©2011 Jon Krakauer (P)2016 Audible, Ltd
2. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, narrated by Laurel Lefkow
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an 1100-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe and built her back up again. At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. After her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State – alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than an idea: vague, outlandish, and full of promise. But it was a promise of piecing together a life that had come undone. Strayed faces rattlesnakes and bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and intense loneliness of the trail.
Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
©2012 Cheryl Strayed (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
3. Saga Land, by Richard Fidler, Kári Gíslason, narrated by Richard Fidler, Kári Gíslason
A gripping blend of family mystery, contemporary stories and the beautiful and bloody Viking tales, set against the starkly stunning landscape of Iceland.
Broadcaster Richard Fidler and author Kari Gíslason are good friends. They share a deep attachment to the sagas of Iceland – the true stories of the first Viking families who settled on that remote island in the Middle Ages.
These are tales of blood feuds, of dangerous women and people who are compelled to kill the ones they love the most. The sagas are among the greatest stories ever written, but the identity of their authors is largely unknown. Together, Richard and Kari travel across Iceland, to the places where the sagas unfolded a thousand years ago. They cross fields, streams and fjords to immerse themselves in the folklore of this fiercely beautiful island. And there is another mission: to resolve a longstanding family mystery – a gift from Kari’s Icelandic father that might connect him to the greatest of the saga authors.
©2017 Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason (P)2017 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
4. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie, multi-cast narration
What begins as a routine journey on the luxurious Orient Express soon unfurls into Agatha Christie’s most famous murder mystery. On board is the famous detective Hercule Poirot, and one man who, come morning, will be found dead, his compartment locked from the inside.
This Audible Original dramatisation follows the train as it’s stopped dead in its tracks at midnight. The train’s stranded passengers soon become suspects as the race to uncover the murderer begins before he or she strikes again.
This all-star production features lead performances from Tom Conti (The Dark Knight Rises, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence) as Hercule Poirot, Sophie Okonedo (After Earth, Hotel Rwanda and Ace Ventura) and Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes, V for Vendetta and Hancock) plus a full supporting cast and even sound effects recorded on the Orient Express itself.
©1934 Agatha Christie (P)2017 Audible, Ltd
If your perfect escape included a one-way ticket, backpacking, yoga and hostel living, try these gems:
1. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, narrated by Elizabeth Gilbert
Eat, Pray, Love is a journey around the world, a quest for spiritual enlightenment, and a story for anyone who has battled with divorce, depression, and heartbreak.
It’s 3 a.m., and Elizabeth Gilbert is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She’s in her 30s, she has a husband, a house, they’re trying for a baby – and she doesn’t want any of it. A bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she emerges battered and bewildered, and realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of three things she has been missing: pleasure, devotion, and balance.
So she travels to Rome, where she learns Italian from handsome, brown-eyed identical twins and gains 25 pounds; to an ashram in India, where she finds that enlightenment entails getting up in the middle of the night to scrub the temple floor; and to Bali, where a toothless medicine man of indeterminate age offers her a new path to peace: simply sit still and smile. And slowly, happiness begins to creep up on her….
©2009 Elizabeth Gilbert (P)2009 Bolinda Publishing
2. The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton, narrated by Nicholas Bell
Aside from love, few activities seem to promise us as much happiness as going traveling: taking off for somewhere else, somewhere far from home, a place with more interesting weather, customs, and landscapes. But although we are inundated with advice on where to travel, few people seem to talk about why we should go and how we can become more fulfilled by doing so.
©2002 Alain de Botton (P)2013 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
3. My Indian Odyssey, by Vincent Ebrahim, narrated by Vincent Ebrahim
Vincent Ebrahim, star of the Emmy and Peabody award-winning The Kumars At No. 42, explores his ancestral home visiting Mumbai, Gujarat, Delhi, Agra, West Bengal, Darjeeling, Kolkata and the Himalayas in this varied and vivid audio diary.
Stepping off the tourist trail as he travels across India, Vincent explores mountain roads by motorbike, visits the world’s largest outdoor laundry, meets the monks of the Dalai Lama’s monastery and searches for answers about his heritage at his grandfather’s birthplace.
©2016 Audible, Ltd. (P)2016 Audible, Ltd.
4. The Beach, by Alex Garland, narrated by Alfie Allen
The classic story of paradise found – and lost.Richard lands in East Asia in search of an earthly utopia. In Thailand he is given a map promising an unknown island, a secluded beach – and a new way of life.What Richard finds when he gets there is breathtaking: more extraordinary, more frightening than his wildest dreams. But how long can paradise survive here on Earth? And what lengths will Richard go to in order to save it?
©1996 Alex Garland (P)2016 Penguin Books Ltd.
If you were ready to hit the road across North America, hike Yosemite and live that camper van life you should download this ultimate road trip playlist:
Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer, narrated by Philip Franklin
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. His body – along with a camera with five rolls of film, an SOS note, and a cryptic diary written in the back pages of a book about edible plants – was found six months later by a hunter.
©2007 Jon Krakauer (P)2007 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
Stephen Fry in America, by Stephen Fry, narrated by Stephen Fry
Britain’s best-loved comic genius Stephen Fry turns his celebrated wit and insight to unearthing the real America as he travels across the continent in his black taxicab. Stephen’s account of his adventures is filled with his unique humour, insight and warmth in this audiobook that accompanies his journey for the BBC1 series.
Stephen Fry has always loved America, in fact he came very close to being born there. Here, his fascination for the country and its people sees him embark on an epic journey across America, visiting each of its 51 states to discover how such a huge diversity of people, cultures, languages, beliefs and landscapes combine to create such a remarkable nation.
©2012 Stephen Fry (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, narrated by Matt Dillon
Sal Paradise, a young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty, a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of beat, on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream.A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac’s exhilarating novel swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and autobiographical passion. One of the most influential and important novels of the 20th century, On the Road is the book that launched the beat generation and remains the bible of that literary movement.
©1957 Jack Keourac (P)2015 Audible, Inc
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson, narrated by Ron McLarty
Maverick author Hunter S. Thompson introduced the world to “gonzo journalism” with this cult classic that shot back up the best seller lists after Thompson’s suicide in 2005. No book ever written has more perfectly captured the spirit of the 1960s counterculture. In Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race, Raoul Duke (Thompson) and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (inspired by a friend of Thompson) are quickly diverted to search for the American dream. Their quest is fueled by nearly every drug imaginable and quickly becomes a surreal experience that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. But there is more to this hilarious tale than reckless behavior, for underneath the hallucinogenic facade is a stinging criticism of American greed and consumerism.
©1971 Hunter S. Thompson (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC
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