On my recent drive home from attending a reenactment weekend with my father, I listened to the audiobook of Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night. It is his telling of his experience as a teenage Jew in eastern Europe before and during the Holocaust of World War II.
He grew up in a small town in Hungary where he studied the Talmud and aspired to study Kabbalah. He had planned to dedicate his life to this study. While he was working toward this, an adult who left the town returned with what the residents thought of as tall tales of what Hitler’s Germany was doing to Jews. No one believed him. Even when the Germans arrived in their town and moved them to ghettos. Finally, they were all marched off to concentration camps.
The descriptions of life there are harrowing. He and his father are separated from his mother and sister. He spends the rest of his teens in multiple concentration camps, on forced marches, trying to keep his father and himself alive. This book should be required reading for high school graduation so that we never forget how horribly human beings are capable of treating one another.
My rating: 5/5
Two decades ago, my father was just getting into Civil War reenacting. When he invited me to join him at one back then I said yes. It was a great time of father/son bonding. Fast forward to earlier this month, he invited me back to the same event. It was a six-and-a-half-hour drive from my home. One of the books I listened while driving was Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.
The Lincoln of the title is actually Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie. The bardo is a sort of purgatory on earth of souls who are not ready to move on yet. After Willie dies, he isn’t ready to move on and teams up with other souls who also don’t realize they are dead in an effort to stay and try to get back to his father. Those other souls, throughout the story, do their best to support and help Willie. The story is very moving and sad. It explores death in a unique way. And it is an incredible portrait of a father’s love for his son.
It uses an unusual storytelling method. Many different character help tell the story from their perspectives. Also, may chapters start with quotes from nonfiction that describe the historical events that lay the foundation for the story. I struggled with the format at first, but I really think it works, especially as an audiobook. I highly recommend that format.
My rating: 4/5
I took a short vacation to Charleston, SC for the New Year. We drove there and back from Western North Carolina. As we usually do, we listened to audiobooks during the drive. On the way there, we started listening to Behind Her Lives by Briana Cole. This was a missing person thriller. Well, they got the missing person part right. We did not find it thrilling. It moved too slowly. And there were some odd word choices that seemed wrong. Maybe the narrator read the wrong word? That’s what it sounded like. In any case, we turned it off before we even finished our four and a half hour drive. Definitely not recommended.
I spent some time on New Year’s Day looking for a short audiobook for the ride home. Something in the four to five hour range. There isn’t much in that time frame, especially that is a thriller. I landed on Elevation by Stephen King. It isn’t exactly what I would call a thriller, but that is how my library tagged it. It is the story of a man with a mysterious malady who uses it to help out a couple being discriminated against in small town New England. It has the fantastic storytelling that King is famous for in a package that is much smaller than usual for him.
We were pleased to learn that there were actually two short stories in the audiobook. The second is simply called “Laurie”. It tells the story of how a puppy changes the life of a recent widower in Florida who is finding it hard to move on with his life. It is funny, poignant, and completely relatable, especially to anyone who had ever had a puppy.
My partner and I recently took a vacation. We drove from our home in western North Carolina to the Florida panhandle for a week on the beach relaxing. We are both big readers, so on long car trips we borrow audiobooks from the library to listen to while we drive. On this last trip, we listened to The Cousins by Karen M. McManus.
This book is in the young adult (YA) genre. My partner and I both enjoy these books. Many popular and best-selling books are also YA, such as the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy. This is a stand alone book about three cousins who are invited to work at their grandmother’s resort. Doesn’t sound like much of a story. The twist is that the grandmother disowned the cousins’ parents twenty years ago via a mysterious letter from her lawyer. None of the kids is much interested in going, but their parents make them hoping to get back in the good graces (and the will) of the grandmother.
As you would expect, there are many interesting turns in the story. The characters are well-developed and likeable. There is growth and change for the adults as well as the kids. Each of the cousins was read by a different actor in the audiobook, and the reading/acting was very well done. We really enjoyed listening to this book, and whether you read or listen I encourage you to give it a try.