Going on a road trip? Grab a book “on tape.”

In this era of being so individually connected to our devices, it is nice to find a media diversion that encourages the use of our collective ears, hearts and imaginations. Think about your last car ride. It is like the passengers are heading to their destination with blinders on, heads down and fingertips at the ready – all while the landscape (and the poor lonely driver) rockets by unnoticed and under appreciated.

Enter the book “on tape.” If it is chosen properly – the devices get put down…heads are tilted…emotions are experienced… and scenery is observed. Obviously, the book is not “on tape”. It could be in a variety of forms: a cd or a download from Audible or iTunes. Whatever medium you chose, it is still words, many carefully chosen and well thought out words, that will emerge from your chosen platform.

Listening to a book while we drive is a relatively new endeavor for our family. We started with The Martian, by Andy Weir. The kids were delighted with the expletives used in the first few sentences – hey if you were stuck on Mars you’d be swearing up a storm too! And boom, they were hooked. The 4 hour drive to Providence went by with nary an “are we there yet?” We were all, in fact, a bit sad upon arrival as it meant the story would have – gasp – “to be continued…”

On the way back to NYC everyone happily hopped into the car just so we could get our Martian back on. To finish the book we sat in our NYC parking garage cheering Mark Watney back to the safety of the mother ship. We loved it so much we listened to it again on the very next road trip. This time I tried to sneak in how often Mark used math to survive – kids, listen up, math is survival!

For our next trip I proudly broke out Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. My daughter said, “Hey, are we that family that listens to books in the car now?” Yes, we are that family. There was some push back for sure, but after 10 minutes the narrator’s charming accent and Bill Bryson’s cunning way with words had the whole family entranced. If you haven’t read the book, I would highly recommend the paper version as well, for it is laugh out loud funny. Think of it as a kinder, funnier, out of shape, befuddled, boy version of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.

And boy, Bill can march out a cadre of fun ways to say walk. At one point during the reading I paused the book and asked the kids to listen for the various ways Bill describes walking. In the span of about 20 minutes we jotted down 17 including: waddled, trudged, idle shuffle, spring, and using legs to proceed across the landscape to name a few. In a recent school report my son was commended for using the word ambling instead of walking – and you know who I have to thank for that??? Bill Bryson.  So thank you Bill Bryson. Our devices are down. Our heads are up. Our brains are working. And we all can’t wait for the next road trip!

For a list of audio books organized by age check out this post.  I don’t know the author personally, but I think we could be friends.  Click through to Amazon from her site and you monetarily return the favor she did for you by researching and compiling this list.

Cheers and Happy Listening!


4 Responses

    1. Maybe don’t mention your source for this idea?! 🙂 Will Schwalbe will be signing books at book hampton in EH tomorrow at 5pm! Too far for you to drive??? Naturally, I will be the first in line.

  1. We are going on a quick road trip next weekend so I appreciate the suggestions — love books on tape :)!

    1. Of course you love books on tape!!! You’re like me – we like books in any form. Let me know when you stumble along some good ones. Is it tricky finding books that appeal to both of your kids?

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Please add my name to the waitlist!

Space does open up! When it does it’s often at the last minute. Will keep our fingers crossed. Would love to see you at this experience!