5 Winter Activities to Pair with Audiobooks

It’s that time of year again – the days are shorter and the temperatures bitter. It’s easy to complain about the season, but what about all the wonderful things winter has to offer?

Though it may be tempting to spend the next few months bundled up inside, winter can be a great chance to catch up on your reading list while trying something new. Here are a few perfect wintertime activities to pair with your audiobooks.

Snowshoeing

Staying active during the winter months can be difficult. The slippery, snowy roads make a jog seem like a ridiculous idea, let alone most outdoor sports. Thankfully, there is a way to get outside and enjoy the snowy scenery while avoiding slips and wet shoes: Snowshoeing. And whether your goal is to break a sweat or to leisurely check out a winter trail, you set your own pace!

This outdoor activity pairs well with books about mindfulness or outdoor recreation. Try Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escape written and narrated by Alastair Humphreys.

Scenic winter driving 

Between the endless holiday parties, shopping, and visiting relatives, this season is sure to keep you driving all over town. With unpredictable weather and slow drivers, you often need extra time to make it to your destination. This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy your journey while taking in the beauty of a scenic drive.

To keep you engaged try a story filled with mystery. A good choice is Michael Connelly’s The Night Fire, a suspenseful crime story narrated by Titus Welliver and Christine Lakin.

Cross-Country Skiing

With a slow pace and relaxed technique, cross-country skiing provides a chance to listen in on your audiobooks on the move. Since many communities offer well-groomed trails and ski rentals, you just need to bring yourself (and your headphones) to enjoy an afternoon of wintery fun.

Use this time to catch up on a book you’ve been meaning to check out for a while. If you haven’t read it yet, try Tayari JonesAn American Marriage, narrated by Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis.

Shoveling snow

Okay, okay… It’s not as glamorous as some other winter activities. In fact, some consider it winter’s most dreadful chore. But it must be done, so why not enjoy it? Setting up your audiobook under a warm hat can be a great way to pass the time, whether you’re clearing a long drive way or just cleaning off your car. You’ll be offering to shovel for the neighbors just to finish your chapter!

To offset the dullness, tune into a book that keeps you laughing. The heartfelt and hilarious Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life, written by Ali Wong and narrated by the author and Justin Hakuta may be the perfect fit.

Cooking a warm meal

Though it’s not just a winter activity, there’s nothing quite like warming up over a bowl of soup or a cup of hot cocoa. Somehow home-cooked meals taste even better after a long day outside, but (sadly) they don’t make themselves. Whether you’re cooking for the whole family or just yourself, have some fun with it.

What warms you up better than a nice cup of tea? This is the perfect chance to listen to The Peppermint Tea Chronicles, written by Alexander McCall Smith and narrated by Robert Ian Mackenzie.

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10 Audiobooks that Explore the Natural World

Take a walk through the natural landscapes of our world with these moving and insightful travelogues.

 

1. Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey of the Silk Road by Kate Harris, narrated by Amy Landon

Lands of Lost Borders

From what Kate Harris could tell of the world, there was nothing left to be discovered. Looking beyond earth, she decided to become a scientist and go to Mars. In between studying at Oxford and MIT, Harris set off by bicycle down the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend. Pedaling mile upon mile in some of the remotest places on earth, the farther she traveled, the closer she came to a world as wild as she felt within.
Read more and sample the audio.

 

2. Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living by Karen Auvinen, narrated by Jayme Mattler

Rough Beauty

During a difficult time, Karen Auvinen flees to a primitive cabin in the Rockies to live in solitude as a writer and to embrace all the beauty and brutality nature has to offer. When a fire incinerates every word she has ever written and all of her possessions-except for her beloved dog Elvis, her truck, and a few singed artifacts, Karen embarks on a heroic journey to reconcile her desire to be alone with her need for community.
Read more and sample the audio.

 

3. Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island by Earl Swift, narrated by Tom Parks

Chesapeake Requiem

A brilliant, soulful, and timely portrait of a 200-year-old crabbing community in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay as it faces extinction from rising sea levels — part natural history of an extraordinary ecosystem, starring the beloved blue crab; part paean to a vanishing way of life; and part meditation on man’s relationship with the environment.
Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

4. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, narrated by Bernadette Dunne

Wild.

In the wake of tragedy, Cheryl Strayed‘s family and marriage were destroyed. With nothing to lose, she made a decision: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington — alone. Cheryl faces rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Wild captures the terrors and pleasures of her journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
Read more and sample the audio.

 

5. The Final Frontiersman by James Campbell, narrated by Dan Woren

The Final Frontiersman.

Originally from Wisconsin, Heimo Korth traveled to the Arctic in his 20s. Now, more than four decades later, he lives with his wife 200 miles from civilization – a sustainable, nomadic life bounded by the migrating caribou, swollen rivers, and the demands of daily life. Heimo’s cousin, James Campbell, chronicles the family’s experience, adventures, and the tragedy that shapes their lives.
Read more and sample the audio.

 

6.  Deep South by Paul Theroux, narrated by John McDonough

Deep South

For the past 50 years, Paul Theroux has traveled to the far corners of the earth. In Deep South, he turns his gaze to a region much closer to home. Traveling through North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, he writes of the stunning landscapes he discovers — the deserts, the mountains, the Mississippi — and the lives of the people he meets.
Read more and sample the audio.

 

7. Wide-Open World by John Marshall, narrated by John Marshall

John Marshall‘s 20-year marriage was floundering. His two teenage kids were lost in cyberspace most of the time. He felt disconnected from his work, his family, his life. Which is when he had an idea: Let’s volunteer our way around the world. He’d heard that some peoples’ lives were changed by a week of overseas service — what might half a year accomplish for his family?
Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

8. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, narrated by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love.

Elizabeth Gilbert made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Elizabeth explores the art of pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali.
Read more and sample the audio.

 

9. Walking the Americas by Levison Wood, narrated by Barnaby Edwards

Walking the Americas.

Beginning in the Yucatán, Levison‘s journey takes him from sleepy barrios to glamorous cities to ancient Mayan ruins in the wild. The relationships he forges along the way are at the heart of his travels, and the personal histories, cultures, and legends he discovers paint a riveting history of Mexico and Central America. While contending with natural obstacles, he also witnesses surreal beauty.
Read more and sample the audio.

 

10.  Four Fish by Paul Greenberg, narrated by Christopher Lane

Four Fish.

Paul Greenberg takes us on a culinary journey that explores how fish get to our tables and how to fight for sustainable seafood. He visits Norwegian megafarms that use genetic techniques to grow millions of pounds of salmon a year, the river of the Yupik Eskimos to see the only Fair Trade-certified fishing company in the world, and almost sinks in the South Pacific while searching for an alternative to endangered bluefin tuna.
Read more and sample the audio.

 

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STAFF PICK: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

This month I chose a challenging read titled, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Heart of Darkness audio book by Joseph Conrad

It’s a classic story which takes place in the heart of the Congo and describes the trials and tribulations of the ivory trade. A man is sent on a quest to go and recover another man who is famous in the ivory trade at the time.

It’s an interesting concept for a story, but I struggled mightily to get through it. There were abundant accounts where atrocious abuse of alliteration threw me for quite a loop. Concentration had to be at a maximum because even a small lapse in focus made me miss what felt like an eternity of the story and get completely lost. The author doesn’t clearly explain who people were and at times, figuring out who was speaking was impossible. The vast amounts of dialogue coupled with limited details offering any context around these conversations made following the story often seem hopeless.

The narrator was, in my opinion, very poor.  He read at a very quick pace and his tonality was off.  I felt as if I was listening to a pirate dictate an over-dramatic movie trailer.  Because the story was all over the place and the narrator didn’t do a good job of conveying emotion, I didn’t connect with this audiobook in the same way I have with others in the past.  Associating myself with the protagonist was difficult as he never really went into detail about any of the events or discussed his feelings.

I feel like this novel would be a challenge to get through regardless of whether you listen to it in audio or read it on paper.  It’s a good thing that it’s short because I can guarantee that it will take at least two full read-throughs to get the full gist of the book.

Let me know your thoughts!

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