Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Riding Around Town with Books by Virginia McCullough


Never a big fan of audiobooks, I used to listen to them only on long roads trips as a break from my collection of music and my “self-improvement” cassettes. I went through several six- or eight-cassette programs on time-management and goal-setting and listened to several popular business gurus coach me about ways to drive myself to even greater productivity! 


Then, four years ago, I waved goodbye to my 1992 Toyota, and the cassette player along with it. That left music on my CDs, and since I’m a news junkie anyway, I pretty much stuck to Wisconsin Public Radio for riding around town doing routine errands. But about three years ago, I checked out an audiobook from the library for a six-hour drive across the state and back on the same day. 


Okay, I was hooked, and not just for that trip. 


I remember the book well, The Bishop's Wife, a Mormon mystery, by Mette Ivie Harrison. I rarely choose books because of an author’s bio, although writers’ lives interest me immensely, but in this case, the author’s background is as intriguing as her distinctive name. Not only does Mette have a PhD from Princeton University in Germanic Languages and Literature, she’s done four full Ironman competitions, while also raising a bunch of kids. Impressive. Bio aside, the book grabbed me on page 1, and although I’m not a big mystery reader, I’m one of Mette’s fans. 

More to the point, I began to listen to news less and “read” books in the car more, even if just going a couple of miles and back to the grocery store or library or five or ten miles across town. It’s amazing the number of “extra” books I’ve read just riding around in my car. 

Photo by Andrew Worley on Unsplash

Here is a sample of the best—they’re in my five-star lineup. I recommend every one of them:  
The Weekenders, Mary Kay Andrews. (Divorce papers, a missing husband, a troublesome teen, and the protagonist is flat broke—will anything go right?)




Fly Away, Kristin Hannah. (One of her best—lots of heart about the struggle to heal and forgive. It’s long, about a dozen CDs, but worth it!)


 American Dervish, Ayhad Aktar. (The struggles of a Pakistani immigrant family told through the eyes of the young son, Hayat. Compelling characters and graceful writing.)


Heartbroken, Lisa Unger. (Three generations of women on a collision course. They’re headed to an island in the Adirondacks, and why won’t those family secrets stay buried?)  


The Guest Room, Chris Bohjalian. (Why did I agree to host this bachelor party? How did it go so wrong?) 


Heart of the Matter, Emily Giffin. (Do I want the marriage saved or not? An excellent look at modern family life.)


 I’ve read a variety of books in the last few years, including a couple of Amish romances, two Nancy Thayer’s Nantucket holiday novellas, and many more. I’m a convert, and because of my latest audio titles I look forward to running the most mundane errands. Maybe I’m not improving myself, but I’m sure having fun riding around town listening to a good story.

Any good audiobooks to share? I’m open to suggestions.

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Virginia McCullough set her debut Heartwarming series in Two Moon Bay, a fictional town on Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shore, not far from her current home in Green Bay. Book 1, Girl in the Spotlight, was released in June, and Book 2, Something to Treasure, is scheduled for release in January 2018. Virginia’s award-winning romance and women’s fiction titles feature characters who could be your neighbors and friends. They come in all ages and struggle with everyday life issues in environments that almost always include water—oceans, lakes, or rivers. Virginia is busy writing her next Heartwarming story about hope, healing, and second chances


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31 comments:

  1. I think I'm missing out, Virginia. Years ago, I tried to listen to an audiobook, but my mind kept wandering. I might have to give it another try.

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    1. It took me a while to warm up to audiobooks, but when you find the right time and technology (some people like to use their smartphone or tablet), it becomes something of a treat.

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  2. I confess, I have never tried an audio book. I also much prefer print to e-books. I will have to try at least some of the books you recommend--even if in print or e-book format. :) Thank you for the suggestions, Virginia.

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    1. There's nothing like a real book in your hands, but when I get crunched for time audiobooks let me squeeze in a book I've been waiting to get to. Be sure to let me know if you try any of the books and which you enjoyed.

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  3. I love audio books, but only for distance driving. I've never listened to a Kristin Hannah book, but I'll bet they're fabulous!

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    1. You must look forward to road trips then. Do you have a TBLT (To Be Listened To) list or pick out special audiobooks before your trip?

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  4. I too haven't gotten into audio books yet, though I do like to listen to interviews or short documentaries on the car radio. My daughters have got me into podcasts , especially from NPR and CBC here. Have you read or listened to The Moth? I highly recommend this collection of real life stories told by real people- some famous and many, not. But I may have to check out those enticing titles you've posted, Virginia.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your suggestion, Janice. NPR has so many wonderful programs, including The Moth. I'll have to check out the podcasts so I don't miss any.

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  5. My, it's nearly unanimous so far. I haven't tried audio books either, but you make me want to get started. Thanks for this list, Virginia! And congratulations on your Heartwarming series.

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    1. Thanks so much, Leigh. I'm thrilled to be one of the Heartwarming authors. This blog has been a wonderful way to meet the other authors and readers.

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  6. For a 5 hour trip to NY, I listened to Elin Hilderbrand's The Identicals. Very entertaining. I tried listening to Into the Water and The Light Between Oceans, but both were read by an actor with a British accent and I had trouble understanding.

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    1. I definitely have a personal preference for some narrators over others. They can really impact the tone of the story. Listening to the sample audio is a good way to check them out. Do you have a favorite audiobook narrator?

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  7. Thank you for the recommendations. Reading or audio, some of these sound like great stories. I like to listen to audio books, too. But I also like silence in the car. It's great thinking/plotting time for me. You've inspired me to check out a few of these books.

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    1. Good morning, Carol! Your comment reminded me that every reader has unique preferences about how and when and where they enjoy books. Print, ebook or audio - we all love a good story!

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  8. I had to give up listening to books on tape as I found I drove faster as tension built in the story, and slowed down too slow during narrative. And one time I had to sit in my driveway to hear the end of a book that was tantalizing. Two neighbors came over to see if I was alright. I did love some of the stories, though.

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    1. I drive faster, too! The worst is when I have to pay attention to my driving (changing lanes during rush hour) and I miss a part.

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    2. Your comments gave me a good laugh! I'll have to watch my own driving habits when I'm listening to audiobooks in the car. Safe driving!

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  9. Like you, I was never a big fan of audio books. My mind tends to wander. But you've inspired me to try again!

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    1. Maybe you haven't found the right book to keep you engaged, LeAnne. Some writers I know choose to listen to books on craft or marketing so they can take notes while listening. Non-fiction books might do a better job holding your attention.

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  10. Ooooh, a nice lineup of books, Virginia. I'm always looking for recommendations. Thanks!

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    1. Feel free to share your own recommendations, too! I need some new suggestions for my list. Thanks for stopping by the blog today!

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  11. I checked out a Sherlock Holmes audio book years and years ago, and it really made the trip go fast. I'd forgotten. I may have to try it again on the next road trip. Thanks for the recommendations, Virginia.

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    1. Driving is where I like listening to audiobooks, but many of my friends also enjoy them while cleaning, working out, walking or at bedtime. It's just nice to squeeze in extra time to enjoy books!

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  12. I'm waving my hand. I check out two to three audio books every three weeks to get me through my transmute to and from work. I listen to Nora and Heather Graham and Dianne Gist. I've also found that a few bookclub books that I couldn't get into in print, I can get into on audio. I must have started The Time Travelers wife a dozen times only to stop about page 30. I loved it on audio. Same with The Secret Life of Bees.
    I love mysteries, but hate when they change narrators half way through a series. This happened with William Kruger's books.

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    1. Pamela - Thanks for sharing your suggestions. Borrowing audiobooks from the library is a great option since they can be expensive. Very interesting about enjoying certain books more on audio than reading them. So glad you found a way to turn your commute into a positive experience!

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  13. I listen to audio books all the time. I can't remember how many years ago I started, but there were on tape then. I now have them on my iPod and iPhone, so I'm never without a book (or a charger).

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    1. I remember those days, Shirley. Audiobook tapes came in a large plastic holder. It was such a relief when they came out with CDs and now we have the convenience of carrying hundreds of books on a tiny device. Happy listening!

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  14. I love audio books! They are the only way to drive across the desert from Phoenix to LA!
    Unless I'm in the car I prefer print books.

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    1. Think of all the books you enjoy on those long drives. I've been so surprised by how many books I can read just driving around town.

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  15. I've never been able to read any of my books after they are published, BUT I was able to listen to my first book, Shadows of the Past on audio. It was like a whole different book than the one I wrote. lol

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  16. Very cool to listen to you own books on audio. I have recorded books for the purpose of catching errors, and then I sent tapes to friends, but I never listened back. I'll have to think about that!

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