Road Trip Entertainment Options

For long-distance travel entertainment to beach reading, audiobooks offer flexible options for all ages.

By Lisa Pavlock and Dawn Sowers

More than 65,000 visitors will pass through the library’s doors this summer. Some will be reading books to log for the summer reading program and returning their game cards for a chance to win a fun prize. Still others will be looking for something to read beside the pool or on the beach. Many will be getting ready for their family vacation. Long distances in cramped vehicles are the perfect time to listen to an audio book together, giving everyone something to focus on besides who is breathing on whom and the “are we there yet” laments.

Finding books appropriate for all age levels is not an easy task. To help navigate the wide selection of audiobooks offered by the Fauquier County Public Library, the staff offers a few suggestions.

Younger Children: “The Penderwicks” series by Jeanne Birdsall

“The Penderwicks” by Jeanne Birdsall is just one of the audiobooks you can try this summer.

This series is a good choice for families with young children. The first in the series starts off in summer with four precocious sisters, ages four through twelve, and their widowed father vacationing in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. The girls make a new friend to whom they introduce many adventures, much to the chagrin of his mother who doesn’t wholly agree with Mr. Penderwick’s parenting style. I fell in love with these young girls as they navigated life without a mother and in so doing cared for one another and those around them, and I think you will too. The narrator does a good job of bringing the young characters to life, to the delight of children and adult listeners.

Teens or Tweens: “The Ranger’s Apprentice” series by John Flanagan

If you have teens or tweens, this series offers hours of listening enjoyment. At age 15 the young people in Will’s world are apprenticed for their life’s work. Despite his small stature, Will is hopeful to go to Battleschool. When he is instead apprenticed to the ranger Halt, he learns much about himself and his abilities and gains the father he never had.  In successive volumes, Halt and Will, along with other rangers, soldiers, and diplomats, travel to other countries, make new friends, encounter dangers, and ultimately become legends in their kingdom. Filled with action and endearing characters, including the Rangers’ horses Abelard and Tug, this series of books is addictive. So if you’re going on a long trip, consider checking out the first two or three in the series. You won’t want to wait to get home to listen to the next one.

Adults: “The Last Days of Night” by Graham Moore

I am always on the lookout for audiobooks to fight the boredom of long car rides. But finding one that both my husband and I will enjoy can be especially challenging.

As a frequent audiobook listener, I have become a bit of a critic. A good plot is essential, but I can be turned off quickly if the narrator doesn’t work. Both criteria are well met by “The Last Days of Night.”  A dramatic opening scene drew me in and horrified me at the same time. Moore weaves a fascinating tale of history, science, and even a bit of romance that kept us captivated until the final word.

This historical legal thriller is based on the real-life “War of the Currents” between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. The journey begins in 1888 with—literally—a billion dollar question: which of the two men invented the lightbulb and holds the right to power the country?

Enter Paul Cravath, a young, untested lawyer hired by Westinghouse to lead the legal battle. Other interesting characters include Cravath’s grandfather, who helped found Oberlin College, his father, co-founder of Fisk University, and Agnes Huntington, Paul’s love interest. The story also weaves in prominent historical figures who played pivotal roles in the battle, including inventor Nikola Tesla and financier J.P. Morgan.

As often happens with historical fiction, I found myself frequently wondering which details were accurate and which had been fictionalized for the sake of a good story. The epilogue, often overlooked by readers, provides interesting context for many of the characters and events and is well worth a listen.

Moore tells an intriguing story about an important time in history and the fascinating nature of genius. If you enjoy thrillers and historical fiction, add “The Last Days of Night” to your summer reading (or listening) list.

Fauquier County Public Library’s Summer Reading Program: Reading by Design

For all ages: children, teens and adults

At my house, the unofficial starting point of summer is the last day of school. With two students and a teacher in the family, it is a natural marker that we all looked forward to. Another sure sign of summer’s start is the annual summer reading program, hosted by the Fauquier County Public Library.

The 2017 program, Reading by Design, will officially start on Thursday, June 1 when registration opens. You can register online at fauquierlibrary.org or stop by any library location. Weekly programs and special events begin Saturday, June 10.

The program, which encourages children and their parents to read during the hiatus from school, is sponsored by the Friends of the Library and several local businesses.

With programs and activities for children, teens, and adults, the summer reading program truly is a family event. This summer’s activities will include Wildlife Ambassadors, a singing cowgirl, SPLAT (Science, Play, Language, Art and Technology), and family movies for children up to 6th grade. Teens will enjoy programs on money management and financial literacy, car care, art by design, and movie night. Programs for adults will include monthly Sunday with the Library presentations, as well as Older Wiser Learners (OWLs), DIY crafting, and monthly book clubs.

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