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Karlie Ybarra, Managing Editor
Photo by Lori Duckworth
By Karlie Ybarra
July 19, 2018
For our September/October road trip feature, I spent approximately thirty hours in the car. I have no idea how many miles I’ve driven, but it’s safe to say a lot. And that’s just for two sections in one large feature: I’ve traveled to literally every corner of the state for some story or another. I’ve been everywhere in Oklahoma, man. And since my husband can’t join me on weekday adventures, I’m usually alone in the car. This may sound a little sad, but I actually relish the opportunity to fly solo, because that means I can listen to a new audiobook. Driving from Lake Tenkiller to Grand Lake last month, I listened to more than half of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall—which I would recommend only for anglophiles with long attention spans. So, if you’re planning to travel this summer and want to make the journey a little more interesting, here are my top five audiobook selections.
Me Talk Pretty One Day
“‘I hate you,’ she said to me one afternoon. ‘I really, really hate you.’ Call me sensitive, but I couldn’t help but take it personally.”
I could fill an entire blog with great lines from David Sedaris’ 2001 book Me Talk Pretty One Day (and I thought about it, since that would be much funnier than anything I could clack out). But hearing the author discuss French classes, his brother a.k.a. The Rooster, and the oppression of modern inconveniences with his trademark self-deprecating wit will fill any car with laughter. For example:
“Hugh consoled me, saying, ‘Don’t let it get to you. There are plenty of things you're good at.’ When asked for some examples, he listed vacuuming and naming stuffed animals. He says he can probably come up with a few more, but he’ll need some time to think.”
The Constant Princess
At nearly nineteen hours, this Philippa Gregory book about Katharine of Aragon is quite the undertaking, but worthwhile for those who love florid historical fiction and/or listening to British people talk. I also appreciate Gregory’s mission to elucidate the lives of often overlooked female figures, because woman are important, and, honestly, I think we’ve spent enough mental capital on the corpulent Henry VIII already.
The Long and Faraway Gone
Aside from being one of the best mysteries I’ve read in some time—there are actually two in the book, which run beautifully parallel—The Long and Faraway Gone was even more captivating because it was set in Oklahoma City. I actually recognized many of the places Lou Berney mentioned, and when the book was finished, I drove around trying to find some spots I was not familiar with. So, even more driving, but anything that helps me gain a deeper understanding of my home city is worth the gas.
On the road, you tend to be drawn to what’s quickest and most accessible when it comes to food. You’d probably never consider ordering from The Roller Grill unless you also had to fill up the car. Heck, in some small towns, McDonald’s might be the only restaurant that’s open. So, to remind myself the importance of actual food, the kind that offers nutrients and minerals as opposed to just fullness, I love listening to Michael Pollan’s books. Cooked in particular is a wonderful ode to the ways humans have cleverly adapted the natural world to feed ourselves, and how maybe we could do it better than pulling up to a drive-thru. After listening to an entire chapter about the artistry of baking bread, that greasy cheeseburger between two spongy buns is way less satisfying.
Thor: Ragnarok was one of the best movies of 2017 and possibly the greatest Marvel movie. As an adult, I very rarely re-watch a movie at all, but I’ve probably watched Ragnarok five times and will likely watch it again. So when our intern, Elise McGouran, told me that Neil Gaiman’s newest book Norse Mythology was a good companion to the movie, I was in. Some things are different, since movies and comic books never quite get the mythology right: Thor is married to Sif; Loki has a half zombie for a daughter and a serpent and wolf for sons; and there’s a lot more giant-killing. But when Gaiman shares the tale in which Thor dresses up as a woman to trick someone into marrying him so he can steal back his hammer, it feels true to the Thor I have come to know via Marvel. And when Loki gets himself into trouble, has to transform into a pretty lady horse in order to fix a mess, and then returns a year later with an eight-legged foal, that’s the mischievous Loki that’s so much fun not to trust. Much of Norse Mythology probably isn’t appropriate for actual children, but kids-at-heart will certainly enjoy the ride.