Book review: Three audiobooks for those long summer drives |

Book review: Three audiobooks for those long summer drives

Summer is a time for long car trips — what better to pass the time and miles than a good book to listen to.

“The Water Knife” by Pablo Bacigalupi

“The Water Knife” is the story of the West, in a not too distant future when the Colorado River’s water has become scarce and the region has become the arid land that global warming promises. Texas is gone, dried up and empty, its people dead or trying to escape elsewhere.

Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and California have erected border fences. Interstate travel is severely restricted; relocation is impossible.

A fragile United States has lost control over the sovereign states, each of which has mobilized its state militia to protect its citizens and its water. The Colorado River Compact is all but dead; Las Vegas and California are scheming to both acquire water rights and outright steal water.

It is in this setting that Angel Velasquez, the Southern Nevada Water Authority enforcer — the “Water Knife” — travels to dried-up Phoenix where trouble is brewing.

This is an entertaining story, with its share of gratuitous violence and sex (not one to listen to with kids in the car!). It’s a story that keeps your attention and is surprisingly and scarily connected with the present.

“A Deadly Wandering” by Matt Richtel

Virgie DeNucci reviewed “A Deadly Wandering” last December, and I listened to the audiobook this past week. This is an extremely important book.

If you use your phone while driving, stop! Richtel weaves the story of Reggie Shaw, whose texting while driving resulted in the deaths of two rocket scientists, together with a thorough and fascinating description of the science of attention.

You learn what your brain is capable of, and what it’s not, and listening to this book, or reading it, will change what you do. It is superbly read, has unusual tension for a non-fiction serious book and will keep your mind engaged as you listen.

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven” is now out in paperback and audiobook.

“Station Eleven” is, like “The Water Knife,” a dystopian story, this one about the world 10 years after a global flu pandemic changed the world as we know it.

This is a superbly crafted story, extremely well read in the audiobook version, with the kind of tension that will make the miles driving go faster. Mandel spoke about writing this book at last year’s Literary Sojourn, and this book has been rightfully recognized as a gem, a National Book Award finalist and selected as one of the 10 Best Books of the year by the Washington Post.

If you haven’t read it, listen to it!

Ron Krall is the owner of Off the Beaten Path bookstore in Steamboat Springs. These books are available at Bud Werner Memorial Library and Off the Beaten Path bookstore in Steamboat Springs

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