Summer Listens

A good book, cold drink, and warm breeze are the perfect recipe for a summer day.

These audiobooks make the perfect companion for your sunny vacation spot. Whether you’re poolside or couch locked, these captivating novels will transport you to new places, experiences, and lives. The ultimate summer destination is the land of audiobooks and it’s right at your fingertips. So grab your sunscreen, settle into your lawn chair, and enjoy!

Prodigal Summer

Prodigal Summer

By Barbara Kingsolver

Acclaimed author Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Prodigal Summer is described as “a hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself.” Kingsolver weaves the story of three characters together with a love of nature. The novel captures the essence of summer, the importance of every living thing, and what binds us together as humans. Written in her signature beautiful style, Kingsolver has created a novel that will transport you to the wild country forests of southern Appalachia and the heart of humanity itself.  

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

By Maria Semple

Maria Semple’s novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette will leave you rolling on the floor laughing. When the quirky-yet-endearing Bernadette Fox goes missing, it is up to her daughter Bee to follow her trail of cryptic clues leading her literally to the ends of the earth. Semple’s humor shines with the help of narrator Kathleen Wilhoite who brings the characters to another level entirely. This novel is perfect entertainment for your summer downtime.

Ender's Game

Ender’s Game

By Orson Scott Card

Science fiction is one of the best genres for the summertime, transporting you to new worlds and lives unimaginable in this day and age. Ender’s Game is no exception. In Andrew “Ender” Wiggins’s world, the government breeds child geniuses to be military leaders as a defense against the hostile aliens attacking Earth. Ender is drafted into the rigorous orbiting Battle School for his military training and quickly rises to the top of his class. Ender’s battles, both internal and external, will entrap you in the dystopian world Orson Scott Card has created and with one of the best plot twists in literature, this novel definitely is a lifetime must read.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

By Rebecca Wells

A New York Times Bestseller, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is a Southern fiction staple to be read over and over again. Funny, outrageous, and wise, this novel captures the lives of four Southern women and their lifetime of friendship. Through these relationships, author Rebecca Wells explores the bonds of female friendship, the ups and downs of mother-daughter relationships, and the power of love and humor. Come fall in love with the Ya-Ya sisters in Wells’s clever and endearing novel.

Beautiful Ruins

By Jess Walter

Our featured Book of the Month, Beautiful Ruins is obviously a Libro favorite, but it’s also a perfect summer read. Partially set on the lovely Italian coast, you will fall in love with the idyllic Porto Vergogna and irresistible characters whose lives intertwine by happenstance. Let Jess Walter take you on a journey through the drama of old hollywood and the picturesque Porto Vergogna in his wonderfully entertaining novel.

Island of the Sequined Love Nun

Island of the Sequined Love Nun

By Christopher Moore

Take a crazy trip with Tucker Chase to The Island of the Sequined Love Nun. Tucker is a hopeless geek who makes a living piloting a cargo plane for Mary Jean Cosmetics Corporation—that is, until he crashes the pink plane and finds himself running for his life from Mary Jane’s henchmen. The only employment he can then find is a sketchy gig piloting on secret missions for an unscrupulous medical missionary in the South Pacific. Christopher Moore is the master of the outrageous and if the title didn’t say enough, get ready, because you’re in for a wild ride.


The Shoemaker’s Wife

By Adriana Trigiani

Travel through time with Ciro and Enza, two lovers who part and reunite over the course of their lives until the power of their love changes them forever. This novel is set in the majestic beauty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the 20th century. It will take you on a journey through the Italian countryside, America during the First World War and the star-crossed love of Ciro and Enza. This story, inspired by the author Adriana Trigiani’s own family history, will give you a beautiful and unique look into the lives of characters at the turn of the century.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

By David Sedaris

David Sedaris’s newest book features a collection of essays, each one taking you on a journey that’s sure to make you laugh out loud. You’ll travel on a world tour, from experiences with French dentistry, to the Australian kookaburra, to the toilets of Beijing and eventually the wild country of North Carolina. Sedaris paints the world in a hilarious light as he recounts his absurd and ridiculous tales.

What have you been reading this summer? Let us know in the comments!

How Would You Describe Where’d You Go Bernadette?

Maria Semple discovers the importance in phrasing in her book trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette. Semple travels to Seattle’s literary hubs in search of the perfect description for her quirky and comical novel set in the Emerald City itself.

How would you describe Where’d You Go Bernadette? Let us know in the comments!

Narrator Kathleen Wilhoite on the Best and Worst Parts of Making an Audiobook

It’s strange to call someone on the phone—someone you’ve never met—after listening to them speak for ten hours. It’s even stranger when that person turns out to be as wry as the main character in the book they narrated.

I spoke with Kathleen Wilhoite, a singer and actress who played Liz on Gilmore Girls and Chloe on ER among other roles, about narrating Where’d You Go, Bernadette, how she met Maria Semple, and whether or not she’ll narrate any more audiobooks.

[Judy Oldfield]: What’s it like to record an audiobook? Can you tell us about the process?

[Kathleen Wilhoite]: I’ll tell you about a regular day. I have an elliptical trainer in my bedroom. So I would wake up, go on the elliptical, and read what I was going to read that day, to get an idea of the characters that I wanted to do and how I was going to do it. And get an overall spec of the arc of each chapter—study it a little bit. Then I’d finish my workout, shower, and drive to work with traffic, which I never do, because I’m an actress. I rarely drive with the flow of regular working-people traffic. So that was jarring. I can’t believe people drive in that kind of traffic every single day. That was weird.

I’d show up to work at nine o’clock and we’d start. I’d get a cup of coffee and start reading until lunchtime. Time flew because I was so focused. So much of my brain—the left side and the right side—was engaged. Maria is a great writer, and her book is great and engaging. Thank God it wasn’t dry or boring.

All of the sudden I had hunger pains in my stomach and BOOM it’s lunch. The time just flew. We’d have an hour of lunch and they always had delicious food.

The people I worked with were all young too, pipsqueaks, probably younger than thirty which was alarming, and they were really smart and great. And super talented, the engineer was talented, the director was talented, fantastic. The atmosphere had great vibes, and was super creative.

Then after lunch we would tackle the next half of the day. It was the same type of thing. Focused. I couldn’t boggle the sentence; I had to be crystal clear. We had to create, like I said, the arcs, the characters, and the scenes. It was really great fun, engaging work.

Then, I would get in my car and drive with the flow of traffic—working-people, bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way home. I cannot believe people work like this! That they drive in traffic like this, day in and day out. It was so bizarre to be a part of the regular world. I’m an actress and a writer. I’m rarely with regular, working-people traffic. I will avoid that traffic at all costs, even auditions. If they want an audition at nine o’clock, I’m like, “Yeah . . . can’t do it, I’ll be there at eleven.”

So then when I’d get home, I would make dinner for my kids because they’d say, “We’re hungry!” I’d been working all day and my brain is fried but you’ve got to feed your kids! It gave me tremendous respect for working people because that is a lot. And then by the time my husband got home (he’s a producer for television), he’d say “Hey Baby,” and I’d say “Goodnight!” I was out. And I did that for two and a half weeks.

[JO] Wow, two-and-a-half weeks.

[KW] But what was so cool about that process is how much my brain was engaged. I just don’t utilize my brain like that—that consistently—for that long of a period of time. Just think of how you focus when you read, right? How engaged you are. So if you’re reading out loud it’s absolutely not boring, but is totally exhausting.

[JO]: And you have to do so many different character voices, and get the nuances for each character right.

[KW]: I’ve been reading stories to my kids for years and that’s fun for me. I know it doesn’t feel like there’s a difference between acting and reading material but there’s a real subtle difference and I think it’s important to make a distinction. Because Maria Semple wrote her book to be read. It’s more like reading stories to your kids.

[JO]: Was it ever hard not to laugh?

[KW]: Oh we cracked up. We cracked up with tears in our eyes laughing when I had to do a New Zealand accent. My New Zealand accent is so bad, it was hilarious. The closest thing I can get is Australia, eh? And every time I would miss a line, I’d look in the booth and the kids were like, “Ahhhahahaha!” I was like, “You’re laughing at me because I’m sucking so hard!” We had a lot of fun.

[JO]: When it came time to sing, did you have to stop and warm up your voice before you sang the few lines of “Holy Night”?

[KW]: “No, I’m a singer and performer. I’ve made a couple records, and I sing at a nightclub. I felt like that part of the book had a lot of momentum. And I just blasted right through there. There was no stopping in that section.

It was about being in the moment. I told the production team before we did it, “You guys know that I actually sing? I made a couple records. So when I get to this point, I’m just going to freakin’ sing.”

At that point I felt like we were in a really special flow place. It just felt natural and then the singing came in. The pacing in Where’d You Go, Bernadette is really good. Maria Semple comes from television and her stuff is very easy to visualize. The rhythm of the words and the cadence of the sentences she chose fit nicely with me. That’s why I think she wanted me to read it. It was a good fit.

[JO]: So she asked you personally to narrate the audiobook?

[KW]: Yeah, I’ve never narrated a book before. In fact, if you hear of anything let me know, because I think I was pretty darn good at it.

[JO]: I keep seeing bloggers say that this is a book that is even better on audio. I was really surprised to see that this was your first and only audiobook. Do you think you’ll do any more?

[KW]: Yeah, in fact I’m debating—you know I’ve written a couple books myself.

I’m debating whether or not I should do an audiobook for my own novels. I have two of them. Well, I’m working on them. That’s where I met Maria—in writing class.

The answer is, if you hear of anything, I could use the dough. And I thought I was sufficient at it, and this makes me feel fantastic that you’re saying this about people enjoying my reading. I appreciate that very much.

[JO]: Yes, I’ve heard so many people say that. One last question: what’s your favorite moment in the book?

[KW]: When Bee finally sees her mom. It’s so beautiful. It’s such a relief. When I was reading it out loud I was crying. I thought that was beautiful.

I really like the characters. And I love my friend Maria, so it was nice to read her stuff. It was a very good experience for me. All together very positive, so I’m very grateful to her for choosing me.

To find out more about Kathleen Wilhoite, visit

It sounds like Kathleen is up for more work in audiobooks. What book do you think would be a perfect fit for her?

The 6 Best Fathers in Literature

Most people will tell you that they have the best dad in the world. I’m no exception. I really do think I had the best dad. The only way he could have been surpassed is in fiction, and even then I’m not so sure.

Here are some of my and the Libro team’s favorite fathers in literature. From supportive side characters to crime-solving heroes, these dads love their kids and will do anything for them.

And a very happy Father’s Day to all of the real-life dads out there!


Mr. Bennet

Pride & Prejudice

While Mrs. Bennet tut-tuts over her daughters’ marriage prospects, Mr. Bennet is as calm and refreshing as cool breeze. He believes in Elizabeth like nobody else in the family does and understands that there’s more to life than finding a rich husband. When Elizabeth refuses to marry Mr. Collins, he says, “An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”


John Ames


Gilead opens with a letter from John Ames to his young son. In it, he explains he’s dying, gives a bit of explanation about his life, but most of all, his letter is steeped in his love for his son. Ames is old and dying, and more than anything else he regrets that he won’t be there for his son. Throughout the book he recounts his life, as well as the lives of his own father and grandfather. Of all the books on this list, this is the best choice for a thoughtful Father’s Day gift.


Tam Al’Thor

Wheel of Time series

It’s difficult to talk about a character in such a long series without giving away too many spoilers. But I can say that Rand, the hero of the books, could never have endured or grown the way he did without the stability and good influence of his father. Tam teaches Rand to enter the void, a meditative state, focusing his energy and powers. He’s pretty handy with a sword too.


Elgin Branch

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Elgin Branch might start off disengaged with his family, and way too into his job at Microsoft, but throughout Where’d You Go, Bernadette, he comes to realize that his daughter, Bee, is more important to him than anything else. Like any good parent, he wants what is best for her, but just what that is might not be what he originally planned.


Alex Cross

Alex Cross series

When he’s not out solving crime, Alex Cross can be found in his basement teaching his kids how to box. Though he wants to make the world a better, safer place, he’s happiest out slurping icecream cones with his family. But Alex’s lifestyle often places those he loves in danger. It’s what makes kidnapping in Cross My Heart such a heart-poundingly good thriller.


Atticus Finch

To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch believes in truth and justice, and tries to instill these ideals in his children. But he’s also a tender-hearted man, and realizes that his children are young. He doesn’t talk down to them, but tries to explain the world to them in ways that they can understand. Atticus tells them, “You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change.” It’s just one of the many pieces of his advice we could all use.

What father figures have we missed? Let us know in the comments.

Book of the Month: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

One of my favorite parts of cofounding is picking the books we champion on our blog and through our Book of the Month. Each month, we select a different book to promote and create discussion around. In May, we selected What If? by Randall Munroe. In April, we chose Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck.

At a team meeting a few weeks ago, conversation naturally led to which books we had recently listened to and which we looked forward to reading. Both Nick and Judy (whom you may have noticed around our blog) said that they looked forward to listening to Where’d You Go, Bernadette, a book I’ve enjoyed. We’re all Seattleites, and it takes place in Seattle, so it seemed like a natural fit for our first fiction Book of the Month choice.

Judy went as far as to say that she feared being kicked out of Seattle if she didn’t listen to it soon.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette isn’t just for Seattleites though. While a visit to Seattle might help in understanding a few of Maria Semple’s jokes, it draws on broader cultural trends and skewers them at every turn. Helicopter parenting, technology obsessions, organic vegetables . . . nothing is too precious to escape Semple’s scathing wit.

Semple structures the novel in a series of emails. Bernadette has had it up to here with Seattle, the parents at her daughter’s school, and life in general. Becoming increasingly reclusive, she hires an online personal assistant from India to manage her day-to-day affairs. But when her teenaged daughter, Bee, reminds her that it’s time for her promised trip to Antarctica, it all becomes too much. So Bernadette just . . . leaves. And it’s up to Bee to put the pieces back together, sleuthing through her parents’ emails, as well as those of the parents of her schoolmates.

And, of course, hilarity ensues. After all, Semple has written for shows such as Arrested Development and Ellen, so her comedic skills are already proven.

This is one of those books that I keep hearing book bloggers and booktubers say they think is even better on audio. Kathleen Wilhoite does a fantastic job moving from Bee’s adolescent voice to Bernadette’s misanthropic voice, to Manjula’s (Bernadette’s virtual assistant), and every character in between. At one point, Wilhoite is tasked with singing “O Holy Night”, a performance that sends chills down Bee’s spine. She hits the notes perfectly, with all of the emotional gravity that Bee picks up on. As an audience, we can really feel it too.

Listen to a clip of the first few minutes of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, in which Bernadette reluctantly agrees to go to Antartica.

Want to find out more about Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Head on over to

#WomenWriteFunny: 9 Female Authors Who Kill It

Recently, #WomenWriteFunny was trending on Twitter. I was feeling a bit tired, looking at the tweets. It’s 2015 and we are still having a discussion about whether or not women are funny (note: they are). But then a few days later when the whole Libro team was together, we started talking about our favorite commediennes. Tina Fey! Amy Poehler! Maria Semple! Nothing brings one back to life like talking about books with friends.

The next day I relistened to Roxane Gay’s discussion of Bridesmaids from Bad Feminist, turned on some Amanda Palmer, and compiled this list. Maybe you won’t like everyone on this list, but there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all humor. That’s what makes this list so great. Someone is bound to tickle your fancy.

Amy Poehler

When talking about women who write funny, Amy Poehler springs instantly to mind. But we daresay that the audiobook of Yes, Please is even funnier than the written work. Give the clip above a listen, where Poehler brings on a guest to read her memoir and reluctantly agrees to read it herself, as only she can.

Unvisited tombstones, unread diaries, and erased video game high-score rankings are three of the most potent symbols of mankind’s pathetic and fruitless attempts at immortality. Not to be negative.”

Sarah Silverman / The Bedwetter

Sarah Silverman

The description page of The Bedwetter gives potential readers a little quiz to make sure that before picking up this audiobook, listeners aren’t, say, offended by “instructing  one’s grandmother to place baked goods in her rectal cavity” or “Stripping naked in public—eleven times in a row.” Silverman, as ever, pushes boundaries to great effect.

And no, not all of the men whizzed in cups. But four or five of them out of twenty did, so the men have to own that one. Anytime there’s a bad female stand-up somewhere, some dickhead Interblogger will deduce that ‘women aren’t funny.’ Using that math, I can state that: Male comedy writers piss in cups.”

Tina Fey / Bossypants

Tina Fey

Picking a favorite from this list is hard, but I have a feeling Tina Fey is probably most people’s go-to funny lady. She is at times witty, at others wacky, and always comes off as genuinely herself. Certainly she draws from her own life, which despite superstar status, is surprisingly relatable to people everywhere. Just see the above quote from Bossypants.

Maria Semple

Semple’s wit is positively scathing—in the best way possible. As Seattleites, the Libro team laughed out loud to Where’d You Go, Bernadette’s critique of our five-way intersections, craftsman homes, and blackberry vines. While some parts are specific to Seattle, she also captures hypervigilant parenting, tech obsessions, and other universal truths of modern life. If an L.A. setting is more your thing, check out This One Is Mine.

. . . I still believe that above all things physical, it is more important to be beautiful on the inside—to have a big heart and an open mind and a spectacular spleen. (Actually, most people’s insides are disgusting. Even pretty people have very unattractive insides. Have you ever seen those surgery shows on Discovery? Not Pretty.)”

Ellen DeGeneres / Seriously . . . I’m Kidding

Ellen DeGeneres

Of all the contemporary women we thought of when making this list, Ellen has been not only around the longest, but also has been the most consistently hilarious. The mere fact that we can just say “Ellen” and you know who we’re talking about says something. In Seriously . . . I’m Kidding, she comes off as effortlessly funny as she does on her show.

That ‘Girl Power’ has been the sole rival to the word feminism in the last 50 years is a cause for much sorrow on the behalf of women. After all, P. Diddy has had four different names and he’s just one man.”

Caitlin Moran / How to Be a Woman

Caitlin Moran

Described as the British Tina Fey, Caitlin Moran has been killing it on the other side of the pond for more than two decades. How to Be a Woman is part self-deprecating memoir, part biting social commentary. How to Build a Girl is a fictional book, though based in part on Moran’s own life, about a teenaged girl who writes music reviews for magazine, described as “The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease”.

Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella

Two people as funny as Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella in one family is a rare thing indeed. This mother-daughter duo slay in their co-written books of essays, Have a Nice Guilt Trip and Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, as they bring their particular humor to everyday things such as jury duty and the Mission Impossible franchise.

I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.”

Jane Austen / Pride & Prejudice

Jane Austen

The original woman writing funny. From the first lines of Pride & Prejudice, in which Austen lambasts marriage, to the burning lines of Northanger Abbey in which she lampoons posh vacationers in Bath, England, she is always poised with the perfect banter, description, or character. And yes, her characters’ romances all turn out for the best in the end, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t get a few good jabs in at polite society along the way.

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