13 Summer Activities to Pair with Audiobooks

Summer reading season is upon us, and nothing feels more like summer than enjoying a great read in the sunshine. This year, many of us are trying to safely get out of the house, immerse ourselves in our communities, make up for lost vacation time, or explore our own backyards.

Have some fun in the sun with these 13 delightful summer activities, paired with the perfect audiobooks:


Gardening

In the last year, many of us worked to make the most of our own backyards, patios, balconies—whatever outdoor spaces we had. If you’re continuing to hone your green thumb this summer, a soothing audiobook can be excellent company.

How to Do Nothing

By Jenny Odell • Narrated by Rebecca Gibel

Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer • Narrated by the author


Hiking

Whether it’s a quick afternoon hike or a several night backpacking excursion, getting out into nature is soothing and restorative. Pairing your hike with an audiobook that celebrates the wonder of the natural world is a great way to feel even more connected to your surroundings

Greenwood

By Michael Christie • Narrated by Kimberly Farr

A Walk in the Woods

By Bill Bryson • Narrated by Rob McQuay


Fishing

Fishing is one of the of the best outdoor activities for solitude and meditation, and the right audiobook may be the only companion you want or need.

Where the Water Goes

By David Owen • Narrated by Fred Sanders

The Guide

By Peter Heller • Narrated by Mark Deakins


Roller Skating

Who knows if it’s the resurgence of the ’90s aesthetic or the pandemic need for more outdoor exercise, but roller skating is making a comeback. Try cruising through your favorite park with one of these audiobooks that celebrate the feeling of gliding on skates.

The Comeback

By E. L. Shen • Narrated by Nancy Wu

Roller Girl

By Victoria Jamieson • Narrated by Almarie Guerra, Various, Abigail Caro, Robbie Daymond, Kirby Heyborne, Hillary Huber, Jorjeana Marie, Cassandra Morris, P.J. Ochlan, Adenrele Ojo, Georgette Perna, Kate Reinders, Tara Sands & Bahni Turpin


City Walks

Urban exploration can be just as invigorating as a walk in the woods. Choose an audiobook that enhances your jaunt through your own hometown or one that lets you vicariously explore a faraway city.

Everywhere You Don’t Belong

By Gabriel Bump • Narrated by Korey Jackson

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

By Kathleen Rooney • Narrated by Xe Sands


Beach Strolls

If you’re lucky enough to get to spend time on the beach this summer, try pairing a leisurely stroll with a book that evokes the beauty of the coast.

Out East

By John Glynn • Narrated by Michael Crouch

Cantoras

By Carolina De Robertis • Narrated by the author


Backyard Picnics

Make the most of your lunch break by getting outside for a bit with some good food and some foodie literature.

Recipe for Persuasion

By Sonali Dev • Narrated by Soneela Nankani

With the Fire on High

By Elizabeth Acevedo • Narrated by the author


Swimming

Whether you’re splurging for waterproof earbuds or picking up where you left off post-dip, an audiobook that explores the power of the sea is a great addition to a morning swim.

The Island of Sea Women

By Lisa See • Narrated by Jennifer Lim

The Seas

By Samantha Hunt • Narrated by the author


Bird Watching

Okay, you may need to unplug completely to enjoy the birdcalls around you, but if you want something in your earbuds while gazing up, there are some wonderful audiobooks about birds that both soothe and educate.

H Is for Hawk

By Helen Macdonald • Narrated by the author

The Thing with Feathers

By Noah Strycker • Narrated by Paul Boehmer


Poolside Lounging

Sometimes the outdoor activity you need is no activity at all. Find a comfy lounge and enjoy a steamy read while you cool off in the shade.

Seven Days in June

By Tia Williams • Narrated by Mela Lee

You Had Me at Hola

By Alexis Daria • Narrated by Seraphine Valentine


BBQing

Summertime wouldn’t be complete without a sizzling grill, food, and friends to (safely!) share with. These reads are perfect for cooking up your favorites.

The Rib King

By Ladee Hubbard • Narrated by Korey Jackson, Adenrele Ojo

Nightbitch

By Rachel Yoder • Narrated by Cassandra Campbell


Sidewalk Cafe Sitting

More and more restaurants are making dining al fresco a possibility this summer. Choose an audiobook with an armchair travel element and allow yourself to be transported to Europe as you sip your afternoon coffee.

Giovanni’s Room

By James Baldwin • Narrated by Dan Butler

From Scratch

By Tembi Locke • Narrated by the author


Road Tripping

Road trips are the classic summer audiobook activity. If you’re venturing out on the open road on your own or with family this year, consider trying an audiobook that helps you further explore the geography and culture of the country.

How the Word Is Passed

By Clint Smith • Narrated by the author

Caramelo

By Sandra Cisneros • Narrated by the author

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Sara Hildreth is a reader, writer, and educator who has taught kindergarten, high school English, and nearly everything in between. After studying the social, emotional, and intellectual benefits of reading fiction in graduate school, Sara began the project FictionMatters, an Instagram account and weekly newsletter where she shares what she's learning about the world through books. Sara is also the co-host of Novel Pairings, a bookish podcast dedicated to diversifying the canon and putting contemporary literature into conversation with the classics.

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