Match Your Summer Anthem to Your Next Audiobook
Match Your Summer Anthem to Your Next Audiobook

By Olivia Langen, Associate Producer

Growing up, I couldn’t imagine summer without summer break. Both of my parents being public school teachers only fueled my delusion that work stood still for cross-country road trips and endless beach days. It wasn’t until I landed my first summer job at 16 did this illusion finally shatter.

What is summer, if not a time to reflect and reconnect with friends and family? While a three-month vacation might be out of the question for most of us, I like to think that the quintessentially carefree essence of summer break is within reach, waiting to be captured. Living in Southern California certainly helps with that, but so does a strong summer playlist and TBR stack. Here you’ll find a little bit of both, in what I like to think of as a Choose Your Own Adventure guide to summer listening:

If your anthem is “About Damn Time” by Lizzo
Your audiobook is Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

Need a sentimental woman to pump you up? I found her, and it’s Rebecca Solnit. Listening to this book felt like a breath of fresh air amid the barrage of terrifying news this summer. “Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism,” Solnit writes. “And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine act of insurrection.” So call your senator, knock on some doors, then hit the dance floor. It’s thick-thirty somewhere.

If your anthem is “Point & Kill” by Little Simz ft. Obongjayar
Your audiobook is VAGABONDS! by Eloghosa Osunde

As an audiobook person, I can’t help but hope that my favorite musicians will find a reason to narrate a book or two with their silky-smooth voices. This year, we all lucked out. Obonjayar has graced the audiobook world with a powerful opening chapter in Eloghosa Osunde’s debut novel, VAGABONDS! When you finish streaming Obongjayar’s new album, hop over to your favorite audiobook platform and listen to Osunde’s groundbreaking work of queer Nigerian mythology, read by six phenomenal voices.

If your anthem is “Otro Atardecer” by Bad Bunny ft. The Marias
Your audiobook is Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’m pairing these works of art together simply because they each contain the purest essence of summer. Both evoke beach days, sunsets, parties, afterparties, love, loss, and longing, and we have no choice but to binge listen.

If your anthem is “BREAK MY SOUL” by BeyoncĂ©
Your audiobook is Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee

Beyoncé may not work a 9-5, but she sure knows how to write a song about it. If you’re looking to channel a playful, carefree version of summer, but don’t necessarily want to “release your job,” check out Celeste Headlee’s self-help manifesto on how to break free from “overworking, overdoing, and underliving.” Hopefully you’ll have a few more vacation days on the calendar by the time you finish this audiobook.

If your anthem is “Bunny is a Rider” by Caroline Polachek
Your audiobook is Shit Cassandra Saw by Gwen E. Kirby

If a surreal summer is your ideal summer, these short stories won’t disappoint. According to Caroline Polacheck, “anyone can be Bunny” – the elusive, unavailable, and metaphorical hot girl of summer. In my mind, most of Gwen E. Kirby’s mystifying characters qualify as Bunny types. From the women who turn themselves into radioactive cockroaches for an enhanced sense of independence and freedom, to an irritated “Midwestern Girl [who] Is Tired of Appearing in Your Short Stories.” Just as Polachek’s lyrics continue to confound, Gwen E. Kirby’s prose takes you to equally unbelievable places, from Hellenic histories to mutant, alien futures.

If your anthem is “The Big Sky” by Kate Bush
Your audiobook is Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Read By: Sura Siu

It’s 2022 and Kate Bush is on the Billboard Hot 100. I’m confused, but I’m definitely not complaining. That said, part of me fears that “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” is on the verge of being overplayed thanks to the advent of TikTok, and I refuse to let that happen. I kindly ask that you update your playlists to feature Kate Bush’s most underrated summer anthem, “The Big Sky”. Once you’ve replayed this song enough times, and you’ve taken a moment to ascribe meaning to passing clouds, check out Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun. I think Kate Bush would enjoy this oddly touching novel about a child’s friendship with a sentient android, and I think you will, too.