Reading Roundup: September 2017

September was a pretty good month of reading for me — including making my way through several books that have been on my reading list for a long time. This summer was so full, I didn’t get a lot of reading done — and now that fall is here, and it’s getting cold and dark earlier, I’m ready to attack my stack of books!

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

I read The Confusion of Languages after finding it on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide (category: Intense Novels). I absolutely loved it! I love page-turning, twisty, suspenseful novels — but these days, a lot of the books I read are starting to feel pretty cookie cutter. (I’ve resolved never to read another book labeled “the next Gone Girl!”) This was suspenseful, but the setting — the U.S. expat community in Jordan during the rise of the Arab Spring — was completely unique. And Fallon — who moved to Jordan in 2011, and currently lives in Abu Dhabi — sets a knowledgeable, sucks-you-right-in scene. The book moves back and forth between the days leading up to and following the disappearance of an embassy wife after what should have been a harmless fender bender. Highly recommended!

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon

As a gluten-free vegetarian, I have a constant fear that my future children will be as food-challenged as I am. I picked this up to give me some insight into raising non-picky eaters, and this didn’t disappoint! I found the insight into French food culture fascinating (it reminded me of a French Women Don’t Get Fat for kids). And it wasn’t all theoretical; the book was full of practical insights and simple-to-implement tips for teaching kids how to eat well and develop a healthy attitude toward food.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

I’ve read In a Dark, Dark Wood (liked it) and The Woman in Cabin 10 (loved it), so I was really looking forward to this one. Sadly, it didn’t really suck me in. While The Woman in Cabin 10 was dark and pleasantly Christie-esqe, this one fell flat. The characters were irritating and self-absorbed and I found myself both unsurprised and uncaring by the time the plot found its resolution. Any of you read it and feel differently?

This Is Where You Belong Finding Home Wherever You Are by Melody Warnick

This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are by Melody Warnick

I’ve had this book on my list for quite some time, and it didn’t disappoint. As frequent travelers (and frequent movers) Ryan and I spend a lot of time thinking about home, place, and belonging. And I’ve certainly been guilty of not settling into a place because I felt like it wasn’t forever. Warnick’s take on “finding home wherever you are” is thoughtful and inspiring … whether you’ve lived the same place your whole life, frequently move from rental home to rental home, or even live in a camper! Highly recommended whether you’re looking for your forever home, have already found it, or are somewhere in between.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Yes, that’s right. This is my first time reading Harry Potter. Somehow, I’ve seen all the movies, but never quite made it to the books. After Ryan plowed his way through them all this spring, I determined to do the same. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to read more. (I’m thinking about getting the next one on Audible to “read” while running.)


Our Surprising Road Trip Must-Have!

Over the past 17 months of full time travel, we’ve pretty much become road trip professionals.

Road Trip 2016 Recap | Our Streamlined Life

And as any professional knows, a key to success in any endeavor is having the right tools for the job.

When it comes to road tripping, that means lots of things. Really good snacks, for example, are critical to the success of every road trip mission. A well-stocked emergency kit will save you when your tire blows out 30 miles from civilization in the middle of a national park. (Ahem.) An atlas keeps you on route when you’ve been driving for hours and — nope … still no cell service.

And then there’s the surprising road trip must-have we discovered just a few months ago on our most recent road trip.

Ladies and gentleman, drum roll please …

It’s Audible!

If you’re reading this, I’m guess you fall into one of three camps.

  1. You are obsessed with Audible and can’t wait to talk about your amazing recent “read.” (Welcome. We’ll get to that in a later post!)
  2. You’ve heard of Audible, but never tried it — and you’re not really sure why you’d need it for road tripping.
  3. You just said, “What’s Audible?”

If you’re new(ish) to Audible, here’s the first thing you need to know: Audible is Amazon’s audio book subscription service.

And here’s the second thing you need to know:

If you sign up using our link, you get TWO free audio books!

If you’re anything like me, your first thought is, “Free sounds awesome, but I don’t want to deal with the hassle of calling someone to cancel it if I decide it’s not for me.” Well, you can relax — because cancelling Audible may actually be even easier than signing up for Audible! It’s easily be done through your online account with just a few clicks (and no guilt tripping, even if you’ve decided to just keep your two free audio books and bounce).

With that out of the way, I’m excited to share a few of my favorite things about Audible — and why it has become one of our road trip must-haves.

  • Audible makes the miles fly by. I first discovered this when I was commuting forty-five minutes each way to work: books on tape make you just a little sad when you arrive at your destination. Seriously. On our most recent road trip we put in some long (for us) driving days, and an engrossing audio book turned “Are we there yet?” into “Wow, we’re there already!”
  • Audible makes time to read, even when you don’t have time to read. I love reading, but it can feel hard to squeeze into a busy schedule, especially when you’re spending hours traveling and exploring. Audible is perfect for turning chore time into reading time, whether you’re waiting at the laundromat or driving down the Interstate. (And, depending on what book you choose, it can be totally educational — or purely entertaining!)
  • Audible is a great alternative to TV (especially when you’re spending lots of time on the road without access to streaming Internet). Many times on our last trip we opened the door to the camper, turned off all the lights, and lay on the couch listening to an audio book. It was peaceful, engaging, and pleasant time spent together. Speaking of which …
  • Audible turns reading from “me time” into “us time.” Now, don’t get me wrong — we both love getting totally immersed in our own little world of a terrific book. But Audible has opened up a whole new world of shared reading — not just reading a book separately, but listening together, pausing occasionally to chat about it, and anticipating together moving on to the next book in a series.
  • Audible is super-duper easy to use. We’re both pretty tech-comfortable, but I put off using Audible for a long time because I didn’t know how easy it was to use. Just download the app on your phone or tablet (you can also stream from your library at Then browse the store, view your own library, create a wish list, and more. And once you’ve downloaded your selection, there are lots of great ways to listen. Use headphones for a solo read, use bluetooth to listen using a portable speaker, or send it to your car or camper’s audio system using a cable … all controlled right from your phone. Seriously, we’ve tried it all. As soon as I saw how usable the app’s interface was, I knew my real problem was going to be buying too many audio books, not figuring out how to get the ones I wanted. It’s addictive, guys.

If you still have questions about Audible, here are a few more things you might like to know:

  • How do I get my two free books? When you sign up using our link, you’ll immediately have two credits in your account. Find the first book you want to read, through or on the app’s store. Then add it to your cart. At checkout, click “Apply Credit.” The price of your book will change to $0.00 and you’ll be able to download your book for free. (Just repeat when you’re ready for your second book!)
  • How much does Audible cost? Audible’s base subscription rate is $14.95/month. At that price you’ll get one monthly credit good for any audio book, and you can buy additional audio books for 30% off retail. There’s also a two-credit monthly plan available for $22.95, and you can even get an annual plan and purchase 12 or 24 credits at a time. (When I first signed up, I wasn’t sure how many credits I wanted or if the $14.95/month would be worth it … but I very quickly found myself purchasing additional credits!)
  • What if I don’t like the book I chose? No problem! Audible says they want you to “love every listen” — which means if you don’t like your book, you can return it and get your credit back to use on another book! No questions asked, and again, you can do the return easily through your account … no phone calls or guilt tripping required.
  • What happens to my audio books if I cancel my account? Your audio books stay in your Audible library, where you can keep enjoying them. This includes the books you got with your free trial!
  • How can I save more money on Audible? There are a few tricks you can use to make your Audible credits go further. One is returning books you didn’t enjoy — you’ll get that credit back to use on another title. I’ve also learned that when you go to cancel your account, Audible will offer you a variety of incentives to stay on as a customer. These offers may change, but in the past they have offered incentives such as “50% off for three months” (so, just $7.49/credit) or a $20 coupon to stay (if you select “I get too many credits” as the reason for cancelling).  You can always use the incentive, then cancel later once the price goes back up! And before you finalize the cancellation, they’ll also offer you the ability to pause your subscription, if you think you might want to come back later or are just taking a long time to finish the book you’re working on. (I’ve been working a lot the past month, and we’ve been doing very little driving, so I just put our account on hold until I have more time. As soon as I’m ready, I’ll be back in business with a new audio book!)
  • Is Audible worth the price? Ultimately that’s something you can only answer for yourself — but I can say wholeheartedly for us that Audible is truly a wonderful, surprising road trip must-have. The hours of enjoyment we get out of a single audio book are well worth the $11.50 we pay per credit. (That’s less than we’d spend grabbing lunch on the road!)

In an upcoming post, we’ll be sharing how to use Audible to keep your New Year’s resolutions, along with some suggested titles for using those two free audio book credits! Stay tuned for that … we love sharing book recommendations and can’t wait to hear yours, too! And tell us in the comments: What books are you going to download using your two free audio book credits?

When you sign up for Audible using our link, you get two free audio books, we earn a small commission, and we all get the joy of audio books. It’s a win-win for everyone! (We use affiliate links to help support the blog and our travels; we appreciate your support, and promise to only share products we find useful, lovely, and occasionally astonishing.

Our Surprising Road Trip Must Have