Audiobook recommendations please
November 8, 2020 2:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for immersive audiobooks with people focused on accomplishing, building, finding, doing something -- especially books focused on survival tasks, setting up a civilization, that sort of thing (i.e., "survival" in a mundane sense, rather than the dramatic sense of "survival" when being stalked by a bad guy). Good examples are The Martian (trying to get off the planet) and The Dirty Life (trying to start a farm and not go broke). Looking back at my old questions, I realize that this is essentially a reboot of this question if that question's context is also helpful. Thanks!
posted by slidell to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

Really can’t recommend this enough. Incredible tale of survival against all odds.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 2:25 PM on November 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

A little bit of a quirky take on your requirements, but Michael Palin's around the World in 80 days is excellent- he tells the story of what it was like to film a documentary about him attempting to get around the world in 80 days, Jules Verne style.
posted by freethefeet at 2:29 PM on November 8, 2020

Michael Palin's Erebus might be slightly more in the survival vein, and he brings all of his excellent writing and narrating to that too.

Aspley Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey In The World is another in the Shackleton vein, but first person. I've only listened to an abridged BBC version, but the audible complete version has good reviews.

I really want to find a rec that isn't about polar exploration to leaven this a little but can't think of anything right now!
posted by Vortisaur at 2:40 PM on November 8, 2020

I sort of hesitate to recommend this, but Seveneves by Neil Stephenson. It is about the human race surviving the moon blowing up (the moon blows up in the first paragraph - no spoiler there). I hesitate because it's a very long book, and I really enjoyed the first half, but not so much the second half. The second half was okay, but, well, it is quite a bit different than the first. That said, it's got a lot of interesting survival science in it, and it's quite an interesting story.
posted by patternocker at 2:55 PM on November 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seveneves (as noted the first half particularly) scratched this itch for me. But I also have a soft spot for similar post-apocalyptic scifi-ish works such as On a more let's-build-a-new-world level I do recommend:
posted by mce at 3:07 PM on November 8, 2020

"Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen is a YA novel that won the Newbery award in '88, about a young man who, when being transferred from mother to estranged father, is flying over the boreal forest in Canada when the small plane he's on crashes and he's the sole survivor. His one material advantage is that he was gifted a nice hatchet which he has on him at the time. There are a number of sequels which attempt (I gather-- I've not read any) to recreate the outdoor survival scenario a bit.

I imagine "Walden" and "Robinson Crusoe" are in the right vein.

Heinlein's juvenile book "Tunnel in the Sky" is about children on a kind of outdoor survival course who find themselves having to do it for real. "Lord of the Flies" comes to mind as well, though the degree to which it's on survival vs. the social, I can't say.

Tristan Jones was a WWII vet (as a teenager) and lifelong sailor who set himself challenges and wrote interesting books about making them happen. In one book, "The Improbable Voyage," he sailed up the Rhine and transported his boat the source of the Danube, and sailed down it. Another, "The Incredible Voyage," was about his attempts to sail on the lowest (Dead Sea) and highest (Titicaca) navigable bodies of water -- bit more survival in this one as he trekked his sailboat through the jungles. But the one that comes to mind was his attempt to sail as fair north towards the pole as he could manage-- that one's just called "Ice!" Later books are about him sailing his Trimaran all over the place, solo and one-legged following an amputation. His writing should not entirely be taken as fact, but they are fact-based. I heard practically all of Jones' books read to me by my grandmother, as my grandparents were yachties who liked nothing better than to anchor or moor somewhere by 6, then grill meat and drink G&Ts while reading Tristan Jones books aloud. I reread them all later and enjoyed them as much.

"Unbroken" is a biography about Louis Zamperini, a hooligan and excellent runner who probably would be covered in gold medals had WWII not intervened, and he became a bomber pilot, went down in the ocean, and survived not only a very long time in a lifeboat, which is as much a story of mental survival as physical, and also was a captive of very cruel Japanese POW camps.

Seconding "Endurance" and would follow it immediately with "The Voyage of the James Caird," which was the story of the 800-mile ocean journey in a modified lifeboat from their final point of stranding on Elephant Island to the wrong side of South Georgia Island, followed by a ludicrously dangerous crossing, with woefully insufficient gear, across that island.

And on that note, let me also second "Red Mars," (which I just remembered opens with a character helping guide a client who wants to recreate part of Shackleton's voyage) the first of the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, in which 100 people are sent to Mars to establish a human outpost. If you like civilization building, you may want to proceed with "Blue Mars" and "Green Mars," the rest of the trilogy.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:28 PM on November 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all of these! I'm going to start with Endurance and go from there. Thank you!
posted by slidell at 7:34 PM on November 8, 2020

Into the Silence
posted by riddley at 11:08 PM on November 8, 2020

A Closed and Common Orbit has two intertwined story lines, one of which involves a 10-year-old girl learning to read, feed herself, and repair a spaceship enough to escape a planet. It's nominally part of a series, but you don't need to have read book 1 to enjoy book 2.
posted by kristi at 10:36 AM on November 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

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