Who Says History Can't Be Fun? 10 Audiobooks That Will Keep You Engaged All Summer

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Summer is a great time to relax, unwind, and forget everything you knew before it started, so I've picked out 10 new microhistory audiobooks that will help you learn while you listen. They might not beat the summer slide, but they'll make you feel accomplished, even on your laziest dog days.

I'm always one to extol the virtues of audiobooks. They helped me stay on top of my reading assignments in college, because I could easily turn on a classic novel while driving to and from work and school.

I know I've said this before in a Bustle piece, but I really like listening to nonfiction audiobooks — even more than I enjoy listening to fiction! Nonfiction books usually don't have plot twists or other narrative kinks that make it necessary to hang on to every detail, which make them perfect candidates for audiobook listening. If you drift off somewhere else while listening to an audiobook, you can easily get back on track without having to rewind and make sure you caught everything the author just said.

Whether you're a fan of microhistories and audiobook listening in general, or you've never read a nonfiction title or enjoyed a recorded book, there's something on this list for you. I promise.

'A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland' by DaMaris B. Hill, read by Mia Ellis

1 hour / 59 minutes

In this short, powerful book from the editor of The Fluid Boundaries of Suffrage and Jim Crow, readers will learn an empowering lesson, not only about the black women leaders, writers, and thinkers who shaped the course of U.S. history, but also about the institutional hardships they faced.

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'Don't Touch My Hair' by Emma Dabiri, read by the author

7 hours / 43 minutes

An all-encompassing look at the politics and power of black women's hair, Emma Dabiri's Don't Touch My Hair moves through time and across the globe, from Africa before the rise of European colonization to the future of the African diaspora, examining how black women's hair has been glorified, commodified, and vilified.

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'The Heartland: An American History' by Kristin L. Hoganson, read by Gabra Zackman

9 hours / 51 minutes

Moving to the Midwest after living, studying, and working on the East Coast, Kristin L. Hoganson thought she knew what to expect. But when the so-called Heartland didn't turn out to be anything like its reputation, Hoganson began to dig deeper in an attempt to understand that fabled region of the U.S.

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'Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past' by Sarah Parcak, read by the author

8 hours / 31 minutes

An eye-opening look into the brave new world of satellite archaeology, Sarah Parcak's Archaeology from Space details how photographs taken from the edges of Earth's atmosphere can help scientists and historians map out ancient cultures.

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'D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II' by Sarah Rose, read by the author

10 hours / 21 minutes

In 1942, the British Special Operations Executive hired 39 women to spy on Vichy France. Those women worked to undermine Nazi efforts in the occupied nation, all in preparation for the Allies' storming of Normandy in 1944.

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'The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel' by Julie Satow, read by Jefferson Mays

11 hours / 13 minutes

The story of New York City's famous Plaza Hotel is rife with money, murder, and intrigue. Journalist Julie Satow traces the history of the Plaza through its most famous figures, from the Vanderbilt who was its first guest, to Donald J. Trump — the first owner to bankrupt it.

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'When the Wolf Came: The Civil War and the Indian Territory' by Mary Jane Warde, read by Robert E. Anderson

14 hours

This award-winning history book takes readers into the heart of the Civil War, examining it from an often-ignored perspective: that of the various tribes who lived in Indian Territory in the mid-1860s. Examining how Native Americans participated in, and were affected by, the war, Mary Jane Warde paints a vivid picture of wartime life in the western U.S.

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'Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao's Revolution' by Helen Zia, read by Nancy Wu

17 hours / 13 minutes

Following four Shanghai citizens who fled China during the Communist Revolution, Helen Zia's The Last Boat out of Shanghai tells a riveting, true-life story of flight, relocation, and belonging.

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'The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America' by Margaret O'Mara, read by Nan McNamara

19 hours / 11 minutes

If you think Silicon Valley is all technological advancement and little else, you need to give Margaret O'Mara's The Code a listen. This engaging work of nonfiction tells the story of the tech hub's longtime involvement in U.S. politics.

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'The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime' by Judith Flanders, read by Jennifer M. Dixon

19 hours / 57 minutes

If you like Sherlock Holmes, you can thank 19th-century murderers. No, seriously. The Victorians' obsession with macabre tales led to the creation of criminology, forensics, and crime scene investigation. Read how it happened in Judith Flanders' The Invention of Murder.

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