Blog – Posted on Friday, Jul 26
45+ BEST Audiobooks for Road Trips in 2020
So, you’re going on a road trip! What fun — that is, until it’s hour nine and you’re bored out of your mind at the wheel, unable to keep your eyes open to the pounding beat of tedium.
If this sounds familiar to you, we have an eleventh-hour Good Samaritan for you: the audiobook. Criminally underrated, good audiobooks will captivate you on the edge of your seat, weave whole worlds in the confines of your car, and keep you so vitally engaged that you’ll be trying to find excuses to lengthen your road trip.
However, as you might know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and monotone narrators. So we’ve taken care to gather the absolute 45+ best audiobooks for road trips in this post to make your own road trip a little more fun. Since each audiobook adds a different flavor to your journey, we’ve organized them below by genre. Feel free to jump to the one that fuels your fancy!
Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, narrated by Nick Offerman
One of the funniest American authors in history (Mark Twain) is narrated by one of the funniest American actors alive right now (Nick Offerman, of Parks and Recreation fame). Need we say more to convince you that this audiobook will make your trip worthwhile? If so, we’ll let Doug, an Audible editor, have the final word:
“I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the best things I have ever listened to. Nor would it be dishonest to say that this recording made me fall in love with Twain's classic ode to adolescence all over again. But perhaps the strangest thing, as I keep telling all my friends, is that I completely forgot how truly laugh-out-loud funny this book is. I have the narration to thank for that. Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman is known for playing the quintessential gruff male, but he thoroughly astonishes here, bending his baritone effortlessly to give Twain's characters life.”
Perfect for your road trip if: you’ve always wanted Ron Swanson as a driving buddy.
Time duration: 7 hours and 52 min.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens, narrated by Sean Barrett and Teresa Gallagher
Always wanted to read Dickens, but could never find the time or energy to do so? Then this audiobook may be the answer to all of your road trip prayers, for you can let Sean Barrett and Teresa Gallagher read Dickens to you. Far from distracting, their magnificent dual narration enhances the melodrama that Dickens deftly builds. It’s not easy to do justice to such a sprawling masterpiece, but this audiobook more than rises up to the task.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re ready to get fired up over the ridiculous bureaucracy of the chancery court system.
Time duration: 35 hours and 14 min.
Beloved by Toni Morrison, narrated by Toni Morrison
If you haven’t read this remarkable 1988 Pulitzer winner, there’s no time like a road trip to dip your toe in! Admittedly, you’re more likely to be dunked headfirst into the deep end by Morrison, as this fantastically frightening tale of a slave woman haunted by her murdered daughter is going to keep you awake and alert at the wheel.
Made all the more unforgettable by Morrison’s narration, Beloved conjures vivid images of slavery in America and compels the listener to ponder horrors both historical and imaginary. (Needless to say, if you’re going down a long, dark road at night, you might want to save this one for later.)
Perfect for your road trip if: you want to take a terrifying magical realist trip of the mind in addition to your vehicular journey.
Time duration: 12 hours and 3 min.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal
Whether you want to take a trip down memory lane or read The Great Gatsby for the first time, Jake Gyllenhaal’s (!) narration is sure to liven up your travels. From the sparkling descriptions of Gatsby’s famous parties to the incisive drama of the Tom-Daisy-Gatsby love triangle, you’ll feel the long stretches of road start to melt away in favor of a Jazz Age paradise. Just don’t pull a big yellow Rolls-Royce out there — if you know what we mean 😉
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re looking to bone up on one of the “Great American Novel” contenders.
Time duration: 4 hours and 49 min.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, narrated by Elisabeth Moss
For fans of the phenomenal Hulu adaptation and dystopian stories in general, we have The Handmaid’s Tale, as told by the dramatically gifted Moss (who also stars in the TV show). Though it’s not exactly light and easy fare, this mesmerizing tale of a single-minded woman trapped in a mega-patriarchy will have you thinking very differently about the world we live in. Narrative-wise, you’ll also be holding your breath right up to the final word. And if you still have reservations, know that Moss's conviction and urgency turns this already excellent tale into a vital one.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’ve had your “Songs to Smash the Patriarchy To” Spotify playlist on repeat the whole time.
Time duration: 12 hours and 6 min.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac, narrated by Will Patton
A classic take on a classic tale. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, which centers around Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty’s manic travels through the United States, may be the quintessential book of the wild Beat generation of the 1960s. Needless to say, Will Patton’s pitch-perfect interpretation gets its spirit down pat. His melodious voice is a flawless match for the free-flowing groove of Kerouac’s prose — and it will surely make a fine companion for your own road trip as you meet the same open road that beckoned Sal and Dean across the breadth of the country!
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re on the road (especially to New York or San Francisco).
Time duration: 11 hours and 8 min.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, narrated by Thandie Newton
You can’t miss the audiobook of this Victorian-era classic, read by Thandie Newton of Westworld fame. (Fun fact: she also played the titular character in the film version of Beloved.) Newton’s crisp yet impassioned narration will breathe life into Jane Eyre like you’ve never known before, carrying you swiftly and enjoyably through Jane’s difficult childhood and education at Lowood, her stint as a governess at Thornfield, and her iconic love affair with Mr. Rochester. Alas, our one criticism is that Newton stays faithful to the text and doesn’t quip, “Listener, I married him” — but wouldn’t it be great if she did?
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re always happy to be lost in a romantic (and Gothic) haze.
Time duration: 19 hours and 10 min.
World War Z by Max Brooks, narrated by Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, etc.
The Zombie War is finally over, but what of the people remaining in its wake? This book is their story: the narrator traveled across America to interview the survivors, recording their testimonies in a documentary-style format.
Such a setup pretty much makes this story tailor-made for an audiobook, as the interviews translate seamlessly into the aural medium. If that’s not enough, it may boast one of the best multiple-cast members ever (think Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, Martin Scorsese, Simon Pegg, Brian Tee, Nathan Fillion, Kal Penn, René Auberjonois, and more). Spectacular stuff — not to mention the five additional hours of previously unrecorded content on this particular audiobook.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re down for a serious undertaking (with zombies).
Time duration: 12 hours and 9 min.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, narrated by Dominic Hoffman
This is the perfect choice if you want to be transported into another country — specifically, within Africa. A gripping tale about two sisters who are born into different villages in Ghana in the 18th-century (and the wildly different trajectories that they and their descendants take over the next 300 years), Homegoing is a modern triumph. Experience it through its audiobook, which is read beautifully by Dominic Hoffman.
Perfect for your road trip if: you love getting swept up in rich historical fiction.
Time duration: 13 hours and 11 min.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, narrated by Allan Corduner
Famously narrated by Death, The Book Thief isn’t exactly a cheery read. It’s a story about a girl in 1939 Nazi Germany who steals books and is by turn beautiful, tear-jerking, and enduring.
Which is why this audiobook may be perfect for a lonesome trip out across the country. Not everyone can claim to give voice to Death itself, but Allan Corduner does it fabulously in this reading of The Book Thief, adding amazing dimension and poignancy to the written words. (Just a bit of friendly warning: bring tissues with you on this road trip, unless you want to be blinded by tears during the final thirty minutes of the audiobook!)
Perfect for your road trip if: you don’t mind a good cry on the highway.
Time duration: 13 hours and 56 min.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, narrated by Jeff Woodman
Built upon the timeless short story of the same name, Flowers for Algernon is the moving tale of a mentally slow cleaner who engages in an experiment to become a genius — with unexpected results. The entire novel is presented through a series of journal entries, or “progress reports,” that are written by Charlie. ("I reely wantd to lern I wantid it more even then pepul who are smarter even then me. All my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb.”) Heartbreakingly rendered by narrator Jeff Woodman, who switches between regular Charlie and genius Charlie with magnificent ease, this audiobook is set to become just as much of a classic as its novel.
Perfect for your road trip if: you want to hear a relatively short but very powerful story.
Time duration: 8 hours and 58 min.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, narrated by Kathleen Gati
Prepare to be swept off of your feet (or, off of the gas pedals) with this spectacular rendition of The Bear and the Nightingale. Katherine Arden’s lush retelling of Russian folklore was critically acclaimed when it was first published in 2017, introducing readers to a young Russian girl named Vasilisa who must step up to protect her loved ones from a threat that was supposed to have only existed in fairy tales. And Kathleen Gati’s velvety, hypnotic voice will turn your car into a cozy living room — complete with a crackling fire — as a nurse tells you stories from long ago.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re driving through snowy, Russia-like terrain and want to feel warm and comforted.
Time duration: 11 hours and 48 min.
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay, narrated by Humphrey Bower
Though it sounds like a self-motivational handbook, The Power of One is actually a profoundly moving novel about a young boy named Peekay who’s raised in pre-apartheid South Africa. Peekay is bullied by his peers and constantly strives to escape their torment — a quest helped by his relationship with a medicine man, who reshapes his entire worldview. But as Peekay grows older, greater troubles than school bullies rear their ugly heads: the outbreak of World War II, the loss of his mentors, and worse.
Humphrey Bower miraculously brings every single character, with all their accents and mannerisms, to life in the audiobook… which serves as an important window into a time and place that’s oft forgotten.
Perfect for your road trip if: you want a spiritual philosophy to guide you on your journey.
Time duration: 21 hours and 33 min.
MYSTERY AND THRILLER
The Dead Zone by Stephen King, narrated by James Franco
This famous 1979 King novel concerns a man, Johnny Smith (not to be confused with the explorer), who acquires psychic abilities after an accident in his youth creates a “dead zone” in his brain. From then on, young Johnny can tell people things that they don’t even know about themselves — or, more eerily, things that haven’t even transpired yet. Yet, despite his abilities, all Johnny wants is a normal life. But when he’s approached by a sheriff hoping to solve a series of murders, he agrees to help... with no idea what clairvoyant floodgates he’s opening.
As with all King stories, this one depends on the gradual build of atmospheric tension, which James Franco does with great aplomb in the audiobook. Consequently, it’s another one we wouldn’t recommend for a dark, lonely drive.
Perfect for your road trip if: you wish you could know exactly how long it’ll take to get through each long stretch of traffic.
Time duration: 16 hours and 12 min.
The Sherlock Holmes collection by Arthur Conan Doyle, narrated by Stephen Fry
It doesn’t get better than one British icon narrating another British icon’s adventures. Neither probably need an introduction, but just in case you don’t know them already: Sherlock Holmes is the world’s most famous fictional detective and Stephen Fry is an acclaimed actor, screenwriter, author, and comedian.
More than that, Fry is a profound devotee of Sherlock Holmes. He narrates with the skill of a celebrated performer and the enthusiasm of a fan, which alone makes this audiobook worth the money and time. Note that this isn’t the complete edition — it’s missing around 12 of Sherlock Holmes’ short stories. If you don’t mind that, this might just be the audiobook for you!
Perfect for your road trip if: you enjoy solving mysteries as you drive.
Time duration: 62 hours and 52 min.
Bird Box by Josh Malerman, narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Not a great pick for nervous drivers, to say the least — this post-apocalyptic thriller will have you gripping the steering wheel in anticipation of seeing “The Problem” on the side of the road. But don’t let that put you off, because Malerman’s masterful suspense-building combined with Campbell’s taut narration makes for an unforgettable audiobook experience. It’ll also inspire gratitude that your journey isn’t quite as harrowing as Mallorie’s with her two young children!
And, of course, when you finally reach your destination, you’ll be perfectly primed to watch the Netflix film starring Sandra Bullock.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re not easily unnerved (or prone to tunnel vision).
Time duration: 9 hours and 8 min.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, narrated by Caroline Lee
Another blockbusting bestseller that inspired not only an audiobook, but an HBO show, Big Little Lies is a juicy domestic thriller that follows three women and their children in suburban Sydney. Madeline is the seemingly flawless mother who’s still reeling from her divorce; Celeste is a busy caretaker to twins who conceals the marks left by her abusive husband; and Jane is a young mom to the eccentric Ziggy, hiding the darkest secret of all. All are united through their children’s kindergarten class, and a scandal that erupts when Ziggy starts bullying a fellow classmate… or does he? Big AND little lies are layered like pastry, and just as delectably exposed, in this audiobook narrated by Australian-born Caroline Lee.
Perfect for your road trip if: you like your stories as twisty as your backroad shortcuts.
Time duration: 15 hours and 55 min.
Duma Key by Stephen King, narrated by John Slattery
When construction worker Edgar Freemantle relocates to Florida for some much-needed R&R, he never considers that what he finds there could be worse than the accident he’s just survived. But a combination of his brain injury, his rekindled obsession with artwork, and the strange supernatural properties of the land soon causes Freemantle to gain unimaginable powers… which he must use to stop a malevolent force arising in Duma Key.
This recent Stephen King bestseller is narrated by John Slattery of Mad Men fame, who builds the lore of Freemantle’s psychic abilities and Duma Key’s disturbing history in an extremely tantalizing way.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re headed anywhere but Florida.
Time duration: 21 hours.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, narrated by Davina Porter
Let’s take a turn for the steamy. If you have a penchant for romance and you’re driving alone (or with friends around whom you feel very comfortable), this audiobook may be perfect for you. Read by Audie Award winner Davina Porter, this version of Outlander paints a particularly, shall we say, evocative picture of eighteenth-century Scotland… and the strapping young men who live there. After nurse Claire Randall is transported two centuries back in time, she finds herself falling for (and falling into bed with) one such man, Jamie Fraser. But their romance is tested by more than time, as violence befalls Jamie’s clan and threatens Claire’s survival.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re driving through the rolling hills of Scotland (or perhaps have a paramour in the passenger seat).
Time duration: 32 hours and 38 min.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, narrated by Kate Rudd
This 2011 smash hit, penned by YA superstar John Green, is sure to bring tears to your eyes and new sense of perspective. Presented by Kate Rudd, who does a commendable job of capturing the sardonic narrator Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars follows Hazel (who has thyroid cancer) as she falls in irrevocable love with fellow teen cancer sufferer Augustus Waters (who has osteosarcoma).
You can probably see where this one is going. Even so, don’t let the prospect of tragedy keep you from Green’s unique and honest story of first love under unusual circumstances, which Rudd renders with great sensitivity and care.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re in the mood to bawl at the unfairness of the world (and Green’s lovely prose).
Time duration: 7 hours and 14 min.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Continuing in a candid, coming-of-age vein, we have Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, read by the inimitable Lin-Manuel Miranda. It traces the lives of two Mexican-American teenagers, Dante and Aristotle, whose easy alliance based on their names deepens into a bond that surprises both of them — transcending both geographical boundaries and society’s expectations.
Miranda’s invested narration makes the eighties setting feel like present-day, and he switches seamlessly from infectious energy during light moments to weighty solemnity during serious ones, making the dramatic finale of Aristotle and Dante feel more than earned.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re tired of the Hamilton soundtrack, but still want to listen to Lin-Manuel Miranda weave a beautiful story for you.
Time duration: 7 hours and 29 min.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron, narrated by Meryl Streep
And if you adore the nuanced observational style of Woody Allen, but not so much the man himself, this is the audiobook for you. Largely ignored by critics when it was first released, Heartburn — an autobiographical novel about the real-life affair Ephron’s husband had during her second pregnancy — has become a sleeper hit for its sharp depiction of upper-middle class life, coupled with the raw, genuine emotion of heartbreak. Deftly narrated by Meryl Streep (who played Ephron’s character in the 1986 adaptation), this audiobook is a classic in the making, and will have you yelling righteously at Ephron’s husband for a good portion of your drive.
Perfect for your road trip if: you want to bask in misandry AND the unquestionable brilliance of Ephron and Streep.
Time duration: 5 hours and 30 min.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Maxwell Caulfield
Another exceptional addition to the YA canon, Fangirl revolves around a Harry Potter-esque series called Simon Snow — and an obsessive devotee to the series called Cath. Our heroine has just started college and isn’t quite sure how to “adapt” from fangirl life to real life all on her own, especially in the wake of her mother’s death and the absence of her twin sister. Will she be able to escape the realm of the fictional and strike out on her own — while not forgetting who she truly is? This much-loved novel about the overpowering love of novels will resonate with fangirls and fanboys everywhere, and the sublimely balanced narration of Lowman and Maxwell elevates it to superfan-worthy status.
Perfect for your road trip if: you want a cute, fun story to carry you through to your destination.
Time duration: 12 hours and 49 min.
SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, narrated by Stephen Fry
Sure, your road trip probably isn’t going to take you outside of the galaxy (or, indeed, outside of the country), but wouldn’t it be nice to think so? Narrator extraordinaire Stephen Fry takes on Douglas Adams’ eclectic and eccentric cast of characters, from poor everyman Arthur Dent to depressed robot Marvin, with wicked glee in this adaptation. Just a quick warning: this audiobook might be too much fun for a mere road trip.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re always up for a totally unexpected futuristic adventure.
Time duration: 5 hours and 51 min.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton
In a select few cases, an audiobook can compete with the movie adaptation — and come out on top. This is the case with Ready Player One, which has an excellent premise (a boy named Wade Watts must venture through a virtual reality game in search for fortune in the year 2044) and brilliant execution. Wil Wheaton’s performance is also pretty extraordinary — not least because he’s a piece of eighties trivia in the novel himself. Don’t look elsewhere if you’re up for a dose of nostalgia mixed in with fun.
Perfect for your road trip if: you already have an eighties playlist chock-full of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Madonna ready to go.
Time duration: 15 hours and 40 min.
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, narrated by Jennifer Wiltsie
Neal Stephenson might be more known for Snow Crash, but The Diamond Age is the one that makes this cut thanks to Jennifer Wiltsie’s brilliant narration. With stellar dramatic timing and an ear for the characters’ voices, Wiltsie does a fantastic job rendering a challenging book that would trip up a lesser narrator. In The Diamond Age, a young poor girl named Nell comes across a dangerously influential document in the future: the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, an interactive book that can teach a girl to think of herself. And thus begins Nell’s bildungsroman journey — one that will intertwine with the creator of the Primer himself.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re a fan of steampunk or rebellious young women — we personally enjoy both.
Time duration: 18 hours and 32 min.
The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien, narrated by Rob Inglis
Perfect for a short jaunt to the beach. Just kidding! The total audiobook series clocks in at a whopping 117 hours and 27 minutes, which is enough to occupy you if you were driving coast-to-coast across America — twice.
Nevertheless, Rob Inglis’ narration is more than equal to the task of keeping you awake the entire time. He does justice to the sheer epic-ness of the main trilogy and plunges into The Hobbit with warmth. (Pro-tip: just remember to turn up all of your windows when Inglis vaults into the folksy songs of Lord of the Rings with gusto, or else you might find that you’ve got some explaining to do to your neighboring car-driver.)
Perfect for your road trip if: you’ll be in the car for days on end (and said car is full of Tolkien fans — otherwise you’ll have a mutiny on your hands).
Time duration: 117 hours and 27 min.
The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercombie, narrated by Steven Pacey
If you’re impatient waiting for the next Game of Thrones book to come out (as are we), consider giving Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy a shot. Bloody, uncompromising, and undeniably epic, this audiobook series promises you 70+ hours of relentless action. Stephen Pacey’s narration adds another dimension to the writing: his many voices and accents bring out Abercrombie’s colorful characterizations, enhancing each different culture, background, and personality. Best of all is that the trilogy is miraculously complete — so there’s no need to wait nine years for the next installment!
Perfect for your road trip if: you wish you could watch Game of Thrones while driving.
Time duration: 71 hours and 58 min.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, narrated by Philip Pullman
Sometimes marketed as Harry Potter for adults, His Dark Materials can actually be read (or listened to) by people of all ages. The story centers around one orphaned girl named Lyra Belacqua, who becomes caught in the middle of a vast political conspiracy involving “dust,” disappearing children, and great armored bears.
So rest assured that the audiobook — narrated by a full cast, including Philip Pullman himself — will tease and test the limits of your imagination! And if you find that it tickles your fancy (and if your road trip takes longer than expected), there are two more books in the series for you to devour.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’ve got a boring drive ahead of you and want to lose yourself in a completely different world.
Time duration: 10 hours and 45 min.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Neil Gaiman
It’s quite a unique experience listening to a creator narrating his own story, exactly how he had imagined it — and nobody does it better than the ever-visionary Neil Gaiman. The Graveyard Book features a young boy named Bod Owens whose family is killed. Naturally, he’s raised by ghosts in a graveyard: a precarious situation that will eventually make living and dead collide as Bod must fight to preserve those that he loves when he grows up. Gaiman digs into the narration with delicious fun, making the experience a delight to listen to.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re on a family jaunt, as adults and children alike will be entranced by Gaiman’s magical narration.
Time duration: 8 hours and 24 min.
The Harry Potter series, narrated by Jim Dale or Stephen Fry
No list is complete without the most universally beloved fantasy series of all time. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, which is about a boy wizard and his battles against evil as he grows up at an English wizarding school, has cemented itself in readers’ hearts for more than two decades now — and you can bet that it’ll be magical company for you on your road trip, whether you’re re-visiting Harry or dropping in on him for the first time.
As for the audiobook, there’s a great war brewing between which narration is the more definitive — Jim Dale’s or Stephen Fry’s. Some stake that Jim Dale perfectly compliments Rowling’s whimsy, while others declare that Stephen Fry is the Ron to Rowling’s Harry. Suffice to say that both are masterful and that we’ll let you decide for yourself which narrator you prefer.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re due for a re-read, or want an utterly fantastical story to guide you on your journey (ideally to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park).
Time duration: 118 hours and 57 min.
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, narrated by Martin Jarvis
If you’ve been wondering what’s all the fuss behind Amazon Prime television adaptation of Good Omens, but just can’t find the time to sit down and devote yourself to a good binge session, this audiobook might be the answer to your prayers. In Good Omens, a mild-mannered angel and a brassy demon must retrieve the Antichrist, who’s conveniently disappeared, before the end of the world might actually becomes reality. Martin Jarvis’ reading is inspired, giving full voice to the bewitching combination of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Trust us, Armageddon's never been this fun before.
Perfect for your road trip if: you love Biblical fanfiction and/or hilariously odd couples.
Time duration: 12 hours and 32 min.
Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by Michelle Obama
For a turn into the supremely inspirational, we have Michelle Obama’s bestselling memoir, Becoming. The book is divided into three sections: Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More, all of which detail different periods of the author’s life. The first encompasses her Chicago upbringing, Ivy League education, and career beginnings as a lawyer; the second relays her relationship with Barack; and the third reveals all about their family’s life in the White House. Beautifully crafted and breathtakingly intimate, Becoming becomes even more wonderful with Obama’s own voice narrating the audiobook. In other words: Becoming lives up to the hype.
Perfect for your road trip if: motivational podcasts are your typical fare, and you want to up the ante even more.
Time duration: 19 hours and 3 min.
Educated by Tara Westover, narrated by Julia Whelan
The ultimate tale of overcoming adversity, Tara Westover’s memoir Educated also begins with her childhood — which was unconventional, to say the least. Westover’s father was a paranoid survivalist who wouldn’t allow his family to visit doctors, receive federal assistance, or attend school… meaning that Westover (now a world-renowned author) only had access to a handful of books growing up. But she studied independently and managed to get into BYU, then Cambridge, finally securing a fellowship at Harvard and a doctorate from Trinity College. Her odds-defying journey is charted with remarkable fluency in this audiobook, narrated by Julia Whelan — a TV star and fellow across-the-pond academic (having been a student at Oxford around the same time Westover was at Cambridge).
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re embarking on an ambitious college tour.
Time duration: 12 hours and 10 min.
Carsick by John Waters, narrated by John Waters
So, you’re a trailblazing filmmaker who rose to prominence in the eighties with cult classics like Cry-Baby, Hairspray, and Pink Flamingos. What are you going to do next? Go hitchhiking across the United States, obviously — but before you do that, come up with the wildest possible scenarios, both extraordinarily fortuitous and treacherously bad, to include in the record of your travels.
The result of this undertaking, John Waters’ Carsick, is a gloriously madcap collection that’s two parts fiction, one part unbelievable fact. With an audiobook narrated by the man, the myth, the legend himself, you’ll learn more about Waters and how his mind works than you will from watching any of his idiosyncratic films (and that’s saying something).
Perfect for your road trip if: you want to share the road with a famous screenwriter who understands your plight better than most.
Time duration: 8 hours and 8 min.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, narrated by David Sedaris
One of Sedaris’ funniest essay collections, Me Talk Pretty One Day covers Sedaris’ experiences from elementary school to an infamous move to France. You can read the most popular piece in the collection (“Me Talk Pretty One Day”) here, but do yourself a favor and get the audiobook, because — spoiler alert! — it’s even better. (As it turns out, David Sedaris the narrator is a fine match for David Sedaris the author.) His own narration picks up nuances in the text that you wouldn’t notice, doubling the laughter quotient and confirming once again Sedaris’ status as a master of comedy.
Perfect for your road trip if: you want to cringe-laugh all the way to your destination.
Time duration: 5 hours and 51 min.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler, narrated by Amy Poehler
On the female comic side of things, there’s Amy Poehler’s enthusiastically titled memoir — and as one might expect from its uproarious author, the contents of her book follow suit. Yes Please recounts everything in Poehler’s life up to 2014, from her days at SNL to her experimentation with drugs to the aftermath of her divorce with Will Arnett. (Yes, please, we’re still sad about that one.) Throughout it all, Poehler retains her signature upbeat wit, never dwelling on the past or wallowing in what went wrong — but perpetually projecting gratitude, happiness, and hope for what comes next.
Perfect for your road trip if: you ever need a Leslie Knope-flavored pick-me-up.
Time duration: 7 hours and 31 min.
Bossypants by Tina Fey, narrated by Tina Fey
Bringing up the other half of our favorite modern comedy duo, meet Tina Fey’s memoir Bossypants. Her writerly prowess, honed through years as SNL’s head writer and subsequently on 30 Rock, shines through clearly here: Fey is acerbic and unflinchingly honest about the not-so-glamorous aspects of her life. Highlights of Bossypants include chapters on her early improv experiences, the impossible standards for women in show business, and how horrible it is to lose weight — but all delivered with sharp, scintillating humor.
If that weren’t enough, her comedic timing in the audiobook is (obviously) second to none, netting her an Audie Award for Best Audiobook of the Year and a legit Grammy nomination. (Want to sample the magic? Here’s a clip of Fey narrating a bit about her childhood.)
Perfect for your road trip if: you’d like hours of LOLs at the hands (and voice) of one of the best writers and entertainers of the twenty-first century.
Time duration: 5 hours and 30 min.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, narrated by Trevor Noah
Here’s another famous comedian who wants to spend time with you in your car. Host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah published a memoir to universal acclaim in 2016. His story is extraordinary and primarily focuses on Noah’s formative years, growing up in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. And, lest we forget that Noah is today a world-famous comedian, this audiobook reminds us in spades! A born impersonator, Noah can mimic pretty much every single accent and voice in the world — making Born a Crime’s reading that much more buoyant and enjoyable during a road trip.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re intrigued by Noah’s verbally chameleonic abilities and his personal history.
Time duration: 8 hours and 44 min.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, narrated by Richard Matthews
Written by international treasure Bill Bryson, author of A Walk in the Woods and Notes from a Small Island, A Short History of Nearly Everything is the ultimate book for history buffs. A self-professed non-expert, Bryson consults with the world’s top authorities, from archaeologists to mathematicians, to put together a definitive manual on science for us laymen.
The audiobook is similarly engrossing, as you might expect. Richard Matthews takes on the conversational, friendly tone of the book, so that the audiobook’s feel is that of a friend wittily explaining the world to you. If you’re casting around for an audiobook that will turn your journey into A Short Road Trip With Not Nearly Enough Time To Finish This Nonfiction Book, this is it.
Perfect for your road trip if: your goal is to become an interesting dinner companion by the end of the trip.
Time duration: 18 hours and 13 min.
"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman, narrated by Raymond Todd
From the mind of Nobel Prize-winning physicist comes this collection of unexpectedly colorful anecdotes — not just about science, but about everything that intrigued the titular Mr. Feynman throughout his life. These topics include, but are not limited to: Feynman’s safe-cracking “hobby,” his love of samba music and Brazilian culture as a whole, and his slight case of nerves before presenting the Wheeler-Feynman absorber theory in front of, you know, Albert Einstein. The audiobook, thanks to Raymond Todd’s evocative narration, paints a picture of a man who was so much more than his career — and impacted countless lives in myriad ways.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’re tickled by the idea of a physicist making you laugh.
Time duration: 11 hours and 31 min.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, narrated by by Aziz Ansari
Nonfiction audiobooks comprise a tricky territory, as it’s easy for them to end up being dry events: straightforward recitals of the words on the page. Luckily, that’s far from the case Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, which is a deep dive into the state of (you guessed it) modern romance, from dating apps to emojis in Tokyo. What’s more, it contains Ansari’s reliable humor, so that you can laugh while you learn and listen. Unsurprisingly, Ansari is a gifted performer — keeping the text lively and adding just the right hint of self-awareness to his narration.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’d like to reel off interesting facts about 21st-century romance on your next date.
Time duration: 6 hours and 14 min.
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe, narrated by Wil Wheaton
Randall Munroe of xkcd fame and Wil Wheaton of, well, being-an-eighties-icon fame team up for this marvelously ponderous audiobook that answers all the questions you ever had (or never even thought of) re: science, the universe, and everything. For instance: what would happen to us in the event of a robot apocalypse? If cows could photosynthesize, how much food would they need? And the question on everyone’s mind: could you get drunk from drinking a drunk person’s blood? Equal parts silly and scientific, this audiobook is sure to be a hit with erstwhile fans of Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
Perfect for your road trip if: you want some random hypotheticals with which to entertain your Airbnb hosts.
Time duration: 6 hours and 35 min.
Devil in the White City: a Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larsson, narrated by Scott Brick
Living up to the saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction,” Devil in the White City recounts the astounding true story of an architect and a murderer in Chicago in the 1890s. Our architect, Daniel H. Burnham, is the man who needed to construct a world-famous exposition in the space of 18 months. In every other chapter, we meet the murderer, Dr. Henry H. Holmes — America’s first serial killer who built an actual torture palace just miles away.
Suffice to say that the audiobook is just as gripping, as the ever-gifted Scott Brick walks you through this creepy but undeniably fascinating part of the past. Needless to say, it’ll keep you on the edge of your driver’s seat — especially if you’re road-tripping through the Windy City.
Perfect for your road trip if: you loved Chicago, but wanted more murder.
Time duration: 14 hours and 58 min.
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear, narrated by James Clear
Now we’re getting into the actual motivational stuff — and what excellent stuff it is! In this book and self-narrated audiobook, James Clear draws on various fields of science and psychology to determine exactly why old habits die hard, and what practical steps we can take to rewrite them. This is no cobbled-together collection of clickbaity tips, but thoroughly researched, scientifically sound, detailed information on how to change your life for the better. And with Clear’s confident yet not overtly self-promotional voice guiding you through it, you’ll feel like you really can build some of his suggested atomic habits… as soon as you get out of the car.
Perfect for your road trip if: you’ve just hit traffic and want to take back control of your life!
Time duration: 5 hours and 35 min.
The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, narrated by Mel Robbins
This fantastically inspiring audiobook from Mel Robbins (no relation to Tony) will have you itching to put her counsel to good use. Robbins will show you how, in just five seconds, you can push yourself to reach potential you never thought possible… and improve your mental health, personal relationships, professional standing, and more! Author and narrator uses her own experiences to bolster her advice, which comes in sharp snippets that are so easy to absorb, this guide really will go by in (what feels like) a mere five seconds.
Perfect for your road trip if: being able to accomplish something (like drive across multiple states) in five seconds or less sounds like a dream right about now.
Time duration: 7 hours and 35 min.
Want even more audiobooks? Check out our posts on the best fantasy audiobooks and best sci-fi audiobooks. Or learn how to find free audiobooks in our guide the the 20 Best Places to Find Free Books online (check out the last three!)