The Best Audiobooks for Every Car Trip
Sure, they take a while, but road trips are kinda the best. (Calories don’t count in the car, right?) Plus…you get to listen to audiobooks! Here, ten of our favorites, organized by length of trip.
For a 1-hour trip
The Embassy of Cambodia (Written and read by Zadie Smith)
We first read The Embassy of Cambodia as an excerpt in The New Yorker. But even if you’ve read it in full, it’s definitely worth revisiting. The 21 mini chapters concern a young domestic servant named Fatou in northwest London. Come for the incredible story of pride and perseverance in the face of adversity; stay for Smith’s incredibly soothing voice.
For a 2.5-hour trip
The Bad Beginning: A Series of Unfortunate Events #1 (Written by Lemony Snicket; read by Tim Curry)
Though it may be intended for young readers, Daniel Handler’s (er, Lemony Snicket’s) prose is just as appealing to adults, what with all of its commentary on human nature and the inevitability of tragedy and such. Add Tim Curry’s delightfully creepy narration and you’ve got a solid two and a half hours of darkly funny entertainment.
For a 4-hour trip
Matilda (Written by Roald Dahl; read by Kate Winslet)
Got kids? Fire this one up for your next interminable trip to Grandma’s. Here, Kate Winslet provides narration, as well as the voices for lovely and sweet Miss Honey and treacherous Miss Trunchbull. That said, we still suggest watching the movie. The audio book can never quite do the cake scene justice.
For a 5.5-hour trip
Bossypants (Written and read by Tina Fey)
Tina Fey can do no wrong, and, in our opinion, the best way to experience her hilarious 2011 memoir is to hear it narrated by the funny lady herself. Unlike other celebrity tell-alls, Fey's keeps it light and laugh-out-loud funny, covering everything from recurring stress dreams (which weirdly involve her middle school gym teacher) to being called bossy (which she considers a compliment).
For a 6-hour trip
Me Talk Pretty One Day (Written and read by David Sedaris)
To be honest, anything David Sedaris could find a spot on this list. But there’s a special place in our hearts for Me Talk Pretty One Day, in which the super-funny writer details everything from speech coaches to drug-fueled performance art to his nearly calamitous move to France with his partner. Just try not to let your tears of joy cloud your view of the road.
For a 7-hour trip
Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Written by Joan Didion; read by Diane Keaton)
Double the girl crush, double the fun. Didion’s 1968 essay collection recounts her time in California in the '60s and is full of weird, counterculture-y anecdotes. (Think hippies, the American Dream and LSD.) In this reading, the inimitable Keaton captures the time and place to a T.
For a 9-hour trip
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Written by J.K. Rowling; read by Stephen Fry)
Before you correct us that the title is the Sorcerer’s stone, understand that this is the British version, which, in our humble opinion, is more enjoyable to listen to than the American. Even if you’ve read the book and seen the movie a hundred times, there’s something about Rowling’s story that never gets old. Plus, Stephen Fry’s voices are gold.
For a 10-hour trip
Stone Mattress (Written by Margaret Atwood; read by Rob Delaney and others)
Narrated by a cast of actors including Catastrophe’s Rob Delaney, Atwood’s 2014 story collection is razor-sharp, incredibly original and dark as hell. And we personally like that it’s a story collection--meaning if you zone out for a second, you never really lose your place.
For a 12-hour trip
The Kite Runner (Written and read by Khaled Hosseini)
This powerful 2003 novel about friendship, betrayal and the final days of the Afghan monarchy is an absolute must--whether read or listened to. That said, Hosseini’s narration is particularly compelling and will make 12 hours fly by in what seems like no time. It’s also helpful to hear the author, an American born in Afghanistan, properly pronounce words we definitely wouldn’t have gotten right ourselves.
For a 55-hour, 12-minute trip
Infinite Jest (Written by David Foster Wallace; read by Sean Pratt)
Just kidding. If your trip is going to take 55 hours by car, please just fly.