Best Audiobooks for Road Trips
I hate road trips.
Or at least, I hated road trips until the rise of the audiobook (Audible is QUEEN.). When you’re driving for hours on end, staring at the same straight strip of asphalt, often without cell reception and sadly with only a few crappy radio stations to choose from—there’s something seriously awe-inspiring about turning on an audiobook and transporting your mind to someplace magical or mischievous or mysterious.
I’ve listened to a ton of audiobooks since becoming an author, usually when I’m grinding to get to school visits or book festivals or heading to and from the airport. It’s inspiring, because it turns traffic stops into places like Hogwarts or Middle Earth, but I also love them because there’s something special about hearing an author’s words in a different medium. I always feel inspired to write after listening to an audiobook, but my Top 5 definitely knock it out of the park in their own unique ways.
THE NIGHT CIRCUS (Erin Morgernstern, Narrated by Jim Dale)
Part historical, part fantasy, this one is a story about a darkly magical circus that arrives without warning…And it’s KILLER both in the lush writing department and in the narrator department. Hands down, THE BEST audiobook I’ve ever listened to. Jim Dale has one of those voices that just pulls you in and makes the entire fantastical world of The Night Circus come alive. If a voice and a story could be paired together to create a “crisp fall day”, this would be it. The story is woven together so beautifully that you’ll be left desperate for her next book, which drops this fall (after a 7 year wait).
A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC (VE Schwab, narrated by Steven Crossley)
A story about a Traveler who can walk between parallel versions of London, and an Arya Stark-esque thief who pairs up with him when she steals a magical artifact from him. Whether you’re a writer or reader, this one is on my list of audiobooks that EVERYONE should listen to, because VE Schwab is such a masterful storyteller, and Steven Crossley has such a wonderful way of bringing out the characters, that it makes you want to pack your bags and head to London to discover if there’s a hidden alternate version of the city somewhere down a dark alleyway. Also, if you’re a fan of Arya Stark, you’re going to fall in love with Lilah Bard. Good news? It’s a series, so there’s more than one audiobook to fill your time.
SIX OF CROWS (Leigh Bardugo, full cast narrators)
If you haven’t heard of this one, then you’ve been hiding under a very heavy rock. Because Leigh Bardugo is basically the queen of all that is YA, and this duology is the queen of duologies. It’s a full cast audiobook, which makes you feel like you’re really getting to know the characters, and the realistic, Russian-based folklore that helped inspire the Grisha magic system is entirely unique. If you love a good heist story paired with magic, then this is the audiobook for you. It will have you laughing every bit as much as it’ll have you on the edge of your seat with the plot twists. And don’t even get me started on the depth of Bardugo’s character building. They feel like your best friends, your worst enemies, your first big crush. Buy the duology as a package deal. Book One ends on a “I NEED MORE NOW” note.
THE NAME OF THE STAR (Maureen Johnson, narrated by Nicola Barber)
Jack the Ripper comes back as a ghost and starts committing murders eerily similar to the ones from the 1800’s. Maureen Johnson has a perfect balance of modern writing style mixed with an atmospheric, almost classic feel of an Agatha Christie novel. She’s also witty as heck. The narrator does a great job of making you scared when you’re supposed to feel scared, and making you laugh when you’re supposed to laugh, and inciting the lighthearted crush feels when the romance plot thread shows up. It’s a great audiobook, and one I always recommend to first-time listeners.
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE (Anthony Doerr, narrated by Zach Appelman)
This historical book is set in the 1930’s during World War II, and focuses on a blind French girl and a German boy soldier whose stories converge in the most thought-provoking way. It’s one of those books you can never quite place in a genre (part historical, part magic, part adventure), but it sticks with you for a long time afterwards. The narrator is calming and the writing style is buttery smooth. It’s a long one, just over 16 hours—but well worth the time spent!
Bonus tip: if you’re not into the speed of your audiobook, there’s a handy feature on Audible that allows you to either slow it down or speed it up, so depending on the amount of time you want to commit to a story (you can choose either buttery smooth or chipmunk style speech), there’s a way to customize things.
Grab the audible app, pick out a summer read, and head out on that dreaded road trip a lot less exhausted and way more inspired.