Please recommend light audiobooks for a long car ride
August 6, 2012 7:50 PM   Subscribe

Please help two different people agree on audiobooks for our upcoming (tomorrow!) road trip

My brother-in-law and I am about to embark on a 14 hr trip by car. So far, we have been unable to come up with audiobooks we can agree on.

He enjoys realistic fiction, Richard Russo, Jonathan Frantzen, Dave Eggers, John Grisham (on airplanes only, apparently) and is generally a big nerd. Does not like most science fiction, romance or fantasy.

I enjoy distopic fiction, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, books which detail life in a different time/place, science fiction anthologies, non-fiction science, medicine and psychology books.

Books that are automatically out because one party has already read them/has already been vetoed:
Harry Potter
His Dark Materials Trilogy
books any of the aforementioned authors
poorly written trash
Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit
all David Sedaris

We would like something on the lighter side, fiction or non.

Current maybes:
The Bourne Identity
Freedom (neither of us have read it yet, despite what I said above :) )
P.G. Wodehouse
Louis C.K.'s comedy

Has anyone listened to something recently you could recommend? We leave in less than 12 hours and would love to fill up our phone with a wealth of choices.
posted by lizjohn to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Any of John Hodgman's audiobooks might work for the both of you.
posted by carrienation at 7:56 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jim Norton's reading of Ulysses is one of the most delightful audiobooks I've ever heard. All the qualities of one of the greatest works of fiction ever written, and the performance brings a lot of clarity to the text.
posted by carsonb at 7:57 PM on August 6, 2012

Mary Roach's books sound like they might fit the bill
posted by brilliantine at 8:00 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Would the Outlander books be too romantic for him? The first in the series would cover the length of the trip.
posted by brujita at 8:10 PM on August 6, 2012

I'm not sure if this is out since it's by Neil Gaiman along with Terry Pratchett, but Good Omens on audiobook is the best thing ever. I've read the book twice, and listening to it on audiobook was still great. I even bought it after borrowing it from the library. It's light and Martin Jarvis is a great narrator.
posted by loulou718 at 8:12 PM on August 6, 2012

Bill Bryson is hilarious and also kind of nerdy.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:27 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

princess bride
posted by pyro979 at 8:28 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Set in a world that often involves fantasy elements, though this novel is almost entirely a "time traveling police procedural": I recommend Terry Pratchett's Night Watch.

I might also recommend Douglas Adams' Last Chance To See. Part travelogue, part conservation advocacy, always introspectively funny and insightful. To borrow a term from Stephen Fry (who more recently did this Follow Up) it's full of Douglas-y moments.
posted by mce at 8:43 PM on August 6, 2012

Yes, P.G. Wodehouse. His Jeeves and Wooster books are hilarious to read and even better to listen to. You will not regret it.
posted by McPuppington the Third at 8:49 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have had memorable roadtrips listening to unabridged Larry McMurtry novels. They are so long and engrossing that it is tempting to keep driving past your destination -- or at least sit in the car till the end of the chapter. Pat Conroy is another who weaves a gripping tale which makes the miles evaporate.
posted by Jode at 8:57 PM on August 6, 2012

The Night Watch audiobook is surprisingly affecting.

Christopher Moore might work, depending how high your standards are for the writing. Funny, sort of glib.

Maybe a detective page-turner, like an Elmore Leonard.

I love reading Wodehouse, but have found that on audiobook, the stories lose my attention. YMMV, but I would at least bring a backup.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:30 PM on August 6, 2012

Cabin Pressure is hilarious, and easy to try as the episodes are short (it's a radio sitcom). If radio shows sound like a good idea, see this post for more.
posted by asperity at 10:49 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know if want something lighter, but the Road might be worth considering.
posted by 0bs01337 at 11:54 PM on August 6, 2012

Sarah Vowell is my favorite travel read because her books typically include the road trip aspect while she's uncovering historical fun facts. Unfamiliar Fishes is her latest on the annexation of Hawaii, which might not excite you, but really, you want this for the excellent, excellent audiobook cast. Like John Slattery as a crazy Henry Cabot Lodge.

For comedy, I liked Patton Oswalt's Finest Hour stand-up album.
posted by bodyofproof at 3:37 AM on August 7, 2012

Since bad narration can ruin a great book, I glanced through my Audible library of over 150 books and picked a few that may appeal to both of you...

Just listened to You're Next by Gregg Hurwitz, narrarated by Scott Brick. Fiction/mystery. Great fast paced storyline, I looked for excuses to listen more.

Dean Koontz older books seem to work well for me on long trips, since they are usually fast paced enough that I can lose time in the book. A good thing on long trips.

Since you have some Sci-Fi on the list, check out The Dresden Files. Author: Jim Butcher. Narrator: James Marsters. Series has been around long enough that the audio versions can be very affordable.
I prefer fiction & mysteries over sci-fi, so it might be a good "meeting point" for both of your tastes. Although I've listened to them out of order without issue, I find I prefer the earlier books because they're less out there for my taste. Series is about a private investigator and wizard Harry Dresden, as he recounts investigations into supernatural disturbances in modern-day Chicago.

The Kitchen House is a great listen. Author: Kathleen Grissom with multiple narrators. It takes place on a plantation, so the historical fiction may appeal. I just hesitate to suggest for road trip material, as it can be rather intense and emotional. Still a favorite so I add it.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. A dark book, bit of mystery untwined with family drama.

Please update us with your favorite listens after the trip!
posted by MuckWeh at 7:28 AM on August 7, 2012

Killed At The Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill. Delightful, funny mystery set in Thailand.
posted by Kazimirovna at 7:08 PM on August 7, 2012

I really enjoy the audiobooks of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King (note: Sherlock Holmes purists need not apply, unless they enjoy being annoyed). And for all my previous grumbling about the narrator, as I listen to more audiobooks and other readers it becomes increasingly clear to me that whatever quibbles I may have with her ability with accents, Jenny Sterlin is quite a fine audiobook reader when it comes to A) being able to distinguish between characters easily and B) being able to distinguish between interior monologue and exterior voice.

So much better than the reader for the audiobooks of the Vorkosigan series. NO NO WRONG THAT IS NOT HOW CORDELIA SOUNDS NO YOU'RE SAYING THE NAMES WRONG NO JUST NO.
posted by Lexica at 8:43 PM on August 7, 2012

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