Suggest an audiobook for a long, boring drive.
December 20, 2013 8:09 AM   Subscribe

The week after Christmas Mr. Ant and I are driving from East Tennessee to Central Florida and back, which is about 1600 miles. A good audiobook would help a lot with the boredom.

On our last long car trip I borrowed All Creatures Great and Small from the library. We very much enjoyed it; it was funny and had short story arcs so if you zoned out or dozed off (the passenger, I mean!) it was no big deal.

I'm looking for suggestions for a light audiobook to make the drive less awful. Our All Creatures road trip was just a few months ago so I don't think we're ready for All Things Bright and Beautiful just yet.
posted by workerant to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
A Short History of Nearly Everything: Bill Bryson
The Disappearing Spoon: Sam Kean

Both were enjoyable and nonfiction, both are free of a detailed and complicated plot that requires 100% attention.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 8:17 AM on December 20, 2013

Seconding Bryson! Except I'd start with "A Walk in the Woods". Also, any of Mary Roach's books would be excellent - funny, informative, and not 100% linear, so you can still doze. Start with "Spook".
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:18 AM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I bought my sister and her husband World War Z on CD when they had to drive from Texas to California, and they enjoyed it so much they listened to it straight through twice.

I really like David Sedaris's audiobooks, which he reads himself; they're essays, so you're not tied to following a plot. Tina Fey's Bossypants is also very good in this regard, and it's also read by the author.

An enthusiastic YES to Bryson's audiobooks as well; I really liked At Home, which sounds like a snoozefest but is fascinating.

For light fiction there's the Harry Potter series as narrated by Stephen Fry, which is unbeatable and also almost certainly available at your library. (Double check that it's not the Jim Dale version, because I found that version incredibly annoying to listen to.)

Lastly, I just was gifted an audio copy of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and found it absolutely beautiful and unexpected.
posted by SeedStitch at 8:26 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

2nd on "A Walk in the Woods"! Hilarious!
posted by Dr. Zachary Smith at 8:27 AM on December 20, 2013

I also recall listening to "Ugly Americans" a few years back - pretty entertaining stuff if you like "Wolf of Wallstreet" / Yakuza / cocaine type stories.
posted by Dr. Zachary Smith at 8:30 AM on December 20, 2013

If you don't keep up with it, NPR's This American Life is wonderful for car trips. You can use the app (Apple or Android!) or just download a bunch of the podcasts onto your media player. Podcasts in general are awesome for car trips. I also recommend Welcome to Night Vale.
posted by domo at 8:41 AM on December 20, 2013

Hrm. It appears as though TAL charges to download past episodes. I did not encounter this before as I subscribe to the podcast and stockpile episodes for binge consumption. Maybe subscribe now for future trips?
posted by domo at 8:44 AM on December 20, 2013

I enjoyed "Travels with Charley" by Steinbeck.
posted by MichelleinMD at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2013

Seconding World War Z. There is a movie with the same name that has almost nothing to do with the book. The book is really smart and entertaining. It's a wry commentary on world politics and culture, with a full cast that includes Alan Alda, Henry Rollins and Mark Hamill. Highly recommended.

I would also recommend Radiolab, the NPR science show. It's obviously not an audiobook, but is great for taking a break from the book or filling in 20 minutes to an hour here or there.
posted by cnc at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2013

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell!
posted by meijusa at 8:52 AM on December 20, 2013

Malcolm Gladwell books are great for this (What the Dog Saw, Blink, etc), or Freakonomics, or books by Mary Roach (Stiff, if you're not too queasy, was very interesting).
posted by melissasaurus at 8:53 AM on December 20, 2013

My favorite audiobook of all times is super long and delightful: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the original BBC radio play. Even if you've read the book, it's pretty fun.
posted by jessamyn at 8:57 AM on December 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

Any of the unabridged Stephen Briggs Discworld books.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:13 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

One of the best audiobooks I've listen to lately is Dracula, the version with Tim Curry. Jane Eyre and I am Malala were also good. Ages ago I listened to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and it's also great so I'll second that.
posted by carolr at 9:20 AM on December 20, 2013

I came in to suggest Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything and, upon seeing the other reviewers, second the suggestions for WWZ too. Gone Girl is also super engrossing as an audiobook!
posted by chatongriffes at 9:25 AM on December 20, 2013

How about one of John Hodgman's books? I listened to More Information Than You Require recently and loved it (and I've heard the Areas of My Expertise one is equally funny - I've only read that so can't comment on the audio version). It's broken down into lots of easily-consumable "nuggets" so it'd be easy to zone in and out on, and it's read (or really, performed) by Hodgman himself and his feral friend Jonathan Coulton. I'd probably skip the mole man names section at the end, but the rest would make for a good driving book.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:01 AM on December 20, 2013

I didn't mind the Jim Dale version of the Harry Potter series.

I also really like A Confederacy of Dunces and His Dark Materials on audiobook format.
posted by getawaysticks at 10:28 AM on December 20, 2013

David Sedaris's audiobooks are so funny! He reads them himself, and his sister Amy does the female voices.

A poster above mentioned Mary Roach. I lovelovelove her but we tried to listen to Packing for Mars on a road trip and turned it off because it felt very dry (maybe because she wasn't reading it?).

I haven't listened to Gone Girl but I read it and was totally obsessed with it. Also Bossypants was a good read and I imagine would be a good audiobook.
posted by radioamy at 10:32 AM on December 20, 2013

You can download Lizard Music for free. Definitely light and fun.
posted by mikepop at 11:30 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner and its sequel are lushly produced, and read by the author herself. They are very good.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:01 PM on December 20, 2013

Seconding the Discworld recommendation: Stephen Briggs is a masterful reader, and the novels are wonderful as audiobooks.
posted by suelac at 7:14 PM on December 20, 2013

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