Audiobook recommendations for cross-country trip
August 21, 2018 10:21 AM   Subscribe

I have 2 freebies at Audible but I have too much packing to decide! I would like something that's fairly smart, while still being the audio equivalent of a page-turner. Ideally one fiction and one nonfiction. Thrillers and mysteries, true crime, and history preferred, but beggars can't be choosers... Podcast recs that fit the criteria also welcome!
posted by Beardman to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
You can get Dan Carlin's "Hardcore History" for free, and his series on WW1, "Countdown to Armageddon" is brilliant and a fascinating listen. Available wherever you get yo' podcasts from.

For True Crime, "Case File" cannot be beat. Tons of episodes to thumb through and great storytelling.
For weirdness, grab "Astonishing Legends" and listen to their series on Amelia Earhart, John Titor, Oak Island, or The Somerton Man to wet your whistle.

I don't listen to a lot of fiction, but one audiobook that always stood out was "World War Z". The book itself is kind of like Studs Terkel and Zombies, in that it's an oral history gathered after the fact, and each character in the book is voiced by a different actor. REALLY well done.
If you want to jump into the world of Harry Potter the audiobooks done by Stephen Fry (UK version) or Jim Dale (US version) are just WONDERFUL. Forget the movies, these are the real deal.

Bon appetit!
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 10:44 AM on August 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you have an interest in food, I'd recommend Cooked by Michael Pollan for a non-fiction entry.
posted by hydra77 at 11:24 AM on August 21, 2018

Nonfiction: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver was really good and is 14 hours long. One Summer: 1927 by Bill Bryson is 17, and I've re-listened three times because so much happened that summer.

Some of my favorite longer fiction books: the 10th anniversary (multi-cast) version of American Gods, Connie Willis's To Say Nothing of the Dog, Pat Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles. One of my favorite audiobooks, though a little on the mid-length side, is still The Time Traveler's Wife.

Podcasts: Ologies. Just start at the beginning and enjoy the randomness. Ditto Ghosts In The Burbs (fiction, you need to start at the beginning).
posted by Lyn Never at 11:46 AM on August 21, 2018

Nonfiction: The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale. Victorian true crime about the first Scotland Yard detective, fabulously read by Simon Vance.

Fiction: The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (US publication title: Someone Knows My Name). Won Canada Reads and deservedly so. It's about a woman who is kidnapped from her home in Africa and brought over to South Carolina as a slave. It tracks her eventual freedom and journey to Canada (the historical document "Tne Book of Negroes" from which the novel takes its name is a list of former slaves who fought with the British in the Civil War and were granted freedom by King George) and then to England where she fights for abolition.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:51 AM on August 21, 2018

If fantasy is okay "The Goblin Emperor" is engaging uplifting and excellent. It contains a murder mystery and palace intrigue.
posted by jclarkin at 11:53 AM on August 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

The audiobook version of Lincoln in the Bardo is superb. It features a full cast of like, 200 people, at least 100 of which are famous, with lead performances by David Sedaris and Nick Offerman.
posted by graventy at 12:25 PM on August 21, 2018

American gods by Neil Gaiman. Get the one with the full cast recording. Trust me it’s perfect
posted by capnsue at 1:01 PM on August 21, 2018

Some of my favorites:

Audiobook Fiction:
- Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal by Thomas Harris (trilogy, in that order) - some of the best thrillers I've read
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is excellent, and much shorter than American Gods if you want a quicker introduction to Gaiman's style

Audiobook Non-Fiction:
- I can't speak for the audio versions, but Devil in the White City and Thunderstruck (both by Erik Larson) struck a chord with me
- Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain (if you're not familiar with his work, this audiobook will show you what the fuss was all about)
- This one is totally weird, I know, but it's one of the best non-fiction audiobooks I've ever heard: Confessions of a Transylvanian: A Story of Sex, Drugs, and Rocky Horror by Kevin Theis. It's basically his account of his time spent in a Rocky Horror group in Florida. The subject matter is interesting enough, but he manages to squeeze such a level of personal insight, deep meaning, and humor from his experiences that I couldn't stop listening. Really good stuff. He narrates it himself, too, and he's excellent.

- If you haven't listened to Serial, it's a good page-turner. There's a reason it got so much attention
- S-town was also excellent
posted by ToucanDoug at 3:46 PM on August 21, 2018

Seconding Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles -- excellent audiobooks, and I think the first one had, what, ~26 discs? Other good, long listens: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee; The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett; American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett.

Also good (if not as long) would be Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology. His narration is delightful -- you can tell he really loves the stories!

Nonfiction: Yes Please! by Amy Poehler, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris, Dirty Chicks by Antonia Murphy.
posted by snerson at 4:17 PM on August 21, 2018

The Kid Stays In The Picture if you haven't heard it yet.
posted by rhizome at 11:37 PM on August 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

For fiction you can't beat the audiobooks of Ben Aaronivitch's London-copper-who-is-a-wizard books that start with Midnight Riot -- or in the U.K., Rivers of London -- by the amaaaaaaazing Kobna Holbrooke-Smith:

For non-fiction, Bill Bryson's recent doorstop books like "Home" and "One Summer: America, 1927" have been fascinating, looping, discursive, and a lot of fun. Not necessarily everyone's cup of tea, though, and his raspy, lilting voice might put you to sleep if you're driving through Oklahoma, Nebraska, or the Dakotas at the time.

Have a fun trip!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:34 AM on August 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Erik Larson's Dead Wake was a good non-fiction page-turner.
posted by starman at 2:12 PM on August 22, 2018

« Older Professor/grad student bars in Tucson, Arizona?   |   putting the card before the check Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.