I don’t know about you, but I love going on road trips and listening to audiobooks.
A road trip feels like a true adventure — much more so than air travel, which involves so many tiresome steps before you even set foot on the plane.
There’s something about having the car packed, getting up early, and heading out on the open road that makes me feel giddy with excitement, just like I felt when I was a kid.
Behind the wheel, you’re in control of your destiny (and destination) in a way you can’t enjoy with other forms of travel.
A road trip is a great bonding experience for you and your significant other or family members.
You have time for deep talks, lots of laughter, and shared discovery.
For me, the smaller, off-the-beaten-path highways are preferable (rather than the interstate) even if it takes a bit longer. I’m drawn to the changing landscapes, the small towns, the farms, and quaint roadside stores.
Sometimes, though, there’s no escaping the interstate or long stretches on a lonely highway. You’re forced to take a route that offers little variety in scenery and nothing much to look at.
This is the time when you’ll be grateful you brought along an audiobook or two.
I love reading books on road trips, but reading a book is a solitary experience. You can’t share it with your fellow travelers. If you’re the driver, or if reading makes you car sick, audiobooks can make those long stretches of highway much more interesting.
Do you have a road trip planned for this year?
Why not take along some great audiobooks for your next excursion?
65 of the best audiobooks for road trips in 2023:
Best Audiobooks of All Time
The first list focuses on audiobooks that have remained popular for years, now, and that continue to attract new listeners.
Try something new (to you) that thousands of other listeners have loved enough to review and recommend.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, narrated by Dan Stevens (6 hrs 1 min)
Described as “the world’s best-selling mystery,” this one is a classic by the best-selling author of all time.
The first book in the Harry Potter series, this one introduces us to Harry as a neglected ten-year-old orphan who starts receiving magical invitations to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The first of Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, this one introduces you to the crusading journalist and gifted hacker in a genre-blending masterwork involving mystery, intrigue, family drama, and love.
Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, narrated by Roy Dotrice (33 hrs 46 mins)
This first volume introduces us to Daenerys, whose innocence is in stark contrast to the world she’s thrown into by her ambitious brother.
Violent and jarring at times, this is not something to play within earshot of your children.
In 1945, a former combat nurse touches a boulder in an ancient stone ruin and is suddenly transported to 1743 Scotland where her only chance at survival is with gallant Scotsman James Fraser.
This contains all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories involving Sherlock Holmes – including four novels and five collections of short stories.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, narrated by Kate Rudd (7 hrs 14 mins)
This funny, poignant, and heartbreaking story follows two teens with cancer who meet in a support group and fall in love.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, narrated by Bahni Turpin (11 hrs 40 mins)
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Thomas’s debut novel is essential reading for anyone who would understand the movement and the people behind it.
Best Fiction Audiobooks
The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Flynn
This psychological thriller is one of the best I’ve read recently. It has elements of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” as well as the bestseller, The Girl on the Train.
Anna Fox has agoraphobia and spends her time drinking too much, watching old movies (that tend to reflect what’s happening in her small world) and looking out the window at her neighbors. The new family across the street has piqued her interest, especially when she thinks she witnesses a murder in their house.
As the book progresses, nothing is as it seems and even Anna, a former psychologist, doubts her own memories and actions, as those around her try to make her think she’s crazy. There are horrors and surprises buried in the many layers of this page-turning story.
The Storyteller’s Secret, by Sejal Badani
After a series of miscarriages and a failing marriage, Jaya travels to India to learn about her distant and secretive mother’s past. There she meets the keeper of her family’s secrets, Ravi—her grandmother’s former servant and trusted confidant—who reveals the struggles, resilience, secret love, and tragic ending of Jaya’s remarkable grandmother during the British occupation.
Switching between the past and present, Bandani reveals the inner worlds of all of the characters and how the love, pain, and secrets within a family reverberate through generations.
The Ragged Edge of Night, by Olivia Hawker
If you’re a fan of All the Light We Cannot See or The Nightingale, you will be gripped by this beautifully written historical novel about one man’s search for redemption and love during the darkest times of World War II in Germany, 1942.
Anton Starzmann was a Franciscan friar who is stripped of everything he knows and loves when his school is seized by the Nazis who unleash horror on those in Anton’s care.
After a forced stint as a German soldier, Anton moves to a small German town to marry Elisabeth Herter, a widow who seeks a marriage of convenience to a man who can help raise her three children. By accepting Elisabeth’s offer, Anton finds atonement for failing to protect his former students from the cruelties of the Nazis. But neither he nor Elisabeth expect to find love for one another.
Tell No One, by Harlan Coben
Another great thriller with a completely unexpected twist. According to Amazon reviews: “David Beck has rebuilt his life since his wife’s murder eight years ago, finishing medical school and establishing himself as a pediatrician, but he’s never forgotten the woman he fell in love with in second grade.
And when a mysterious e-mail arrives on the anniversary of their first kiss, with a message and an image that leads him to wonder whether Elizabeth might still be alive, Beck will stop at nothing to find the truth that’s eluded him for so many years.
A powerful billionaire is equally determined to make sure his role in her disappearance never comes to light, even if it means destroying an innocent man.” Says one review, “The ending of this book had me GOBSMACKED. It was amazing.”
Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan
If you’re looking for some humor on your road trip, check out this outrageously funny debut novel (and now a movie) about three mega-wealthy, elite Chinese families. Cattiness, backbiting, and scheming boil over when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home Rachel, his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend, to the wedding of the season.
The materialism, obscene wealth, status, and expectation that Rachel encounters there is staggering, as she comes from an ordinary single-mother upbringing in the States.
The colorful characters and the descriptions of their unimaginably wealthy lifestyles will keep you entertained for hours on the road.
Bird Box, by Josh Malerman
Oh my, this is one of the most surprising, scary, and compelling books I’ve read in a long time. You’ll want to keep driving so you can listen to it all in one sitting. It’s a post-apocalyptic story dealing with a strange something “out there” that can’t be seen.
Those who see it commit horrible acts and ultimately kill themselves. The story follows a small group of survivors who hole up in a house with all the windows covered. They never venture outside unless blindfolded. To raise the tension, the novel weaves together two stories of the protagonist, Malorie, shifting between the past and the present. In the present, she’s trying to escape with two four-year-olds (all blindfolded) on a river to a possible safe house.
Her reflections on the past reveal how she survived the world going mad and killing itself.
Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
In this evocative debut novel, Owens tells the story of Kya Clark, a young woman growing up virtually alone in the wild marshes outside a small coastal community in North Carolina. She becomes known as the “Marsh Girl.”
In 1969, local womanizer Chase Andrews is discovered dead, and Kya, a sensitive and intelligent woman of 23, is suspected of killing him. As local law enforcement work to gather evidence against her, the narrative flashes back to 1952 to unravel Kya’s story of abandonment, abuse, and love.
The novels culminates in a long trial as Kya awaits her fate and the trajectory of her future. The author beautifully depicts the small-town setting and courtroom drama in this heartbreaking coming-of-age story.
The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck
This book gripped me from the very beginning. It’s a great story to discuss during a long road trip. It’s set at the end of World War II, in an old Bavarian castle where at one time German high society gathered for parties.
After the war, three widows come to live in the castle, and their lives and fates become intertwined as they cope with the aftershocks of the war and the implications of their husbands’ plot to murder Adolf Hilter.
Marianne, the former resident of the castle whose husband was one of the resisters, tries to keep the promise she made to find and protect the wives of her husband’s co-conspirators.
Descent, by Tim Johnston
A heart-pounding psychological thriller that is both literary and horrifying, Descent is about a family vacation that turns tragic when 18-year-old Caitlan is kidnapped in the Rocky Mountains while cycling with her brother Sean.
Sean returns badly injured, but the family and police can’t find Caitlan. As the search goes on for months, the impact on Caitlan’s family has devastating consequences on their psyches and their relationship.
Says the Miami Herald, “What makes the novel unforgettable is its sense of character, its deliberate, unadorned prose and Johnston’s unflinching exploration of human endurance, physical and psychological.” A must-read (or listen) for your road trip.
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in a fascinating era of Russian history with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. In 1922, a Bolshevik tribunal deems him an unrepentant aristocrat and sentences him to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin.
Rostov is a man of erudition and wit, who has never worked a day in his life. Now he’s required to live in an attic room, as decades of Russian history (1922 through 1954) are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. His new and unexpected circumstances provide him relationships and opportunities that open a doorway to a larger world of emotional discovery. Interesting and relevant in light of all of the current Russian intrigue. Amazing characters and beautifully written.
What She Knew, by Gilly Macmillan
What would you do if you were walking through the woods one day with your young son, and you allow him to run ahead a short distance, only to discover he has completely vanished? What if you suddenly became the prime suspect?
That’s what happens to Rachel Jenner who experiences every parent’s nightmare when she is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben. As days pass without any sign of Ben, Rachel begins to come undone as sympathy for her turns to suspicion, especially with her ex-husband.
As she tries to put together the clues, she realizes that the danger may not be with a terrifying stranger but with the people familiar to her. Ultimately everyone surrounding Ben becomes suspect, and trust issues abound. A real nail-biter until the end.
I Am Pilgrim, Terry Hayes
Could it be the perfect murder? A young woman is discovered in Manhattan hotel, face down in a bathtub of acid, teeth removed, fingerprints and face gone. There are no fingerprints or DNA at the murder scene.
Ben Bradley, the homicide detective in charge, is a long time friend of a retired CIA operative called Pilgram who has written the definitive textbook on criminal investigations, and it appears the murderer has read the book. Pilgrim is drawn out of retirement by Bradley and is quickly in the middle of an international manhunt moving through the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. This is more than just a murder mystery; there is also a biological threat against the U.S., which ties into the murder.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra
If you enjoyed The Kite Runner, you will love this book. It is about the plight of Chechnians under the brutal occupation of Russia, but don’t allow this serious topic to throw you off. It’s the story of eight-year-old Havaa who watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night, accusing him of aiding Chechen rebels. Across from Havaa’s house, their lifelong neighbor and friend Akhmed watches too, afraid Havaa is dead when the soldiers set fire to her house.
But he finds her hiding in the forest and makes a decision that will forever change their lives when he seeks refuge at the abandoned hospital where the last remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, takes them in. Their lives and unexpected fates reveal the transcendent power of love in wartime.
Ink and Bone, by Lisa Unger
If you enjoy mysteries that involve the supernatural, don’t miss this one. Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is visited by people others can’t see and haunted by prophetic dreams.
She’s terrified by the things that happen to her, so she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York. Finley and Eloise are drawn into the investigation of a local missing girl. Working together, they uncover a terrible crime and discover that The Hollows holds more terrifying secrets than they ever imagined.
Says the Associated Press, “Strong characters and stellar writing make this a wonderful mix of small-town life with the supernatural.”
The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena
The Couple Next Door is a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that examines the blind terror a couple (Anne and Marco) in upstate New York experience when they come home from a dinner party next door to discover their beloved daughter, Cora, is missing and not in her crib.
Suspicion immediately intensifies on the parents, but the truth is much more complicated and convoluted.
An unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds, as the lead detective knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon learn that the other is keeping long-held secrets that lead to a nerve-racking unraveling of a family and a shocking twist of an ending that may make you miss your exit!
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
Ove is an unpleasant curmudgeon, but don’t let this stop you from listening to this heartwarming, humorous story of a man who hides a sad past behind his gruff exterior.
When one morning a chatty couple with young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it leads to an unexpected friendship. You learn that Ove hides a warm and at times a courageous heart beneath his grumpiness. Says one reviewer, “A charming and heartwarming story filled with moments that’ll make you laugh and moments that’ll bring you nearly to tears.”
If you want to hear a great story with funny, tender, and lovable characters, this is the audiobook to travel with you.
Beneath A Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan
Based on a true story, Beneath A Scarlet Sky is the story of Pino Lello, a young Italian man, and his courage and resilience during WWII. When his family’s home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad to help Jews escape over the Alps, and he falls in love with a beautiful widow, Anna.
Trying to protect Pino, his parents force him to enlist as a German soldier, thinking it will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers. He uses his new position as a chance to spy for the Allies, drawing on his love for Anna and his dream they will be together one day to bolster his courage.
Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors, and this book is so good, HBO made a blockbuster TV series based on it. Set in an Australian suburb, Big Little Lies focuses on three women, who all have children at the same preschool.
One is a great beauty married to a wealthy businessman; they have a “perfect” set of twins. One is the do-it-all mom who can organize anything but feels stung when her teenage daughter prefers to live with her divorced dad and cool stepmom.
The third is a new-to-town, single mother who doesn’t quite fit in. From the very beginning, you learn that someone is going to end up dead. The question is who and how these women fit in the picture.
You will love these all-too-real, funny, touching characters and the way their seemingly normal suburban life begins to unravel.
Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult
This is one of the most important and powerful books Jodi Picoult has ever written, given the state of race relations in our country. It’s based on the true story of a labor and delivery nurse who was prohibited from caring for a newborn because the father requested that no African-American nurses tend to his baby.
In Picoult’s story, Ruth, the African-American nurse in question, finds herself on trial for events related to the same request made by a white supremacist father. Using the narratives of Ruth, the baby’s father, and the female public defender who takes Ruth’s case, Picoult examines multiple facets of racism.
You’ll be discussing this powerhouse story for the entirety of your road trip.
The Secret Wife, by Gill Paul
If you love historical fiction, you will get lost in this enthralling and beautiful story of a Russian grand duchess and an English journalist. It shifts between 1914 Russia when the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future and 2016 when the young journalist, Kitty, has just learned of her husband’s infidelity, causing her to leave for a remote cabin which she inherited from a great-grandfather she barely heard of.
This escape leads Kitty to unravel a mystery about the Romanovs and one of the daughters of Tsar Nicholas, Grand Duchess Tatiana, who served as a nurse and falls in love with one of the injured soldiers, Dimitri. Well-researched, compelling, and addictive.
Best Fantasy Audiobooks
Whatever comes to mind when you hear the word “fantasy,” you’ll find an overwhelming variety of great audiobooks in this genre on Audible and other sites.
Give one the following a try to mix it up a little and learn what all the fuss is about.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, narrated by Bahni Turpin (17 hrs 44 mins)
This is the first of Adeyemi’s fantasy series, Legacy of Orisha, involving a young African girl, Zélie Adebola, and the consequences to her homeland when a ruthless king does everything he can to eradicate magic to solidify his reign.
The Graveyard Book: Full Cast Production by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Neil Gaiman, Derek Jacobi, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, and Julian Rhind-Tutt (8 hrs 24 mins)
A boy named Nobody Owens – Bod for short – lives in a graveyard and is raised and educated by ghosts. This captivating story by Gaiman is narrated by a star cast.
11-22-63 by Stephen King, narrated by Craig Wasson (30 hrs 40 mins)
King’s intense, time-traveling fantasy involves a 35-year old English teacher who goes 50 years into the past to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl (27 hrs 55 mins)
Released in 2009, this thrilling and addictive fantasy has earned praise from millions of devoted fans, including George R.R. Martin and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, narrated by Robin Miles (15 hrs 27 mins)
This is the first of Jemisin’s The Broken Earth dystopian fantasy series with carefully developed characters, impeccable writing, and superior narration.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, narrated by the author (13 hrs 48 mins)
Gaiman blends the stuff of dreams and nightmares in a hidden world peopled by characters who “fall through the cracks.” One act of kindness takes the main character to this world, and survival is not a guarantee.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, narrated by Jennifer Ikeda (23 hrs 59 mins)
Enjoy this grown-up fantasy involving a family of witches, a mysterious alchemical manuscript, a fantastical underworld, and a leading man who’s a vampire geneticist.
Eragon by Christopher Paolini, narrated by Gerard Doyle (16 hrs 22 mins)
Perfect for Tolkien, this first book in Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle series introduces us to Eragon, a fifteen-year-old poor farm boy who discovers his destiny as a dragon rider.
Best Sci-fi Audiobooks
If you’re fed up with earth people and looking to spend some time in a different universe, enjoy your mini vacation with one of these audiobooks.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton (15 hrs 40 mins)
This dystopian fantasy centers around a boy named Wade Watts, who escapes his dismal reality by immersing himself in a virtual one with hidden puzzles that might just lead him to massive fortune and power beyond his imagining.
World War Z: The Complete Edition (Movie Tie-in Edition) by Max Brooks, narrated by an all-star cast (12 hrs 9 mins)
This is a new version of Brooks’ zombie novel, containing the abridged versions of the original stories and unabridged recordings of episodes not included in the original.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, narrated by Stephen Fry (5 hrs 51 mins)
Friends Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect narrowly survive the obliteration of planet Earth, hitching a ride on a spaceship and beginning a journey through space with a small group of unusual companions.
Galaxy Outlaws: The Complete Black Ocean Mobius Missions, 1-16.5 by J.S. Morin, narrated by Mikael Naramore (85 hrs 6 mins)
This is the complete collection of all 16 Black Ocean missions of the Starship Mobius and her crew, starring an ex-Earth fighter pilot and a group of misfits and refugees – outlaws with a conscience.
The Worldship Humility by R.R. Haywood, narrated by Colin Morgan (13 hrs 58 mins)
Fifty or so worldships contain what’s left of Earth’s population. A petty thief and an airlock operative are thrown together in a dangerous game involving a stolen code that could lead them all to a habitable planet.
We are Legion (We are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor, narrated by Ray Porter ( )
Launched in 2016, this remains a popular sci-fi adventure involving a cryogenically-preserved man whose consciousness is uploaded to a sentient space probe on a mission to find new homes for humanity.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, narrated by Jon Lindstrom (10 hrs 8 mins)
The main character, Jason Dessen, wakes up to a different world, where he’s recognized for his gifts but doesn’t have the family he loves. Which world is real, and can he get back to the one that means more to him?
The Martian by Andy Weir, narrated by R.C. Bray (10 hrs 53 mins)
Astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars, and his prospects are grim. One crisis at a time, though, he uses his ingenuity to survive in spite of his odds. But will it be enough to get him home?
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison, and Gabrielle de Cuir (11 hrs 57 mins)
Ender Wiggin is six years old when he begins training at Battle School. He and his brothers, all of them results of genetic experimentation, have the combined ability to remake the world – if it doesn’t destroy itself first.
The first of its series, the story begins with the Ruhar invasion on Columbus Day and the subsequent UN military attacks on the Ruhar – who, it turns out, were never our real enemies.
Though the author of this story died in 1986, fans of this classic have called it “one of the monuments of modern science fiction
Best Non-fiction Audiobooks
Whatever your specific interests, if you’re looking for bestselling nonfiction titles, enjoy these audiobook recommendations:
Cary Elwes, the actor who played Westley in The Princess Bride, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, which – for the cast – was more than just an acting gig.
In this award-winning production, Trevor Noah shares a lively and engaging coming-of-age tale from his South African childhood, earning an Audie award for Best Male Narrator in 2018.
This is the story of the unconventional life of Marie Curie – a young woman torn between married love and the chance to live her dreams as a scientist.
Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by the author (19 hrs 3 mins)
Coming from the first African American first lady – and a legend in her own right – this thoughtful and addictive memoir has captured the attention and earned the admiration of legions in the U..S. and all over the world.
Childhood, for David Goggins, was a nightmare, but as an adult he became the only man in history to complete elite training in three different military branches, then went on to earn the title, “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.”
Is it possible to destroy doubt and transform your life in five seconds? Mel Robbins says yes and shows you exactly why and how.
Whatever your goals, James Clear can teach you how to master tiny behaviors that yield transformative results.
Neil Gaiman worked on this for seven years, and from his narration, you can sense his passion and his commitment to breathing life into each character from the oral traditions.
The purpose of this book is to lead us from our current ego-based state of consciousness to a new consciousness that will enable us to create a new, saner, and more loving world.
Few things divide people as quickly and powerfully as politics and religion. The author explains why and offers a different approach that makes the most of each camp’s different insights.
Best Horror Audiobooks
If you’re looking for something that will keep you awake and on the edge of your seat, you can’t go wrong with one of these. Maybe don’t read them too close to bedtime, though.
The beautiful 15-year-old daughter of Laurel Mack disappears, and 10 years later, her mother meets a charming man, and their flirtation quickly develops into something more. Then she meets his daughters, one of whom strongly resembles her own.
Jack and Grace seem to have everything, including the perfect marriage. They’re inseparable. But something is off with Grace, and you start to wonder about the high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.
King knows how to take the ordinary and make it terrifying, and this is one of his best.
This one explores the secret complexities of a marriage that seems perfect on the outside – getting into the heads of two women who love the same man and what each is willing to do to have him to herself.
Flynn’s gift for storytelling and character development are in peak form with this story about a young woman with a haunting secret and a half-sister whose grip on the town unsettles her.
A fast-paced psychological thriller about a manipulative woman who worms her way into the lives of a wealthy couple from Connecticut to gain the privileged life she desires.
Amber Patterson has set her sights on a better life – the kind her target takes for granted. But her own secrets may catch up with her before she can make her final move.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, narrated by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher (13 hrs 42 mins)
In a novel described by Stephen King as “Unputdownable,” recluse Anna Fox spends the day drinking, watching movies, and spying on her neighbors. But while watching the new neighbors – a seemingly perfect family – she sees something she shouldn’t.
If you didn’t find what you’re looking for in my list, check out Amazon’s Audible and get two free audiobooks.
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Whether you’re hitting the road for a long car trip, or you just need something to listen to while working out or taking a walk, audiobooks can transport you on a mental road trip that ignites your imagination.
Whatever your preferences, we hope you find a new favorite.
Don’t leave home without one!