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Best Audiobooks for Road Trips

Are you looking for the best road trip audiobooks? We pulled together 30 great audiobooks for a solo long drive, couples road trip, or even a mix of adults and older teens. It’s important to note that not every book on the list is family-friendly. If you’re traveling with children, we recommend switching to our list of the best audiobooks for family road trips!

Three angled book covers with Mary Jane in the middle

Tips for Downloading Audiobooks

If you’re new to audiobooks, two good options – both of which offer subscription services – are Audible and Libro. You can read all about the pros and cons of an Amazon Audible subscription here. If you prefer to support independent bookstores, check out Libro.fm.

Of course, libraries are also an excellent resource for free audiobooks, and most libraries use the Libby app. If you’re not familiar with downloading audiobooks from the library, the librarian at your local branch can walk you through it!

If you are planning to use the library to borrow an audiobook for your road trip, it’s best to plan ahead. Search the availability a couple of weeks in advance in case there is a waitlist.

Audiobook Length Versus Speed

To help you select the perfect length book for your drive, you’ll find the recorded length of each book listed under the narrator. These times are accurate if the book is played at 1x speed.

However, when starting each book, try different listening speeds to find the right balance for everyone. Often, books sound more natural and conversational when played at a higher speed (typically around 1.25), which reduces listening time. Angela and her husband typically prefer to listen to audiobooks at 1.5 speed. We recommend that you test out a few options to find what is best for everyone in your car.

The Best Roadtrip Audiobooks

To help you pick out a great book to listen to on the road, we broke down our book recommendations into a few different segments. Whether you love listening to mysteries, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, memoirs, or a touch of fantasy, you’ll find the best audio book for your road trip below.

You’ll notice that some of the books on the list below also include ratings from our readers. When books are included in one of our annual reading challenges, our readers have an opportunity to complete a book log sharing their ratings and reviews of those books. We’ve included those ratings to help you choose.

Excellent Fiction Audiobooks

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

87% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This juicy contemporary drama focuses on four families that have been friends since their children were born. However, secrets and resentments were buried along the way.

Early in the book, we are introduced to each of these families as they discuss a new, exclusive school that will be opening in the town of Crystal, Colorado (which many readers will recognize as a slightly fictionalized version of Boulder, CO). What starts as good intentions is quickly derailed by very questionable actions as they each fight to get their kids into the new school. These ambitious parents will go to any length to secure a spot for their children. Along the way, secrets and lies will resurface in explosive ways.

This novel explores issues of talent versus privilege, achievement versus potential, and the pursuit of prestige at any cost.

The Book Girls Say…

This book is on the longer side, and it may take several chapters to keep the large cast of characters straight, but it’s worth sticking with it, and the narration is well done! The storyline may be most-relatable to parents of school-aged kids, but Angela and her husband say that it’s a great listen!

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

97% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In this charming debut novel, Widower Tova works at the Sowell Bay Aquarium to occupy her mind and time. She takes pride in cleaning perfectly every night, even though she doesn’t need the money. She loves all the aquarium life but forms a special bond with the intelligent (and curmudgeonly) octopus named Marcellus.

He’s just as surprised to feel friendly toward this human who visits him nightly. Soon, he connects the sadness he sees in her with something he saw in the ocean long ago. Can he help her solve the mystery of her son’s disappearance 30 years ago?

The Book Girls Say…

Neither of us expected to have a book partially narrated by a giant Pacific octopus on our best books of 2022 list, but Marcellus stole our hearts. Beyond that, we loved each of the human characters and their struggles in different phases of life. Young or older, so many people deal with loneliness and loss. Watching characters process and evolve through that was a heartwarming treat.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Remarkably Bright Creatures Book Club Guide with Discussion Questions
Uplifting Books for Book Clubs
Best Book Club Books for 2023
Intergenerational Novels: Books that Connect Generations

PS: We also have a printable Remarkably Bright Creatures book club guide available on Etsy, including discussion questions, themed games, a Marcellus bookmark, and more!

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Born with ocular albinism, Sam Hill’s red eyes cause him problems from the moment that he enrolled at Our Lady of Mercy. Labeled “Hell Boy,” he is bullied by not only his classmates but also by the nun who is the principal of the elementary school. Eventually, Sam finds the friend he desperately needs in Ernie Cantwell, the only African American boy in his class, and eventually also in a fiercely individual girl named Mickie.

Decades later, Sam is a respected ophthalmologist still moving through life with Ernie and Mickie by his side, but his world is about to be upturned when he’s unexpectedly reunited with the biggest school-yard bully from his past.

The Book Girls Say…

This is one of our all-time favorite reads! The writing feels effortless, but the complex character development will pull you in and stick with you long past the last page. Although Sam’s mother’s faith plays an important role in this story, we wouldn’t describe this book as religious.

We highly recommend the audiobook, which is narrated by the author himself! The audio is included with the Kindle Unlimited.

You may also enjoy The World Played Chess, also written and narrated by Robert Dugoni (along with Todd Haberkorn). It’s heavily related to the Vietnam War and its lasting impact on one soldier.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 07/26/2023

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

80% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

One day before Allan’s 100th birthday, he’s still in good health. However, he’s not excited about the big celebration planned at his nursing home, so he decides to escape. After crawling out the window, he goes on the adventure of a lifetime.

On his laugh-out-loud funny journey, he encounters a cast of quirky characters, from unpleasant criminals to a friendly hot dog vendor. There’s even an elephant!

The Book Girls Say…

If you’re looking for a humorous and charming listen, download this one before you hit the road!

In addition to the present-day adventure, you’ll see flashbacks to some of Allan’s Forest Gump-like life, which will appeal to history lovers. The story starts out a bit slower, but the pace picks up as the story gains momentum.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books With Characters in Their 90s and 100s

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

91% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Bernadette lives with her husband and her teenage daughter in Seattle – a city where she’s never felt she fits in. She was once a renowned architect, but now spends most of her time in the house hiding from the other moms of her daughter’s elite prep school.

Unlike her Microsoft employee husband, Elgie, who has fully embraced the granola-eating, public transport-using, bike-riding culture of 2010s Seattle, Bernadette spends her days in the house relying on a virtual assistant in India for many of her daily tasks. This becomes a real problem when her daughter’s stellar report card earns her a family cruise to Antarctica, and Bernadette becomes overwhelmed by the planning and preparations.

When Bernadette disappears before the trip, her daughter Bee is determined to track her down, unraveling a web of secrets.

Much of this book is told in epistolary form, including notes from Bee’s school, email exchanges between Bernadette and her virtual assistant, and catty moms communicating about Bernadette’s eccentricities.

The Book Girls Say…

If you’re drawn to quirky and eccentric characters, you might love Bernadette as much as we do! This satirical novel was a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for “Best Humor” when it was released in 2012, and it’s one of our favorite laugh-out-loud reads. But it’s more than just that… Maria Semple managed to create an enjoyable, witty, smart, and emotional novel!

Angela and her husband both enjoyed the audio version of this book, and this is one of the rare instances where we felt like the movie was almost as good as the book!

Mystery & Thriller Audiobooks

Whether you want a scary thriller,  family drama, or humorous adventure for your travels, this section has the perfect listen!

Book Summary

Shelby Tebow went missing first. Then, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanished just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen. This strikes fear into a once-peaceful community.But are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried. And no one is prepared for the answers.

The Book Girls Say…

This book won the 2022 Audie Award for best thriller/suspense audiobook recording.

Book Summary

When Travis is hired to find the missing author of dark children’s books, he stumbles into a reclusive community. Pastoral was believed to be a local legend, not a real group and place. However, when he reaches the commune, he disappears. It’s the same thing that happened to Maggie, the author he is looking for.

Years later, Theo, who has always lived within Pastoral, finds a truck at the border of his community. No one is allowed in or out, so the truck’s discovery brings up questions and long-buried secrets about their world. Theo, his wife, and her sister begin uncovering shocking and sinister truths.

The Book Girls Say…

This novel is described as both atmospheric and immersive, so your time on the road will fly by as you listen to the talented cast of 5 narrators.

Book Summary

Sadie has had a rough start to life and is responsible for raising her younger sister Mattie in an isolated small town. When Mattie is found dead, the police do a sub-par investigation. Sadie is once again on her own as she fights to bring the suspect to justice by following the few clues she has. When West, a radio personality, hears about the sisters’ story, he starts a podcast to track the investigation and is determined to help Sadie.

The Book Girls Say…

This YA Thriller is excellent for fans of true crime podcasts. The format of this book is meant to be listened to! In fact, it won the Audie Award for Best Young Adult Audiobook in 2019.

Don’t let the “YA” categorization of this book turn you off. Reviewers of all ages say this book will hit you hard and leave you speechless. Before choosing this book for a road trip with teens in the car, be aware that it deals with heavy themes, including pedophilia, sexual abuse, drug abuse, and murder.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

83% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

A small town in Oregon was shocked in 1977 when two seemingly random men were murdered with the same gun. The killer left strange notes, leading the town to believe that the killer was a rich, eccentric 23-year-old woman, Beth. After being acquitted of the murders, she became reclusive, tucked away in the isolation of her mansion.

Forty years later, receptionist Shea runs a true-crime website at night. When she has a chance encounter with now 63-year-old Beth, she’s thrilled when Beth agrees to an interview. The duo begin meeting regularly at Beth’s mansion, which is not a comforting place. Shea swears items move on their own, and other strange things also happen. Although Beth is highly charming, Shea can’t help but wonder if she’s befriending a murderer.

The Book Girls Say…

If you prefer single timelines or dual chronological timelines, skip this one. The storyline alternates between the present and Beth’s life in the 70s, leading up to and including her arrest and trial. However, her past isn’t always revealed to the reader in order.

Book Summary

Anxious People is about a failed bank robber that stumbles into an apartment open house and inadvertently holds a group of strangers hostage. The eclectic group of captives may just be the worst hostages in the world, and none of them are quite who they appear to be.

Throughout the ordeal, they divulge secrets, form allegiances, and set into motion a chain of events so unexpected that, when questioned by the police, they can hardly explain what happens next.

The Book Girls Say…

We debated on how to classify the genre of this book. It is part locked-room mystery, and part classic humorous examination of humanity. We ultimately decided to group it here with the other mystery books because it stands out in our mind as being different from what you might expect if you’ve read other Backman books. However, it still has all the characteristics we love in other Fredrik Backman books, including quirky characters, witty prose, and writing that is entertaining while also getting right to the heart of the matter!

We also love Backman’s Beartown trilogy about a rural Swedish town where life revolves around hockey. The books are about human nature and the ramifications of putting the team and star players first, no matter what. However, be warned that Beartownt is heavier and deals with sexual assault and other heavy topics. These books are must-reads, but hold on to them for another occasion if you’re looking for a lighter listen on your vacation.

Historical Fiction Audiobooks

From the Great Depression and WWII to the 1970s, our historical fiction audiobook recommendations work well for both avid and reluctant readers. This makes them perfect for road trips when one of the passengers is hesitant to listen on the go. Because they quickly transport you to a different place and time, they often draw in new readers/listeners. 

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Through the true story of a racehorse named Lexington, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks manages to weave a tale of spirit and injustice over 150 years of American history.

The book has three timelines. In 1850, you’ll meet an enslaved horse groomer, Jarrett, in Kentucky, who has a special bond with Lexington. There is also a young artist who paints images of the horse. When the Civil War erupts, the artist fights for the union and runs into the young groom and stallion again far from the track.

In 1954, a gallery owner on Martha’s Vineyard takes a special interest in a 19th-century equestrian old painting, even though the artist and provenance are unknown.

In 2019, a Smithsonian scientist from Australia and a Nigerian-American art historian unexpectedly connect through a common interest in the painting as they look for clues to the origin.

The Book Girls Say…

This story goes well beyond horse racing and art. The page-turning storytelling has detailed descriptions and depth that will stick with you long after you finish the book. It’s one of the best audiobooks Angela has listened to this year!

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Set in 1932 during the Great Depression, This Tender Land follows four orphans who have escaped the abusive Lincoln Indian Training School. The kids set off down the river, and have to survive the environment while being pursued by the school.

They have to decide whether to trust each stranger they encounter and discover themselves along the way. Equal parts adventure and heart, this book is often described as a modern classic and compared to Huckleberry Finn.

The Book Girls Say…

If you’ve already read This Tender Land, check out Ordinary Grace by the same author.

This Tender Land is included free with an Audible Membership as of 7/26/23.

Book Summary

Set in the early 19th century, 11-year-old Wash is a slave on a Barbados sugar plantation. He’s terrified when he’s selected as a manservant for his master’s brother, but soon realizes that Christopher Wilde is an abolitionist. He’s also an explorer and inventor, exposing Wash to more incredible wonders than he could ever imagine.

When a bounty is placed on Wash after a murder, Christopher flees with him, and their adventures continue worldwide. A story of both betrayal and redemption, Washington Black was named one of the best books of 2018 by the New York Times Book Review and countless other publications.

The Book Girls Say…

When we listened to the audio sample for Washington Black, it was hard to stop listening because the story and narration were so compelling!

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

98% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This young adult historical fiction focuses on life in post-war Spain under Franco’s dictatorship. In 1957, the regime needed money and opened the country to Americans hoping for investment. Eighteen-year-old Daniel travels with his oil tycoon father from Houston to Madrid.

Daniel brings his camera, eager to explore the city beyond the image that Franco is projecting to the world. Along with Ana, the young hotel maid tasked with assisting his family, Daniel discovers and documents the atrocities happening in the fascist regime.

The Book Girls Say…

While this book is classified as Young Adult, it’s excellent for adult readers. Melissa and her husband both rated it 5 stars. The beginning of the first chapter has a heavier and more literary feel than the remainder of the book, so keep going if you find the beginning odd. 🙂

Another great choice by Ruta Septys is We Must Betray You, which gives great insight into communist Romania in 1989.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

95% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Mary Jane tells the story of two very different family lifestyles and a 14-year-old girl trying to decide who she really is. Mary Jane is a quiet, book-loving girl from a traditional, conservative family in 1970s Baltimore. When she is offered a job as a nanny for a local doctor, her mom assumes their home is equally tidy and respectable.

However, the house is a huge mess and it’s about to get crazier. The doctor has welcomed a rock star and his wife to stay at the house while he tries to get sober. Mary Jane has a lot to teach them about tidiness and schedules, and all the while they are opening her eyes to the world outside her bubble. By the end of the summer, she’ll have a much better understanding of who she wants to be.

The Book Girls Say…

This was one of our favorite books of the last few years, and one that really stuck with both of us! Angela really enjoyed listening to the audiobook because it incorporates music.

Although the main character is a teenager, this is an adult novel, not a YA title. It makes an excellent read because of the perspective that comes from looking back at the years between innocence and maturity. It could prompt a great road trip discussion about your own teen years.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 07/26/2023

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

West With Giraffes is a charming tale of adventure that takes you on the ride of a lifetime from the east coast of the US to the west, alongside a rowdy 17-year-old, a grumpy older man, and two giraffes. The year is 1938, and no American zoo has successfully housed giraffes before. The female zoo director of the San Diego Zoo believes she can do it. The giraffes have just survived a hurricane en route to the east coast, and Riley Jones, the zoo’s curmudgeonly head keeper, is responsible for safely transporting the giraffes from New York City to San Diego.

America is still in the throes of the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl conditions continue to ravage the drought-stricken Southern Plains states. A coast-to-coast trek with giant animals is no easy feat. Jones begrudgingly teams up with a starving teenager named Woody to help him make the journey. The adventures along the way include run-ins with circus con artists, being tailed by a female photographer looking for a big scoop, an emotional visit to Woody’s hometown, and so much more.

At its heart, this is a coming-of-age story. Now, at the age of 105, Woody recounts his 12-day cross-country trip with Jones and the giraffes and how it shaped his life.

The Book Girls Say…

After we both gave this book 5 stars, we’ve recommended it to others in a variety of age ranges. Everyone else has love it too! In fact, Angela’s husband recently listened to the audiobook, and her 10 and 11-year-old sons begged to listen with him. It’s now a family favorite!

From the insights it gives to life across America in the late 1930s to the growing relationships between characters, including the humans and the giraffes, we can’t recommend this book highly enough!

The audio is included with the Kindle Unlimited.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 07/26/2023

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

West with Giraffes Book Club Questions & Guide
Books About Traveling Across America
Intergenerational Novels: Books that Connect Generations
Unforgettable Dust Bowl Books

PS: We have a printable West with Giraffes book club guide available on Esty that includes discussion questions, bonus giraffe content, a custom bookmark, and more!

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

96% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This novel chronicles the meteoric rise of a fictional, iconic 1970s rock band – The Six – and their beautiful lead singer, Daisy Jones. The story is told through a series of “behind the music” style interviews that will make you feel like you are right there with them in the hard-partying 70s music scene.

As you hear from each band member, the story of these complex characters unfolds, ultimately revealing the mystery behind the band’s infamous breakup.

The Book Girls Say…

This book was meant to be HEARD. Each member of the band is read by a different narrator, which fits perfectly with the rockumentary, interview style of the novel. And there’s even an original song at the end of the recording.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

95% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This entire novel takes place over the course of 10 days in 1954. Eighteen-year-old Emmett has finished his term on a work farm, where he was sent after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The warden drives him home to Nebraska, where he plans to pick up his 8-year-old brother before heading west for a fresh start.

However, Emmett discovers that Duchess and Wooly, his friends from the work camp, have stowed away in the trunk. The three teens and 8-year-old Billy adjust their plans and set out across the country together. The book is told from alternating points of view.

The Book Girls Say…

What could be better than listening to a road trip book as you hit the open road? Lincoln Highway was voted as one of our reader’s overall favorite books of 2021. But, keep in mind that it’s over 16 hours at 1x speed, so better for a long road trip!

Magical Realism, Light Fantasy & Science Fiction Audiobooks

Sometimes it’s fun to escape reality a bit. While the Harry Potter Series is perfect for a trip with the entire family, the books in this section are geared toward adults or older teens. While readers generally love or hate the Sci-Fi and Magical Realism genres, these books are great for anyone willing to temporarily suspend their disbelief in order to enjoy a phenomenal story.

Book Summary

If you could find out exactly how many years you have left to live, would you want to know?

On the same day, all around the world, every person over the age of 22 receives an identical box. Inside each is a string. At first, no one knows what the strings mean, but it soon becomes apparent that a long string means long life, and a short string foretells a life cut short.

As society responds to the revelation of the boxes, each person must make a choice – do you want to know how long you will live? If so, what will you do with that knowledge? And what if your choice is different from those you care about most?

These are the dilemmas facing the eight protagonists in The Measure, whose fates become interwoven as their individual stories unfold.

The Book Girls Say…

This is a book that really makes you think, and one that will stick with you long after you’ve read the last page. We think it’s a perfect book to listen to on a road trip because it offers up abundant topics for a discussion with no right or wrong answers.

While there are multiple main characters, each is well-developed, and it’s not hard to keep track of each storyline.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

90% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Nora has decided she is done. Done with the way her life is going. In a moment of darkness, she attempts suicide, but she finds herself in the Midnight Library between life and death. The shelves go on and on, and inside each book is a life that she could have lived, had she made just one different choice somewhere along the way – from following dreams to pursuing different careers to undoing old breakups.

Each time she opens a book, she finds herself living that alternate life, and she is faced with the decision of whether she wants to permanently exchange her life for a new one. As she visits these alternate realities, she’ll have to decide not only which life she wants, but also what makes life worth living in the first place.

The Book Girls Say…

While we aren’t usually drawn to magical realism, we found the premise of this book fascinating. Some find it too predictable – and it’s true that the book’s synopsis tells you exactly what to expect – but this book will make you think… not just about Nora’s choices and regrets, but also about your own.

As mentioned, this book does deal with suicide contemplation. However, we believe you’ll be left feeling entertained and positively contemplating life. This could lead to some excellent road trip discussions.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

English teacher Jake Epping is recruited by his friend Al, the local diner owner, to help with the most unlikely of requests. Al discovered a portal in the diner’s storeroom that transports him back in time to the era of Ike and Elvis. He becomes obsessed with using the portal to go back in time and stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. But when he realizes he won’t be able to complete the mission, he enlists Jake for the job. Jake reluctantly agrees to go back to 1958 and live the early years of the 1960s in the small town of Jodie, Texas while devising a plan to stop JFK from dying on 11/22/63.

The Book Girls Say…

This book is NOT what you’d expect from Stephen King. Instead of horror, you’ll find suspenseful historical fiction crossed with science fiction (and even a twist of romance) that addresses the most compelling aspect of time travel. How do actions taken in the past affect the same future you started in?

This is the longest audiobook on our list, so if you’re on an epic cross-country drive, we highly recommend it! Angela and her husband both loved it.

Book Summary

This debut novel written by Ruth Emmie Lang is magical, both in story and language. Weylyn Grey was raised by wolves after being orphaned. After surviving on his own in nature, he has developed some supernatural abilities. He first realizes his powers when he single-handedly stops a tornado.

His powers, amazing as they may be, tend to manifest at inopportune times and places. In Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, Weylyn’s story is told by those who have encountered him throughout many years.

The Book Girls Say…

Even if magical realism and fantasy aren’t your usual genres, you won’t want to stop listening to this one! Melissa hasn’t been able to stop recommending Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstances.

Book Summary

While this book is technically a YA Fantasy, it receives high ratings across the board, even from those who don’t typically choose YA or Fantasy novels.

Linus is a 40-year-old caseworker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, and spends his days overseeing children in orphanages and his nights in a tiny house with his devious cat.

When Linus is called to a classified assignment to visit 6 children deemed dangerous, he also meets their caretaker, Arthur Parnassus, who is dedicated to the children’s safety. However, as Linus and Arthur connect, secrets are exposed. Linus must choose between destroying the home of the children or risking them destroying the world.

The Book Girls Say…

The book’s central theme is kindness, and our readers describe it as a book that’s great for your heart and soul.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This story follows Wade Watts, a young gamer who becomes caught up in a high-stakes treasure hunt. 

The OASIS, a virtual universe, is the arena for fast-paced competition against rival gamers and the corporation trying to gain control over the OASIS. All along the way, the story features 1980s nostalgia.

The Book Girls Say…

Although it is set in the future, this sci-fi / dystopian book was a hit on our 1980s book list because it’s heavy on 1980s pop culture and video game nostalgia.

The publisher chose an amazing narrator! Wil Wheaton is famous for the 1980s classic movie Stand By Me and a role on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Your family will also recognize his voice from his work in The Big Bang Theory, Teen Titans Go!, and a variety of video game character voices.

If you have teens in the car, this might be the type of listen that gets them to put down their Nintendo Switch and put on their listening ears to soak up some of the video game nostalgia.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Set in the 1980s

Book Summary

The newest book from the author of The Martian has received praise from both fans of Sci-Fi and those who normally avoid Sci-Fi, so it could be a great pick for couples with different genre preferences! Astronaut Ryland has just woken up millions of miles from home, a very long time after his mission. His crewmates are dead, and his memories are fuzzy. Slowly, he begins piecing together that he must single-handedly save Earth from an event that could cause total extinction. With themes of both mystery and adventure, this highly-rated book won the 2022 Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year. Readers consistently call it a must-listen and say the narration makes the story come to life.

The Book Girls Say…

For more Sci-fi audiobooks, consider works by Neil Gaiman, such as American Gods.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Readers’ Favorite Books: 2021 Edition

Audiobook Memoirs & Non-Fiction

From Amy Poehler and Tina Fey to Michelle Obama, memoirs read by the author are consistently great in the audio version. We outline some of our favorites below, along with some other stand-out nonfiction books that will make a long car ride fly by. We also have more audiobook memoir suggestions here.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

96% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Killers of the Flower Moon is a non-fiction tale featuring a plot that seems like it has to be fiction.

Finding oil within their land, the Osage Indian Nation became the richest people per capita in the world. The wealth attracted a whole host of bad characters, leading to murders and other vicious crimes.

This tale also represents the first time we really see J. Edgar Hoover show up in the history books, as a young FBI director leading the first major homicide investigation in the organization’s history.

One of our favorite actors-slash-narrators, Will Patton (Coach Yoast from the film Remember the Titans), does a fantastic job on this audiobook.

The Book Girls Say…

This book is a great companion to the 2023 Martin Scorcese film by the same name, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino, and Lily Gladstone. Scorcese worked closely with the Osage Tribe and filmed in Oklahoma to authentically share this tragic piece of history.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Set in the 1920s
Books Set in Oklahoma

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

90% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Bill Bryson is famous for his humorous travel writing, but in this nostalgic and hilarious memoir, he reflects on growing up in middle America in the 1950s in the middle of the baby boomer generation. Using his childhood imaginary superhero persona to tell his story, he tells his story of growing up in Des Moines, bringing his loving but eccentric family to life.

The Book Girls Say…

If you’ve never read a Bill Bryson book before, then we’ll just warn you that you’ll get both a great book and an ab workout from laughing so hard, especially when listening to Bryson’s deadpan narration.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

98% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In this memoir, Clint Hill reflects on his seventeen years on the White House Secret Service detail under Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford, shedding light on the personalities of five of the most powerful men in the world, and giving a unique insider perspective on many historical events of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Clint Hill also wrote another memoir – Ms. Kennedy and Me – about his time as Jackie Kennedy’s personal secret service agent throughout her years as First Lady. Both of Hill’s memoirs are vivid and insightful without feeling gossipy, and he provides an in-depth look at the politics of the day without feeling political.

The Book Girls Say…

While Clint Hill does not narrate his own memoirs, the audio versions are very well done and make you feel as if you’ve been transported back in time to witness all of the events firsthand. Both Angela and her husband really enjoyed the history in this book.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books that Span Multiple Decades
Must-Listen Memoirs

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

95% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In this non-fiction book that reads like fiction, we are introduced to Louis Zamperini in his childhood. He’s considered a bit of a delinquent before channeling his angst into running. And he was great. His talent for running took him all the way to the Berlin Olympics in 1936. But when the second World War begins, Louis goes from athlete to airman.

In May 1943, Louis’ bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean. His unlikely survival aboard a tiny raft surrounded by sharks, and on the verge of starvation, lands him in an even more perilous trial as he is driven to the limits of endurance and ingenuity.

The Book Girls Say…

Prior to this book, most of Angela’s knowledge of WWII centered around the wrongs of the Third Reich and the devastating impacts of the atomic bomb dropped on Japan. But outside of Pearl Harbor, she didn’t know much about Japan’s role in the war. Before reading this book, she also didn’t think she had much interest in WWII non-fiction – Unbroken changed all that!

If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, you may have noticed the name of the narrator sounded familiar. Edward Herrmann is the actor who played Richard Gilmore, Lorelai’s tough, yet endearing father.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Set in the 1940s

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

98% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Born a Crime is the true story of Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s childhood and early adulthood. His rise to success was unlikely based on his beginning. Trevor was born in South Africa in 1984 to a white father and a Black mother. His parents could have been imprisoned for five years – or worse – for conceiving him. He spent his early years largely hidden from life outside because his mother feared (with good reason) that he could be removed from her custody because of the apartheid rules of segregation.

When the era of white rule officially ended in the early 1990s, the family’s troubles evolved with the times. From attempted kidnappings and domestic violence to high school dating, you’ll find a mixture of relatable and shocking stories that keep you engaged with every page.

The Book Girls Say…

In true Trevor Noah fashion, you’ll be entertained while also receiving an education on life in apartheid South Africa. You will laugh and cry as you listen to him narrate his own poignant and honest stories.

We highly recommend listening to the audiobook, which Trevor narrates himself. Trevor speaks eight languages and draws upon each of them throughout the book to explain how languages can divide people, but can also be used to build bridges. We found it much more impactful to hear him speak each language with the correct sounds and pronunciations, rather than attempting our own phonetic reading.

There is also a young reader edition of Born a Crime, however, it’s not available in audio format!

Book Summary

If you grew up watching Happy Days or Andy Griffith, this joint memoir from brothers Ron and Clint Howard could be your perfect road trip listen. The brothers answer the question they’re asked all the time – “What was it like to grow up on TV?” by sharing both good and bad stories of their experiences.

Along with their parents, the Howard brothers moved from the Midwest to Hollywood, where Rance and Jean expected to find careers in show business. Instead, their young sons began capturing the hearts of casting agents and finding steady employment. Instead of being jealous, Rance and Jean set out to protect their boys from the dangers of Hollywood, while balancing helping them build their successful careers.

The Book Girls Say…

While there are some harrowing moments, the book is filled with happy stories of a family who remained functional against the odds.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 07/27/2023

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In this memoir, Dave Grohl tells the stories of a lifetime. It begins with his childhood in Springfield, Virginia, teaching himself to drum and dreaming of being a musician someday. Then he tells of his early adult years on the West Coast, where he was rocketed from a starving artist to a member of the biggest band in the world, Nirvana.

Having achieved all his wildest dreams by age 25, but also witnessing firsthand the price of fame, Dave then spent his next 25 years carefully crafting his life exactly as he wanted it – with equal measures of music, family, and friends. He shares some really epic stories starring some of the biggest names of our time, and he tells some really touching stories starring his mom, his wife, and his children.

The Book Girls Say…

You don’t have to be a fan of Nirvana or the Foo Fighters to enjoy this memoir! Dave Grohl tells stories about the phases of life and how they change you. Throughout this memoir, we see Dave first strive to become a musician, and then strive to be so much more, including a father who puts his kids ahead of his career.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Written by the long-time director and producer of Anthony Bourdain’s travel food show, In the Weeds takes you on an adventure around the world. They filmed in dangerous locations, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, and Iran.

The book covers what it was like to be on this journey, and how they managed to film in areas so hard for Westerners to visit. There’s a focus on what it was like traveling with Bourdain, on and off-camera.

The Book Girls Say…

Skip this one if you’re sensitive to the topic of suicide. Vitale shares some morbid comments Bourdain made over the years on the subject of death, prior to taking his own life. There’s also plenty of adult content and language. For a look a Bourdain’s life from his own point of view, try Kitchen Confidential or World Travel: An Irreverent Guide.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

While this book takes place on September 11, 2001 and the following days, it’s not the devastating story you would expect. Instead, this heartwarming book recounts the experiences of countless passengers from some of the 38 planes that were unexpectedly diverted to Newfoundland – an island in Canada’s easternmost province – when US airspace was closed on 9/11. On that day, the small town of Gander, with a population of just 10,000, received more than 6,600 passengers from 92 countries. Ganderites, along with residents of the surrounding towns, opened the doors to the local churches, schools, and even their own homes.

Throughout this book, you’ll not only learn the personal stories of the passengers, but you’ll also learn a lot about life on this tiny, remote island and about the unexpecting hosts who welcomed strangers from around the world with open arms and generous hearts.

The Book Girls Say…

We’ve both seen and loved the musical Come From Away, so we already knew some of the story, but we learned so much more from this book. The selflessness of the residents of Gander and the surrounding towns will warm your heart page after page. It is one of the most uplifting, faith-in-humanity-restoring books we’ve ever read. You won’t regret downloading it before your drive!

More Audiobook Recommendations

If you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, use it as a resource for free audiobooks on your next road trip. We have a list of the best Kindle Unlimited Audiobooks here! And if you’re wondering about the pros and cons of Audible subscriptions, we can help with that too. For totally free audiobooks, don’t forget to talk to your local library!

We hope you enjoyed our list of the best road trip audiobooks. Don’t forget to check out our list of audiobooks for the whole family!

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Angela & Melissa

The Book Girls are best friends who jointly read over 200 books per year. We started Book Girls' Guide in 2019 to help others de-stress and find joy through the power of a great book. We do in-depth research on thousands of novels and non-fiction titles each year to provide curated book lists covering a variety of genres.

West with Giraffes Book Club Questions & Discussion Guide

Friday 1st of September 2023

[…] performance 4.6 out of 5 stars. We enjoyed the audio so much that we added it to our list of audiobooks that are perfect for road trips. Of course, as with all audiobooks, some people enjoy the narration more than others. We always […]

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