15 of the best audiobooks for road trips and air travel (2023)

15 of the best audiobooks for road trips and air travel (1)

Cover photos courtesy of the editors

Looking for a travel companion for this summer? How about an adventurous mouse, a mystical witch, a glamorous mid-century socialite. . . or even Mary Shelley? All are characters that come to life in this list of seriously captivating audiobooks. Whether you fly alone to foreign countries orTravelIf you're traveling across the country with your kids, we've put together 15 books to keep you company on your travels.

Fairy tales for elementary school children

Have fun and educate the little ones (and yourself!) on long journeys.

1. The Ramona Quimby audio collection

von Beverly Cleary (HarperAudio, 2011)

Buy now: amazon.com

Introduce your young traveling companions to Cleary's most famous protagonist in this collection about Ramona and her family, beginning withBeezus and Ramonaand guides you throughRamona Quimby, 8 years. She's as precocious and charming as you remember, and better yet, all eight books (that's 19 hours!) are read by Stockard Channing. It's a delightful convergence of classic stories, a beloved author and an iconic narrator who seems to be having the time of his life.

2. Rotwand

von Brian Jacques (Listening Library, 2003)

Buy now: amazon.com

The first in a series of 22 books,Rote Wandfollows Matthias, a young mouse who must save his friends at Redwall Abbey from the evil mouse Cluny the Scourage. Read by the author, it's a classic tale of adventure, humor, whimsy and daring, with a supporting cast that includes a badger.

3. The assassination of Bangwain Spurge

by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin (Dreamscape Media, 2018)

Buy now:amazon.com

An adventure story for slightly older children, this novel is about Bangwain Spurge, an elven historian on a journey to unknown lands. It's light-hearted and hilarious, with satirical elements that will captivate adults. Listeners follow Spurge on his quest for peace between his nation and the goblin kingdom he is visiting, an exploration that could spark deeper conversations about what it means to "win" a war - and who makes history.

For those traveling with tweens and teens

15 of the best audiobooks for road trips and air travel (2)

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Three books that will keep older kids mile after mile off their phones (and listening properly).

4. Bruxa Akata

von Nnedi Okorafor (Tantor Audio, 2018)

Buy now:amazon.com

Bruxa Akatais the first in a popular trilogy about Sunny, a black albinos American girl living in Nigeria. An outsider who discovers she has mystical powers, she offers listeners who also feel out of touch with the world a chance to dream about their own destiny. The narrator, Yetide Badaki, has read many YA fantasy novels and does a great job here.

5. An arma

von Stephen Rowley (Penguin Audio, 2021)

Buy now:amazon.com

What is a Gunkel? A gay uncle, according to author Rowley, who also narrates his novel about a shabby TV star who has to take in her young niece and nephew after the death of her mother, her best friend. With elements of satire and information about today's social media world, it's a lot funnier than the premise would suggest and great for older teens.

6. All those explosions were someone else's fault

von James Alan Gardner (Audible Stories, 2017)

Buy now:amazon.com

Actress Emily Woo Zeller reads this funny sci-fi novel set in a world where superheroes named Sparks are ubiquitous. The main character, Kim Lam, is a non-binary Asian-American college student who, along with his friends, was turned into a spark by a freak accident in a laboratory. Older teens who love comic book movies will enjoy this one.

distract non-fiction

15 of the best audiobooks for road trips and air travel (3)

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If you want to lose yourself in fun memories, intriguing revelations and deep historical dives.

7. Confidential Kitchen: Adventures in the culinary underbelly

von Anthony Bourdain (Random House Audio, 2001)

Buy now:amazon.com

The late Anthony Bourdain achieved an incredibly good treatise on what exactly happens in a restaurant kitchen in this, his first book: the good, the bad, and the spoiled seafood. He performed the audio book and his voice remains convincing and authentic.

8. The 1619 Project: A New Genesis Story

Edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones (Random House Audio, 2021)

Buy now:amazon.com

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones reads her best-selling book, an extension of the telltale series she directedNew York Times.The series, like the book, recalibrates our understanding of American history by focusing on the Middle Passage, the infamous and horrifying journey that transported enslaved people to America from their homelands in Africa. A cast of all-star writers joins the narrative including ZZ Packer, Rita Dove and Kevin M. Kruse.

9. Rogue Romantics: The Extraordinary Life of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter, Mary Shelley

von Charlotte Gordon (Recorded Books, 2015)

Buy now:amazon.com

This 2015 work is an epic dual biography of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley, author ofFrankenstein. Both Shelley and Wollstonecraft led scandalous lives: both had an illegitimate child, and both risked public condemnation to publish their feminist writings. There are also plenty of juicy accounts of Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and other villains from this period.

10. The Women of Capote: A true story of love, betrayal and a swan song for an age

by Laurence Leamer (Penguin Audio, 2021)

Buy now:amazon.com

Carrington McDuffie reads this just-published look at Truman Capote's final years, as high society broke news of the very bright-eyed roman à clef he was writing, from Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness, and other wealthy ladies who were outraged by their appearance in banned your writing. He died before publishing it.

11. Hello Molly!: A reminder

von Molly Shannon (HarperAudio, 2022)

Buy now:amazon.com

For those times when you're driving alone and need a friend, nothing beatsSaturday night liveStudent Molly Shannon reading her new memoir in her inimitable style. Her story begins with a childhood tragedy and tells how it shaped her personality.

Losing fiction

15 of the best audiobooks for road trips and air travel (4)

Images courtesy of the editors

Immerse yourself in other worlds and attractive characters with these page turners.

12. On Earth we are briefly beautiful

by Ocean Vuong (Penguin Audio, 2019)

Buy now:amazon.com

This short work of literary fiction won about a million awards in 2019, and here the author reads his work beautifully. The novel is told in letter form as 20-year-old poet and family historian Little Dog writes to his illiterate mother, processing her life that brought her to America from Vietnam after the war. An immersive listening experience for a long day trip.

13. Milk-Blood Heat

von Dantiel W. Moniz (HighBridge, 2021)

Buy now:amazon.com

A collection of short stories can be a good accompaniment for a trip, and this one, read by Machelle Williams, stands out. Set in Florida, the stories are about people at a crossroads in life, with themes of race, faith, family and violence at play. In one, two estranged brothers make a difficult journey with their father's ashes; in another, a young black woman sees the differences between her life and that of her white best friend. Incredibly good sentences with tragic and thought provoking endings.

14. We are the Brennans

by Tracey Lange (MacMillan Audio, 2021)

Buy now:amazon.com

Popular audiobook narrator Barrie Kreinik expertly reads this bestseller about the many connections between a large Irish Catholic family in upstate New York and the small town they live in. It's the perfect book for cruising the Mid-Atlantic or New England, the audio equivalent of Un-down-able.

15. The Judgment

von Louise Erdrich (HarperAudio, 2021)

Buy now: amazon.com

Pulitzer Prize-winning Native American writer Louise Erdrich will read them aloudfinal romance, which somehow manages to be a love story, a mystery, and a ghost story at the same time. It's as "in the moment" as the book release, takes place in Minneapolis in the summer of 2020, and features the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd as plot points.

This story was originally published on June 19, 2019 and was updated with current information on June 28, 2021 and May 24, 2022.

>>Next:The best podcasts for your next trip

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