The Best Audiobooks for Roadtrips of Any Length

Credit - Illustration by TIME

A vacation is a great excuse to dive into a good book. This summer, consider listening to one instead. The 26 best audiobooks for road trips as selected by TIME include a deep dive into Dolly Parton’s songwriting, a celebrated Ann Patchett novel, and a collection of Agatha Christie’s greatest mysteries.

Those looking to upgrade their travel playlists can revisit a childhood classic narrated by Anne Hathaway or enter Sarah J. Maas’s multiverse of romantasy. Catch up on recent notable releases from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Hanya Yanagihara, and George Saunders. Let rockstar astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson expand your mind or spend nearly 50 hours learning about Barbra Streisand’s life and career from the funny lady herself. (For reference, Google Maps says it takes 41 hours to drive from New York City to Los Angeles.)

So whether your destination is somewhere near or very, very far, here are the best audiobooks to listen to when you’re stuck in the car.

For day trips (3-8 hours)

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson

Let Neil deGrasse Tyson, the world famous astrophysicist, teach you about the cosmos with his 2017 book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. In just under four hours, Tyson, who narrates the audiobook edition, looks to simplify the most complicated space science concepts like black holes, dark matter, quarks, and everything else in between. By the time you make it to your not-so-far destination, you might have a new appreciation for the universe.

Length: 3 hours, 41 minutes

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Whether you’re off to see the wizard or someone a little less magical, the 2012 audiobook of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 classic The Wonderful World of Oz, narrated byAnne Hathaway, will help guide you on your way. Hathaway offers a bit of dramatic flair with her narration, changing her voice to become each of the characters from the beloved classic, adding new life to a novel that has delighted kids and adults for more than a century.

Length: 3 hours, 49 minutes

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, Dolly Parton

Hit the road with Dolly Parton and her 2020 audiobook exclusive memoir, Songteller, in which she shares the stories behind 100 of her most popular tracks. (She’s written about 3,000 in her career so amazingly this five hour project is just a fraction of her discography.) Parton treats this audiobook like her diary, spilling the tea on the real-life inspiration for “Jolene” and how “I Will Always Love You” was almost a duet with Elvis, making this a must-listen for even the biggest Dolly disciples.

Length: 5 hours, 18 minutes

The Woman In Me, Britney Spears

Come for Britney Spears finally getting the chance to share her truth about her life, career, and conservatorship in her best-selling memoir The Woman In Me. Stay for the delivery by book narrator, Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams, of the incomparable phrase “fo-shizz, fo-shizz.” Seriously, give her all the awards for this.

Length: 5 hours, 31 minutes

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

British comedian Stephen Fry plays it hilariously straight for the 2005 audiobook edition of Douglas Adams’ 1979 sci-fi satire The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The building of an Earth-destroying intergalactic highway leads Arthur Dent on a journey through space with his friend and writer of the titular interstellar travel guide. This cosmic comedy of traveling errors might just come in handy while on the road.

Length: 5 hours and 51 minutes

Seth Rogen attends the 3rd Annual Hilarity For Charity New York City Variety Show at Webster Hall on June 8, 2017 in New York City. <span class="copyright">Mike Pont—WireImage</span>
Seth Rogen attends the 3rd Annual Hilarity For Charity New York City Variety Show at Webster Hall on June 8, 2017 in New York City. Mike Pont—WireImage

Yearbook, Seth Rogen 

If you ever wanted to hang out with actor and comedian Seth Rogen, the audio edition of Yearbook, his 2021 memoir in essays, is your chance. Rogen narrates humorous stories about his life including his stand-up debut at 12-years old, the international controversy surrounding his 2014 movie, The Interview, and a rather uncomfortable meeting with George Lucas. Yearbook feels more like a radio drama with 82 of his friends—Nick Kroll, Jason Alexander, Snoop Dogg, Dan Aykroyd, and David Krumholtz, to name a few—using their unique voices to make the funniest stories of Rogen’s life even funnier.

Length: 6 hours, 13 minutes

Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders

George Saunders has a reputation as a master of short stories, so when his first full-length novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, came out in 2017, it was a big deal. (It won the Man Booker Prize that year, rather controversially.) So it’s only fitting that the best-selling novel, which tells the story of Abraham Lincoln mourning the death of his young son in an evocative meditation on grief, got a supersized audiobook edition that features 166 different narrators including Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Ben Stiller, Julianne Moore, Rainn Wilson, and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. A unique listening experience deserving of being named the 2018 Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year.

Length: 7 hours, 25 minutes

For longer excursions (8-11 hours)

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, Sarah Vowell

For humorous history buffs and Hamilton fans alike, historian and voice actor Sarah Vowell’s Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a thoroughly amusing biography of French nobleman and Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette. The audiobook is a fun history lesson narrated by some very funny people playing notable historical figures. Nick Offerman is George Washington, Patton Oswalt is Thomas Jefferson, John Hodgman is John Adams, and John Slattery is Lafayette, complete with a fairly good French accent.

Length: 8 hours, 7 minutes

<span class="copyright">Peter Fisher for TIME</span>
Peter Fisher for TIME

Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America, John Waters

Criss-cross the country with the Pope of Trash himself, John Waters. With 2014’s Carsick, the pencil thin, mustachioed cult-movie director offers his unique perspective on America as he bums rides from unsuspecting road warriors: an octogenarian farmer, a touring indie band, and a Corvette-driving Republican. It’s a wild, weird, and witty trip that may change the way you see the U.S.

Length: 8 hours, 8 minutes

The Dutch House, Ann Patchett

The audiobook of Ann Patchett’s novel, The Dutch House, allows Tom Hanks, a.k.a. the nicest guy in Hollywood, to play against type. As the narrator of the best-seller—named one of TIME’s Must-Read Books of 2019—Hanks plays Danny, the downtrodden son of Cyril Conroy, a wealthy real estate mogul whose family’s lives begins to unravel after he buys the titular luxurious home in the suburbs of Philadelphia. But this book, written from Danny’s point of view, is not about Cyril or Danny. It’s about Maeve, Danny’s over-protective sister who may be the only one who can put the family back together. Let this American nightmare become the dream listening experience for your next long car ride.

Length: 9 hours, 53 minutes

Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s best-selling 2020 novel, Mexican Gothic, narrated by actor Frankie Corzo,is a spooky thriller set in 1950s Mexico. Socialite Noemí Taboada finds herself traveling to the Mexican countryside to check on her newlywed cousin, Catalina, who believes her aristocratic husband is slowly poisoning her. Catalina also believes there are ghosts living in the walls of her crumbling English manor. The truth might be even more frightening in this chiller that will have you gripping the steering wheel for dear life.

Length: 10 hours, 39 minutes

Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks, Chris Herring

If you believe ball is life, you’ll love the audiobook version of sportswriter Chris Herring’s Blood in the Garden. The 2022 sports book, read by actor Brian Hutchison, looks back at the trials, tribulations, and all-too-brief triumphs of the intimidating and extremely physical ‘90s Knicks led by Patrick Ewing, John Starks, and coach Pat Riley. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll find yourself chanting “go New York, go New York go” with the windows rolled all the way down.

Length: 11 hours, 3 minutes

Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock, Jenny Odell

For those who have trouble relaxing even when they’re on vacation, Jenny Odell’s Saving Time is the audiobook for you. Four years after the release of her Barack Obama-approved book, How to Do Nothing, Odell returned with a thoughtful exploration of time and how we can learn to use ours more wisely. This isn’t a self-help book; she does not offer tips on how to be more efficient. Instead, Saving Time, narrated by theater actor Kristen Sieh, is a hopeful meditation on learning to live life to the fullest without being totally beholden to the clock.

Length: 11 hours, 27 minutes

The Monsters We Defy, Leslye Penelope

Leslye Penelope’s 2022 novel, The Monsters We Defy, the winner of the 2023 Audie Award for Fantasy, is a magical romance set in Washington D.C. during the Jazz Age, read by award-winning audiobook narrator Shayna Small. Clara Johnson, the heroine of Penelope’s bewitching novel, can talk to spirits, an ability that she soon discovers is more a curse than a blessing. When one of those powerful entities offers her a chance to be free of the voices in exchange for stealing a mystical ring from the wealthiest woman in the nation’s capital, she takes it—and the consequences that come with it.

Length: 11 hours, 30 minutes

For a very long trek (12 - 23 hours)

From left: Ad-Rock, Mike D and MCA in an image known as the "Charles Street Shuffle," during Powell's first official shoot with the Beastie Boys for the <i>East Village Eye</i> in 1986.<span class="copyright">Ricky Powell</span>
From left: Ad-Rock, Mike D and MCA in an image known as the "Charles Street Shuffle," during Powell's first official shoot with the Beastie Boys for the East Village Eye in 1986.Ricky Powell

Beastie Boys Book, Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz

2018’s Beastie Boys Book is a music memoir that is as unique as the band itself. For the audiobook, the two remaining members of the iconic rap trio, Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, put together the ultimate mixtape with help from 40 of their closest friends—John C. Reilly, Chloë Sevigny, Bette Midler, Amy Poehler, and Rosie Perez, amongst others. This cast of delightful narrators help tell the stories behind the Beastie Boys’ early days, acclaimed career, and friendship, which allows them to lovingly reminisce about their late member and friend Adam “MCA” Yauch, who died in 2012 of cancer. The audiobook of Beastie Boys Book taps into the playfulness of the New York City group that wasn’t afraid to fight for your right to party.

Length: 12 hours, 41 minutes

The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2015 debut novel, The Sympathizer, looks at a man acting as a Communist spy in Saigon and California during the Vietnam War. The dry, humorless (in a good way) narration by Lost actor Francois Chau only adds to the suspense of the novel that offers nuance to the divisive conflict, bringing the protagonist’s competing allegiances and the danger that brings him into full view. Whether you’ve already read the novel or watched the HBO series, listening to The Sympathizer can only deepen your appreciation of the source material.

Length: 13 hours, 53 minutes

A Court of Thorns and Roses,Sarah J. Maas

Are you looking to enter the literary world of Sarah J. Maas, but don’t know where to start? Give her 2015 racy fantasy novel, A Court of Thorns and Roses, a listen. Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda, the first book in the series of the same name is focused on teenage hunter Feyre Archeron’s journey into a faerie world where she is held captive for killing a mythological creature. It’s there she meets Prythian, an immortal faerie, who goes from being her captor to being something so much more. An escapist novel perfect for those looking to start their vacation the moment they start their engine.

Length: 16 hours, 7 minutes

Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir

For those trapped in a tin can for just over 16 hours, channel your inner-Major Tom with Andy Weir’s space drama, Project Hail Mary. The Martian author’s best-selling 2021 novel, narrated by actor Ray Porter, follows Ryland Grace, a teacher-turned-astronaut who is the sole-survivor of a last chance mission to save Earth. The only problem is, he can’t remember who he is and why he’s floating through space. A suspenseful space odyssey that won the 2022 Audie Awards for Audiobook of the Year.

Length: 16 hours, 10 minutes

Dune, Frank Herbert

If Timotheé Chalamet and Zendaya have piqued your interest in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, but you can’t bring yourself to open the book, it might be time to give the Dune audiobook a try. The 2008 edition of the 1965 novel, which won the Audie Award for Science Fiction, allows you to walk the desert planet of Arrakis with Paul Atreides without ever leaving the comfort of your car.

Length: 21 hours, 2 minutes

For multi-day drives (24+ hours)

Hilary Mantel photographed at Gray's Inn in London, England on Feb. 19, 2020.<span class="copyright">Alice Mann for TIME</span>
Hilary Mantel photographed at Gray's Inn in London, England on Feb. 19, 2020.Alice Mann for TIME

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

The Crown’s Ben Miles brings an air of gravitas to the 2020 audiobook edition of Hilary Mantel’s much-celebrated best-selling 2009 novel, Wolf Hall, which reimagines life under Henry VIII’s rule through the eyes of political fixer Thomas Cromwell. Miles’ charming, yet dastardly narration makes Cromwell an anti-hero worth rooting for no matter how hard you try not to. And if you like what you hear, Miles also narrates audiobooks for the other novels in the Wolf Hall trilogy: Bring Up the Bodies and The Mirror and the Light.

Length: 25 hours, 12 minutes

A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James

Marlon JamesMan Booker Prize-winning 2014 novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, is a fictional account of the violent 1976 break-in at Bob Marley’s Jamaica home that nearly killed the singer, his wife, and his manager. The audiobook edition of the decades-spanning epic features multiple narrators playing assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even a couple of ghosts that are so engaging you won’t even mind if you get stuck in traffic.

Length: 26 hours

A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara’s 2015 best-selling epic, A Little Life, which tackles the social, emotional, and sexual lives of four life-long friends as they make the transition from college to adulthood, isn’t the easiest read. But Oliver Wyman, the narrator of the 2022 audiobook, is a reassuring voice that makes some of the novel’s more trying topics like childhood sexual assault a bit easier to handle. Still, you’ll want to pack the tissues—like, all of them.

Length: 32 hours, 51 minutes

Middlemarch, George Eliot

George Eliot’s Middlemarch is considered by many to be one of the greatest novels ever written. (In 2015, the BBC went so far as to call the 1871 book “the greatest British novel.”) Whether you have read Middlemarch or not, the 2011 audiobook version narrated by acclaimed British actress Juliet Stevenson is bound to deepen your love for Eliot’s idealistic heroine Dorothea Brooke as she learns to live life to the fullest.

Length: 35 hours, 38 minutes

The Agatha Christie Collection

Narrated by Stephen Scalon, The Agatha Christie Collection, releasedlast yearfeatures 28 of the author’s most famous stories that are sure to keep you and your traveling companions at the edge of their seats.

Length: 35 hours, 57 minutes

1Q84, Haruki Murakami

Parallel universes in Tokyo are the setting of Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s popular 1984-set dystopian thriller that rivals George Orwell’s classic named for that same year. First published in Japan in 2009 and released in the U.S. two years later, IQ84 follows Aomame, a young woman who begins to see discrepancies in the world around her, and Tengo, a ghostwriter whose life begins to unravel after he takes on a mysterious new project. In the span of one year, the pair form a bond that can’t be explained. The audiobook, narrated by Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, and Mark Boyett, only makes their unexplainable connection more palpable.

Length: 46 hours, 45 minutes

My Name is Barbra, Barbra Streisand

At nearly a thousand pages, Barbra Steisand’s 2023 autobiography, My Name is Barbra, didn’t appear to spare a single detail of her illustrious life, career, and appetite. Somehow though, when Babs entered the booth to record the narration for her audiobook she unearthed a bit more material—new anecdotes, asides, and musical interludes. All of which is sure to keep you entertained on the absolute longest of road trips.

Length: 48 hours, 17 minutes

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