With the coming holidays, you’re probably thinking about travel plans. Audiobooks are the perfect travel companion, whether you’re going via car, plane, or train. They can pull you into a downright amazing tale—and engage you through the inevitable delays. Because audiobooks are often read by the author or a trained actor, listening to them adds a new dimension to any narrative, even if you’ve already read the print version. As you plan your holiday travel, make sure your devices are fully stocked. Here are 12 great audiobook recommendations timed for short and long trips!
For more travel tips, here’s a guide for How to Pack for the Perfect Bookish Vacation.
As you head down to your family for Thanksgiving, you must turn on IT’S ALL RELATIVE, a fascinating look at the bonds that connect us all. When A.J. Jacobs got an email from his eighth cousin, he began a three-year adventure to help build the biggest family tree in history. Never one to back down from a challenge, Jacobs undergoes a hilarious, heartfelt quest to understand what constitutes family.
Read by A. J. Jacobs
Jennifer Egan’s first foray into historical fiction is 15 hours and 16 minutes of a mesmerizing WWII-era story. You'll meet Anna Kerrigan, an indomitable and unforgettable heroine who becomes the first female diver at the Brooklyn Naval Yard—the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations—and navigates a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. That means, if you’re making multiple trips—whether you’re visiting family or backpacking through Europe—MANHATTAN BEACH will enrapture you the whole way through.
Read by Norbert Leo Butz
If you’re traveling to or from Anna Kendrick’s hometown of Portland, Maine, her musings about her middle-class New England upbringing are just what you need for the trip. Kendrick’s autobiographical collection of essays recounts memorable moments throughout her life. Read by Kendrick herself, the essays offer her one-of-a-kind commentary on the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture.
Read by Anna Kendrick
If you have a five-hour layover, you can enjoy the entirety of Mohsin Hamid’s EXIT WEST while you wait. In an unnamed country teetering on the brink of civil war, sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed meet and embark on a furtive love affair. The two decide to leave their homeland when unrest explodes in their city—forcing them into premature intimacy. EXIT WEST follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.
Read by Mohsin Hamid
With a six-hour-and-54-minute run time, THIS IS JUST MY FACE: TRY NOT TO STARE is perfect for a seven-hour flight from JFK to Heathrow. In her memoir, Oscar-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe (of Precious and Empire) hits hard with self-knowing dispatches on friendship, depression, celebrity, haters, fashion, race, and weight. Irreverent, hilarious, and untraditional, this audiobook will resonate with anyone who has ever felt different, yet inspired to make a dream come true.
Read by Gabourey Sidibe
Read by the author, this poetic audiobook takes place in an elevator in the span of 60 seconds—making it perfect for a quick flight or drive. After his brother Shawn is murdered, Will sets out to avenge his death. On the way to kill Shawn’s murderer, Will gets in an elevator and as the elevator stops on each floor, someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows.
Read by Jason Reynolds
Visiting Trevor Noah’s hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa? Let the author be your guide. Noah talks in-depth about his South African childhood in his memoir, BORN A CRIME. A wild coming-of-age story set during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed, this audiobook is by turns hilarious, bizarre, tender, dark, and poignant.
Read by Trevor Noah
Thrillers are unarguably the best entertainment to keep you engaged, particularly when the story involves secrets. If you’re making a solo drive to your destination, THE SECRET SHE KEEPS is a pulse-quickening listen that will have you cutting your pit stops short. This riveting psychological thriller traces the unlikely and increasingly sinister friendship between two pregnant women who are also carrying secrets they must not divulge.
Read by Lucy Price-Lewis
If you want to inspire your son or daughter to live a life of pure imagination, the boyhood antics of this master storyteller will surely captivate and delight you, especially on a restless road trip. As full of excitement and the unexpected as his world-famous, bestselling middle-grade books, Roald Dahl’s tales of his own childhood are completely fascinating and fiendishly funny. If your road trip outlasts your audiobook, Dahl has many more classics to choose from, including THE BFG and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.
Read by Dan Stevens
If your traveling plans have you flying solo, you’ll need an interesting character to accompany you. Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. Smart, warm, uplifting, this is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine who realizes the only way to survive is to open your heart.
Read by Cathleen McCarron
Caught on a snowbound train? This fast-paced Agatha Christie–esque thriller starts on a train that careens off the track during a massive blizzard. But eventually, the passengers abandon the train for a nearby, century-old hotel—and that’s where the murder mystery unfolds. A passenger turns up dead and police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen must fit the pieces of the puzzle together before the killer strikes again. This suspenseful locked-room mystery is the perfect audiobook to keep you on your toes while you wait for your travel plans to pick up again. Just don’t take it too literally.
Read by Kate Reading
This audiobook manages to squeeze a huge message into just 47 minutes. From the wonderful world of Fredrik Backman, THE DEAL OF A LIFETIME delivers an insightful and poignant holiday story about a man who sacrificed his family in the single-minded pursuit of success and the courageous little girl who crosses his path while fighting for her life.
Read by Santino Fontana