Summer is just around the corner, and for many of us that means taking a road trip. Audio books can be a great addition to any journey, but they require the right balance of interesting story and great narrator. Here is my list of the best audio books for ADULTS that are sure to make your miles on the road fly by.
Something to make you laugh…
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood* by Trevor Noah.
The Daily Show Host, Trevor Noah, recounts the fascinating story of his upbringing in South Africa. Although the book explores some heavier sociopolitical issues related to poverty and racism, it is mainly about the antics of a mischievous boy who has a knack for trouble. Noah reads the book himself and tells his stories with hilarious voices and accents.
A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston
If you were a fan of Breaking Bad or Malcolm in the Middle, you may know the actor Bryan Cranston. In this book, he recounts all the jobs and acting roles he has had over his life. Cranston reads the audiobook himself with perfect comedic timing and dry wit.
The Martian* by Andy Weir
A man being stranded alone on Mars may not sound funny, but this science fiction book will have you laughing out loud. The main character, Mark Watney, overcomes his bleak situation with creativity and a great sense of humor. There is a lot of science in this novel, but the narrator reads it well and helps even the non-science minded reader enjoy this story of survival.
The Way I Heard It by Mike Rowe
Rowe tells thirty-five SHORT stories you’ve never heard about people you know. Weaving together his own history as a television host with lessons from movie stars, presidents, and historical figures, Rowe creates quick stories that are funny, entertaining, and educational. Rowe narrates the book with his typical charm and wit.
Something to make you think…
Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know* by Malcolm Gladwell
In a podcast like format, Gladwell uses examples from history and the headlines to explore how our misconceptions about strangers can have a dramatic impact on our understanding of them. Gladwell does a great job as the narrator, and whenever possible, he incorporates actual recorded interviews and audio clips of the news events that he is discussing.
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai spoke up for the right of girls in her country to receive an education. When she was fifteen, the Taliban shot her in the head to silence her activism. She survived, and this inspiring audio book tells her story and explores the rights we often take for granted.
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy
This nonfiction book takes the reader through the history of opioids and the current explosive growth of addicts. Examining the pharmaceutical company that aggressively sold oxycodone to rural and blue-collar communities, Macy shows how this eventually gave rise to the current heroin epidemic. Read by the author, you can hear the emotion in her voice as she describes the families destroyed by a simple pain pill prescription.
The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff
Created from thousands of first-hand accounts of 9/11, this book captures the shock, confusion, and grief of that day by sharing the stories you know and the one you’ve never heard in the words of those who lived it. The audiobook is presented with recordings from the day, interviews with witnesses, and full cast reading of eyewitness statements.
Something to take you away…
Daisy Jones & The Six* by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A fictional 70’s rock band’s rise and fall from fame is remembered in interviews with the band 20 years later. As the story unfolds, you follow the band through the highs of stardom to the secrets that led to their infamous break up. The audiobook is read by a full cast and is absolutely riveting. The actors perform the reading with such subtle emotion I guarantee at some point you will think you are listening to a real documentary.
Then She Was Gone* by Lisa Jewell
Ten years ago, Laurel’s daughter Elle disappeared without a trace. Laurel is just starting to move on with her life when she meets someone who reminds her so much of her daughter. Fans of suspense books will love this story and enjoy the fantastic audiobook narrator who provides just the right creepy tone when voicing the villains.
Station Eleven by Emily Mandel St. John
Written six years before Covid-19, this book tells the story of a flu pandemic that wipes out 99% of the world population. It follows the lives of six characters before and after the pandemic. Even though it is a survival story, the book also explores the beauty of our modern world and the importance of human connection. It is surprisingly uplifting for an “end of the world” book and the narrator does a fantastic job voicing all the different characters.
* Contains adult language and adult situations.
Kelley Brandeberry works at the Scheben Branch as a Public Service Associate and leads the Chapter and Verse Book Group. She is an avid reader of all types of books and is always on the lookout for her next favorite.
So many great choices! I enjoyed “Daisy Jones and the Six” and “Talking to Strangers” especially. I used the fantastic links in the article to check out the Bryan Cranston bio as an audiobook from the Libby app and was excited to find “Born a Crime” in Playaway form!