As you set out on a road trip, you likely have a checklist. There’s essential car maintenance to handle; clothes, food, and other necessities to pack; and a route to nail down. These are all vital, but you’ll wish you had also planned out how to occupy yourself rather than scrambling once you’re on the road.
Music has its place, and a podcast captivates you for an hour, but don’t underestimate an audiobook’s power to redeem a long, boring road trip. There’s no better time for deep immersion in a story than when you’re on the open road with mental space to soak it in. Without further ado, here are three of the absolute best audiobooks for a long road trip.
Just Mercy isn’t an easy listen emotionally, but it has a lot of power to it. Bryan Stevenson’s memoir detailing his defense attorney work is chock-full of historical background on racial discrimination in the judicial system, plus anecdotes of his own cases. It specifically delves into how death sentence-related policies continue to disproportionally affect Black men, women, adolescents, people with disabilities, and others. His experience is sobering, the people with whom he worked will stick in your mind, and the fact that he lends his own voice to the narration strengthens the experience.
Next, Andy Weir’s The Martian marries an epistolary with captivating space fiction. Though the language isn’t kid-approved, protagonist Mark Watney’s sarcastic musings coupled with his harrowing attempts to stay alive and get home after an accident work in tandem to draw in listeners immediately. This has enough science to satisfy the nerd and enough suspense for the adventure-lover. On top of that, if you like Weir’s writing style, he has another book, Artemis, which is narrated by Rosario Dawson of Rent fame.
The last best audiobook for a long road trip isn’t actually one book—it’s seven, meaning you’ll have fodder for a couple of cross-country forays. The Harry Potter series, narrated by Jim Dale or Stephen Fry, depending on where you listen, invites listeners into a magical world with the same school-years rhythm of attending classes—only in this school, students deal with deadly mandrakes and Skele-Gro potions. Listen to these novels, and you’ll never risk falling asleep as you drive.
No matter what your flavor of audiobook, these are just a few of your bountiful options with masterful narration. Hopefully, what you choose is so good you’ll never want to stop driving.