Roadtrip Audiobooks – Sunday Salon 86

Posted 8 June, 2014 by Trish in Reading Nook, Road Trip / 29 Comments


Sunday Salon

Happy Sunday!! Today is a big day for us because if all goes as planned, we’ll be heading on a most epic roadtrip this evening. Long story short, we were supposed to go to Yellowstone with some family but now we are heading way out west. The plan is to go to Taos for a couple of nights, then to Colorado, then Moab, next Lake Powell, back to Colorado, and again Taos, and finally home. With two kids. One of whom is teething. Can you say INSANE? But seriously, I am so excited.

The whole trip will be about 1,000 miles (ish) and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to sneak in some audiobook time on the trip. You know that my audio listening has been cut substantially this year and so I’m aching to get some listening done. Plus, what makes the time in the car go faster than listening to an awesome book? Well, besides the music debates Scott and I are sure to have (we could argue for hours whether 80s music or 90s music is better). Meh, so we may not actually get very much listening done, but here’s to hoping.

All of this got me thinking about what makes a great roadtrip audiobook? When I was in college, or even after when Scott and I had a bit of a long distance romance, I didn’t know about audiobooks. RIGHT? I KNOW. Instead I listened to musicals and the story carried me through the many many 5 hour stints in the car. It has only been in the past couple of years that we’ve started listening to audiobooks on roadtrips (before that I actually read, from a physical book, to Scott while he drove. Best.Wife.Ever).

Anyway, when picking out our audiobook potentials for the trip, I have to keep hubby in mind plus the kiddos little ears (we’ll likely only listen when they are sleeping or if Elle is watching a movie with headphones). So, Outlander is out of the question. What am I looking for? Books that will interest both Scott and myself. This means I don’t want to listen to business books and he doesn’t want to listen to classics. I’m also looking for audiobooks that are less than 10 hours, mostly to keep the interest going. Unfortunately this means that Stephen King is out (plus little ears).

Here are the potentials:



In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (also narrated by) – Travelogue. Humor. Bill Bryson. Random information. Yup! Memoir. (on Audible)

The Martian by Andy Weir (narrated by R. C. Bray) – This book has been getting all kinds of buzz and I have a feeling that the “can’t turn it off, omg what’s going to happen” will make the miles of our trip fly by. Fiction. (on Audible)

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (also narrated by) – I’ve seen Bourdain a bit on TV and after seeing mentions of his books all over the place I knew that it would make great listening. I am concerned about potential language though I don’t know for certain if this is an issue.

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean (narrated by Sean Runnette) – Recommended by Rhapsody Jill so we know it must be good. The rest of the title is “And other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of elements.” In other words: A whole lot of random information. Scott eats this stuff up. Non-Fiction. (on Audible)

Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt – Um, first, this one is narrated by Edoardo Ballerini (Beautiful Ruins fame).  Plus history. I think this will be a certain win for the two of us. Non-Fiction. (on Audible)

While I don’t think he’ll make the cut this trip, J. Maarten Troost is absolute roadtrip material along the lines of Bill Bryson. Again, random information about random locales. Win win win. And none of the links to Audible are affiliate–just in case you care about that kind of thing.

Do you listen to audiobooks when you’re taking roadtrips? What books have you loved on the road? What do you think makes a great roadtrip audiobook?



29 Responses to “Roadtrip Audiobooks – Sunday Salon 86”

  1. Trish, you guys are so brave! We have to travel 6 hours to Cleveland Ohio from NY on Tuesday with the twins and I am dreading just that distance…lol! I hope you have a fabulous trip and can’t wait to see some pics!

  2. I think nonfiction is the way to go on our next roadtrip. My husband does read fiction, but his top choice is nautical (Patrick O’Brian, etc.) so as a compromise we’ll usually try science fiction or a humorous story. Had pretty good luck with Ray Bradbury short stories on our last long drive. Hope you have a great trip!

  3. Wish my hubby enjoyed audio books as much as I do. Between the road noise and his tinnitus, he doesn’t really care for them. We usually wind up talking for most of our roadtrips, which isn’t such a bad thing, although I did listen to The Pioneer Woman’s bio (Black Heels to Tractor Wheels) with headphones one trip out to Denver.

    As far as your list, I would worry a little bit about Kitchen Confidential. I read it many years ago (pre-blogging days, so no link), but as I recall there were a lot of f-bombs. Andi might know better. I think she’s read it more recently than I did.

    Bryson is a hoot on audio. We listened to Notes from a Big Country (again, many years ago) and couldn’t stop laughing. Unfortunately, he tends to get tiresome and we had to take frequent listening breaks.

    I really want to read The Martian! Andi & Nancy gave it such high praise and I’m eager to give it a read. Just need to hurry up and finish my current TBR stack.

    Have fun, Trish! I’m sure it will be more challenging to travel with two littles, but I know you guys are going to have a great time! I can’t wait to see your photos and you can be sure I’ll be adding some of your destinations (Moab, Lake Powell) to my bucket list.

  4. A long road trip with two kids? You are the most awesome person I know. I would go for The Martian only because I’ve seen so many positive reviews of it. Bryson always works for me though.

  5. Tif

    I’m so bummed that you are not going to be able to go to Yellowstone. I love that place! I actually grew up only a few hours away! BUT, I have always wanted to see the other places, so be sure to post lots of pictures.

    We are moving and I need to figure out some audiobooks for the kids and I (the husband will be in a different vehicle). I’m going to be looking for probably some middle grade ones, but I’m not sure which ones at this point. Gonna hit up the library this week actually to see what I can find for ideas!

  6. I absolutely love listening to audiobooks during a roadtrip. I usually go for Stephen King but I guess that’s out of question for you. Harry Potter audio books are my travel favourites. Always have them with me. I also listen to fantasy genre I have earlier enjoyed listening to Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series.

    I like your choices too. Non fiction travelogues are good options. Martian’s audio version has got great reviews. Have fun!

  7. A summer roadtrip- what fun! I’ve heard great things about The Martian, and it also sounds like Swerve is a perfect fit for you two.

    On my last roadtrip with my husband we listened to Morrissey’s memoir – we liked it but it got a little tedious after awhile.

    Let us know how it goes with your audio choice!

  8. I just finished listening to Can You Hear The Music by Sandra Farris and loved it! Great story, and good narration, which to me is more important than the story.

    I hope you all have a great trip!! Can’t wait to hear how it went and to see some photos!

  9. I just have never been able to get the hang of audio books. I don’t know why, but my mind just wanders way too much. :( But OMG, I couldn’t even count how many books I’ve read aloud to Rich while we’ve been on road trips. We’ve been doing that for as long as we’ve known each other, so yeah, like nearly 30 years. And I tend to then have these book-trip associations. Like the trip we went to New Orleans and met Chris–that was the trip of The Body of Christopher Creed. One of the first books I read aloud to him in the car was Helter Skelter, back before we were married and we were going to visit his parents. Sort of love having those associations.

    Hope you all have a ball on your trip!!! Sorry you’re not getting to Yellowstone, but your new plans sound mighty fun too! :D

  10. Linda

    When I travel to Ohio (always alone – hubby stays here with the animals) – I always listen to audio books. Keeps me alert and makes me feel like I have someone in the car with me. I remember listening to Snow Falling on Cedars (think that is the title) – and it got me so caught up – the miles just went by without me knowing. I have audiobooks that I own and I listen to them over and over. One of my favorites is A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg. Simple and sweet…

    Linda in VA

  11. Oh, you have to pick Martian! That is what the husband and I listened to when we had our 10+ hour road trip two weeks back!

    Your trip sounds fascinating! Come back with loads of pictures. We are also contemplating our own road trip for next week – to Chicago, Wisconsin, and Ohio. We’ll see. Have fun!

  12. It sounds like you’re going to have a lot of fun. I love road trips! And you have some great audiobook picks on your list. One year when we drove to Nova Scotia from Toronto, we listened to In A Sunburned Country. It was a GREAT choice for a road trip – so funny. I listened to The Martian a couple of months ago, and really enjoyed that, too. It was laugh-out-loud funny at times, too, plus very exciting. Have a good time!

  13. Sounds like a GREAT vacation!

    I have not listened to many audiobooks (hope to remedy that someday…) but I have listened to Bill Bryson and absolutely love him, both as a narrator and writer.

    Have a wonderful time :)

  14. I would skip Bourdain unless the kids are asleep. His language would definitely be an issue. Bryson isn’t always clean but it’s not quite as bad. I love Bryson on a road trip personally though I haven’t listened to one in ages. I was in a long distance relationship in college and audio books kept me company though I learned I had to have female narrators as men’s voice tended to make me sleepy. Now I’m so used to tuning out the kids I have a hard time concentrating on an audio! Have a fantastic time on your road trip. Sounds so much fun!

  15. As we’ve only traveled a little with just Kevin and I, much less than with the whole family, we have only done a little audiobook travel. Kevin is actually very open to it, maybe if we drive to TX again just the two of us I can find a good audiobook or two for us!
    I hope the trip is excellent, share photos and have a blast!!

  16. I’ve become a huge fan of audio books over the last couple of years since I moved about 40 minutes away from work. I tend to gravitate towards nonfiction. I like the same kind of stuff you talked about…random information that the brain can just suck up :p The Disappearing Spoon is on my audible wish list! Looking forward to hearing about whatever y’all listen to!

    Also looking forward to how your trip goes! It sounds fabulous :) I have a friend that went to Taos for a trip and she fell in love with it so much she MOVED there! I hear it’s such an amazing town.

  17. Ohh I’m interested to hear what you think of The Martian audiobook. I read it, but I can imagine it being pretty exciting as an audio, too!

    I’m still an audiobook newbie for the most part… but several years ago, a friend and I drove from Florida to verrrry north Michigan to play in a music festival. Straight. He had selected a bunch of audiobooks, one being a Stephen Hawking title (don’t remember which one). We were both interested in that one, but we put it in and… it was narrated by Stephen Hawking, too. Would have been fine at home but for the road trip? We just couldn’t do it.

  18. I don’t listen to nonfiction audiobooks because I always want to take notes, but I have given the fictional counterparts a try. I hope you guys have fun on your vacation!!

  19. Kristi

    I know what you mean about little ears. That’s one of things that I’m bummed about while my kids are off of school for the summer. I can’t listen to my audiobooks while driving when they’re with me. I have bluetooth in my car so whatever audiobook I’m listening to starts automatically through the speakers once the car is on. One day I was taking my son and his friend somewhere and I turned my car on to get the A/C going and ran back in the house to get something. I forgot that Goldfinch was playing, so when I got back, I turned it off and went on my way. When I got home, I went back to listen to what I missed and was horrified at what they’d heard. Oops.

    I listened to In a Sunburned Country last month. Bill Bryson is amazing in how he can mix the interesting facts with the anecdotes.

    Good luck with your trip. We’re doing a reunion at Bear Lake this summer so it will be a bit of a drive. My husband has zero interest in listening to books, so I just listen to them with my iPhone and some headphones.

  20. I hope you have a great time, Trish! My family used to go on road trips all the time when I was growing up–we never listened to audiobooks. It was always music on whatever station that came in. We’d play games and sing songs.

    When we go on our little (four hour) road trips with Mouse, we usually play CD’s of Mouse’s music. We don’t have a DVD player in the car for Mouse nor can I see getting one any time soon. We did take the Kindle Fire the last time in case she wanted to watch one of her shows on there, but she is content to just look out the window and talk or sing to us.

    Maybe when she’s older we can break out the Harry Potter CD’s and listen to those or some other book appropriate to Mouse’s age.

  21. Woo hoo for road trips! I’ve listened to Sunburned Country, Kitchen Confidential, and Disappearing Spoon and they’re all great Audiobooks. Have a blast. Can’t wait to see pictures when you get back.

  22. Ti

    I love Bryson. He can tell me a story anytime.

    Good audio books, for me, are ones that are thoughtfully and artfully told. I HATE grating voices and unbelievable voices like a guy trying to be a girl, etc.
    I think alternating viewpoints and voices work well on audio. Simple language and storytelling work well on audio too. Complex stories do not.

  23. Hope you’re enjoying your trip. We don’t listen to audiobooks on road trips. My daughter and I would, but my husband has vetoed the idea and since he does most of the driving I can’t complain.

  24. Lu

    I’m really looking forward to hearing your verdict after the trip, because I have SO MANY audible credits to use up!