Whether you’re driving down scenic coastal highways with your partner, schlepping the kiddos on a cross-country adventure, or taking that transformative solo trip you’ve been fantasizing about, one thing is for sure: A good audiobook can turn even the dullest stretches of highway into a journey of discovery, reflection, or just plain fun.
I’m sure you’ve noticed how certain books just seem to “click” with the atmosphere of a road trip. Maybe it’s the way the narrator’s voice meshes with the hum of the car, or how the storyline complements your emotional landscape as you drive through varying terrains.
In this blog post, I’ve rounded up a curated selection of audiobooks tailored for different road trip scenarios. We’ll look at stories that’ll keep both you and your partner engaged, family-friendly options to keep the backseat chaos at a minimum, and introspective tales perfect for those lone journeys when you’ve got nothing but time and open road ahead of you. So let’s hit play and turn our drives into adventures.
If you have not made up your mind where to go in your next trip, check out these travel books, they will provide you with tons of ideas and tips for your future travels.
I- Best Audiobooks for Road Trips with Your Partner
Here are some great audiobooks to enjoy with your partner on a road trip:
1. The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is a novel by Dawnie Walton that follows the story of a young, independent woman named Opal in 1970s Detroit. She teams up with British singer/songwriter Neville Charles to create music and eventually signs to Rivington Records.
As they make waves in the creative scene, things take an unexpected turn when Opal protests a rival band’s use of the Confederate flag. A decade later, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton tries to piece together what happened in a dangerous and moving narrative about racism and sexism.
2. Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston
Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel, by Casey McQuiston, is a story of two rival young men – Alex Claremont-Diaz and Henry – who must stage a truce between their respective countries in order to repair U.S./British relations. As they develop an unexpected friendship, they find themselves growing closer and eventually developing a secret romance.
The book explores themes of courage, power, and true identity, while asking the ultimate question: Can love really save the world? Through this unique and charming story, McQuiston offers readers an important reminder to always let their true colors shine through!
[Related: Best audiobooks for kids]
3. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a magical fantasy novel about two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who find themselves competing against each other in an intricate game of skill and chance. The circus they both perform in, Le Cirque des Rêves, is only open at night and it showcases remarkable acts of daring, beauty, and magic.
As Celia and Marco become more involved in the game and their feelings for each other deepen, they soon discover that their competition has much higher stakes than they could ever imagine.
4. Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin?, by Esther Perel
Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin?: The Arc of Love Audible is an intimate exploration into the evolution of relationships told through six sets of real-life stories. Couples from different walks of life, all at different stages in their search for love and connection, are invited to open up about their experiences.
From a young couple facing the challenge of immigration, to a stepmother trying to make sense of her family’s grief after the death of her partner, each story gives listeners an insight into what it takes to build and sustain relationships.
5. Hot White Heist, by Adam Goldman
Hot White Heist, written by Adam Goldman and directed by Alan Cumming, is a podcast about an ambitious heist to steal valuable sperm samples from some of history’s greatest minds and politicians, stored in a hidden bunker under Seattle’s Space Needle. The goal of the heist is to help a lesbian cult finance their top-secret project.
The podcast features an all-star, all-queer cast with Bowen Yang as the lead character Jude “Judy” Fink. Other notable cast members include Cynthia Nixon, Abbi Jacobson, Jane Lynch, Margaret Cho, Bianca Del Rio, MJ Rodriguez, Shannon Woodward, Stephanie Beatriz, and more.
6. The Flatshare, by Beth O’Leary
The Flatshare, by Beth O’Leary, tells the story of Tiffy Moore and Leon, two strangers who share an apartment without ever meeting. After Tiffy’s bad breakup, she is desperate for a place to live that is both fast and cheap; so when she discovers an ad for a flatshare with Leon, she takes it. Leon will stay during the day while Tiffy has the apartment during nights and weekends.
The two strangers start out as polite acquaintances, leaving each other notes about garbage day and their preferences for the toilet seat, but soon become friends and then maybe something more. As they fall in love through notes and texts, however, they have to confront the reality that their relationship may be a terrible idea if they’ve never even met.
II-Best Audiobooks for Road Trips with Family
Here are some of the best audiobooks for road trips with family:
1. The Bad Seed, by Jory John
The Bad Seed: The Bad Seed, by Jory John is a humorous yet touching story about an mischievous little seed who has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. Despite this, the seed decides that he wants to change and be happy. With Jory John’s charming and endearing text, The Bad Seed is the perfect audiobook for family road trips.
2. Jukebox Joyride, by Jacob Stein, Jason Rabinowitz, The Pop Ups
Jukebox Joyride, by Jacob Stein, Jason Rabinowitz, The Pop Ups, is an Audible Original that follows 12-year-old twins Jules and George on a wild adventure through time. Their Uncle Bob has discovered a secret to time travel and takes them on a musical journey throughout history – from the birth of jazz in New Orleans to a performance by 11-year-old Mozart in Vienna.
Along the way, they must find their uncle before their mysterious rival does and save all music from peril. Featuring original songs and historical settings, Jukebox Joyride is sure to captivate listeners of all ages.
3. Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
Hidden Figures is the incredible true story of a group of African American female mathematicians whose skills and dedication enabled America to achieve incredible successes in space during the Cold War. It follows their journey as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellect to change their own lives and shape their future.
Through the struggles of segregation, these women worked together and helped propel the United States to victory in the Space Race. This is a remarkable story of determination, resilience, and courage that celebrates the accomplishments of these brilliant women.
4. Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi is a riveting and timely young adult debut novel that paints a picture of the world through the eyes of 12-year-old Jam, who lives in the city of Lucille where children have been taught that there are no monsters left. However, when Jam meets Pet, an extraordinary creature made from her own blood and one of her mother’s paintings, she questions this belief.
Pet has come to hunt a monster that lurks in Redemption’s house, and Jam must fight not only to protect her friend but also to uncover the truth. This story explores how we can save the world from monsters when those around us refuse to believe they exist.
5. Girl, Serpent, Thorn, by Melissa Bashardoust
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a riveting young adult debut novel by Melissa Bashardoust. It tells the story of Soraya, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch who has been living in isolation and hiding away from her family. On the day of her twin brother’s wedding, she must decide if she’s willing to step out of the shadows and face the consequences of her choices. This novel is a captivating exploration of identity, power, and what it means to be human.
III- Best Audiobooks for Solo Road Trips
Here are some of the best audiobooks for solo road trips:
1. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
When Breath Becomes, by Paul Kalanithi is a deeply moving and powerful memoir that follows the author’s journey from being a young medical student, to becoming a neurosurgeon at Stanford, and ultimately to facing his own mortality as he battles with stage IV lung cancer.
Through this honest and intimate account of his experience with illness and death, Kalanithi offers insight into the difficult questions of life and what makes it worth living. It is a must-listen for anyone looking for an inspiring story to accompany them on their solo road trip.
2. The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, by Michelle Obama
In The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, Michelle provides a practical guide for navigating change and finding strength in times of uncertainty. Drawing from her experiences as a mother, daughter, spouse, friend, and First Lady, she shares the habits and principles she has developed to successfully adapt to change and overcome various obstacles. Through her stories and advice, she helps readers understand how to identify their sources of gladness and connect meaningfully in a turbulent world.
Michelle uses her trademark humor, candor, and compassion to explore difficult questions like: How do we build lasting relationships? How can we find strength in our differences? What tools can help us address feelings of self-doubt or helplessness? What do we do when it all feels like too much?
She explains the importance of “starting kind,” “going high,” and assembling a “kitchen table” of trusted friends and mentors. Additionally, she encourages readers to work through fear, find strength in community, and live with boldness.
3. The Ride of Her Life, by Elizabeth Letts
In The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America by Elizabeth Letts, readers are taken on an epic journey across 1950s America. In 1954, sixty-three-year-old Maine farmer Annie Wilkins embarks on an ambitious endeavor to see the Pacific Ocean before she dies.
She ignores her doctor’s advice to move into the county charity home, instead buying a cast-off brown gelding named Tarzan, donning men’s dungarees, and starting on an impossible journey with just her faithful mutt in tow.
Annie’s journey leads her through blizzards, fords rivers, and climbs mountains. She meets all types of people, from celebrities to strangers, who extend their kindness to her as she travels. Despite the rapidly changing world that is filled with cars and television sets, Annie discovers an outpouring of neighborliness wherever she goes.
4. Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir, by Matthew Perry
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir, by Matthew Perry, is an honest and captivating account of the acclaimed actor’s journey from childhood to fame to addiction and recovery.
In his memoir, Perry recounts his life growing up in a fractured family between Montreal and Los Angeles; his rise as a nationally ranked tennis star; his successful career as a television actor and producer, including his experience working on the iconic show Friends; and the struggles he faced with addiction and alcoholism.
5. Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted, by Suleika Jaouad
Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted is the story of Suleika Jaouad, who had just graduated college and was starting to enter the real world when she was diagnosed with leukemia.
After spending four years in a hospital bed, fighting for her life and writing about her experience for The New York Times, she was declared cured. But as she soon discovered, being cured did not mean the work of healing was over.
In order to reclaim what had been lost, Jaouad set out on a 15,000-mile road trip across America with her new best friend Oscar. By meeting people from all walks of life and sharing stories of their own struggles and triumphs, she discovered that the divide between sick and well was porous and that many of us travel back and forth between these realms throughout our lives.
Through her journey of self-discovery, Jaouad paints a powerful portrait of survivorship as she shares her remarkable story with unflinching honesty, wit, and grace.
6. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah’s book Born a Crime is an award-winning autobiographical account of his unique and often dangerous upbringing in Apartheid South Africa. Told through humorous, heart-wrenching, and vivid stories with Noah embodying all of the characters from his childhood to perfection, the listener is taken on an unforgettable journey.
From running safe houses for those who needed a place to hide from the police, to being part of a black market trade, or simply getting in trouble with his mom—Noah’s life was anything but normal, and he recounts it all with candor and insight into the complexity of South African society.
His mother, whom he voices himself, plays a pivotal role in the narrative and is often at the heart of his stories. This powerful production gives a unique perspective on what it was like to grow up during Apartheid South Africa and will leave you inspired by Noah’s determination to always find the humor in any situation.
Whether you’re cozying up with your partner, heading out with the family, or simply enjoying your own company, there’s something in this list for everyone. Audiobooks like “The Final Revival of Opal & Nev” offer critical conversations on social issues like racism and sexism, making it a perfect pick for partners who love to engage in deep discussions. On the other end, “The Bad Seed” adds a light, humorous touch ideal for family road trips.
One thing I’ve always appreciated about audiobooks is their ability to create a shared experience. You and your travel companions can immerse yourselves in the same world, despite being confined to a car. It’s a beautiful way to pass time and create common ground.
Let’s not forget how audiobooks can add educational value too. For instance, “Hidden Figures” can be an excellent way for families to introduce complex societal issues like segregation and the civil rights movement to younger listeners.
Before I wrap this up, let’s talk about personal preferences. You see, not all audiobooks will be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s perfectly fine. You may love fantasy, while your partner is into self-help. Try finding middle ground or consider rotating choices so everyone’s happy. After all, road trips are as much about compromise and shared experiences as they are about the destination.