Tuesday, June 23, 2015

7 awesome audiobooks to rock your road trip

The heat is on, the days are long, and the season of road trips has begun. Long, hot, boring road trips. Oh, the monotony as those hours roll past like the asphalt under your wheels. An amusing or compelling audiobook with kick-ass narration will hit the spot like a frosty glass of Long Island Iced Tea. Audiobooks let you switch things up with listening to music to keep you alert as the hours drag on. Besides, you're probably already over that road-trip playlist you spent hours making.

My choices have grown-ups in mind, so if you need to entertain younglings on the journey, these are not the droids you seek. To get these titles, check your library's digital downloads through Overdrive or look into Audible (here are some tips for finding deals and free trials there). These should also be at iTunes if that's your go-to spot.

Crazy good audiobooks for traveling, in no particular order, include:

1. Sh-t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern. Halpern's dad has razor-sharp wit and a whole lot of hardass, something his son was wise enough to recognize and good enough to share with us. The narrator (who isn't the author) does an amazing job of delivery and voice acting. Much of this book is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and you'll have to learn to deal with strange stares as you laugh to yourself out of the blue months later when a random line comes to mind. I said my choices have no order, but really, this book steals No. 1 for road-trip books (and it would be a contender to top a list of best funny books or best narration, too). If you already have the Kindle ebook, the Audible narration is only $2.99 and definitely worth a listen even if you've already read the book. Otherwise, check your library's Overdrive offerings to see if this is included, or spend an Audible credit, or, if none of those avenues apply to you, shell out list price. My frugal soul rarely recommends that, but this title is so worth it.
Length: 3 hours and 9 minutes

2. The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman. The narration by the author packs a whole lot of wow factor. Gaiman's dramatic delivery and gorgeous accent, backed in places by the lush accompaniment of a string quartet, is beyond compare. The tale is described as "a haunting story of family, the otherworld, and a search for hidden treasure." The only reason I'd marginally pick Halpern's audiobook over this on my travel list is because laughter helps the miles breeze past. Drama works, too, however, and this atmospheric, dark tale will draw you into its web and hold you fast until the end. Which, as it turns out, isn't long in arriving.
Length: 1 hour and 22 minutes

3. Bossypants by Tina Fey. Tina Fey is known for her work on SNL, for writing (and acting) in Mean Girls and 30 Rock, and for spinning this whole awkward-funny-smart-cuteness she embodies into an enviable career (and even becoming a bit of a role model along the way). Fey narrates her story here, and you'll feel like you're chatting over coffee with a smart, funny friend. Formative anecdotes from her youth, an introduction to her cool/stern dad, her start in comedy, her near-death experience on her honeymoon -- these all get ample coverage. It even has some good career advice. Come on, you know you want to go to there.
Length: 5 hours and 35 minutes

4. David Sedaris Live at Carnegie Hall by David Sedaris. I could easily recommend books of essays by Sedaris instead of this live performance, and by all means, if you'd rather have a longer brush with Sedaris for the road, grab Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Me Talk Pretty One Day, or any other collection with his name on it. His work is always funny and often includes poignant moments as well. I picked the Carnegie Hall performance because it has a slightly amped up energy over the book recordings (also read by Sedaris), but honestly, you can't lose either way. Several of the stories here also appear in his books, but I didn't mind the repeats a bit. 
Length: 1 hour and 14 minutes

5. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin.  If you're a fan of Steve Martin, if think of him not only as the comic in a white suit and one of "Two Wild and Crazy Guys" on SNL, but also as the star of a wide range of movies from The Jerk to Parenthood, check out this book. It's the story of how Martin got into stand-up and why he called it quits. It includes many entertaining stories (ones involving Dan Aykroyd come to mind), but it's mostly just an intriguing look at Martin's professional life.
Length: 4 hours and 3 minutes

6. Neverwhere (BBC Adaptation) by Neil Gaiman. This BBC Radio drama appears to be intriguing and beautifully acted. I only listened to a bit before I realized that my husband would like it, too, and it would be great road-trip material, so I stopped to save it for that purpose (my husband already heard and enjoyed most of the others on this list, some on trips, some commuting). This is the only item on my list I haven't already listened to in full, but the part I heard was great and made me want more. There's a long line of A-listers on the acting roster, as well; a few you'll recognize include Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer (aka Margaery Tyrell on Game of Thrones), Romola Garai, and many others.
Length: 3 hours and 48 minutes

7. God Said, 'Ha!' by Julia Sweeney. This live performance by the SNL alum is intelligently and hilariously written, and delightfully and touchingly executed. You would think a story that involves, in part, her brother's terminal cancer would be a bummer. It's not.
Length: 1 hour and 48 minutes

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