The 12 Best Audiobooks for Road Trips of 2020

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The Rundown

Best Overall: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee at Amazon

"The miles will fly by as you listen to this beloved audiobook."

Best for Kids: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis at Amazon

"Kids will be enthralled listening to the Pevensie siblings' adventures in the land of Narnia."

Best for the Family: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain at Amazon

"The entire family will get a kick out of listening to Tom Sawyer’s many mischief-filled adventures."

Best Fiction: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders at Amazon

"A dazzling and wildly imaginative story about Abraham Lincoln's son."

Best Memoir: Becoming by Michelle Obama at Amazon

"It’s inspiring, to say the least, to spend time in her company as you drive."

Best Science Fiction: Dune by Frank Herbert at Amazon

"This action-packed audiobook gives a detailed description of the world Frank Hubert created."

Best Romance: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen at Amazon

"You'll fall in love listening to the protagonists' sparkling banter and unacknowledged romantic tension."

Best Comedy: Bossypants by Tina Fey at Amazon

"Laugh out loud as you listen to stories about Fey's youthful days of being a nerd and her near-fatal honeymoon."

Best Mystery: Night Film by Marisha Pessl at Amazon

"Experience a journalist's search for the truth about the suspicious death of Ashley Cordova."

Best Thriller: The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith at Amazon

"Tom Ripley's sociopath ways will chill you to your very core."

Our Top Picks

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Best Overall: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (narrated by Sissy Spacek)

Courtesy of Amazon

One of America’s most beloved and widely read novels, To Kill a Mockingbird contains the kind of timeless wisdom that spans generations. Originally published in 1960, this book tells the story of the Finch family in a small Alabama town. Follow along as the Finch's defend a man who is wrongfully accused of a crime, and stand up for justice when confronted by angry townspeople. The book’s enduring themes of morality, innocence, prejudice, and kindness ring just as important today as they ever did. And, for those of us who first read this book in junior high, it makes for a fun rediscovery later on in life. The miles will fly by as you listen to the highly entertaining audiobook, with Sissy Spacek’s Southern-tinged accent guiding the way.

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Best for Kids: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Kids of all ages will adore listening to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on long car rides. This is the first installment in The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, and it’s easily one of the most enthralling kid’s books of all time. Parents won’t be bored, either, hearing about the Pevensie siblings, who open a wardrobe that transports them to the land of Narnia, where they encounter wicked witches, talking animals, and a world brimming with magic.

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Best for the Family: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Families are sure to be entertained by Nick Offerman reading Mark Twain. Offerman does such a terrific job of channeling the characters in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else doing the job. The entire family will get a kick out of listening to Tom Sawyer’s many mischief-filled adventures, from helping to catch a local murderer, to making an appearance at his own funeral to, famously, tricking his friends into painting a fence for him.

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Best Fiction: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

George Saunders’ dazzling, strange, wildly imaginative novel Lincoln in the Bardo gives the Civil War a supernatural spin. The book takes place over the course of a single evening, in a graveyard where Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie, is trapped in the bardo—which is the stage between death and life according to Tibetan Buddhism. Throughout the night, Willie encounters ghosts who tell their stories. It features no less than 166 narrators, including David Sedaris, Carrie Brownstein, Lena Dunham, Bill Hader, Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, and Julianne Moore, among others.

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Best Memoir: Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is a force, so it’s no surprise that her autobiography is as captivating as they come. Becoming follows Mrs. Obama’s life from growing up on the South Side of Chicago to stepping into her role as America’s first African-American First Lady. Her story is a fascinating and unique one, no matter what your political views are. Obama opens up about her accomplishments and setbacks and outlines what it takes to be comfortable in one's own skin. It’s inspiring, to say the least, to spend time in her company as you drive.

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Best Science Fiction: Dune by Frank Herbert

Frank Hubert's Dune is one of the most treasured science fiction books of our time. It's set thousands of years into the future and follows Paul Atreides, the 15-year-old heir to House Atreides, whose family is given governorship of the planet Arrakis—otherwise known as Dune. This action-packed audiobook gives a detailed description of the world Frank Hubert created, so you're sure to be entertained learning about the huge sandworms and people that inhabit it. It's one of the landmarks of modern science fiction and has even been adapted into a movie.

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Best Romance: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Originally published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice is a romance for the ages, and it’s the perfect companion for a road trip. Jane Austen’s best-known novel tells the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. You'll fall in love listening to their sparkling banter and unacknowledged romantic tension. It's been adapted into a staggering number of film and TV adaptations over the years—everything from a BBC miniseries to a Bollywood-style musical. But, the audiobook is something special, largely thanks to actress Rosamund Pike. Pike played Jane Bennett in the 2005 film version, and she makes for a delightful narrator, with her elegant English accent and substantial acting chops.

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Best Comedy: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Bossypants is one of those rare books that’s really better listened to on audiobook, thanks to Tina Fey’s hilarious, entertaining narration. Bossypants is made up of autobiographical essays that outline Tina Fey's rise to stardom. You'll laugh out loud as you listen to stories about her youthful days of being a nerd, her nearly fatal honeymoon, and her time on Saturday Night Live. In fact, listening to Bossypants is more akin to watching Fey do a stand-up comedy routine; no doubt you’ll be able to clearly picture her funny facial expressions and gestures as you listen.

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Best Mystery: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Night Film will keep you on the edge of your seat, literally. Marisha Pessl’s incredibly suspenseful, fast-paced thriller centers around a disturbing whodunit. Follow along as you experience journalist Scott McGrath's search for the truth about the suspicious death of Ashley Cordova. Ashley is the daughter of a reclusive horror-film director, and Scott learns more about her father's unsettling world the further he investigates. The plot is so propulsive that you may be inclined to extend your trip, just to figure out what actually happened to Ashley.

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Best Thriller: The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Though you may have seen the film adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley, starring a young Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon, the book version is even better. Set in Manhattan during the 1950s, The Talented Mr. Ripley tells the story of Tom Ripley, who becomes enamored with the rich life of Dickie Greenleaf. You'll become engrossed listening to the growth and ultimate fall of Ripley and Greenleaf's relationship. Patricia Highsmith’s noir masterpiece is a thrilling experience and Tom's sociopath ways will chill you to your very core.

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Best for Foodies: My Life in France by Julia Child

Unsurprisingly, Julia Child's memoir My Life in France is full of rich sensory details that instantly transport you to 1950s-era Paris and Provence. The book outlines how Julia fell in love with the French culture and how she figured out that cooking was her calling in life. Which is fitting, considering that Child was responsible for introducing French cuisine to American households via her bestselling cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Narrated by Kimberly Farr, the audiobook book is a sheer delight, particularly if you love hearing mouth-watering descriptions of French food, French markets, and the French countryside.

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Best for Travel Inspiration: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Everyone’s favorite Beat Generation classic is still one of the best audiobook road trip pairings. On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s wanderings across North America in the 1940s and 50s, and it’s impossible not to be entranced by the imagery: smoky jazz clubs in New Orleans and Denver, basement bars in New York, and fog-laced streets in San Francisco. Actor Will Patton brings Kerouac’s intensity, restlessness, and unbridled joy to life.

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