7 Great Audiobooks for Long Drives, as Recommended by Vogue Editors
Summer is road-trip season; the time to fill up your trunk, roll down your windows, and have a bit of an adventure. Yet the problem of making untold hours in the car actually fun is a persistent one. Music helps, of course, as do games—but nothing can entertain and edify quite like a good audiobook. (There’s a reason that books on tape were such a thing!) Whether you’re in the market for a twisty thriller or a moving biography; a collection of uproariously funny essays or a steamy new novel, here are seven books to enjoy on your way to wherever it is you may be going.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Nineteen-hour audiobooks generally feel too daunting to me, unless the author and narrator is Michelle Obama telling her life story, from growing up on the South Side of Chicago as a gifted and talented student to meeting her hot shot, cigarette-smoking law intern, Barack Obama, and eventually moving to the White House. Not only is it a beautiful story that actually restored my faith in the American dream, but her voice is like butter.—Michelle Ruiz
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Planning on road-tripping across America (and, maybe, making your way back too)? Listen to all 26 hours of Marlon James’s Booker Prize–winning A Brief History of Seven Killings. One of the main stumbling blocks of the (amazing) book, for many, is the Jamaican patois that the multitude of characters speak—so listening to them instead of reading them, to me, makes this audio version preferable to the actual book. It’s not only an incredibly gripping story—it’s an astounding cultural history of Jamaica and its various subcultures, from the rampant organized crime to the nascent rise of Bob Marley.—Corey Seymour
Calypso by David Sedaris
I can’t readily imagine a better traveling companion than David Sedaris, whose 2018 book of autobiographical essays, Calypso, wends through his childhood; his work; his relationship to his father, his four siblings, and his longtime partner, Hugh; and the time that he befriended a fox and called it “Carol.” They sing on the page, but as read by Sedaris, with his wonderfully distinctive delivery style—alternately breathlessly confessional and wry—the pieces are somehow even more delightful.—Marley Marius
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
This spring I listened to Patrick Radden Keefe’s extraordinary, excoriating examination of the Sackler family’s involvement in the origins of the opioid crisis, Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty. The book goes deep into the origin story of the family, digging into the ethic (or lack thereof) that drove their business interests and their drive to burnish their dubious reputation with lavish donations and bequests. The family may still refuse to acknowledge their role in the crisis that has led to the death of more than half a million Americans, but this book is an unforgiving and essential indictment.—Chloe Schama
Monster in a Box by Spalding Gray
Not altogether unlike David Sedaris, Spalding Gray was a master storyteller; one who built a fruitful career on his sprawling, funny, and often deeply moving monologues about his life and various preoccupations, from buying a rickety old house in the Catskills to learning how to ski. Monster in a Box brilliantly dramatizes Gray’s experience writing Impossible Vacation—his first and only novel—but be forewarned: At only about an hour, you’ll want to save it for your final 60 miles.—M.M.
The Sandman by Lars Kepler
This genuinely scary bestselling Swedish serial-killer novel by a husband-wife duo who write under the name Lars Kepler is not for the faint of heart. A serial killer named Jurek Walter is locked up in a mental hospital just as a young man is found wandering on railroad tracks talking about a “Sandman” who has kept him and his sister buried for years. Detective Joona Linna (irresistibly stubborn) and his partner Saga Bauer (preternaturally beautiful) concoct a ludicrous undercover scheme to unlock Jurek’s twisted secrets and find the missing sister. Well narrated and absolutely breakneck in pace, The Sandman is part of a longer series of Kepler crime novels—and the best place to start.—Taylor Antrim
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
True confession: I switched back and forth between reading a hard advance copy of Tia Williams’s sexy, witty new novel Seven Days in June and listening to the audiobook, that’s how much I wanted to be reading it constantly. A narrator can make or break an audiobook, but voice actor Mela Lee deftly pulls off different P.OV.s and timeframes. Ten hours of perfection.—M.R.
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