To Feel Like You Have Some Company
For the times when you’re driving solo, you’ll want a good buddy. These books, read by their authors, make it feel like you’ve got a funny man sitting shotgun.
• In Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, David Sedaris shares his (unusual) thoughts on his extensive travels, from navigating the dentist in Paris to navigating the bathroom in Beijing.
• In Bossypants, Tina Fey gives a fiercely funny tour through her comedy, her career, and the absurdities inherent in everything from photo shoots to raising children.
To Catch Up on the Classics
What about those books you keep saying you should read but never, ever do? Pressing play isn’t nearly as daunting as turning to page one.
• Brush up your Hemingway by listening to John Slattery read A Farewell to Arms. Mad Men’s Slattery brings great breadth of character—and depth of feeling—to Hemingway’s World War I novel.
• For something lighter, try The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, read by Mark F. Smith. You’ve seen plenty of film and television versions, but come on—have you read the original?
To Get That (Vicarious) Adrenaline Pumping
However awesome your destination, some stretches en route are bound to be anything but. Banish the boredom by putting yourself in someone else’s extremely exciting, running-for-their-life shoes.
• Pop in A Delicate Truth, the latest from literary spymaster John le Carré (read in his crisp English accent). The thriller follows an idealistic diplomat, himself hot on the heels of a conspiracy, through Gibraltar and Northern Cornwall.
• Closer to home, try Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night, read by Jim Frangione. It’s a Prohibition-era noir story about a Boston-bred kid taking on organized crime—in order to set up a bootlegging business of his own. Plus, you can say you read it before it was a Ben Affleck movie.
To Learn Something New
As hours on the road show, it’s a big world about there. Learn about it as you drive through.
• Listen to Bill Bryson read his A Short History of Nearly Everything. It’s like that science survey course you always wished you took—only way juicier, and without the final exam.
• If sports are more your speed, play The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big Time College Football, by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, a fascinating, not-so-flattering deep-dive into the game.
To Indulge Your Inner Child
Road trips can make anyone regress (are we there yet?!)—so lean into it, and re-enjoy a childhood favorite.
• Play any book of the Harry Potter series (read by the endlessly expressive Jim Dale). For an extremely long drive, load up all seven—they total just over 117 hours.
• Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (narrated by the author or by British actor Stephen Fry) will keep you chuckling—and make any mishap on your trip seem like barely a bump in the road.