Audio Books for your SUMMER ROAD TRIP {Update!}

As we head into summer vacation season, I regularly get asked for audiobook recommendations, entertaining books to listen to on long drives.

Last summer I shared audio books the whole family will love (click here to see a very long list of books people of all ages will enjoy.)   I somehow failed to mention the Wrinkle in Time series, maybe I thought I’d talked about it enough online since I yelled at people all year to read the book before seeing the movie? (Really good advice, the book and the movie are two totally different things…) I read Madeleine L’Engle’s first three Time books (one, two, and three) dozens of times as a child, and listened to them with my kids a few years ago – the narrator is wonderful, and the stories stand the test of time (I can only vouch for the first three, I didn’t learn that there were more in the series until I was an adult. I’ve never read the 5th, and thought the 4th was really weird.)

This summer I’m sharing Audiobooks for Grown Ups: I’ve listened to and loved all of these, and think they’ll make your road trip fly. I organized them by topic/interest area, so you can skim through and find the categories that look like the most fun for you.

Spicy Memoirs (for those who don’t mind salty language & subject matter)

Jenny Larson’s books make me laugh and cry: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy

Shonda Rhimes’ The Year of Yes is like sitting down for coffee with your smartest, funniest friend (I loved this even having never watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but if you’re a Shondaland fan, you might like it even more.)

If you’ve never read it, Tina Fey’s Bossypants is on my all-time favorite list (I forgot how much that cover freaks me out.)

Matt doesn’t enjoy her voice, but I love Anne Lamott’s non-fiction: Too hard to pick between Traveling Mercies and Grace (Eventually) as my favorite. (Bird by Bird is a must read for writers.)

Super Fun Women’s Fiction* (with deeper, more thoughtful themes that you may expect from the genre**)

Crazy Rich Asians is being made into a movie coming out later this summer, and it’s fantastic on audiobook. If you want this series from the library put in your hold early. I got the first one from Overdrive pretty quickly, but have been waiting FOREVER for China Rich Girlfriend, so I went ahead and put Rich People Problems on hold already.

Where’d You Go Bernadette‘s author writes for TV (Arrested Development, Mad About You), and you can tell from the great dialogue and quick moving action. I loved this book.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine takes some dark turns that surprised me, but I loved the main characters and redemptive themes, this book is very popular with readers.

Young Jane Young tells the story of a college intern who gets involved in a Monica Lewinsky-style political scandal using a very creative structure (and entertaining, sympathetic characters).

The Almost Sisters was one of my top 3 books last year. Joshilyn Jackson was a professional audiobook reader before she was published as an author, and she does an amazing job reading her own work. This book has sisters, small town deep south, race & racism, comic books, and various ways that what’s really going on differs from what the outside world sees. So good.

* This is what we’re calling chick-lit now, I guess? Though not all of these books are considered chick-lit, and I’m not sure what causes a book to be labeled that way.

** I kind of wish it wasn’t a genre at all, there’s no Dude-lit section of the bookstore. I read books about men, written by men, all the time. Why are books about women and written by women only expected to be read by women?

Helpful (educational and also entertaining) Non Fiction

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a deep dive into the phenomenon of Twitter and Internet shaming, with entire sections quoting internet trolls. You do NOT want to listen to this in the presence of kids, but it is a fascinating look at shame and internet culture (and culture in general.)

Bored and Brilliant looks at the effects of technology on creativity. It’s not anti-social media or cel phone, but it will help you figure out how to use technology rather be used by it as a data source for large companies.

I have enjoyed listening to all of Gretchen Rubin’s books: The Happiness Project is really fun, but Better Than Before is my favorite: It focuses on how to build the habits you want into your life in a way that works for your personally. Once you finish that, you’ll probably want to learn more about The Four Tendencies.

Niche Series: These will each appeal to a specific and possibly narrow audience

The Mitford Books are gentle stories centered around an Episcopalian priest who is in his mid-60s and single (in the first book) and the small North Carolina parish he shepherds. Jan Karon has been writing these books since the mid-90s, the latest one came out last year. They are richer in characters than in plot, just simple small-town life: People live and die, start and close businesses, meet, get married, have babies, and somehow work their way into your heart like neighbors. I adore these books, having read them years ago, I re-ready them via listening to the entire series when I first started with audiobooks. I think of them as my Granny books: They used to sell them in Hallmark stores, that probably tells you all you need to know to decide if these are for you. Start with At Home in Mitford.

Are you a Veronica Mars person? If so, did you know that Rob Thomas wrote a couple of books with a now adult Veronica returning to Neptune in order to keep Mars Investigations afloat? These books are a little steamy and spicy, just like Veronica, but great if you’re a fan wanting a fix (I have only seen the first season of VM and still really enjoyed listening.) Book 1

I’ve heard that readers either love or hate the Thursday Next books. I’m firmly in the love category, but find them super hard to describe.  Literary Mystery + Strong Female Heroine + Dystopian alternate England with and on-going Crimean War and political divides over who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays + Fantasy elements involving  portholes between fiction and the human world (Miss Havisham and Mr. Rochester show up, among others). I read the entire series in hard cover, re-read them via audiobook, and will definitely listen to all of them again, probably in the not too distant future. Unique and weird, I’ve never read anything like them (and I would like to.) Want to see if you’ll fall in the love or hate camp? Start with The Eyre Affair.


Whatever your preference, there’s something on this list for you. Hope it makes the miles fly by, wherever you’re headed (I hope it’s somewhere fun!)


What would you list as the best audiobooks for grown ups?



The links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links, if you click through and purchase anything on Amazon I get a small kickback. It is a very very small kickback, but it does help support this site, and I appreciate every little bit that doesn’t come right out of my pockets! Thanks!

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