#1 Edited by Wrighteous86 (3745 posts) -

As some of you may have heard, I'm going on a cross-country road trip from Chicago to San Francisco soon. Considering it's about 36-38 hours of driving (one way!) I get the feeling that, at some point, music and podcasts aren't gonna cut it.

In my experience with long drives, audiobooks and radio plays can help the time go by a lot faster, because you're invested in a story, so I think I might download some before we go.

Do you guys listen to audiobooks? Can you recommend some of the better ones? I'm not just asking for good books, I want to know which audiobooks are REALLY superior, either due to an excellent reader or by taking advantage of the format. I've heard that World War Z, Stephen Colbert, and John Hodgman do this well. Can anyone confirm that or offer any other suggestions? Thanks guys!

#2 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (2569 posts) -

What do you like?

Thriller/Espionage?
By Order of the President, Book 1 by W.E.B. Griffin ( and then The Hostage (Bk2) , The Hunters (Bk3)) [Read by Dick Hill]

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith [Read by Dennis Boutsikaris]
and then The Secret Speech (Bk 2)

Dangerous Ground (Jerry Mitchell Series), Book 1 by Larry Bond [Read by Dick Hill]

Fantasy? (Swords & Sorcerery)

A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire_ Series, Books 1-5 by George R.R. Martin [Read by Roy Dotrice]

The Steel Remains (Land Fit for Heroes Series), Book 1 by Richard K. Morgan [Read by Simon Vance] NOTE: This is a great sword/sorcerer story, but it includes gay sex. Awesome book, awesome hero, but you have to be open-minded! They do sort of describe the sex in detail

Science Fiction
Okay, this might seem weird, out of left field, but classic Sci-fi is an awesome in audio book form. You must listen to the A Princess of Mars because you then understand HOW MUCH George Lucas stole..I mean just lifted out of E. R, Burroughs early books!

A Princess of Mars (John Carter of Mars Series), Book 1 by Edgar Rice Burroughs
and then The Gods of Mars (Bk 2), Warlord of Mars (Bk3) and Thuvia, Maid of Mars (Bk 4)

The Dauntless (The Lost Fleet Series), Book 1 by Jack Campbell
and then Fearless ( Bk 2), Courageous (Bk 3), Valiant (Bk 4), The Relentless (Bk5)

Also, worth seeing as long as there are no prudes or kids in the car...
Tarnsman of Gor (Gor Series), Book 1 by John Norman...it is like John Carter but with more Sadomasochism.

#3 Posted by mosespippy (4034 posts) -

The only audio books I've listened to were for English courses because I'm a slow reader with a good sized commute. As a result all the audio books I've listened to are a bit flat.

The one exception is Go The F**k to Sleep as read by Samuel L Jackson.

#4 Posted by MildMolasses (3213 posts) -

I believe The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans is the be-all-and-end-all of audio books. I wish I had a copy

#5 Posted by Commander_Crichton (153 posts) -

I've only ever listened to two audiobooks: At the mountains of Madness by H.P.Lovecraft and Make Love! The Bruce Campbell way by...Bruce Campbell. Both were more like radio dramas, with several people voicing the characters and I thought that both books were quite excellent.

#6 Posted by TooWalrus (13137 posts) -

If you've never actually read 1984, the audio version is fantastic. I listened to it in highschool, 'course we were supposed to read it, but I liked to do homework and play World of Warcraft at the same time.

#7 Edited by Sergio (2050 posts) -

I've had an audible account for years and listened to a lot of audio books (walking the dog, commuting, etc.). I'll have to check later when I get home from work.

A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire_ Series, Books 1-5 by George R.R. Martin [Read by Roy Dotrice]

The last one he read was terrible if you listened to it close to the one before it, not to mention the last book was bad and not as good as the one before it. He also makes some of the women sound like hillbillies, more noticeable when he changed one of the voices he used before, probably because it took a long time for the last book to come out.

#8 Posted by Commander_Crichton (153 posts) -

I believe The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans is the be-all-and-end-all of audio books. I wish I had a copy

The movie feels like an audio book but with accompanying images and footage that fits the narration. Is the audio book just the movie minus the visuals, I mean does it reuse the same audio?

#9 Posted by Video_Game_King (36012 posts) -
#10 Posted by MildMolasses (3213 posts) -

@mildmolasses said:

I believe The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans is the be-all-and-end-all of audio books. I wish I had a copy

The movie feels like an audio book but with accompanying images and footage that fits the narration. Is the audio book just the movie minus the visuals, I mean does it reuse the same audio?

I've never seen the movie, nor have I heard the audiobook. I'm only going on what people have said about it. I would assume that if you enjoyed listening to Robert Evans talk about himself for the movie, it would be even more amazing without him being interrupted by other people. And for several hours longer

#11 Posted by Levius (1077 posts) -

While they are not strictly audio books, the Hardcore History podcasts really tread the line between the two, and are regularly excellent, with Ghosts of the Ostfront and Thor's Angels being stand outs. I would easily put them on par with most history books.

#12 Posted by TheVeteran13 (1197 posts) -

The Harry Potter audiobooks read by Jim Dale can really help pass the time.

#13 Edited by McGhee (6094 posts) -

@wrighteous86:

Frank Muller was the greatest audiobook reader/actor of all time. He sadly died far too soon when he was in a motor cycle accident and suffered permanent brain damage. He was thanked by Stephen King in the preface of his later Dark Tower books because Muller's readings of the earlier books inspired him to continue in writing the series.

Anything that Muller narrates is good. There's a very long list. But I would say that his reading of Stephen King's Wizard and Glass is absolutely astounding. Even though it's part of the Dark Tower series, it is a pretty stand along story.

#14 Posted by myketuna (1652 posts) -

The only audiobooks I've read so far are Dreams from My Father, World War Z, The Help, and The Hunger Games (only the first one). I have to say I enjoyed World War Z the most. The switch between characters keeps thing pretty interesting. The other ones were good too, but were all read by the same person throughout.

#15 Posted by EarlessShrimp (1631 posts) -

If you don't mind kid's stories if you find some of the Rabbit Ears listening audiobooks they do classic tale from around the world. They're voiced by popular actors liek Robin Williams and Ben Kingsley and the like. Then they have music by famous composers to back them. They're actually pretty fantastic, although only about 40 minutes - 1 hour per set of stories.

#16 Posted by Master_Funk (728 posts) -

Wind up bird chronicles was the first audiobook I listened. They narrator was pretty good, but it was also like 27 hours long.

Iv heard dune and american gods have great multicast performances so listen to those i guess.

#17 Edited by Draugen (628 posts) -

You should try "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by William Shirer. After the end of the 68 hours it lasts, there ain't nothin' worth knowing you won't know about Hitler's Germany.

#18 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6087 posts) -

I will definitely second the Bruce Campbell suggestion - I listened to that when I was laid up from a surgery, and it's a great audiobook. You can't go wrong with the BBC versions of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, either. They're great.

Moderator
#19 Posted by cheishxc (92 posts) -

I recommend Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), and Tough Shit by Kevin Smith. If you like zombie stories I recommend you look into We're Alive, it's a zombie survival story that's told through a radio drama. Look it up wherever you download your podcasts it's pretty awesome.

#20 Edited by pyromagnestir (4246 posts) -

Before I recommend anything let me just say it really sucks that I can't find an audiobook version of Jurassic Park. Does one exist?

Anyway...

Ready Player One was pretty good. Will Wheaton narrates it, he did a good job. The story is fun, but it drags at times.

Stephen King's It is good. Really long though, almost 2 days worth of audio. I'm about halfway through it. I made the mistake of buying myself some really long audiobooks and I'm still working through them. I can't really listen to them on a commute or anything, so I usually only listen to them when I get terrible headaches or something, which hasn't been happening much recently. I suppose that's a good thing, but I want to know how It end's damn it!

The Song of Ice and Fire audiobooks are good.

I second or whatever BBC's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Definitely go with those!

#21 Edited by selfconfessedcynic (2495 posts) -

My tastes lay strongly in Fantasy and Sci-Fi, but I'm what you'd call an Audiobook diehard nowadays - it's my favourite way to "read", and I gravitate to books on audiobook first and foremost. I barely use my Kindle anymore.

Anyway, here are my tips for the best fantasy and sci-fi audiobooks outside of Song of Ice and Fire, which I haven't read (and don't intend to unless Martin plans on finishing it any time soon - which was looking likely a couple of years ago, but now seems like a pipe dream).

ED: Note, the lists below represent them the the order I'd recommend them to others, not "my favourites" though my favourites are mentioned. I consider audiobooks just a great way of experiencing great books, so I would say that none of these take advantage of the format to the fullest (and they're certainly not radio plays), but rather are "just" incredibly enjoyable ways to spend your time.

Fantasy:

  1. Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson is my favourite Author by far nowadays, and this was his first truly great work. I put it in poll position because not only is it engrossing, it is read by my favourite reader Michael Kramer and there are only 3 volumes with 1 spin-off, so it isn't too time consuming. Believe the reviews, it is really that good (averaging 4-5 stars everywhere).
  2. Monster Hunter International - Consider this "light" or "pulp" fantasy, it's set in modern day and is the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie. Constant action, fun characters, simple motivations, good humour, and a compelling plot. I put this in 2nd because it's the type of book I'd recommend to those who aren't that into fantasy knowing that pretty much anyone can enjoy it. Again, it averages 4-5 stars everywhere, and deserves it.
  3. Storm Front (Dresden files book 1) - The first Dresden Files novel, and though not the best one, it is the tip of the iceberg for the rest of a fantastic series which defined urban fantasy and continues to do so. I put it here because it's only 8 hours long and if you do like it you're in for a lot of fun with the rest of the series. The plot is solid, and the reading is decent - and though this averages "only" around 4 stars, the rest of the series (currently 14 books or so) easily gets up to that 4-5 range.

Other notable, very good, fantasy audiobooks are the obvious, The Eye of the World (first book of the Wheel of Time) which is read by 2 readers including the afore mentioned Michael Kramer and my 2nd favourite reader, Kate Reading - or similarly you can check out the biggest new thing in Fantasy, The Way of Kings which is made by the same crew, is incredibly highly rated and deserves it. Codex Alera (6 books, each around 15 hours, and is a mix between popcorn and interesting fantasy) also read by Kate Reading is a solid series of well-read novels that are much under-appreciated. The Iron Druid Chronicles is another nice popcorn-y peice of fiction and The Blade Itself is fantastic if you like dark fantasy.

ED: Oh, and of course there's the KingKiller Chronicles which is another huge thing in the fantasy space at the moment - once again the rave reviews are largely well earned, especially with Book 1, "The Name of the Wind".

Sci-Fi:

  1. Ender's Game - A seminal piece of sci-fi, everyone should experience it and the audiobooks are a great way to do so. Hopefully the ending hasn't been spoiled for you, but aside from that it's a no-brainer. Only around 12 hours and it's consumable as a stand-alone piece, so your commitment reqs are nice and low.
  2. The Lost Fleet - The most fun I've had with sci-fi novels, it's not popcorn but somehow manages to be constantly engaging for the duration of the 6-book series. If you liked Battlestar Galactica, this shares many of its great elements (a long withdrawal with survivors trying to return home through the many dangers of space). Being scifi, each book is much shorter than a fantasy novel would be so the whole 6 books is (I believe) <70 hours of time, so shorter than any of my fantasy recommendations. Book 1 is 10 hours, is well read, and after finishing it I warn you of wanting to immediately purchase the rest.
  3. 14 - A nice peice of "urban sci-fi" for those adverse to things set on space ships, this was a surprisingly enjoyable romp through many of the tropes of scifi with some legitimately interesting elements of mystery for the first 3/4. I warn you that the ending isn't the best, but it earns its positive reviews and is a well read 13 hours.

Other notable sci-fi has pretty much been mentioned by the other commenters here, there are so many solid sci fi classics that a casual browse through that category in Audible will yield a number of recommendations for me.

#22 Edited by AlexW00d (6185 posts) -
#23 Edited by TheRookie727 (57 posts) -

Dan Carlin recommended White House Tapes not sure if its any good, haven't listen to it yet.

#24 Edited by Daveyo520 (6652 posts) -

Ready Player One with Wil Wheaton is pretty good. Also anything Stephen Fry does.

#25 Posted by Slag (4008 posts) -

@wrighteous86: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy BBC radio dramas are great if you can find them

#26 Edited by Breadfan (6589 posts) -

World War Z is a fantastic audio book. It makes everything else seem radically inferior.

#28 Posted by SpoogeMcduck (180 posts) -

The Dark Tower series is pretty good, and would be more than long enough to last the whole trip. Enders Game and Ready Player One were both good in audiobook form as well.