Now that technology makes it even easier to listen to an audiobook, the soundtrack to a road trip is as likely to be Game of Thrones as "Born to Run".
Cheryl B. of Brooklyn, NY, recently drove a 2800-mile solo round trip to Minneapolis. Her favorite author for highway driving is Stephen King—in this case, she chose Finders Keepers.
“Stephen King’s stories are really intense, and I was driving through big rainstorms, I was on freeways with huge trucks, and sometimes it was just a little too much; the action was getting really heightened, and so was the driving! Sometimes I had to take a break.”
For those break times, Cheryl loaded up another series, this time from bestselling mystery writer Sue Grafton: R is for Ricochet is one in the Kinsey Millhone Alphabet series. "They're good, solid mysteries but they're not as intense. And I won’t accidentally miss my exit.”
With her 18 driving hours well covered by two levels of suspenseful listening, Cheryl said, “Sometimes I couldn't believe that two hours or so had passed. Even being stuck in traffic feels better when you're listening to a good story.”
Looking for more suspenseful listens for long drives? Try these:
*The Bourne Dominion, in the long-lived Jason Bourne franchise from Robert Ludlum.
*And Then There Were None, one of the classic British murder mysteries from Agatha Christie, “the queen of mystery.”
Did you spend the summer with Scout, Jem, and Dil? Maybe you got re-acquainted with Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird (narrated by Sissy Spacek); continued on to her new-old sequel, Go Set a Watchman (narrated by Reese Witherspoon); and sampled the seemingly endless, online discussion about Harper Lee’s life and legacy. (An enjoyable 29-minute audio guide to Mockingbird comes from The Big Read, the NEA’s media initiative, and includes the voices of Horton Foote, Robert Duvall and Sandra Day O’Connor, among others. Keep in mind that it was produced way before the 2015 “discovery” of the edited, original Mockingbird manuscript and the “sequel”.) There are reviews and investigations (data-mining her novels!); even recipes.
If these novels spark your interest in the literature of the American South, you’re about to enter a rich field of story, drama, and conversation, much of it available as audiobooks.
There are several well-respected best-of lists for Southern fiction, including this popular-vote list from the magazine Oxford American. But only five books, including Mockingbird, made it onto all lists. Here are the other four titles:
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy [Hear the author]
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison [Hear the author]
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner [Hear the author]
Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor [Hear the author]
This is a great start, but there’s so much more. These four titles are all from the mid-20th century, but Southern literature has a long reach— from Mark Twain and other 19th-century writers up to today— and a lingering influence. Check out those best-of lists to find more contemporary works and more diverse authors. (A thoroughly eclectic and up-to-date list comes from Emily Gatlin on Book Riot.)
Not on any list, but an enduring family favorite in a Southern setting, is Old Yeller. Play it on a car ride with the kids, and don’t forget to bring a box of tissues.