We tend to underestimate how miserable commuting can make us. Being squished in a crowded train car or stuck in gridlock traffic is probably even more awful than it sounds.
If moving closer to your office (or teleportation) isn’t possible right now, we get it. Below, we’ve rounded up a series of audiobook recommendations from Audible that can transform your daily travels into a – dare we say it? – pleasant experience.
Below, you’ll find nine audiobooks perfect for different length commutes, along with a clip and an abridged publisher’s summary. The books – from popular novels to memoirs – were curated by Audible based on factors including customers’ reviews and editors’ recommendations.
By the time you get to work, you’ll be smarter and more relaxed than everyone who spent their commute clenching their fists and wishing it were over.
15 to 30 minute commute: ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Eddie Redmayne
Length: 1 hour and 40 minutes
A set textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry since publication, Newt Scamander’s masterpiece has entertained wizarding families through the generations. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an indispensable introduction to the magical beasts of the wizarding world.
Scamander’s years of travel and research have created a tome of unparalleled importance. Some of the beasts will be familiar to readers of the Harry Potter books – the Hippogriff, the Basilisk, the Hungarian Horntail … others will surprise even the most ardent amateur Magizoologist.
15 to 30 minute commute: ‘The Dispatcher’ by John Scalzi, narrated by Zachary Quinto
Length: 2 hours and 19 minutes
One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.
It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late … before not even a Dispatcher can save him.
15 to 30 minute commute: ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ by Truman Capote, narrated by Michael C. Hall
Holly – a World War II-era society girl in her late teens – survives via socialization, attending parties and restaurants with men from the wealthy upper class who also provide her with money and expensive gifts. Over the course of the novella, the seemingly shallow Holly slowly opens up to the curious protagonist, who eventually gets tossed away as her deepening character emerges.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Truman Capote’s most beloved work of fiction, introduced an independent and complex character who challenged audiences, revived Audrey Hepburn’s flagging career in the 1961 film version, and whose name and style has remained in the national idiom since publication. Hall uses his diligent attention to character to bring our unnamed narrator’s emotional vulnerability to the forefront of this American classic.
30-43 minute commute: ‘The End of the Affair’ by Graham Greene, narrated by Colin Firth
Length: 6 hours and 28 minutes
Graham Greene’s evocative analysis of the love of self, the love of another, and the love of God is an English classic that has been translated for the stage, the screen, and even the opera house.
“The End of the Affair,” set in London during and just after World War II, is the story of a flourishing love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles. After a violent episode at Maurice’s apartment, Sarah suddenly and without explanation breaks off the affair.
30-43 minute commute: ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’, narrated by Roger Wayne
Note that the clip above is from Harper Collins and not Audible.
Length: 5 hours and 30 minutes
In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be positive all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.
For decades we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F*ck positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f*cked, and we have to live with it.”
In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is – a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mind-set that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.
45-60 minute commute: ‘Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood’ by Trevor Noah, narrated by Trevor Noah
Length: 8 hours and 50 minutes
Trevor Noah, one of the comedy world’s fastest-rising stars and host of The Daily Show, tells his wild coming-of-age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. In this Audible Studios production, Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives.
Attuned to the power of language at a young age – as a means of acceptance and influence in a country divided, then subdivided, into groups at odds with one another – Noah’s raw, personal journey becomes something extraordinary in audio: a true testament to the power of storytelling. With brutal honesty and piercing wit, he forgoes an ordinary reading and, instead, delivers something more intimate, sharing his story with the openness and candor of a close friend.
45-60 minute commute: ‘We are Legion (We Are Bob)’ by Dennis E. Taylor, narrated by Ray Porter
Length: 9 hours and 30 minutes
Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it’s a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.
Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets.
The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he’ll be switched off, and they’ll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty.
The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. Or so he thinks. Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad – very mad.
60+ minute commute: ‘Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race’ by Margot Lee Shetterly, narrated by Robin Miles
Length: 10 hours and 47 minutes
Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets and astronauts into space.
Among these problem solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly these overlooked math whizzes had shots at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia, and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.
Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black West Computing group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War and complete domination of the heavens.
60+ minute commute: ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins, narrated by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher
Length: 10 hours and 59 minutes
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, “The Girl on the Train” is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.