Audio books are fantastic. Download them to your phone, or borrow them from your local library. I’ve audited several hundred books so far, all while driving. I listen to all kinds, light and heavy, fiction and non-fiction, short and long. More and more this is where I get my serious reading done. If at all possible I listen to the unabridged version. If fact my most memorable audible experiences are listening to long deep audio books. The longer the better.

Audible is the central depot for audio books. They don’t carry every audio book, but they carry the most (100,000), and they have the best interface for selecting, pre-viewing, ordering. Since this is an Amazon company they also offer a service that will sync your Kindle version of a book and your Audible version (you need to purchase both versions), so you can switch from reading (in a home) to listening (in a car) without losing your place! I like Audible because they also allow you to “return” a book for a refund if the narrator — or the book! — doesn’t agree with you.

You can buy individual books, but the best deal is monthly or yearly subs at about $15 or $10 per book. Here are a few suggestions of long books that seem to appeal to most people if you want to get started. For the long books I prefer professional narrators over the author’s voice.

Fiction

  • Shantaram (Amazing unbelievable immersive vivid journey into the slums of India.)
  • Lonesome Dove (Wished it never ended. Pure story, unforgettable characters.)
  • War and Peace (I tried many times to read it, but couldn’t get going. Listening was the answer.)
  • Harry Potter series (Better than either the movies or reading the books. Narrator Jim Dale does 135 voices.)
  • Assimov’s Foundation series (Classic science fiction saga that still works.)
  • Atlas Shrugged (The only way you can get through all of John Gault’s monologue.)
  • Life of Pi (A boy and tiger in lifeboat. Unconventional, unorthodox, unexpected delight.)
  • Pillars of the Earth (Historical fiction about building cathedrals over generations.)

Nonfiction

  • The Discoverers (How knowledge triumphed over ignorance and invented everything.)
  • 1491 (This will change your mind about American natives and history of the continent.)
  • 1493 (Same author, will change your mind about African slavery’s role in the Americas.)
  • Short History of Everything (Much more enlightening and enjoyable than I thought it could be.)
  • God, Country and Coca Cola (About drugs, FDA, and the invention of advertising. And Coke.)
  • Peter the Great (A biography of Russia through one man.)
  • Into Thin Air (A surprising, page-turning, mind-bending adventure up Mt. Everest.)
  • The Looming Towers (Essential deep origins of Osama Ben Laden vs. the US.)

Submitted to Cool Tools by Kevin Kelly