One of the many great things about books is that they’re there for us when we’re by ourselves. They entertain us, they keep us company, they keep us occupied when we’re all alone.

This is one of the great allures of audiobooks. Are you all alone in your car, stuck in traffic or making a painfully long journey? Just press play, and you have an instant companion. Are you on the treadmill and you need something to distract you from the burn in your muscles? Pop on the headphones, and you can be transported to another place and time while the bulge in your hips that you got from that extra helping of ice cream over the weekend melts away.

Audiobooks have morphed from bulky cassette tapes to slightly less bulky CDs to their latest form: books that you can download or stream directly from your smartphones and tablets. Sign up with, and you’ll find that it’s never been easier to listen to a great book.

So whether you’re behind the wheel or pumping that elliptical, here are six great books to listen to when you need some company.

1. During the daily commute

Wright BrosThe Wright Brothers, written and narrated by David McCullough

Are you dreaming of soaring above all the cars stuck in front of you in that traffic jam? Listen to the story of Wilbur and Orville Wright, the men who invented the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve sustained flight with a pilot aboard. No, it won’t lift your car into the air, but you’ll hear a great book, and it’s read by the author, who’s voice you’ll recognize from the film Seabiscuit and numerous documentaries, including Ken Burns’ classic The Civil War.


2. Going the distance at the gym

Finders Keepers KingFinders Keepers: A Novel, written by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton

Hop up on the treadmill and run for your life as you listen to the latest by the undisputed King of Suspense. In this offering, an iconic, reclusive author is murdered and his notes for one more novel are stolen. Thirty-five years later, the notes are found by young Pete Sauberg, but he must escape the wrath of the murderer, who has just been released from prison. It’s Steven King at his finest in a book that not only offer thrills, but also the author’s insight into how literature shapes a life, for better or worse.


3. For the long, long ride to the vacation cottage

80 DaysAround the World in 80 Days, written by Jules Verne, narrated by Jim Dale

So you think you’ve got a long drive? It might feel a little shorter if you listen to this classic tale about a 19th-century gentleman who bets that he can circumnavigate the globe in a mere 80 days. What makes this audiobook particularly special is the narration by Dale, the English actor and voice artist who was declared “The Toast of Broadway” for his Tony-award winning turn in the musical Barnum, and who narrated the audiobook version of the Harry Potter series.



4. Waiting for your turn at the dentist

Dave BarryLive Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster): Life Lessons from Dave Barry, written and narrated by Dave Barry

The master of written comedy, Barry, a Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author, doles out words of wisdom (*actual wisdom not guaranteed) to the next generation. Barry passes on everything you need to know to live a happy life…or at least have a good laugh while doing so. Might lessen the need for painkillers!



5. While cooking dinner

GaffiganFood: A Love Story, written and narrated by Jim Gaffigan

From the bestselling author of Dad is Fat comes this ode to bacon, McDonald’s, Cinnabon, Hot Pockets, and all the most treasured dishes of the American diet. You might not want to listen to this one at the gym, as it could make you want to dash out for a cheeseburger after your workout.




6. Alone by the pool

Carry Me HomeCarry Me Home, written by Rosalind James, narrated by Kirby Heyborne

Zoe Santangelo is a newly-appointed professor in the small town of Paradise, Idaho, and nothing is going to stop her from achieving her dream of teaching in the Ivy League. But a creepy campus stalker is complicating her life—as is a hunky ex-football pro/cowboy who keeps coming to her rescue. If you’re listening to this one in the sun, you might want to jump into the water afterward, because things are going to get hot.