12 gripping audiobooks you won’t be able to stop listening to

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most gripping audiobooks for road trips

I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I always have a free audiobook on the go via the Libby app, and I make use of the huge selection available via Audible if I can’t find something.

I’ve talked before about the most relaxing bedtime audiobooks to help you wind down, but what about the opposite? Here, I’ve shared the most gripping audiobooks that will keep you hooked.

These are some of the best audiobooks for road trips, long flights, or to accompany you as you go about your day, exercising and running errands.

Whatever your plans, download these gripping audiobooks and you’ll have hours of entertainment to look forward to. Enjoy!

The most gripping audiobooks that keep you hooked

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Listen to Unbroken for… a moving testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit that reads like a cinematic page-turner.

In this gripping non-fiction book, Laura Hillenbrand shares the story of Louis Zamperini, a delinquent who channeled his defiance into running and discovered a talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics.

But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, leading him to a doomed flight in 1943.

The audiobook is just as gripping as the movie, sharing the unimaginable story of one man driven to the limits of human endurance and forced to answer desperation with ingenuity and suffering with hope.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Listen to Project Hail Mary for… perhaps the best-ever audiobook for road trips, offering 16 hours of non-stop action in outer space, as read by five-star narrator Ray Porter.

In one of the best audiobooks of all time, Ryland Grace, the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission to save both humanity and the earth, is hurtled into the depths of space to complete the mission alone.

Just like Andy Weir’s previous bestseller, The Martian, Project Hail Mary is a fantastically well-researched, nerdy, and lighthearted page-turner. Bill Gates shared: “I finished the whole thing in one weekend.”

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Listen to Daisy Jones and the Six for… a full-cast production of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s bestselling novel that will grab your attention from the beginning.

Sometimes, an audiobook takes over my life. At every possible moment, I’m listening to it: going on walks, cooking dinner, at the gym… Daisy Jones and the Six was one of those audiobooks.

It’s the closest a book can get to an addictive music documentary, sharing the story of one fictional band’s legendary rise and fall, friendship and rivalry, ambition and heartbreak, as told by the intertwining voices of the band’s members.

With a full cast of voices, the production is outstanding. It’s another of the best audiobooks for road trips.

The Stand by Stephen King

Listen to The Stand for… an unputdownable glimpse into human nature in a post-apocalyptic world in one of Stephen King’s most popular books.

In a Reddit thread about gripping audiobooks with awesome narrators, one reader shared this glowing review of The Stand: “About 48 hours and not a single dull moment”.

For more of the best Stephen King audiobooks, you can also listen to 11/22/63 – Stephen King’s binge-worthy reimagining of a certain day in 1963 that asks, what if that day was just like any other?

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Listen to Cloud Cuckoo Land for… a beautifully poetic, layered narrative of dreamers and outcasts in Constantinople in 1453, an Idaho library in 2020, and a spacecraft sometime in the future.

Whenever I think back to this incredible audiobook, I can still hear the narrator reading the chapter titles (Cloud Cuckoo Land by Antonius Diogenes…)

I wasn’t sure I’d have the patience to listen to all 15 hours, but it turned out to be a breeze. Cloud Cuckoo Land is perfect to listen to as an audiobook, beautifully weaving together three interlocking stories of survival against the odds.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Listen to Dark Matter for… the excellent audiobook adaptation of a brilliantly plotted sci-fi thriller.

In this gripping audiobook, the last thing Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious is this question: “Are you happy with your life?” 

He awakens to find himself surrounded by strangers and a man he’s never met saying, “Welcome back, my friend.” What follows is a story that’s so mind-bendingly strange and gripping that the hours will fly by.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Listen to Circe for… a stunning audio production of Madeline Miller’s retelling of the story of Circe, known in myth as perhaps the most dangerous woman a man could come across.

In this bestselling (and utterly magnificent) book from 2018, the sorceress Circe is banished to the island of Aiaia after her gifts threaten the gods. Here, she hones her occult craft, casting spells, gathering strange herbs, and taming wild beasts.

But she won’t be left in peace for long, and it’s for an unexpected visitor, the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything. Immerse yourself in this captivating audiobook and get excited for the upcoming HBO Max adaptation of Circe.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Listen to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for… the fast-paced story that opens one of the most popular thriller series ever written. It’s perfect to listen to as an audiobook.

At nearly 19 hours long, immerse yourself in this gripping big book about journalist Mikael Blomkvist, tattooed prodigy Lisbeth Salander, and the iniquity and corruption they uncover.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Listen to A Short History of Nearly Everything for… Bill Bryson’s top-rated whistle-stop tour of the history of Earth, starting with the Big Bang, exploring the rise of civilization, and sharing how we got to the present day.

Any book by Bill Bryson is sure to be good fun. A bestselling Bill Bryson book adapted as an audiobook? Even more so.

On Reddit, one reader shared: “A vote here for this book! I listened to it back when I was a distance runner and used to get lost a lot because I’d go into fully into the zone. I’ve never retained so much from an audiobook.”

Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes

Listen to Unmasked for… a non-fiction bestseller from 2022 that’s darker and more gripping than any true crime movie or podcast.

If you love true crime, Unmasked should be on your reading list. In this author-narrated 9-hour audiobook, Paul Holes, the detective who solved some of America’s most perplexing cases, wants to tell you about a lifetime of solving cold cases.

With dark suspense and twists and turns, Paul shares a first-person account of the puzzle of crime solving and asks himself: at what cost? Was it worth the sacrifices in his own life?

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham

Listen to Midnight in Chernobyl for… an addictive audiobook that, with impeccable research, shares the real story of the 1986 nuclear accident.

From the beginning, what happened at Chernobyl was clouded by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation. In this book described by The Wall Street Journal as an “account that reads almost like the script for a movie“, Adam Higginbotham has finally shared the true story.

In this audiobook that’s perfect for road trips, experience a one-of-a-kind reconstruction of an event that changed history through the eyes of the men and women who saw it firsthand. (Afterwards, you can also watch the fantastic HBO TV adaptation.)

The Eye of the World (Book 1 of Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan

Listen to The Eye of the World for… the whopping 33-hour first installment of Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time.

On Reddit, one reader shared, “As a voracious Epic Fantasy reader, Wheel of Time is an absolute masterpiece. By the end of the final book you will feel like you are parting ways with old friends and family as you say goodbye to your favourite characters.”

You’ll need a lot of time to get through this audiobook (and the rest of the series), but if you love long fantasy books, it’s worth it.

The stunning new production narrated by Rosamund Pike, star of the hit Prime Video original series, is now a 2023 Audie Award winner for Best Female Narrator.

Which audiobook will you listen to first? For more gripping books, head over to my collection of the best unputdownable books. Or, for more audiobooks, enjoy these sleepy audiobooks to help you drift off to sleep.

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