As more and more people read audiobooks, there has been a fascinating trend in genre interest.
It seems that nonfiction books have become more popular now that readers can listen to the information instead of reading it word for word.
Like a TedTalk this allows many of us to digest the fascinating information with more ease than traditional reading.
So what are the best nonfiction books to listen to as you travel? Let’s find out.
1. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, And You – Jason Reynolds And Ibram X. Kendi
Most nonfiction books that look into racism aim to remove offense by studying history. Stamped doesn’t do this.
They look at the here and now, and help us understand why the world is how it is and why we act as we do.
The concept and upkeep of “race” have always been to create power, separate the used, and force them into silence.
Stamped explains how this still affects millions of people on a daily basis and explains why those affected feel the way they do.
2. Talking To Strangers – Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell’s audiobook is more like a show. In it, you’ll hear the arrests of Sandra Bland, the trial of Amand Knox, and the stories of real-life people in real-life tragedies.
The book aims to ask questions about how we make sense of people we have never met before and how we help create misunderstandings which can lead to misinformation.
Simply watching TV can change the way we relate to one another, as we expect something from social interactions that do not occur naturally.
3. Taste: My Life Through Food – Stanley Tucci
Although Stanley Tucci is an award-winning actor, he is also a massive foodie. In this nonfiction book, Tucci explores his thoughts on life through anecdotes that surround food.
The book is filled with comedy, heartwarming family-based realism, and a love of food. Each of his stories shows how food can bring people together.
4. Broken (In The Best Possible Way) – Jenny Lawson
Jenny is a journalist, author, and blogger with thousands of fans who love her content. In this nonfiction book, Lawson openly talks about her depression and how it has affected her physical health and other mental struggles.
The book aims to show the hilarious ways in which her anxiety and depression affect her life, as well as the heartbreaking moments it has caused too.
She hopes to humanize the experience in real terms and help us avoid TV expectations for these mental health disorders.
The book is funny, gives a sense of hope, and shows a real depiction of depression (if you’re looking for more funny audiobooks for a long trip, check out our guide here).
5. Educated – Tara Westover
Educated is a biographical novel about an individual who never went to school and lived in isolation with her family.
Living in the mountains of Idaho, Westover lived like a survivalist. She never saw doctors, even when an explosion caused burns across her body. Instead, everyone was treated through her mother – a herbalist.
She had no understanding of the world around her, so Westover decided to educate herself. By the age of 17, she was self-taught in mathematics and basic grammar at a level high enough to attend Brigham Young University.
While in school for the first time, she learned about world events such as the civil rights movement and the Holocaust.
This biography is a coming-of-age story about family loyalty, and our current world in the eyes of someone who’s seeing it for the first time.
6. Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide To Modern Cinema – Lindy West
Lindy West was originally an in-house movie critic for a Seattle newsweekly called The Stranger.
She would review movies with brutal honesty and a sense of enjoyment in rejection. In Shit, Actually, West brings back this love of disdain and reviews iconic movies produced in the last 40 years.
With hilarious insights such as “Why do the zebras in The Lion King trust Mufasa-WHO IS A LION-to look out for their best interests?”West creates belly-laughing comments. Her sharp wit and genuine love for “trashy” movies gives us funny insights into much loved movies.
7. In The Dream House – Carmen Maria Machado
In The Dream House uses horror themes and a series of narrative tropes to articulate a subject that Carmen couldn’t speak about for years (if you want more horrifying audiobooks for a long trips, check out our guide here).
Machado was in an abusive relationship which can be a struggle to navigate by itself, but because it was a same-sex relationship there were complexities that many people are unaware of.
Carmen walks us through this experience, and how it affected her life.
8. Wintering: The Power Of Rest And Retreat In Difficult Times – Katherine May
When hard times come into our lives, many people pretend to be happy despite their pain, or they don’t know how to recover when they begin to fall through the cracks.
In Wintering, Katherin May asks us to change how to see these moments in time. She shows us literature, the natural world, and mythology to guide us through our darkest times.
Her message is to learn about the power of resting and retreating as a form of human hibernation.
9. Save Me The Plums – Ruth Reichl
Ruth Reichl is a beloved food critic, and this memoir explores her life from Berkeley hippy to corporate cook5 while keeping her soul intact.
Her story shows how popular culture has affected restaurants, the change in farm-to-table mentality, and how all of these different turns have affected the way we eat.
10. Calypso – David Sedaris
David Sedaris normally writes cheerful memoirs, and although Calypso is still very funny this essay takes us down an unusual path.
Sedaris discusses being middle-aged and his sense of mortality. Using just the power of observation he discusses how the body changes and how we are made up of our past and future selves.
This book is great for people who want an easy read and love dark humor.
11. The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays On A Human-Centered Planet – John Green
We are currently in the Anthropocene age – a time defined as the age of human activity.
In this collection of essays, John Green explores the different ways in which humans have changed the planet.
From hot dog eating contests to the irony of increased loneliness through connectivity.
The collection includes human experiences, thought-provoking questions, and real insights into the world we have created.
12. On Animals – Susan Orlean
Orlean has always been fascinated by how humans interact with animals. In this collection of stories, she examines how these relationships shape us, shape our world or help us recognize traits in others.
From household pets to the meat on our plates, Orlean reminds us that we share this world with millions of creatures and yet our view of them changes from person to person.
Orlean keeps chickens and explains her stories through them. She also has stories given by a woman in New Jersey who owns 23 tigers unbeknownst to her neighbors until one escaped.
From show animals to working pets Orlean shows us just how profound these connections are.
13. How To Be Perfect: The Correct Answer To Every Moral Question – Michael Schur
Everyone thinks they are a good person, but defining good and bad isn’t easy. Philosophers may have written essays about these concepts, but most modern-day suggestions are filled with bad advice and traps which lead you down the wrong path.
Schur aims to bring wisdom and fresh insight while staying funny.
The questions start off easy, such as “Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” (No). But soon this changes to more complex questions such as “Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people?”
Schur doesn’t tell you the answers but helps to give you guidance in finding them yourself.
14. How We Fight For Our Lives – Saeed Jones
Jones’s memoir tells his story – the story of a young, black, gay man fighting for a place within his own family, his own country of America, all while maintaining a true sense of self.
Through poetry and prose, Jones gives us a beautiful, sensual, and haunting look into his life and how other people’s claims over us shape who we are.
15. Intimations – Zadie Smith
In a series of 6 short essays, Zadie Smith captures the emotional response to the COVID-19 Pandemic while it was at its peak.
Her insights are written at the beginning and midway through 2020, as she looks at points in the year which provoked her.
In the essays, she shares a personal and profound level of intimacy and tenderness and how the pandemic caused us to reconnect to our actions of love.
Some of the nonfiction books we have suggested are memories of a person’s life. Others look at the world as a whole. However, each of them will leave you feeling profoundly changed after listening to them.
No matter which one you pick, you will gain either knowledge of the world around you or knowledge about yourself.