14 best long audiobooks for an epic listening session

14 best long audiobooks for an epic listening session

In Reading Lists by Kelsey Fritts

14 best long audiobooks for an epic listening session

Whether you’re taking a cross-country road trip, going for a lengthy run, or have a long work week ahead, then we’ve got just the thing for you: extra-long audiobooks.

Featuring 20+ hours of storytelling, these titles are for listeners who have plenty of time to fill — or those who simply love diving deep into intricate world-building. They’re also for the folks who can better digest a complicated storyline when it’s read to them, can't carve out hours to read a four-pound tome, or just want to get the most bang for their buck by listening while doing other tasks.

If this sounds like you, then these sweeping stories — arranged from shortest to longest — are worth a listen.

1. The Good House by Tananarive Due, narrated by Robin Miles

Due, a heavyweight in the Black horror genre, packs a punch in this paranormal horror that is so much more than just a haunted house story. Buckle up for 21 hours of terror that “tackles the intersection — the collision, really — between violence and young Black manhood,” says author Nisi Shawl in a review for Tor.

The Good House takes place in a little town in Washington, where people are enamored with Angela Toussaint’s late grandmother’s house. Angela is hoping that good things will happen when her family decides to stay there for the summer. Instead, a tragedy rips them apart. 

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2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, narrated by Andy Serkis

Now’s a great time to listen to this enduring classic while you wait for the new Lord of the Rings anime movie, The War of the Rohirrim, to come out in 2024.

Tolkien’s fantasy saga follows the adventures of Frodo Baggins as he journeys through Middle Earth to destroy a ring that possesses all-consuming power. This audiobook is 22 hours long — and it’s just the first in the series. As a bonus, Middle Earth has never sounded better than with the magical narration of Andy Serkis, the actor who brought Gollum to life in the movies.

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3. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, narrated by Robin Miles

Learn about a previously overlooked aspect of American history — a fascinating and productive way to spend your time. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wilkerson explores the Great Migration, when millions of African Americans uprooted their lives to move from the South to cities in the North, the Midwest, and out West from 1915–1970.

This book made the ZORA Canon, a list of 100 of the greatest books written by African American women, and it spans 22 hours.

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4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville, narrated by William Hootkins

On board a whaling ship, outcast Ishmael chronicles the crew’s search for the great white whale of the Southern Oceans. Their hunt is driven by the fervor of Captain Ahab, who lost his leg to the whale during a previous voyage. But Ahab’s obsessive pursuit of revenge at any cost may indeed cost them all their lives. 

Including surprisingly relatable parallels to the human condition, Moby Dick is 24 hours long and perfect for revisiting the classics during a lengthy drive, run, or work session.

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5. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, narrated by Dylan Baker

In this comprehensive biography, Isaacson details the intense personality, compulsive perfectionism, and ferocious ambition of renowned Apple creator Steve Jobs. 

This 25-hour audiobook is based on over 40 interviews with Jobs himself, as well as more than 100 interviews with his friends, family, colleagues, and competition. It goes beyond recounting a life; it’s the story of a man who revolutionized six industries and influenced many more.

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6. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Jack Garrett

If you’re a fantasy fan, this 27-hour novel is a great companion to pass the hours. Elantris was once the home of the gods and a place of magic. It was run by the immortal Elantrians, wielders of magical powers. 

But 10 years ago, the magic failed — sealing off the city and leaving the Elantrians trapped within immortal bodies and suffering from wounds that won’t heal, horrible pain, and unquenchable hunger. When a young prince is struck by the same fate, he’s exiled to the doomed city. And he decides to do something about it.

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7. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl

At 27 hours, this fantasy will suck you in with lyrical prose, unrivaled worldbuilding, and insightful character development. It centers on Kvothe, a sword fighter, magician, and fugitive now masquerading as an innkeeper of a different name. 

When Kvothe saves the life of a scribe, Chronicler recognizes him and asks him to recount his story. The hero agrees, and thus begins the tale of his life, from childhood into the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The Name of the Wind is the first in a planned trilogy, so there’s plenty of content to immerse yourself in.

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8. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, narrated by Neville Jason

For the audiobook listener that wants a great challenge — and to check a book off their TBR list — this 30-hour epic weaves together history, philosophy, and psychology as it chronicles Russia’s struggles with Napoleon. 

The story follows the lives of three main characters: the bastard son of a count who is fighting for his inheritance, a prince who leaves his family to fight in the war, and the daughter of a nobleman — who catches the attention of both men.

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9. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, narrated by Davina Porter

The year is 1945, and combat nurse Claire Randall has finally returned from the war and reunited with her husband. To celebrate, they embark on a second honeymoon to the Scottish Highlands. But when Claire touches an ancient stone ruin, she is transported back to 1743, to a Scotland ravaged by clan wars and conflict. 

She is a stranger — an outlander — suddenly (and suspiciously) in their midst. As her life intersects with that of gallant James Fraser, Claire is torn between two times — and two loves. If you’re looking for 32 hours of action-packed adventure and heart-racing romance, Outlander delivers in spades. 

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10. Middlemarch by George Eliot, narrated by Juliet Stevenson

Clocking in at 35 hours, Middlemarch explores a fictional town of the same name and the life of Dorothea Brooke, a bright woman who marries a conceited scholar who doesn’t believe women have a place in intellectual discussions. 

When she meets her husband’s cousin, an idealistic young artist, Dorothea must decide between love and duty. While tying in a larger discussion of political change and the class system, this classic novel also sheds light on the internalized misogyny of Eliot’s time. 

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11. It by Stephen King, narrated by Stephen Weber

At 44 hours, this terrifying tale is not for the faint of heart — but it’s for anyone who wants to fall into a story so compelling that you’ll have no trouble staying alert during any prolonged activity. 

Seven adults have returned to their hometown, a place haunted by an evil creature that preys on children. They are pulled in by a promise made 28 years ago, when, as kids, they faced the creature. Now, the murders have started again, and they must gear up for battle once more.

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12. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, narrated by Linda Stephens

After Sherman’s March to the Sea, Scarlet O’Hara, the spoiled daughter of a plantation owner, must fight to escape poverty. Weaving through marriages and battles, sicknesses and affairs, love found and love lost, Mitchell entrances readers with a classic tale set against the tumultuous background of the Civil War in the South. 

Charge your Bluetooth earbuds or headphones, because this audiobook spans a whopping 49 hours.

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13. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, narrated by Bill Homewood

What better way to pass the time while working, exercising, and beyond than a swashbuckling saga packed with disguises, riches, and revenge? After being wrongfully imprisoned, Edmond Dantès escapes, seeking hidden treasure and payback against the men who set him up. 

An epic in both length (52 hours!) and spirit of adventure, The Count of Monte Cristo explores injustice and the cost of vengeance. This classic never goes out of style.

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14. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, narrated by Simon Vance

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson’s mystery-solving antics provide plenty of car ride and running trail fodder. There are a million-and-one adaptations reimagining this iconic pair, but nothing beats the original tales. 

This collection includes all of Doyle’s full-length Sherlock novels plus several short stories featuring the sharp-tongued, eagle-eyed detective, delivering an astounding 58 hours of entertainment.

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About the Author: Kelsey Fritts

Kelsey is a writer, editor, anthropologist, and bookworm. She's also the author of two young adult fantasy novels. When she's not out exploring in nature or playing with her ridiculously spoiled dog, you can find Kelsey curled up with a mug of hot cocoa and a novel—likely one by Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, N.K. Jemisin, Margaret Atwood, or Ursula K. Le Guin.