Best Audiobooks to Get You Through Night Watches

sunset in the Long Island sound
Soaking in the last bit of sun before all visual entertainment is gone and we only have our audiobooks to keep us entertained

Our boat is crewed by two adults which means we have to switch on and off between the two of us during night watches. Yes, we have technology to help (THANK YOU AUTOPILOT), but three hours on and three hours off can be hard to get through. You can easily get lost in your own thoughts, talk to the dogs, or listen to some tunes, but that can get boring pretty quickly. We prefer to listen to audiobooks.

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When we first started cruising we had one CD set of The Art of Racing in the Rain that we listened to on repeat. Thankfully it is now much easier to listen to your book of choice through Audible or your local library. You can download the books for offline listening so you don’t even need to worry about being connected to enjoy. Try a FREE 30-day Audible trial and get 2 free audiobooks.

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Without further ado, we wanted to share some of our favorite recent listens depending on what you are in the mood for.

If you want to solve a crime

JK Rowling, author of the beloved Harry Potter series, has a secret pen name and a dark alter ego that has crept into the detective genre in an exciting way. As “Robert Galbraith”, Rowling has abandoned the magic, wizards and pagentry for a depraved murder whodunnit series starring a grizzled dark British detective—Cormoran Strike—who’s one part Jack Reacher, one part Sherlock Holmes, and one part Ben Sanderson (a la drunken Nick Cage in Leaving Los Vegas). His Watson is Robin Ellacott, a secretarial temp-turned-parter who is thankfully smarter and more daring than the average detective sidekick. As expected Rowling’s character development is just as rich as it was in Harry Potter, and each book will keep you guessing, awake, and on the edge of your helm seat. The narration of the 3-part series (The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, Career of Evil) is fantastic and yarns the web characters and plots Rowling (or Galbraith) has spun into a gripping audiobook series worthy of any passage. And hey, you’ll always have a new anecdote to share about JK Rowling secret life! (Note: Video more your thing? This series has also been adapted for TV by BBC and is now available in the US on Cinemax via Amazon Prime Video). 

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For A Stephen King Novel that Won’t Freak You Out

The King of horror is now the King of detective novels? You better believe it. Mr. Mercedes is Steven’s King’s first (and only!) foray into the detective/police procedural genre and he delivers a group of characters and narratives that I’d place among his best. In this trilogy—because King loves trilogies—a retired and suicidal police detective gets a personal taunt from a man who just drove a Mercedes into a line of 40+ people at a job fair—before disappearing into the ether. Without giving the plot away, I can you that what happens from there will blow your mind. Narrated by actor Will Patton, the audiobook series will keep you awake on any passage. Even if you’re not a fan of detective novels, I’d take Mr. Mercedes for a test drive. (Note: Mr. Mercedes has also been adapted into a Hulu Original TV series). 

For a Good Laugh

I’ll begin by saying that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers. From American Gods to Neverwhere to Coraline to Sandman, I’ve never been disappointed. But Good Omens is probably his best work—and the most fun. I’ll warn ahead here: in Good Omens, Gaiman does play with some religious dogma in this (in a good-natured way) so if that will bother you, you might want to skip to the next audiobook. The plot follows an angel and a demon who’ve developed an unlikely friendship that begins in the Garden of Eden. After thousands of years living among us and falling in love with the world around them, these two unlikely heroes on the opposite side of good and evils are forced to team up to stave off the Apocalypse and save the world. The characters are unique, the story is fun, and the hijinx is hysterical. Be careful not to laugh too hard and wake the next watch early!

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Forget John Snow. Forget that horrible Game of Thrones series finale. With this prequel, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: A Song of Ice and Fire, George RR Martin takes us 100 years before the Game of Thrones to a world where the Targaryens still reign supreme—and one unlikely hedge knight will change the fate of the entire Kingdom. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is actually a collection of three sequential novellas: The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, The Mystery Knight. These three prequels follow Dunk, our bumbling hedge knight and future commander of the Kingsguard, and Egg, the future king Aegon V Targaryen. This audiobook is much easier to follow along than GOT, and much more story driven than the droll 300 year Targaryen history “Fire and Blood” Marten just released. So if you’re like me, and can’t wait for Martin to hurry up and release GOT’s Winds of Winter, this may help quench your thirst in the meantime. 

For Lazy Beach Reads or Listens

You saw the movie. You might not admit it to your friends, but you totally saw the movie. And on the off chance you didn’t… Good. Because the book is so much better! And the audiobook is even better than that. I won’t dive too deep into the premise, but Crazy Rich Asians is essentially a globalized version of the age-old story—secretly rich boy falls in love with a modest (and brainy) middle-class girl. He brings her home to meet the fam, where she shockingly discovered how crazy rich they are (and how crazy mean they are). Insert the conniving and disapproving mother, the comical friend, and collection of jealous mean girls, Crazy Rich Asians, checks all the right boxes. And while it’s a story we’ve heard a thousand times, Crazy Rich Asians’ unique and very entertaining spin makes the clichéd story more fun and entertaining than you’d expect. As sailors (and travelers) you’ll also get an interesting peek into the city of Singapore, a place I think we’d all like to sail someday. If you like the first book, don’t forget to listen to China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems next!

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Somewhere between Almost Famous and The Doors, this gripping novel is a coming of age story about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, ultimately revealing the mystery behind their infamous breakup. It’s the perfect classic rock story epitomizing the clashes, music, passion, and drama inherent in each of our favorite rock bands and frontmen (or frontwoman in this case). Daisy Jones & the Six will transport you back to the Sunset Strip in the ’60s and a nation gripped by a budding new sound. Reese Witherspoon said it best, “It’s sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, people!!” She loved the book (and audiobook) so much, she is turning it into a TV series! The audiobook is narrated by actress Jennifer Beals (of Flashdance fame) and is perfectly timed with a string of new rock and roll biopics hitting book stands and theatres. 

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A Weird One Worth A Listen

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To Feel Inspired

From the best-selling author of Blink and The Tipping Point comes a new book that challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages. Why does the little guy with seemingly nothing going for him, still sometimes win? Three thousand years ago, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then, the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David’s victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn’t have won. Or should he have? In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks. For any sailor about to head out on a big (or even little) crossing, Gladwell’s stories of the little guy—like a boat heaving against the might of an ocean storm—are inspiring, insightful, and entertaining in a way that only Malcolm Gladwell can be. (Which is why he narrates it too!) 

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