Edmunds.com's Top 10 Audiobooks for 2005.

Top 10 Best-Selling Audiobooks for 2005

You know that feeling you get when you walk into Barnes & Noble or Borders? It's an intellectual hunger: There's so much you would love to read, if only you had the time. So many historical moments to experience, places to travel to, philosophies to ponder.

Now answer this: Have you actually read any good books lately?

Yeah, we thought so.

Poor 21st century man. The technological advancements that were supposed to provide us with more leisure time have instead accelerated our lives, leaving us little time to read much more than e-mail. At the same time, the average urban commuter spends 31 more hours each year in rush-hour traffic than was spent in 1982, according to the 2005 Urban Mobility Report. The net effect: less time to read, more time in the car.

The solution? Increasingly, people are turning to spoken-word audiobooks. Known as "books on tape" in their previous, less hip incarnation, audiobooks are the ultimate in multitasking. Just as with print books, audiobooks can put the world at your feet. Whatever your passion, you can find it now on digital audio. And they're far safer than trying to scan a few paragraphs in a paperback at the stoplight.

Anyone who knows about audiobooks knows about Audible.com. The market-leading online company offers a wide array of content beyond just books. Someone keeps swiping your Wall Street Journal? Get a daily audio WSJ subscription. Want to relive the 2004 NFL Divisional Playoffs, or (horrors!) the John Bolton confirmation hearing? Get them on an MP3 file. Play them when you like, as often as you like.

So what's hot in the audiobook world? Below are Audible.com's top-selling audiobooks for the first half of 2005. This interesting mix includes something for everyone — historical fiction, thrillers, comedy and self-improvement. We're not book reviewers, so we've condensed the publishers' descriptions. When it comes to reading, though, we like to think of ourselves as literary purists, so we recommend the unabridged versions. Try one of these and you may actually look forward to commuting.

  1. The Broker

    1. The Broker

    Author: John Grisham
    Narrator: Dennis Boutsikaris
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    In Grisham's spy-versus-spy thriller, the CIA orchestrates the setup of a notorious Washington power broker who may compromise the world's satellite surveillance system. They want to know: Who will kill him — the Israelis, the Russians, the Chinese, or the Saudis?

  2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    Author: Douglas Adams
    Narrator: Stephen Fry
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Much humorous, intergalactic craziness ensues.

  3. 3. The Memory of Running

    Author: Ron McLarty
    Narrator: Ron McLarty
    Publisher: Recorded Books

    Available exclusively as an audiobook, actor and playwright Ron McLarty tells a tale of 279-pound Smithy Ide. Ide searches cross-country on his old Raleigh bicycle to recover the body of his beautiful but schizophrenic sister. The unlikely hero takes readers on a quest for hope and redemption, trying to become the person he has always wanted to be.

  4. 4. The Da Vinci Code

    Author: Dan Brown
    Narrator: Paul Michael
    Publisher: Books on Tape, Inc.
    Note: The abridged version (available from Random House Audio), narrated by Colin Stinton, had its own entry in the Top 10. We've grouped them together here.

    While investigating the murder of the Louvre's curator, a Harvard symbologist and French cryptologist discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci, leading them on a fast-paced hunt for a breathtaking historical secret.

  5. 5. The Kite Runner

    Author: Khaled Hosseini
    Narrator: Khaled Hosseini
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

    Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of its monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner tells the tale of two boys growing up in Kabul. Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara — a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them.

  6. 6. America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction

    Author: Jon Stewart and The Writers of The Daily Show
    Narrator: Jon Stewart
    Publisher: Time Warner Audiobooks

    Jon Stewart, host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show, and his coterie of patriots offer their humorous insights into our unique system of government, dissecting its institutions, explaining its history and processes, and exploring the reasons why concepts like "one man, one vote," "government by the people," and "every vote counts" have become such popular urban myths.

  7. 7. Angels and Demons

    Author: Dan Brown
    Narrator: Richard Poe
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

    In his first appearance in Dan Brown's work, symbologist Robert Langdon discovers a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization, the Illuminati. Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb.

  8. 8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

    Author: Stephen R. Covey
    Narrator: Stephen R. Covey
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

    Covey's comprehensive program illustrates how perceptions and assumptions hinder success — in business as well as personal relationships. His approach will help broaden your way of thinking and lead to greater opportunities and effective problem solving.

  9. 9. How to Win Friends & Influence People

    Author: Dale Carnegie
    Narrator: Andrew MacMillan
    Simon & Schuster Audio

    One of the best-selling books of all time, Dale Carnegie's perennial classic has carried thousands of now-famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. Authored in 1936, before the term "motivational coach" became part of the lexicon, How to Win Friends is a reference book on how to achieve your goals by improving your people skills.

  10. 10. The World Is Flat

    Author: Thomas L. Friedman
    Narrator: Oliver Wyman
    Publisher: Audio Renaissance

    Award-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman allows listeners to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes. With his unique ability to clarify complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the 21st century; what it means to countries, companies, communities and individuals; and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt.

The great beauty of in-car audio is that it offers the opportunity to bring an entire bookstore into your personal, climate-controlled space. You can learn anything, "read" anything, without setting aside special time. So while technology has indeed increased the pace of life, at least it also provides a way to try to catch up.

Getting audio files into your car: Generally, you can buy CDs or cassette tapes in the store, but that is usually the most expensive route. At Audible.com, you download digital audio files onto your computer, then burn them to a CD, or transfer them directly onto your portable digital audio player or Audible-ready PDA. (More than 135 devices are Audible ready, including the iPod and the Treo 650.) A growing number of car stereo systems are MP3 player-compatible as well, allowing you to hear the files through the car's speakers instead of through an earpiece. (See "Car Audio in the 21st Century."

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