Sword fights, beheadings, dire wolves, incest, warlords, petrified dragon eggs, treason and betrayals. I thought the audio version of A Game of Thrones, the first in a series of medieval fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin, would keep me awake during all-day drives. It’s a tougher job than I thought.
Although I favor novels -- contemporary literature -- not every good book makes for a good listening experience. For listening in the car, I lean toward mysteries, detective stories and adventures with simpler plots and smaller casts of characters. Ones that require only 50 to 75 percent of my brain function so I can devote the rest to maneuvering through traffic.
For my road trip from Miami to Asheville and Charleston, I chose A Game of Thrones, which HBO has made into a series. I rarely read fantasy, but I hoped that all the medieval swashbuckling would keep me wide awake, since I faced some long stretches behind the wheel. I found the large number of characters more daunting than its length -- just under 34 hours. On the first day I had to stop at a McDonald's with Wi-Fi to do some quick online research and sort the characters into allies and enemies.
But even Thrones, with its digressions into ancient folklore and interminable trail rides, almost lulled me to sleep as I drove the longest stretches. More than once I had to pull into a rest stop and administer a high-volume blast of rock 'n roll. Eventually I could return to listening to the book. Years from now, when I think of dire wolves and dragon blood, it's the road to Asheville that I'll remember
What are your favorite audio books for road trips? Post your answer here.