Picks and Pans Review:

UPDATED 07/26/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/26/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT


Whether you're driving cross-country or flying abroad, these standouts will help the miles zip by.

EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES, by Lynne Truss. The author's English accent and offbeat humor make this bestselling punctuation guide a delight. So sneak in a little learning on the way to Grandma's.

THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY; THE KALAHARI TYPING SCHOOL FOR MEN, by Alexander McCall Smith. Free of violence and full of village intrigue, these mystery novels set in Botswana are perfect for family car trips; the readings by South African actress Lisette Lecat add an irresistible layer of reality and color.

MY LIFE, by Bill Clinton. Right from the ex-President's mouth and much livelier than the 957-page book itself, since it's abridged. Hearing Clinton on his childhood—and the father he never knew—is especially compelling.

ERAGON, by Christopher Paolini. The hit fantasy by a teen prodigy about a farm boy, his friendship with a dragon and their battle against an evil king. Bonus: Award-winning narrator Gerard Doyle is a wizard at keeping the many weirdly named characters distinct from one another.

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