It takes plenty of concentration to pick up a book; plenty of time and quiet too. But let’s face it, stress and reading don’t go together, and we’re all kinda stressed right now. Audiobooks though, they’re a whole different story.
Fast growing in popularity – one in four Australians are now listeners – audiobooks are the friends with benefits of publishing, giving you a literary sweetener that will tickle your ears and make you several degrees smarter even while you’re engaged in something else, whether cleaning, having a quick walk or blowing through a home workout.
Given their breadth and depth, they also offer the sort of intimacy that most podcasts don’t; perfect company if you’re self-isolating alone – or with someone else whose voice you desperately need to drown out for a few precious hours.
Here, some of the best recent releases, ready to download and distract.
1. George Sanders’ Lincoln in the Bardo
The audiobook for this Booker Prize winner is an event in itself, with a 166-person cast giving it a play-like quality.
2. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter (yes, the full series)
If you’ve got kids or you’re simply a Hogwarts fanatic yourself, listen to the series again in the soothing tones of English entertainer Stephen Fry.
3. James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Audiobooks are the perfect shortcut for taking on difficult texts that usually scare you off. Case in point, this James Joyce classic, as brilliantly read by Colin Farrell.
4. Michelle Obama’s Becoming
Listening to the story of Michelle Obama’s life as narrated by the former First Lady herself, is as close as you’ll ever get to being in a room with her – and you’ll come away inspired.
5. Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime
Providing a real lesson in how to find humour in adversity, comedian Trevor Noah tells tales of his childhood growing up as a mixed-race child in racially divided South Africa.
6. Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor
There may never be a better time to listen to Scott Pape’s easy-to-follow, instructional guidebook on saving money and living within your means, all told in his own words.
7. Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country
While it’s impossible to travel anywhere at the moment, you can still get to the heart of the country we call home through Bill Bryson’s self-read account, which mixes humour with real insight.
8. Sally Rooney’s Normal People
If you’ve not read this multi-award-winning novel about the interwoven lives of two Irish students, listening to it – and its beautiful lilting language – could prove the perfect distraction.