Whether you’re looking for ways to fill your time while social distancing, having an acute case of wanderlust within the confines of your bubble, or looking for something to help distract and relax you… there’s a perfect audiobook out there for everybody. Here are four tried-and-tested recommendations that are worth the listen:
1. ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens
‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is a mesmerising novel about a lonely, abandoned young girl called Kya and the many adversities she overcomes on the periphery of civilisation. Full disclaimer, I hated the ending. Possibly because I got very invested and it was not the ending I wanted, possibly because the way this murder mystery/coming of age love story ended felt like an exquisitely built universe suddenly collapsing in on itself. You’ll have to make up your mind about the ending, but if you’re missing the outdoors, Delia Owens (a wildlife scientist and award-winning nature writer) will give you hours and hours of spellbinding immersion in the natural wonders of a North Carolina marsh.
2. ‘Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen’ by Christopher McDougall
My (passionately sedentary) teenage self would have been horrified to learn that she would become the kind of person who spends hours and hours listening to a book about running. But even the most devout couch potato would find Christopher McDougall’s journey utterly compelling - in this best-selling ethnography, McDougall travels to the remotest parts of the Mexican Copper Canyons to meet and learn from the elite long-distance runners of the extremely private Tarahumara indigenous tribe. On the way he: meets many colourful characters (I say characters because this is a very subjective narrative); explores the depths of running lore from around the world; meets people who assert that modern running shoes increase injury risk for runners; and gives the reader insight into the minds of the small but rising percentage of humans who run crazy distances, pushing themselves to the limits of human endurance.
3. ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear
Lockdown may have brought to your social media feeds an unsolicited torrent of productivity content: images and videos of friends and family (and the strangers we follow) living their best social-isolation life within the confines of their bubbles. And let’s acknowledge that this pressure to be perfectly productive even in the midst of a pandemic is unrealistic, unhelpful, and unbelievably tone-deaf. However, if you - like me - are the type A kind of person who feels strangely soothed by content based around productivity, minimalism, decluttering, and organisation... listening to this self-assured, practical guideline on how to become the architect of your own success might be the relaxing experience you didn’t know you wanted.
4. ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ by Mhairi McFarlane
I first stumbled across Mhairi McFarlane on Leena Norms’ recommendation. McFarlane is, as Norms describes, a writer of “intelligent rom-coms that are marketed to female readers but can be for anyone”. ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ follows the life of Georgina Horspool - a witty, charismatic, but entertainingly imperfect thirty-year-old as she struggles to find her feet and pull her life together. There are many romantic comedy conventions used in this novel but it is refreshingly contemporary and at times heartbreaking in the themes that it addresses: power imbalance in relationships, emotional and sexual abuse, self-esteem, identity... I’m not sure what the audiobook equivalent of a page turner is, but this book had me laughing all the way through, totally distracted from all my other life priorities, and desperately impatient to read McFarlane’s other novels when I was done. Absolutely binge-worthy.Support Villainesse