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Reading through your ears; we pick the best audiobooks to listen to


The beauty of reading a book lies in isolating yourself from the rest of the world and diving into another.

But sometimes that's difficult to do when you're stuck on a crowded train, driving out and about or have little free time. Let's just say that modern life isn't always book friendly. That is until you discover audiobooks. 

Sales of audiobooks have skyrocketed by double in the last five years according to the Publishers Association. In 2014, British readers alone spent £10million on narrated stories.

As our mobile devices and tablets continue to be a large part of our lives, on-the-go audio novels are becoming increasingly popular.

Listening to another voice injects more personality into a story, it's soothing, it helps you to get through a book faster and it allows for multitasking.  

There's also an element of nostalgia, throwing back to the days when we had our parents and teachers read to us.

We pick the top 14 audiobooks to make you fall in love with the medium. 


In under two hours

For midnight giggles...
Go the F**k to Sleep
Narrator: Morgan Freeman
Duration: 4 minutes
Anyone who has ever tried to get a child to sleep will relate to the hilarious sentiments in this bedtime book for adults. It’s hard not to laugh along with the Morgan Freeman in his special reading. Warning, it features a lot of expletives. 
Free, youtube.com

For lessons from British icon...
David Attenborough In His Own Words
Narrator: David Attenborough
Duration: 75 minutes
If anyone has a voice we can listen to for hours, it's Attenborough’s. Here the much-loved natural history film-maker discusses his life and achievements in this collection of BBC radio and TV interviews.
£4.99, bbcshop.com

In under 10 hours

For recovering from a bad mood..
The Art of Happiness, by Dalai Lama
Narrator: Howard C. Cutler
Duration: 3 hours and 19 minutes
Despite the suffering from the loss of his country, the Dalai Lama has always answered the question 'Are you happy?' with an unconditional "yes". Through meditation, stories and psychology, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day depression, anxiety, anger, jealousy or just an ordinary bad mood.

For childhood nostalgia... 
Matilda, by Roald Dahl
Narrator: Kate Winslet
Duration: 4 hours and 18 minutes
If child genius and avid reader Matilda won your heart many years ago, Kate Winslet is the perfect narrator to remind you how wonderful this classic children's read is. Her animated voice twists and changes for each character. We only wish there was a remake so that she could play Miss Honey.
£9.09, roalddahl.com or free on YouTube

For out loud laughs
Bossypants, by Tina Fey
Duration: 5 hours and 30 minutes
Tina Fey reads the audio version of her autobiographical book which brings an added layer of deadpan humour and snide asides that are her trademark. We can't think of a better way to kill time than by listening to the comedian, actress, writer and all round brilliant woman. 
£14 or free with a trial at Audible

For beautiful storytelling...
The Spire by William Golding
Narrator: Benedict Cumberbatch
Duration: 6 hours and 49 minutes
Anything by Lord of the Flies author William Golding is guaranteed to be powerful but this first ever unabridged recording of his other hit novel The Spire by Benedict Cumberbatch is nothing short of haunting. Cumberbatch is an excellent match for this story about a man who is relentless in his efforts to erect a spire on his cathedral due after he has a vision from God. His agile and expressive voice gave us tingles (hear a preview on soundcloud.com)
£7.95, itunes.apple.com

For boring afternoons and evenings...
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Narrated by: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Duration: 9 hrs and 53 mins
Ben Aaronovitch’s police crime and supernatural drama series is spectacular on paper but it really does come alive when told by actor Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. We love the carefully crafted details about London and are constantly rooting for protagonist Peter Grant, a police constable, apprentice wizard and all round nice guy. Once you get through Rivers of London, the first book, there’s five more waiting for you.
Price on request, orionbooks.co.uk

In over 10 hours

For a long commute...
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
Narrated by: Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher
Length: 10 hours 59 minutes
Paula Hawkins’ thriller, dubbed the new Gone Girl, has stormed the audiobook charts just as much as it has in paperback. There are three narrators which brilliantly capture the three main characters, something we doubt a singular narrator could have achieved. Trust us, you won’t want your bus ride to end…
£21.99 or free with a 30-day Audible trial, randomhouse.co.uk

For the horror fans...
World War Z, by Max Brooks
Narrators: Christopher Ragland, Rupert Farley, Nigel Pilkington, Jennifer Woodward, David Thorpe, Adam Sims and Robert Slade
Duration: 14 hours
Few audiobooks have this many voices - in total seven - fusing together to tell a high octane story. As the plot unfolds, it becomes an ever more gripping and terrifying audio to listen to. Hold onto your seat. It's even better than the film.
£16.60 or free with a 30-day trial with Audible

For the curious mind...
A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson
Narrators: William Roberts
​Duration: 19 hours
Bill Bryson's popular science book famously brings to life difficult concepts about our world in a digestible and comedic form. From the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, the amount of ground you'll cover by listening to this (even if it's 19 hours long) is mind blowing. 
£20.99, audible.co.uk

In over 20 hours

For anyone looking to make a commitment...
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
Narrated by: David Pittu 
Duration: 32 hours and 25 minutes
As brilliant as The Goldfinch is – it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and spent over thirty weeks on international bestseller lists -  many reviewers have complained about the length. Tartt often takes 20 pages to say what other writers could have summarised in two. For anyone overwhelmed by the 784-page journey or can’t find the time to get through it, this audiobook is an excellent way to navigate through what’s ultimately a remarkable read.  
£16.62 or free with a 30-day Audible trial, amazon.co.uk

For the TV fanatic...
The complete A Game of Thrones collection (Books 1-7), by George R. R. Martin
Narrator: Roy Dotrice
Duration: 141 hours and 57 minutes
If you've been meaning to tackle this beast of a franchise for a while, audio might be the way to go. George R.R. Martin's fantasy world of Westeros is just as captivating in text as it is on screen and narrator Roy Dotrice brings it to life with hundreds of different character voices. 
£12.25 for one book or free with a 30-day trial on Audible and £22.95 for one book on iTunes

For a long drive...
The Complete Harry Potter Collection (Books 1-7), by J.K. Rowling
Narrator: Stephen Fry
Duration: 125 hours
There are forums dedicated to the ongoing debate of who read it better - Stephen Fry or Jim Dale? In the end, Stephen Fry’s distinctive voice and British theatrics wins it for us. And there's no growing tired of Rowling's spectacular magical world.
Price: £167.34, pottermore.com

Coming soon...

Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee
Narrator: Reese Witherspoon
Duration: To be confirmed
There’s still two months until Harper Lee’s long-awaited To Kill A Mockingbird sequel is released, but we already know Reese Witherspoon has been appointed the task of reading it for audio. Witherspoon told USA Today that, “as a Southerner, it is an honour and a privilege to give voice to the Southern characters who inspired by childhood love of reading, Scout and Atticus Finch.” The Oscar-winner said she is “eager for readers to be transported to a pivotal time in American history in the manner that only Lee’s gorgeous prose can deliver.”



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