Say what you like about Christmas TV, but nothing beats the magic of a well-told winter story. When you tune into a podcast or an audiobook, you enter this unique space that is a step apart from all the chaos.
Forget flashing screens, or the frenzied bleep of WhatsApp: with the time-honoured art of audio, you get to escape all the hustle – in a otherworldly realm shared by just you and the narrator.
Better still, audiobooks allow you to nap at the same time as listening; a guilty pleasure that’s all the more delicious in the depths of winter.
There are two qualities need for a great winter story: either it must be full of atmosphere, with snow-clad suspense and chills that match the sudden drop in mercury. Or, it should be magical and cosy, with feel-good vibes all the way.
The below podcasts and audiobooks bring a mixture of both to the fore. So grab your duvet and an eye mask, and get stuck in: the hibernation begins right here.
The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie
You can’t beat Agatha Christie when it comes to a wintry whodunnit. This one opens with a seance that takes an eerie turn on a snowy winter’s evening in Dartmoor; swiftly followed by the murder of Captain Trevelyan in a nearby village. With roads cut off to the outside world, who could have killed him – and why? Emily Trefusis, whose fiancé is a prime suspect, is on the case in this full-cast BBC dramatisation.
Intrigue: Tunnel 29 – BBC Radio 4
In October 1961, a few months after engineering student Joachim Rudolph escaped into West Berlin, he joined a deadly scheme to help others like him who were trapped just a few miles away. Along with a handful of other students, Joachim planned to dig a tunnel under the Berlin Wall, creating a route to free friends and family living under a brutal Communist dictatorship on the other side. Helena Merriman creates and narrates this remarkable true story of a rescue mission carried out at the dead of night against terrifying odds. With a brooding sense of tension, and the Stasi lurking at every corner, you’ll be hooked from the out.
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton
This unbearably tense thriller takes place in the grounds of a countryside school under siege. As a blizzard descends on rural Somerset, scores of pupils are held hostage – barricaded in classrooms, library and assembly halls – with rogue gunmen roaming nearby. Rosamund Lupton’s story is full of pace and suspense; but it’s also moving, with beautifully drawn characters and reflections on the ties that bond us. Game of Thrones star Gemma Whelan narrates.
When the Beasts Come Marching In – This American Life
Each week, This American Life tackles a different theme with stories from all walks of life, hosted in the dulcet tones of master storyteller Ira Glass. When the Beasts Come Marching In is an episode inspired by the wayward foibles of our animal friends; and it truly hits the mark for heartwarming wintry vibes. Tune in for a deliciously cosy tale of a prowling wolf who gives federal authorities the runaround, and a drunken moose who loves nothing better than trampling through Christmas lights after overdoing it on fermented crab apples.
Listen on This American Life
A Magical Winter Night – Calm
Calm’s repertoire of bedtime stories have form for lulling grown-ups right off to sleep – and this one comes with a special twist of magic. Game of Thrones actor Jerome Flynn narrates an ethereal folk tale that centres on the gift of discovery in a snowy, mystical land. Like all Calm’s stories, A Magical Winter Night is interwoven with soothing sound effects and mindful techniques, for an experience that will spirit you right away.
Listen via the Calm app
Images: Getty and Unsplash