Life

6 gripping podcasts and audiobooks to listen to when you’re home alone

Posted by
Anna Brech
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Best true crime podcasts

Are you at home alone because of coronavirus? Here are six riveting podcasts and audiobooks to spirit you away from world events – at least for an hour or two. 

These are strange and anxious times we live in. People around the world are self-isolating or on lockdown, as health authorities battle to manage the spread of coronavirus.

Even if you are not yet battening down the hatches, you’re likely to be spending more time at home than usual: either because you’re working from home, or events and travel plans you’ve made have been put on ice.

A little bit of solitude can be a good thing for us: it provides head space, and can even boost our reserves of empathy and productivity.

But there’s a difference between choosing to be at home alone versus being obliged to, in the shadow of alarming world events.

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Podcasts, however, have a remarkable ability to cut through the noise. When you tune into a really great series, real life fades into the background for a few hours. And, unlike watching Netflix or Amazon Prime, you can do something creative at the same time. 

When you’re painting or doing a DIY home project, it increases the flow effect of a podcast tenfold. You mind and hands are totally occupied (and hey, you might even get that bathroom project done once and for all). 

With that in mind, here are six riveting series – both podcasts and audiobooks – to keep you distracted when you’re home alone (and check out these mindfulness crafts to go with):

  • Fake Heiress, BBC Radio 4

    Anna Sorokin on trial in New York

    A brilliant collaboration between BBC World journalist Vicky Baker and playwright Chloe Moss, this six-part series digs beneath the story of Anna Delvey (real name Anna Sorokin) – the high society “fake heiress” who duped friends and financiers out of huge sums of cash in a bid to access New York’s most elite circles.  

    The podcast mixes documentary with drama as it probes the rise and fall of a “narcissistic, sociopathic” con artist with a penchant for Balenciaga. The series includes some fictional scenes because, as host Baker says, “what’s Anna Delvey’s story without a bit of make-believe?”

  • The Teacher's Pet, The Australian

    The Teacher's Pet is now the subject of a murder trial

    Now, this isn’t a podcast to listen to if you want pure escapism – the subject matter is downright gritty. However, it’s also a vital and brilliantly-told investigation. The Australian reporter Hedley Thomas delves into the disappearance of Lyn Dawson, a devoted mum and wife who vanished from her home in Sydney’s northern beaches in 1982. 

    This is a cold-case account that weaves in many different themes: alleged sexual exploitation and domestic abuse, police error, celebrity entitlement and long-buried family secrets. Most of all, it’s the story of how a beloved woman one day disappeared from her life with very few questions asked (to begin with, at least). 

    The podcast has resulted in a murder trial underway now, so the podcast is not currently available for listeners in Australia.

  • Lethal White, Audible

    Lethal White - JK Rowling / Robert Galbraith
    Lethal White is the latest in JK Rowling's Cormoran Strike series

    If you’re not yet familiar with Cormoran Strike, the anti-hero detective at the heart of  JK Rowling’s adult crime novels (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith), now’s the time to get acquainted.

    JK Rowling writes with all the pace and flair you’d expect from a world-class author, and her Cormoran series do a great job of lacing relatable characters and settings with a layer of whodunit suspense; along with the occasional glimmer of gore.

    Lethal White is the fourth book in the series, set during the 2012 London Olympics, and the audio version brings to life its mix of murder, intrigue and political foul play in a suitably gripping way. The sexual tension between Cormoran and his investigative partner, Robin Ellacott, is a welcome side plot, too.  

  • This American Life, WEBZ

    Want to revisit the art of incredible storytelling? Let This American Life be your guide. Each week, host Ira Glass and his legendary team pick a theme to explore: it could be anything from unrequited love to racial injustice or what it’s like being a teenager. Then the theme is explored via an array of different voices and stories. 

    The beauty of This American Life is that it finds power in the mundane. Just in normal stories from people across America (but also all over the world) week by week, it teases out narratives that are at once hilarious, offbeat, moving and deeply enraging or sad. 

    Most of all, it’s a reminder that we are all in this game together: the human condition is an unbeatable force that we can all relate to, no matter what. For a feel-good hit, start with The Heart Wants What It Wants or When The Beasts Come Marching In.

  • Who The Hell Is Hamish? The Australian

    Another cracking series from The Australian newspaper, Who The Hell Is Hamish? examines the life of serial conman Hamish Watson, who has spent the past two decades cultivating a series of murky identities around the world – swindling hundreds of people out of thousands of dollars in the process.

    Investigative reporter Greg Bearup unpicks the story of Hamish’s victims in forensic detail in this captivating podcast. We hear from those duped by him, including designer Lisa Ho and a huge line-up of friends, lovers and business contacts.

    It’s eye-opening listening, not least for anyone who may think “I’d never be fooled by  someone like that”. And the cat-and-mouse police hunt reels you in, too: for all his charms, it’s only a matter of time before Hamish will be caught. 

  • Agatha Christie BBC adaptations, Audible

    Agatha Christie typing at her typewriter
    Agatha Christie: the most prolific crime writer of all time

    It’s no surprise that Agatha Christie, the great dame of crime writing, is the most-published author in history. Even if her novels are dated, the structure behind them is not: few others can rival the sheer level of suspense and skulduggery she pours into her tales.

    The BBC adaptations of some of Christie’s most popular stories are very well done, but they’re also fairly gentle. So they’re perfect if you fancy a riveting whodunnit, but without anything real life, or too hard-hitting, along the way. 

    They bring a little period charm into the offing, too. Listening to Agatha Christie plays is a bit like Downton for audio fans; with just a tad more murder in the mix. 

Images: Getty

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Author

Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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