I’m a bit of a book snob. I don’t own a kindle. I read real books. I like the feel and smell of their inky pages – and I like putting them on my overburdened bookshelves when I’m done. I spend more time than I should in book shops, I buy more books than I read and I rarely give them away (even to friends when I’ve recommended them). Probably because I have ambitious dreams of having a house that looks a bit like this:
Beautiful, right? The kind of library Belle would feel at home in.
It’s for this reason that I’ve always been disdainful when it comes to audiobooks. Because they’re not proper books, it’s not real reading and listening to someone read you a story is only for the under 10s.
Asides from it turns out none of that is actually true.
In between work, sleeping, seeing friends and pretending to attempt to go to the gym, it feels ridiculous to sit down for more than half an hour with my nose in a book. I used to read on the tube, but now I live in West London I’m lucky enough to walk to the office. I’m still buying books with the same enthusiasm, I’m just not reading them. And audiobooks are the answer.
It turns out there’s actually something uniquely captivating about having someone whispering stories in your ear. You can consume whole novels with two free hands, while wandering through parks, shopping for groceries or doing the washing up.
It’s an entirely different experience to flicking through paper pages and turning down their corners when you pause, but it’s no less brilliant.
Here are are few suggestions to get you started…
Life After Life
Kate Atkinson’s novel is perfect for listening to in short bursts. Fenella Woolgar voices the tale of Ursula Todd, a girl living through the turbulent early 20th century again and again and again…
The Girl on the Train
Dubbed the new Gone Girl, this gripping London-set thriller is even better when voiced by three brilliant actresses: Clare Corbett, Sherlock’s Louise Brealey, India Fisher (the voice of MasterChef, no less.) I did more than a few loops of my office each morning listening to these brilliant women tell Paula Hawkins’ tale.
Not That Kind of Girl
Lena Dunham’s childish wonderings, painfully honest admissions and candid stories about sex, body image and mental health are endlessly entertaining. And her frank and honest book is even better when read aloud by the 29-year-old herself.