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The best audiobooks to listen to while you isolate

OK! Everybody sit in a circle, it’s storytime…

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Isolation, by its very nature, is fairly boring. You’ve severely limited the number of people you talk to face-to-face. You have reduced physical contact to almost zero. In times like this, we need to occupy ourselves, especially when we’re not busy pretending we’re working from home.

Audiobooks are excellent for a number of reasons. You can listen to them while you are actually working, for a start (if you want some background noise). You can listen to them while you relax. Hell, I even listen to them to help me go to sleep! A literary lullaby, if you will.

Obviously, though, there are millions of titles available. If you’re struggling to wade through the mire of amateur recordings to find the real gems, then we’ve put together this handy guide to help you find some top-notch audiobooks.

The best thing about all of these audiobooks is…you can choose one for free if you subscribe to Audible. Some of them retail for up to $45 or so, so this is well worth jumping on. Here’s what we’ve got:

The Body: A Guide for Occupants – Bill Bryson

the body by bill bryson audiobook

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Very few authors can match the witty delivery of Bill Bryson. He has garnered critical acclaim book-upon-book and his latest, The Body: A Guide for Occupants, is brilliant. Have you ever wanted to know how long a strand of your DNA is? Or where it would stretch to if you placed every strand end to end? Whatever your interest in the human body, Bryson makes it easy to understand and does so in his inimitably humorous way. Not only that, but Bryson himself narrates the audio. He has a very soothing voice for audiobooks – so this one makes perfect “quiet time” listening. This audiobook clocks in at 14 hours – plenty of body-based factoids for anyone!


Terry Pratchett: The BBC Radio Drama Collection – Terry Pratchett

terry pratchett bbc radio drama collection audiobook

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Who doesn’t love a bit of Terry Pratchett, eh? His books are legendary. Filled with fantasy and a good dose of cheeky humor, the Discworld created by Pratchett is a safe place for listeners of all ages to inhabit (as long as you all avoid the horrible Jonathan Teatime, of course). The point is, if you are isolating as a family, this is a great way to keep everyone entertained. The collection features Mort; Wyrd Sisters; Guards! Guards!; Eric; Small Gods; and a bonus recording of Only You Can Save Mankind. At 13 hours, there’s enough to keep everyone entertained.


The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Attwood

the handmaid's tale on audible

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Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is an exercise in pure dystopia and a story that seems not too far off the world we live in now. If anything is going to make you want to self-isolate more than you already are, it is the imagery conjured as Attwood recounts the tale of Offred’s new existence in Gilead. The TV series was amazing so if you loved that, then this is a great audiobook to try out. If you didn’t see it and haven’t read the book, then expect plenty of anxiety-inducing situations. It is also narrated by Elizabeth Moss, who played Gilead in the TV dramatization. The Handmaid’s Tale runs for 11 hours so you’ll get plenty of listening out of it.


Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman

norse mythology neil gaiman

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Neil Gaiman is a master story-teller, so it makes sense to include him in our round-up. His Norse Mythology audiobook is a great way to discover the roots of Gaiman lore, as many of his fantasy worlds are inspired by the deities of the ancient Norse folk. This collection of tales chronicles the lives of gods such as Odin and Thor, albeit with that inimitable Gaiman-like twist of darkened humor. The audiobook is narrated by Gaiman himself, and you get 6.5 hours worth of material here so there is enough to keep you going for a few sessions at least.


The Book of M – Peng Shepherd

the book of m audiobook

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Perhaps recommending post-apocalyptic literature is a bit sadistic of us, but you really don’t want to miss out on Peng Shepherd’s brilliant The Book of M. The print novel was Shepherd’s debut; one with which she set the bar incredibly high for her successive books. If unexplainable mysteries, dark, shadowy cult members, and the spiral into madness are right up your street, then this is the audiobook for you. At 17 hours long this one will keep you occupied for at least a couple of days.


The Roald Dahl Audio Collection – Roald Dahl

the roald dahl audio collection

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Pretty much EVERYONE knows who Roald Dahl is. This compendium of childhood delight brings together a range of the mastermind’s books. These include Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryJames and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Enormous Crocodile, and The Magic Finger. This one is quite short, at only three hours and 40 minutes long, but that should be enough to keep the kids (and grown-ups) quiet while they’re stuck indoors.


Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit – John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker

mindhunter audiobook

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If you want something REALLY gritty to get your teeth into, then Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit should be in your cart. The audiobook tells of John Douglas’ time spent in the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit, where he interviewed some of the most heinous serial killers to have walked the earth. This is a macabre one and isn’t for the faint-hearted. Don’t listen to it then end up with Purge-paranoia and come crying to us. You get 13 horrifying hours from this one so you will get a good couple of weeks of night-time listening out of it.


While you’re here…

With so many of us on lockdown or in self-isolation, it might be difficult to know how you’re going to fill your spare time. Especially if you’re not working from home. If audiobooks aren’t enough for you, then how about checking out the best streaming devices to keep you entertained or the best calming games to play. Don’t worry – we’ve got your back.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Have you got any recommendations for fellow readers? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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