7 Books You 'Should' Read That Are Much Easier As Audiobooks

People have polarising stances on audiobooks. There appears to be a weird mistrust (and snobbery, let's be real) around the idea of listening as an alternative to reading. Sure, there's nothing quite like the unique pleasure of flicking through a physical book, inhaling wafts of that distinctive, musky book scent as your eyes get lost in the words that dance across the page. Reading IRL is indeed very romantic. But there are merits to audiobooks that even the most fiercely digitally sceptical must be able to understand. Like the fact that it's just easier.
We’ve all got books we meant to read. They're piled on our desks, on our bookshelves and by our beds; the unloved books we bought with the best of intentions. Some might've been ordered for bragging rights. Others may have been gifted by that all-knowing literary friend for a birthday. Try as we might to get through them, we can't seem to do it. It's not that we don't want to, it's just that some books can feel a little too much on paper. Intimidating, even. Too long, too intense or too heavy to lug around in your handbag. Too emotional or too complex to get into without dedicated concentration. It is in these cases that audiobooks are your saviour. Audiobooks ease the unspoken pressure that fair-weather readers know all too well.
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Somewhere between idle consumption and conscious absorption is the humble audiobook. There is no need to get overwhelmed by starting to read a novel when all you have to do is hit play and go about your day. You can take in all the cultural capital that your next dinner party requires as someone's (perhaps a celebrity) dulcet tones talk you through the narrative, putting on different voices for different characters so you don't have to.
If you've recently thought about, and then against, picking up one of those books you really had intended to read but didn't, why not give audiobooks a go? Ahead, you can find a list of those books you should have read already which, actually, may work much better when they're read out loud to you instead.
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Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Read by: Derek Perkins

Length: 15 hours and 18 minutes

Listen while: in a neutral mood with an open mind. Split over a few long commutes to and from work.

You’ve probably seen this cover knocking about in shop windows for a few years now. It’s a celebrated nonfiction that unpicks how we – humans, homo sapiens – ended up here as we are. It’s heavy, fascinating and existential, and therefore requires some committed concentration. It looks at how we’ve outlived so many species, built kingdoms, put laws into place over the last 4.5 billion years and, somehow, made it to now. Wild, eh? Sapiens will challenge everything you thought you knew and nudge you into initiating intelligent existential discussion at your next post-work pub drinks.
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Read by: Elisabeth Moss

Length: 11 hours and 22 minutes

Listen while: at home and very, very comfortable. Try and get to it before you start the next season of the Channel 4 show if you haven't already.

You watched the first series of The Handmaid's Tale and were kind of interested to see how the TV version of Gilead compared to the original. You passively acknowledged that sales of Atwood’s monumental novel were on the rise and put off immersing yourself in one of the most emotionally challenging dramas we’ve seen realised on screen. We understand. But with star of the series, Elisabeth Moss' familiar voice narrating the story to you, you might find it a little bit easier to slide into the drama of the novel rather than obsess over its uncomfortable proximity to reality. Maybe.
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Milkman by Anna Burns

Read by: Brid Brennan

Length: 14 hours and 11 minutes

Listen while: on an easy, uninterrupted walk.

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2018 and shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019, you may have spotted Burns’ novel on a few 'must-read' lists. Some critics have described it as a challenging read, mostly due to the fact that none of the characters have names and the action takes place in an also nameless city against the backdrop of the Irish Troubles, but hearing this widely celebrated novel read aloud can help with that. It is a wildly fascinating story. At the centre of the narrative is an almost-relationship that is kind-of forbidden and circulated by the type of rumours that could spell big problems.
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The Parisian by Isabella Hammad

Read by: Fiona Button

Length: 20 hours and 18 minutes

Listen while: on a long holiday. Or in a café where it's appropriate to linger well past your second iced latte.

This beautiful novel deserves to be read, reread and read again. It was one of the most anticipated novels of 2019 and its release didn’t disappoint. The Parisian is a big one, though, and being read aloud only intensifies the already moving drama of Hammad’s debut. Unpicking politics alongside core humanity, this historical fiction is an emotional and elegant story about a young Palestinian who heads to France – not only to escape the conflict in the Middle East but to find himself, too.
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The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla

Read by: Riz Ahmed, Nish Kumar, Reni Eddo-Lodge and more

Length: 7 hours

Listen while: pottering around the house. You can make use of the change in pace and tone between chapters.

People tend to take to essay collections in different ways. They’re not always easy to devour in one go, but when something as incredibly impactful as The Good Immigrant comes your way, you’re going to want to. Narrated by the authors of the essays, this audiobook will walk you through discussion on what it means to be 'other'; what it means to be an immigrant in the UK right now. Led by some of the most exciting voices in the UK, you’ll hear about the ridiculous, humorous, upsetting and resonant experience of being people of colour in a society that defaults our simple presence to be 'bad'.
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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Read by: David Pittu

Length: 32 hours and 25 minutes

Listen while: in the car, on a long drive that you're really not looking forward to.

This prize winner is about to hit our screens for a film adaptation. If you still can’t face re-attempting to read the book for the 17th time in the last five years (it’s very long and much of 2014 was spent being asked whether or not we'd read it yet), perhaps you’ll find listening to the thriller/mystery/coming-of-age action without having to carry the physical weight of the narrative around with you. Thirteen-year-old Theo Decker moves in with a rich family after his mother dies in a terrorist attack at an art gallery. From the wreckage he steals a small but valuable painting that both haunts and comforts him over the following 14 years.
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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Read by: Thandie Newton

Length: 19 hours and 10 minutes

Listen while: getting ready for bed.

We're all vaguely familiar with the story of Jane Eyre, but how many of us actually read the novel? Like, properly read it outside the confines of GCSEs and disruptive English classrooms? Not as many of us as you may have been led to believe. But your fleeting knowledge of the story – Jane is an orphan in northern England, becomes a governess, meets Mr Rochester and a tragic romance ensues – makes it the perfect accompaniment to an end of day unwind. Also, having Thandie Newton talk you to sleep is never a bad thing.
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