I used to love reading, well no, that’s not true, I still love reading, but life is so busy! Bringing up a family and working means that anytime I would love to have a good ole read I am generally so tired that I fall asleep minutes!
But on the other hand there are too many nights when the ole brain refuses to switch off, and sleep is a dim and distant memory.
A couple of years ago, I discovered the audio book! Audible offer a free trial, and its worth a go. I do think that he monthly subscription of £7.99 for one book is a little high, but you can jump in and out, take subscription holidays, and if you tell them you want to cancel, they will normally give you 3 months at half price!
I admit I had low expectations, for some reason listening to an audio book seemed to be something someone about 30 years older than me might enjoy doing!
But how wrong was I, since I have been listening I feel back in the book groove! Bur perhaps even better when those times strike and sleep is hard to come by they are the best sleeping pills I have come up against! In fact sometimes so good it can take a good few months to listen to a whole book (and for the record, it would appear you can’t (or I can’t) listen to something on a subliminal level as I have listened to many a book while asleep!
But beyond just sending me to sleep, I think if you cant for whatever reason spend that time actually reading being back in the world of literature has to be a good thing. Who said that the only way to enjoy book is to be the reader! As children we all loved being read too, if you ask my 5 year old son, I have no doubt he would say it was one of the best parts of the day. And I have discovered a love again of being read to!
When I first started I thought I would only enjoy listening to the dramatic style multi cast type productions and have listened an enjoyed a fair few, but I have moved happily onto the standard one person narrator, and have come to realise that that person is as important as the contents of the book and its definitely not all about the narrator being a name you recognise, but instead someone who understands the story they are reading and is able to embody the characters.
So here are some of my absolute favourites:
- RIVERS OF LONDON SERIES by Ben Aaronovitch not just one book here but a full series and they are my number one without a doubt, and this is in no small measure due to the narrator – Kobna Holdbrook-Smith whose absolutely brilliant understanding of the characters and the books makes them a joy to listen to. I have fallen asleep listening to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith for a few years now and have recently come to the current end of the series and am rather bereft! Luckily another book is due in October.
My name is Peter Grant, and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit–we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to–and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly valuable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. Now I’m a detective constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden…and there’s something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious ,vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair. The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos–or die trying.
WHY I LOVE IT?
Despite the above reading a little Harry Potter’ish (nothing wrong with that, but I am not a massive Harry Potter fan) the Peter Grant books are stylish and grown up, Ben Aaronovitch possesses the amazing skill of being to make to make what appears to be highly fanciful and perhaps mildly ludicrous content into something incredibly entertaining and almost plausibe! My favourite audio books hands down! I cannot recommend highly enough!
2. SIX DEGREES OF ASSASSINATION by MJ Arlidge – this book is produced as a Audible Drama with a full cast including Andrew Scott, Freema Agyeman and Hermione Norris. Thoroughly enjoyed this well written fast paced thriller, it is exciting with very unexpected twists and turns and the odd surprise! I listened to this when I was away on a family holiday and really rather ill – we were in a large wooden lodge, my family and my sisters familes and my parents, and I unfortunately had a terrible cough which kept everyone up all night, so in the end I gave up trying to sleep and thank goodness for this and another book, which kept me almost sane in the dead of the night when sleep seemed like a distant memory!
On a sullen, cloudy July day ten years since 7/7, the happy, confident and optimistic British Prime Minister is visiting a charity in East London. It’s just two months after the general election which saw John Campbell’s government returned to power with a clear majority, the economy is on the mend and the coalition is fast becoming a bad memory. Suddenly, a man appears out of the crowd and shoots him three times in the chest.
Step forward Alex Cartwright (Andrew Scott), MI5 Chief Counter Terrorism Officer who must find out the truth. But it’s easier said than done, as he discovers that whoever ordered the assassination has covered their tracks very well indeed. Along with Ellen Townsend, his trusted second-in-command, Cartwright finds himself embroiled in a race against time which leads him into the murky heart of Westminster…and beyond.
From the pen of renowned screenwriter and novelist M J Arlidge, featuring an established British cast and with an exclusively-composed musical score, Six Degrees of Assassination is truly a thriller not to be missed.
3. NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman this is a BBC Radio adaption in six parts, which can be purchased as audiobook, its really well done with a great cast and very high quality production values, its as close as you can get I would think to listening to a movie! The cast includes, James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Benedict Cumberbatch and the wonderful Bernard Cribbins. I have never read Neverwhere but I knew of its cult status! And its a well deserved one, I love the premise of a whole world below ours.
A BBC Radio six-part adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling novel, starring James McAvoy as Richard and Natalie Dormer as Door.
Beneath the streets of London there is another London. A subterranean labyrinth of sewers and abandoned tube stations. A somewhere that is Neverwhere….
An act of kindness sees Richard Mayhew catapulted from his ordinary life into the strange world of London Below. There he meets the Earl of Earl’s Court, faces a life-threatening ordeal at the hands of the Black Friars, comes face to face with the Great Beast of London, and encounters an Angel called Islington.
Adapted for radio by the award-winning Dirk Maggs, this captivating dramatisation features a stellar cast including David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Anthony Head and David Schofield. Contains over 25 minutes of additioal unbroadcast material, including extended scenes, bloopers and outtakes.
The full list of narrators includes: James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Anthony Head, David Schofield, Bernard Cribbens, Romola Garai, George Harris, Andrew Sachs, Lucy Cohu, Johnny Vegas, Paul Chequer, Don Gilet, and Abdul Salis.
I would happily recommend the audio book habit to anyone, I know a lotta people listen while exercising or walking and I have made the odd pile of ironing whizz by whilst listening.