Dear Audiobooks. We love you. Love us xxx

Dear Audiobooks,
I just wanted to drop you a note to say… well, thanks, really.

I can’t count the number of times over the last ten years I have walked up the stairs of an evening in my house and heard four different versions of Stephen Fry talking quietly, as each child listened – for the 100th time – to their currently selected Harry Potter.

When they were small we regularly borrowed your cassettes & CDs from the library. We holidayed to the sound of Muddle Earth and the Hobbit, we loved Jill Tomlinson (though we had Maureen Lipman narrating the Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark – I can’t guarantee how great Bill Oddie is compared to her utter genius) & of course no home is complete without Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter.

From toddlers staying in bed at nap time thanks to Percy the Park Keeper through tricky non-book-reading 10yr olds to teens refusing to travel without The Hunger Games downloaded to their phones. I simply cannot imagine our house without you, audiobooks.

When my eldest was diagnosed with a chronic illness (aged 10), he was locked into silent inactivity; even on his ‘well’ days he couldn’t watch screens or read a book without blinding headaches. But he could manage LEGO – and then one day he remembered you, Harry Potter CD collection on the shelf… over the following year I think he became word-perfect in all 7 books.

Teen listening to an audiobook.
Teen listening to an audiobook. Image by By Stokkete | SHutterstock

And naturally you’re not just for the kids at bedtime. I have grown-up friends who listen while they knit, sew and craft. We listen to you when we paint and decorate. I know parents who use you every morning for the school run or their own commute. Almost everyone I know uses you for travelling; long journeys by car, plane or train are made shorter and more interesting by some Clare Mackintosh or PD James. And of course nothing beats you when we’re simply lounging in the sunshine by the pool.

If you’re ever looking for a last-minute Gift, I suggest you simply set them up an Audible account and gift a few month’s membership. I guarantee they’ll love it; I’ve never yet met anyone who doesn’t love to listen to a well-read story.

***UNTIL MIDNIGHT 28TH MAY, IT’S JUST £4 A MONTH FOR FOUR MONTHS!!!***

(Oh, and just a personal sidenote here on Audible – we’re massive fans. HUGE fans. We’ve been paying for it for nine years, and actually had three accounts at one stage (one for each of the older kids) – our 20yr old has taken on his own now, and shockingly still pays for it out of his own salary, that’s how much he values it. The rest of us share the 2 Book Monthly.
Keep in mind that Harry Potter audiobooks (for example) are over £30 each to purchase. Audible is £8 per month, with a free book each month, and you keep forever any book you order. With your first month free, that’s the complete set in 7mths for £48 instead of over £200.
And yes, I repeat – you do not have to continue to pay to keep them, once you have your books they are yours forever.)

Even the committed-to-non-reading teen years have been liberally filled with books, thanks to discovering your Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide (No.3 says he loves both Stephen Fry AND Martin Freeman as narrators, and not to fret about the switch halfway through the series), Game of Thrones, Ricky Gervais and the huge selection of you from today’s top comics; a whole new grown up world of literature and comedy opened before them.

By Davizro Photography | Shutterstock

My 17yr old has honestly barely moved for a week – he has literally curled up in an armchair with headphones on for hours at a time as he works through all 70hrs of the Kingkiller Chronicles, completely and utterly enthralled.

And I don’t for a second believe that it’s somehow ‘cheating’ if they’re not reading the words.

Simply listening regularly expands vocabulary, and increases an innate literary understanding. It naturally allows more difficult books with complex topics to become accessible far sooner, and it widens their literary horizons far beyond the books they’ll see on their home bookshelf.

And of course, you allow us to be soothed to sleep by David Tennant.

Speaking of David Tennant… we found very quickly that no matter how good the book is, for you, dear audiobook, it is the reader who brings it alive in our head. Some of us love a dramatised version – like a play, with lots of actors – and some like a single talented narrator (the good ones bring life to every single character individually). But unanimously, it’s impossible to listen to a poor reader. Having a mismatched voice for a book is enough to make you hate the story, and render even a classic unlistenable.

obviously exactly how I look as I listen… By Bojan Milinkov | Shutterstock

So thanks, dear audiobooks. You’ve been a part of my life since I was a child with a fancy-dancy new Walkman cassette player going on holiday, sobbing in the back of the car as Bambi’s mother died. Again.
You’ve helped me instil a love of stories and writing in my children – and I look forward to many more hours of great storytelling through my and their future.

I’ve rounded up a list of our top favourite audiobooks for you – every single one of these is personally recommended not just for the amazing story, but for their perfect reader too:

Our Personally Recommended Current Best Audible Books

The Lies of Locke Lamora: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence – Scott Lynch
Fabulously witty (& sweary!) fantasy. It’s a complex, exciting & oh SO much fun ride of magic, manipulation and mayhem.

How to be Champion – Sarah Millican
Yes of course it’s funny. But it’s also moving, honest, astonishingly insightful and an absolutely gripping listen. It simply resonates very deeply.

Mercy (Department Q Series 1) – Jussi Adler-Olsen.
Stunningly tense Nordic Noir – so ‘noir’ it’s probably pitch black, and utterly gripping.
Probably best not to listen in a house on your own at night.

Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures – Stephen Fry
Mythos was great; but Heroes is even better. Who knew ancient history was so bloody exciting & fun?
Listening to it right now as I type.

Becoming – Michelle Obama
Honest, powerful and Inspiring. You probably don’t need me to introduce this one. Just know that you really should listen to it.

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
Classed as YA, this under-rated little book will stay with you for a long time. Perfect for travel-listening with your teens; though be ready for something deeper than a coming-of-age romance.

12 Rules for Life –
Jordan B. Peterson

No fan of fads or conventions, this is a ‘self-help’ book like no other, stripping away society’s conventions, it’s a frank, forthright and genuinely eye-opening book.

The Amulet of Samarkand – Jonathan Stroud
Oh Bartimaeus. My topmost favourite fantasy hero. If a rude, smart and wilful ancient djinni can be called a hero.
Ancient magic in modern London. Love it.

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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