For this springtime of new beginnings, we're adjusting our recommended reading list a little bit to a list of amazing audiobooks and podcasts for you to enjoy, and help you unplug and unwind. Because after the months we’ve just had, it’s time to give our eyes a break and move away from screens. Happy listening!
1. Circe by Madeline Miller
Madeline expertly turns Greek myths into a more manageable narrative through powerful storytelling. A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess Circe and her penchant for turning men into swine, the writer recasts the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right. A story of womanhood, family ties, love, loss and vengeful Olympians. It’s a page-turner, so lie back, close your eyes and let the Gods speak.
2. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
Taking place in remote China, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane begins with the life of Li-Yan and her hardworking, tea farming, family members. With daily life steeped in the traditions of her Akha heritage, circumstances soon have Li-Yan questioning this belief system. Her doubts are heightened when she falls pregnant out of wedlock, breaking a major taboo for her traditional community. Brew a cup of tea and listen as Li-Yan, and the daughter she gave up for adoption, move forward in an engrossing coming-of-age tale of loss, love, family, and cultural change.
3. This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.
Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay's This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know - and more than a few things you didn't - about life on and off the hospital ward. This is a story that’s well written and well told. In our humble opinion, this is a story we all need to listen to.
4. No Such Thing as a Fish with the QI elves
This is the playground for the researchers behind the much-loved British TV quiz show QI, bringing you the most out-there, random and interesting facts of the last seven days – in a podcast. It’s a hilarious listen, one that will have you zoning out from all your troubles and grinning like mad. Featured as the best new podcast of 2014 by Apple, this is 45 minutes of silliness and education that is a perfect listen for when you need some downtime.
5. The Dutch House: A Novel by Ann Patchett
If there's one reason to give this audiobook a listen, it’s the narrator. Read to you by Tom Hanks, this moving story explores the bonds between siblings, the meaning of home, and how much our past influences who we are.
The story revolves around a family of four, weaving in and out of the Dutch House in Pennsylvania. Written from the younger son's perspective, we listen in as the siblings grow up and learn together, spanning over five decades. When they are exiled from their childhood home by their 'evil' stepmother, the two siblings find that all they have to count on is one another. Yes, this is a darker fairy tale than we'd read to our kids, complete with absent parental figures and an evil stepmother, but a fairy tale nonetheless. Listen in as Mr Hanks tells you a story about two smart people who cannot overcome their past.
6. How to Fail with Elizabeth Day
Tune in as journalist Elizabeth Day invites famous, successful and –seemingly– accomplished people to talk about their failures in life. In celebration of all the things that haven’t gone right, she asks her guests about the times they fell down and how they got back up again. These are candid conversations about how their struggles and failures taught them about how to succeed better.
Think everyone has got it all figured out? Think again and let this refreshing podcast change your mind.
7. The Moth
Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of true stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. Moth storytellers stand alone, under a spotlight, with only a microphone and a roomful of strangers. Today, many of their favourite and best stories told live on Moth stages everywhere, are brought straight to your ears in their podcast. Some of the guests are professional speakers but many are just average people with a tale to tell. Their bravery makes this podcast feel especially intimate.