So you’ve tried every other lockdown hobby, you’ve baked banana bread, tried to learn a new language, and watched everything Netflix has to offer. How about audiobooks?
I make no secret of the fact that I love audiobooks anyway, but during lockdown I’ve learned to appreciate them even more. Non-fiction such as Ben Garrod’s free-on-Audible “Grown-Ups Guide to Dinosaurs” and “Grown-Ups Guide to Oceans” has helped me sleep when my mind won’t rest, YA and Middle Grade books have played while I clean, cook, and colour, and autobiographies have kept me company across miles of wandering around with the dog.
If one of the scenarios (or all of them!) below sounds like you, maybe one of my solutions can help.
It’s hard to do everyday tasks.
Even though we’re in lockdown, things still have to get done; rooms need cleaning, pets need walking, and you need a new soundtrack as you finally perfect that sourdough.
As time drags on, it gets harder to motivate yourself to do these things. You start thinking “oh it’s cold today, I’ll only have a short walk” or “I’ll put those clothes away tomorrow”, so the thing is, it’s all about tricking yourself. Start listening to a really good audiobook and tell yourself you’re only allowed to listen to it when you’re out, or doing whatever’s on your to do list for the day.
I recommend: Jon Ronson’s backlist for tales about real life people who are living in an unusual way or with unusual beliefs, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo for scandalous old Hollywood (fictional) drama, and Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity for desperate-to-keep-listening twists and turns.
You want to read, but can’t concentrate on a physical book.
I’ve had this on and off over the last year, where my brain is so distracted by everything else going on that I can’t focus on the words on the page. This is where wandering around and doing things comes into play, or, as the case may be, lying comatose on your bed and listening to someone else do the hard work of reading for you. Oh yes, pals, get bundled up in your duvet, lie down and stare at the wall as someone’s soothing voice tells you a story. It’s okay, who’s around to judge you?
I recommend: get yourself some lovely middle grade such as Katherine Rundell or Robin Stevens for soothingly clear stakes and fun content. Also, the audio versions of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys books are fluffy without being sickening.
You want to read, but feel too restless.
Sometimes I feel guilty if I’m just sitting reading. This is a new thing, the feeling that there’s things that need doing and if I’m sitting reading that’s not doing. It doesn’t happen all the time, but I want to be doing something somewhat creative, so I’ve started listening to audiobooks while I colour. Colouring books are great, if I can’t convince you to listen to an audiobook, can I convince you to colour?
I recommend: Anything that will whisk you away from the four walls you’re stuck in – Bad Blood by John Carreyrou for unbelievable but true Silicon Valley fraud, Juno Dawson’s Wonderland for a wickedly fun trans!Alice in Wonderland retelling, and Micaiah Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds for multi-world examinations of privilege and self with a brilliant sci-fi lens.
I don’t listen to audiobooks all day though, I am also a big fan of developing parasocial relationships with podcast hosts and radio presenters (shout out to My Favourite Murder, Homo Sapiens, and Radio 1 – especially the breakfast show), so if audiobooks still aren’t for you, there’s a whole audio world still out there.
Make some time for yourself, listen to an audiobook.