Audiobook podcast recommendations

OK, so you love podcasts. We all love podcasts. But what should you do when you've ran out of good ones? Start listening to bad ones? Don't be ridiculous.

What you need instead are some brilliant audiobooks that cover the same topics – or dig even deeper – than your favourite podcasts. Whether you're in the mood for chilling true crime, groundbreaking feminist theory or just an insight into what it's like being a professional footballer, we have your listening needs covered. 

If you love: Aaron Mahnke's Cabinet of Curiosities

Listen to: The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth by and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine by Thomas Morris

Love stories about the unbelievable, the unsettling and the bizarre, as told in Aaron Mahnke's Cabinet of Curiosities? Then Thomas Morris' book of historical gems gleaned for medical journals will capture your attention.

A collection of historical curiosities, from a mysterious epidemic of dental explosions to the story of a 19th Century operation to remove a metal fragment from beneath a conscious patient’s heart, Morris looks at some of the strangest cases that have perplexed doctors around the world.

Witty, funny and full of fascinating facts, these are stories that will entertain, and maybe even make you wince.

If you love: Rob Beckett and Josh Widdicombe's Lockdown Parenting Hell

Listen to: The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner

Lockdown has been an unexpected opportunity to spend more time with the family, and while for some that's been joyous, others may have found it a bit harder. Comedians and friends Rob Beckett and Josh Widdicombe have explored those facets in their hilarious podcast, where they chat to famous parents to discuss tales of lockdown parenting.

If you're looking for something similarly honest when it comes to parenting, there's no better person to listen to than The Unmumsy Mum, aka Sarah Turner. Turner's book is about the messy and maddening reality of parenting, for which there is no one correct approach. In The Unmumsy Mum she shares the lessons she's learnt, from birth to teething, 3am night feeds to toddler tantrums, soft play to toilet training, and will have you roaring will laughter and feeling like you're not alone. 

If you love: Katherine Ryan Telling Everybody Everything

Listen to: Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

We may not know comedian Katherine Ryan personally, but that doesn't mean we don't love hearing her candid opinions on absolutely everything from sexual fetishes to cancel culture on her podcast Telling Everybody Everything.

A similar candidness is employed by Dolly Alderton in Everything I Know About Love, in which she discusses first loves, break ups and more with honesty and heart.

Told in a series of interlinked essays, Everything I Know About Love is about surviving your 20s, from the squalid flat-shares to the bad dates. At the centre are the unbreakable female friendships that helped Alderton hold herself together, and that make this both funny and moving.

If you love: RuPaul: What's the Tee with Michelle Visage

Listen to: Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen

Besties RuPaul and Michelle Visage have been discussing pop culture, giving us life advice and taking us behind-the-scenes of RuPaul's Drag Race for years now. 

If you love What's the Tee, you'll want to listen to Crystal Rasmussen's Diary of a Drag Queen. Northern and working-class, Rasmussen's book talks candidly about her life, including her search for 'the one', getting hired and fired by a well-known fashion magazine, and being torn between losing weight and gorging on KFC.

Diary of a Drag Queen takes us through Crystal's adventures over the course of a year, and is a unique portrayal of the queer experience. 

If you love: Serial

Listen to: They Walk Among Us by Benjamin and Rosanna Fitton

It seems an odd thing when a podcast about a murder attracts more headlines than the murder itself. But whether Adnan did it or not, one thing we can all agree on is that Serial changed the way we devour true crime.

Now, Benjamin and Rosanna Fitton have turned their own wildly-popular podcast, They Walk Among Us, into a gripping audiobook, in which they sleuth out a medley of small-town mysteries in intoxicating detail. Cases like the British army sergeant who sabotaged his wife’s parachute, or the lodger who took his landlady on a picnic from which she never returned. The message? Bad people do bad things in small towns, too. And maybe, just maybe, there's a bad person with a bad thing in mind, living in your small town, next door to you.

If you love: The Guilty Feminist

Listen to: Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

Deborah Frances-White's flaws-and-all approach to documenting the struggle for gender equality is as hilarious as it is important, musing on everything from the diet industry to toxic masculinity with wit, guile and no small amount of self-deprecation.

And if you love her, then Caroline Criado Perez's Invisible Women should be your next step. Using powerful case studies, stories and research, she illustrates the hidden ways women are ignored and forgotten in a world 'designed for men', and exposes the deep impact this can have on health and well-being. Invisible Women is for anyone who cares about woman's place in modern society. Period.

If you love: Stuff you Should Know

Listen to: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

So you listen to Stuff You Should Know, and now you think you know a lot about the world. Well, you don't know anything near enough until you've listened to Israeli historian and philosophical visionary Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens.

It is a swashbuckling and grippingly lucid account of the story of humankind, from the origin of our species to what a post-human world will look like. How did storytelling become mankind's greatest superpower? Why are religions, nations and money merely human fictions? What was it about Homo sapiens that enabled us to outlast the five other human species that once inhabited the Earth? It tackles the biggest questions of human history, present and future with unforgettable clarity of mind. Whatever you thought you knew about human past, overwrite it with this.

If you love: My Favourite Murder

Listen to: 18th Abduction by James Patterson

If we've learned anything from Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark's record-bludgeoning true-crime comedy podcast My Favourite Murder, it's that it's okay to be beguiled by bloodshed. We all are. Thinking about unthinkable crimes helps us understand who we are through the prism of who we are not. 

But it is possible, also, to overdose on IRL murder. Which is why, sometimes it's good to go back to books. Books like James Patterson's chilling 18th Abduction, about three missing women, a bone-tinglingly evil villain and a detective who'll stop at nothing to crack the case. 

If you love: Love Island: The Morning After

Listen to: What Would Dani Do? By Dani Dyer

Don't pretend you haven't been watching it. Don't pretend you don't know Danny Dyer's daughter Dani Dyer won Love Island in 2018. And don't pretend there isn't a part of your un-sculpted, gym-starved body twitching to know what happened to Dani next.

Love Island: The Morning After gave you your fix while the ITV show was on air. Now it's over, get your fix via Dani's memoir, What Would Dani Do? Lifting the lid on her dating disasters to life in the Dyer household to how – and more crucially, why – she blow-dries her eyelashes, this is how to live like a Love Islander.

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If you love: That Peter Crouch Podcast

Listen to: I, Robot and How to be a Footballer 2 by Peter Crouch

Not all modern-day footballers are soulless robots sucked dry of charisma in return for clever feet and a Coutts account. Not Peter Crouch, anyway, whose hugely successful That Peter Crouch Podcast proves footballers can be honest and entertaining without worrying what their club's media-relations manager might think.

And now, following his hugely popular memoir How To Be A Footballer, the 6'7” beanpole of the box has returned with a sequel, I, Robot. As an audiobook, it brings to life his famous wit and repartee in a bitingly self-reflective, funny and intelligent take on what life is really like off the pitch for a multi-millionaire foot genius.

If you love: The Joe Rogen Experience

Listen to: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote To Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson

Are you a man? Do you like listening to man stuff, like Joe Rogan's man-power philosophy, anarcho-humour and scientific inquiry podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience? Then let Jordan Peterson take you by the ears and hoist you onto his lifeboat built to navigate the biggest problems facing men today.

Narrated by the man himself, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos deploys Peterson's unique blend of ancient wisdom, modern psychoanalysis and straight-talk philosophical reasoning to make a case for individual responsibility as the best way to navigate the choppy waters of modern life. You may not agree with all he says, but as 'the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now' (so said the New York Times), he is a man worth hearing out.

If you love: Dirty John

Listen to: Watching You by Lisa Jewell

If the dark exploits of John Meehan – aka Dirty John – grabbed you (as it did for millions), then Watching You will be right up your dark, slightly foreboding street.

It's about a woman who moves in with her brother, husband in tow, after years working abroad, then becomes infatuated by the older head teacher who lives next door. Unexplained murder, family secrets and forbidden passion are all on author Lisa Jewell's to-do list in this grippingly original thriller that'll have you glancing suspiciously at your windows late into the night.

If you love: Cbeebies

Listen to: Ladybird Audio Adventures

Cbeebies, as any stressed parent will know, can be a godsend. When that particular spring runs dry, may we introduce Otto, an eccentric explorer who loves nothing more than to travel back in time, hang out with dinosaurs and shoot off into space in this action-packed adventure series for three to six year olds.

Covering the animal kingdom, deep sea diving, amazing vehicles, outer space and even dinosaurs, the fact-filled stories have everything to reverse the horror of parental driving as your kids finally stop screaming and pinching each other's arms and just... listen. Ladybird Audio Adventures might not bring peace on Earth, but they are enough to bring peace to the M4 on a Friday afternoon.

If you love: This American Life

Listen to: Educated by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was born to Mormon fundamentalist parents in Idaho who were convinced the world would end at the stroke of the millennium. Her father didn't believe in school, but did believe that dairy products were sinful, because God told him so.

Educated is the memoir of a grim life on the forgotten fringes of small-town America. But it is also the inspiring story of how Westover studied her way out of it – ending up with a PhD from Cambridge. While This American Life explored many different corners of the US, Educated focuses on one, very small one that you'll never forget.

If you love: My Dad Wrote a Porno

Listen to: Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen

Jamie Morton's dad may or may not have written said titular porno, but one thing for sure is that Crystal Rasmussen wrote Diary of a Drag Queen. We know this because a) we wouldn't have recorded it otherwise, and b) no one could make up a story about getting freaky with a 79-year-old builder and knocking over his sister's ashes while trying to pop him a Viagra. Rasmussen's stories are anything but a drag – they're funny, heartfelt and so lurid it should come with a free defibrillator. Born Tom in a tough northern town, this is the story of how she set her 'glam and gorj' inner diva free.

If you love: How to Fail

Listen to: Option B by Sheryl Sandberg

The death of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's husband when he was just 48 left her with two kids and no other option but to carry on. Her husband was option A. Option B was all she had left.

That is the basis for her wonderfully warm, honest and at times piercingly raw manual for anyone who, in her words, wants – needs! – to 'kick the sh*t out of' grief. Just like Elizabeth Day's chart-topping podcast, it sounds bleak but is in fact fuelled by pure, uncut optimism. From job loss, illness, divorce, sexual assault and imprisonment, this audiobook features stories from people who have fought those battles and more.

If you love: Happy Place

Listen to: Unwind Your Mind by Emma WhispersRed

What is happiness? Where inside us does it live? How do we bring it out when we need it most? Fearne Cotton's Happy Place podcast explores all those questions and more as she talks to a fascination of incredible people about how they survive.

But you've listened, so you know that. What you might not know is that listening to a professional whisperer softly breathing words into your ear can help to ease stress and anxiety, improve sleep and enhance social connections. If you don't know – though you surely do – this is called ASMR (or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), a form of sound healing. Think of it as a brain spa. Emma WhispersRed is one of the most able and experienced ASMRtists there is. Listen to Unwind Your Mind and you won't just see, you'll feel.

If you love: The High Low

Listen to: Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Dolly Alderton has probably forgotten more about love than most of us know. Which might be for the best, given some of the dating disasters she describes in Everything I Know About Love.

Fresh off the success of her pop-culture podcast The High Low (which she hosts alongside Pandora Sykes), the audiobook of her bestseller Everything I Know About Love charts the extraordinary love life of the Sunday Times' former dating columnist. It's a book about horrific dates, wonderful friends, weird crushes and – above all else – about recognising that you don't need to be defined through someone else.

If you love: Desert Island Discs

Listen to: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Desert Island Discs needs no introduction, as British an institution as bangers and mash (or bangerz, depending on the guest). Daisy Jones and the Six, however, is a novel about the rise and fall of a fictional 1970s rock band, and all of the music, laughter, sadness, pain, love, sex and drugs that went with the music. The book is wonderful, but the audiobook is a brain-tingling masterpiece that's narrated by a range of voices playing the array of different characters. Just as Desert Island Discs has done since 1942, Taylor Jenkins Reid's pitch-perfect symphony of a novel proves that music is about so much more than just music.

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