Escape with these blissful audio stories
Is it just us, or are we all plugged into our
screens and smartphones a bit more than usual at the moment? Now we’re settling
into our work-from-home routines, we’re putting in a full day at our makeshift desks,
taking virtual meetings, and having lunch at that local hot spot called “the
kitchen.” And when the day is done, if we’re not jumping straight onto a video
call with friends and family, we’re settling in for an evening’s entertainment
in front of the television.
So we’re planning on making time for some audio
escapism instead. Whether you want a lunchtime laugh, a recognisable (and
reassuring) voice in your ear, or a calming story to send you to sleep, we’ve
put together our favourite listens to inspire you.
For curling up with a love story: Modern Love
This anthology series, recently made into a TV series on Amazon Prime, is based on the much-loved New York Times column, where readers submit personal essays on relationships in the modern world. The podcast is one of our favourites; there are almost 200 episodes to indulge in, all between 15-30 minutes in length and, best of all, they’re narrated by names such as Kate Winslet, Uma Thurman, Greta Gerwig and Gillian Anderson.
Listen to Modern Love online or from your favourite podcast provider.
For lunch hour laughs: Off Menu Podcast
The premise of comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster’s podcast is simple: every episode, they invite a different celebrity to take them through their dream menu – while giving an often-unexpected insight into their lives. With previous guests including fellow stand-ups Greg Davies and Joe Lycett, MP Jess Phillips and actor Sian Clifford, the Off Menu Podcast will make you laugh, make you hungry and make you look forward to your favourite restaurant reopening its doors in the near future.
Listen to Off Menu Podcast online or from your favourite podcast provider.
For discovering something new: The Memory Palace
Many of us have tried and failed to describe The Memory Palace but, put simply, it’s a beautiful storytelling podcast about the past. Started in 2008 by American screenwriter and author Nate DiMeo, each short episode (averaging about 10 minutes long) features a true story as lovingly crafted as it is told. Set against a gentle soundtrack, every tale brings a slice of history to life from the smallest moments, finding humour and humanity in the tiniest details. Not sure where to start? DiMeo has put together a list of his own personal favourites here.
Listen to The Memory Palace online or from your favourite podcast provider.
For hiding under an (invisibility) blanket: The Harry Potter audiobook series
Whether you’ve read them once or a hundred times (if it’s never, we promise not to tell), there’s something incredibly comforting and familiar about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series – for grownups and children alike. From its beautifully crafted, magical world to its loveable characters and heartening tales of friendship, love and loyalty, it might be just the potion you’re looking for right now. Let yourself be carried away on the Hogwarts Express, with the rich and soothing sound of Stephen Fry as narrator.
Listen to the Harry Potter series on Audible.
For some sumptuous ear-honey: The Great Gatsby
Be transported back to the Roaring Twenties with F Scott Fitzgerald’s celebrated novel on power, money, obsession and memory. Part tragic love story, part mystery and social commentary, this quintessential novel serves as a cautionary tale to the American Dream, and is as rich and decadent as the world its characters inhabit. And if that wasn’t enough to draw you in, the audiobook is narrated by none other than actor Jake Gyllenhaal. For a little more of the Brokeback Mountain star’s honeyed vocals, find his wonderful episode of the podcast Modern Love.
Listen to The Great Gatsby on Audible.
For a soothing bedtime story: Headspace
When was the last time you made time for yourself to just… breathe? If you’ve not yet dipped your toe into the world of mindfulness and meditation apps, there’s never been a better time than right now. The Headspace library is positively brimming with guided meditations for everything from stress and anxiety to sleep and work, but it’s the collection of ‘sleepcasts’ that hush editor Kat can’t get enough of: for 45 minutes, a smooth-voiced narrator describes a calming scenario (from quiet lochs to moonlit libraries) while you nod off. The Headspace team has also put together a collection of free meditations to help us all through current times.
Download the Headspace app here.
And if you only listen to one thing: Heartburn
Nora Ephron’s semi-autobiographical novel Heartburn, about a food writer going through a divorce, is essential reading: as wonderfully wry and deliciously witty as it is heartwarming. And as Ephron is the screenwriter who brought us When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, what more could we expect? If this sounds like perfection, just wait: it’s also narrated by Meryl Streep. We call that a recipe for success.
Listen to Heartburn on Audible.