Our top audiobook picks for immersion and distraction

16 April 2020

In uncertain times, books are an escape, a comfort, and an outlet. Audiobooks, in particular, are a means to block out the noise and immerse yourself in a story. For those of us staying home, here are four audiobooks that will transport you to a different life, place, or time period. 

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Washington Black

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

 

SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2018

When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men, the eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde.Titch’s idealistic plans are soon shattered and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape the island together, but then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible. From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness and mystery of life. Inspired by a true story, Washington Black is the extraordinary tale of a world destroyed and made whole again.

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The Warlow Experiment

The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan

 

A SUNDAY TIMES FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 


Herbert Powyss longs to make his mark in the field of science – something consequential enough to present to the Royal Society in London. He hits on a radical experiment in isolation: for seven years a subject will inhabit three rooms in the cellar of the manor house, fitted out with books, paintings and even a chamber organ. Meals will arrive thrice daily via a dumbwaiter. The solitude will be totally unrelieved by any social contact; the subject will keep a diary of his daily thoughts and actions. The pay? Fifty pounds per annum, for life. Only one man is desperate enough to apply for the job: John Warlow, a semi-literate labourer with a wife and six children to provide for. The experiment, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone more than a little mad, will have unforeseen consequences for all included. In this seductive tale of self-delusion and obsession, Alix Nathan has created an utterly transporting historical novel which is both elegant and unforgettably sinister. 

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A Famished Heart

A Famished Heart by Nicola White


SUNDAY TIMES CRIME CLUB STAR PICK


They did it to themselves, but someone was watching. 

The Macnamara sisters hadn’t been seen for months before anyone noticed. It was Father Timoney who finally broke down the door, who saw what had become of them. Berenice was sitting in her armchair, surrounded by religious tracts. Rosaleen had crawled under her own bed, her face frozen in terror. Both had starved themselves to death. Francesca Macnamara returns to Dublin after decades in the US, to find her family in ruins. Meanwhile, Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine are convinced that there is more to the deaths than suicide. Because what little evidence there is, shows that someone was watching the sisters die…

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This is Pleasure

This is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill


A GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE YEAR 

Following the unravelling of the life of a male publisher undone by allegations of sexual impropriety and harassment, and the female friend who tries to understand, and explain, his actions,This is Pleasure looks unflinchingly at our present moment and rejects moral certainties to show us that there are many sides to every story. Mary Gaitskill has spent her whole career mining the complexity of human relationships on both an individual and societal scale with wisdom and grace. Here her insights are more piercing and timely than ever. 

Listen to a sample:

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Apple