By Rose Cook, Cameron Philips, Nuria Berbel Torres and Kathryn Alley.
Falling asleep to audiobooks is one of our favourite ways to relax, unwind and settle into a well-deserved night’s rest. Here are our audiobook recommendations to place your mind at ease and help you enjoy a peaceful sleep.
Rose’s Pick: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, narrated by Juliet Stephenson and John Nettles
Nothing relaxes or calms me down more before bed than a cosy read, and one of my favourites is 84 Charing Cross Road.
Published in 1970, the book is a true story which brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer in New York City, and the staff of Marks & Co., a used book dealer in London. Although they never meet, over the years they develop a friendship based on their shared love for books. The fondness and warmth of their relationship is charming and provides insight into life in the aftermath of World War II, on both sides of the Atlantic.
While there is no exciting plotline or romance in this book, its beauty lies in the conversation as a friendship slowly develops. This endearing audiobook is just over two hours long, and its make-up of letters makes it ideal to listen to in snippets over a few nights.
The dual narration of Juliet Stephenson and John Nettles brings to life Hanff’s cross-Atlantic correspondence with Marks & Co. and listening to their funny, and at times poignant, letters is perfect for those quiet, calm moments before bed.
Cameron’s Pick: Matters of Vital Interest: A Forty-Year Friendship with Leonard Cohen by Eric Lerner, narrated by William Dufris
Leonard Cohen holds a unique place in the pantheon of ‘poet-musicians’ - those who integrated art and literature into their work. Not perhaps at the level of recognition as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell or Lou Reed, Cohen remains a mysterious figure. No one knew him better than perhaps his best friend Eric Lerner.
The relationship between Lerner and Cohen is not groundbreakingly taboo, as it is two men being mates, but it is unusual in its depiction of just how deeply two heterosexual men can bond over a lifetime together. Sharing houses and guiding each other through divorce, Matters of Vital Interest is a look into the spiritual and idiosyncratic life of Cohen through the lens of friendship. We all need friends, good ones, and it’s evident that Cohen and Lerner were meant to have this connection.
Funny, harrowing, and poetic. The unique views of Cohen are free to be heard in an environment that was understanding and would listen. Whilst the book does focus on Cohen as one would expect, it’s evident that Cohen never made Lerner feel inferior, and Lerner never felt so. In addition, Dufris’ soft narration navigates the more difficult parts of the friendship, with a rhythmic style that Cohen himself would approve of.
Nuria’s Pick: Bedtime Stories for Stressed Out Adults by Lucy Mangan and Others, narrated by Joan Walker and Jonathan Keeble
If you’re anything like me and prefer sleeping with a nice soothing book in the background, I’m here to show you my favourite. Through this carefully curated audiobook, you will embark on a journey into tranquillity, filled with stories, extracts and poems designed to cocoon you into a soothing bedtime sanctuary. The selection spans from the timeless brilliance of Oscar Wilde and Katherine Mansfield to cherished childhood tales that evoke a nostalgic journey back in time. Each narrative within this collection serves as a gentle balm for the restless mind, weaving a sense of peace and calmness.
This is my audiobook of choice because it’s filled with familiar stories, so there is no need to worry about missing important points or character interactions, as it is designed to fall asleep to! This is what makes it so perfect as I get a better night's rest when I don’t have to worry about remembering where to rewind it to the morning after.
Guided by its soothing narrators, this audiobook will become a nightly companion that leads you through dreamland and provides a welcome pause in the midst of our bustling lives, where sleep often takes a backseat.
Kathryn’s Pick: Nothing Much Happens, written and narrated by Kathryn Nicolai
Nothing Much Happens is a beautiful collection of short stories that intentionally ease your mind before bed. Most often, I find myself struggling to fall asleep with a million worries or thoughts flooding through my mind and keeping me anxious and awake. Nicolai’s listen is designed to bring rest and peace through the timeless, cosy appeal of classic stories.
Some of the short stories include simple adventures like visiting a cave by the sea, picking lilac flowers or strolling through a field of blueberries. The simplicity of the listen is what makes it so lovely to fall asleep to, and Nicolai’s gentle narration is the perfect lull to rest.