Audiobooks are ideal for getting more stories into your brain, especially when you don’t really have the time or the capacity to sit down with a paperback. Audiobooks can liven up the most boring task and help you relax into your favorite activity.
To get you started, here are a few suggestions for things to do while you listen to an audiobook, as well as listening recommendations to pair with them.
Arts and crafts
Coloring is a great way to soothe frayed nerves. And you COULD listen to a lovely story at the same time, like, say, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, which is a hug in book form. But you could also listen to this murder story by Sarah J. Harris in which color is a big part of the plot…
Real Men Knit is the story of Jesse Strong, who wants to keep his adoptive mom’s knitting store open when she passes away. This sounds as delightful as the fluffy sweater you might be currently knitting. Want more? There’s a sequel!
I’ve been meaning to get into calligraphy for a while, and there’s something about the repetition of it—and really slowing down to take your time over each letter—that’s really soothing. I’ve also been meaning to read this book for a while — it’s the story of Meg Mackworth, expert calligrapher and reader of signs that other people miss, including that of an impending failed marriage.
Putting things together to create a complete picture…that sounds a lot like what mystery novels and thrillers do. In Warrior Girl Unearthed, a group of teens band together to conduct a heist and return Anishinaabe ancestors’ remains to their rightful place. As secrets and mysteries unfold, the group has to find a way to make things right.
Building with Lego(s)
The LEGO Story takes a look not only at the beloved company, but at how innovation and creativity can help transform the world.
You might not be walking the Pacific Crest Trail, but you can imagine that you are as you take a stroll through your neighborhood with Cheryl Strayed’s modern classic memoir in your ears.
Whether planting flowers, succulents, vegetables, or herbs, audiobooks can be a soothing companion. Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour details a multi-year love story between Sara, a renowned bartender, and Emilie, a florist. Plus, it’s narrated by Julia Whelan, so you know you’ll be entranced.
It seems like most runners tend to love running. So why not pair the exercise with an audiobook about running to pass the time? Try What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by master of prose (and lover of running) Haruki Murakami, The Longest Race about deception and Nike’s elite running team by Kara Goucher, Slow AF Run Club by Martinus Evans, which celebrates and empowers individuals to embrace running, or Spirit Run by Noé Álvarez, a memoir detailing the author’s participation in Peace and Dignity Journeys with fellow First Nations runners.
Walking Your Dog
If you’re into not only dogs, but also road trips, then The Dog of the North is just the audiobook for you. Nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, this audiobook features Penny Rush who, after her entire life seems to go up in flames, decides to take a road trip in an old van named the Dog of the North with a dog and two brothers.
Part memoir, travelogue, and guide to birding, Better Living Through Birding is Christian Cooper’s story of learning to claim and defend space for himself and others like him.
Around the Home
I once had a roommate who refused to use the dishwasher because she found doing them by hand to be soothing. While I can’t pretend to understand that, dishes are something we all have to contend with — whether it’s scrubbing by hand or loading and unloading the machine— and an audiobook can make the process less unappealing for people like me, or increase the pleasure (?) for people like her. Either way, you’ll probably find Marie Kondo to be just the voice of reason in your ear that you’re looking for.
Over the past few years, everyone appears to have gained an interest in breadmaking. Robin Slough was ahead of the curve, though, with his book Sourdough, a follow-up to his beloved first book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. I imagine it’s best paired with the smell of bread rising in your oven.
How many of us start our day with a cup of coffee? Sitting down with a cup of coffee can be a great way to ease into the day, and reading an audiobook while doing so is an additional act of self-care (and makes it easier to avoid any spills!). Before the Coffee Gets Cold tells the story of a small coffee shop in Tokyo that offers customers coffee and the chance to travel back in time.
When you’re not sifting and folding as much as you’re chopping and grating, turn to The Cheffe about a fictional legendary chef narrated by her former assistant (and unrequited lover), or Savor by Fatima Ali and Tarajia Morrell, a former Top Chef contestant and James Beard nominee.
Whether commuting or simply taking a drive, audiobooks can be the perfect companion. In Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting, magazine advice columnist Iona’s life is changed forever when she finally interacts with the strangers she sees on her commute everyday.
Listen, I know zero about this — let alone how you can possibly concentrate on jumping over flowerpots (the extent of my gaming experience, circa 1992) while you listen to a story being told to you, but I’m assured it’s not only possible but also desirable. And if you’re into gaming, you’re probably going to like Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.
Cuddling Your Cat
A number one bestselling author in Japan, The Cat Who Saved Books is a celebration of books, cats, and the people who love them (we’re assuming that is most of you reading this post).
Sometimes we have mundane tasks to complete at work that allow us to multitask. Instead of listening to music or podcasts, give audiobooks a try! Sonora Reyes’s award winning YA novel is hilarious, vulnerable, and honest, making any task more enjoyable.