I don’t know about you, but I’ve been finding it really difficult to find time to read since I’ve been working from home and self-isolating with my parents.
A lot of that is because I tend to do the majority of my reading during my commute to and from work, which I’ve always been able to use as set reading time, but because I’m no longer commuting I’m finding it harder to fit reading time into my day. Not only that but, as I mentioned here, my family’s having a bit of a rough time of it so far this year so I’m finding it hard to focus on the words on a page.
Just when I thought I’d have to resign myself to March being a rubbish reading month – which is fine! – the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, narrated by Stephen Fry, appeared on my BorrowBox app. It turns out re-reading this book via audiobook was exactly what I needed, it was such a comfort, and when quite a few people are self-isolating alone I think audiobooks could be a great way to help us feel a little less alone.
Perhaps you have a jigsaw to do, or you’re decorating, or you just want something to listen to while you have a soak in the bath; whatever you need, today I thought I’d share some audiobooks with you I’ve enjoyed that I think are ideal comfort reads for a time like this!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Narrated by Stephen Fry
Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.
Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.
If you’re already a Harry Potter fan, re-experiencing the story through the audiobook is nothing short of a joy – especially when it’s narrated by Stephen Fry, who has that perfect ‘this is a bedtime story, sit back and enjoy it’ kind of narrating style that makes this book such an easy one to listen to. Even if you’ve never read the series, though, I think the audiobook is a lovely way to experience the story, and because the earlier books in this series are very much MG stories you know they’re going to be more comforting than stressful.
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
Narrated by Kate Reading
All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.
Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.
If you’ve always wanted to give this series a try, you must try the audiobooks. Kate Reading’s narration is fantastic – she brings Isabella to life so wonderfully – and when it’s comfort you’re after you can’t go wrong with a dash of fantasy of manners. To me this series reads like if Jane Austen wrote about dragons, so if you love a 19th century period drama then the style this book’s written in is for you.
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Narrated by Emily Gray
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.
First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
Speaking of fantasy of manners, Gail Carriger is the ideal author for a situation like this. Not only do I find her books comforting, but they’re also so fun and harmlessly silly that I know I’m going to smile when I read something of Carriger’s. I’ve heard her Finishing School books are also wonderful audiobooks!
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Narrated by Kyle McCarley
The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.
Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.
Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne–or his life.
You all knew this was going to be here, didn’t you? My favourite novel is also wonderful as an audiobook – and a very useful way to learn how to pronounce all the elvish names! I love Kyle McCarley’s narration, and I’ve found comfort in this story plenty of times since I first read it back in 2015. If you want to be swept away to a completely different world for a few hours, this is the story you need.