Short Audiobooks to Listen to This Month
Maybe you’ve come across this list because you’ve made a resolution to read a certain number of books this year, and now that number is seeming a bit daunting. But there are many other reasons to try short audiobooks! They are perfect for listening to while going for a walk, doing household chores, or just spending an afternoon on the sofa. Also, February is the shortest month of the year – what better time to listen to short audiobooks?
Whether fiction or nonfiction, short books can still be just as powerful as 50+ hour epics. Try this selection of some of our favourites and see what you think!
No One Is Too Small To Make a Difference – Greta Thunberg
Runtime: 1 hour, 15 minutes
This is the shortest audiobook on the list, but it may be the most powerful. No One Is Too Small To Make a Difference is a collection of speeches given by Greta Thunberg. In just over an hour this audiobook urges us to act to save the planet from the climate crisis. It is a stirring polemic that really benefits from being narrated by its author.
My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
Runtime: 4 hours, 31 minutes
My Sister, the Serial Killer has been shortlisted for multiple awards – including the Booker Prize and the Women’s Prize – and for good reason. This short novel is a breakneck satirical ride through the life of Korede and her sister, Ayoola. Both sisters have a codependent relationship with each other. Ayoola relies on Korede to help her clean up after she dispatches her boyfriends, while Korede’s toxic admiration of her sister’s beauty drives her to rage. Spending just over four and a half hours with this audiobook is time well spent.
Help – Simon Amstell
Runtime: 3 hours, 12 minutes
This is a surprisingly touching autobiography that covers Simon Amstell’s struggles with loneliness, mental health, and his sexuality, as well as being very, very funny. It is narrated by Simon himself – but it is also a bit different than a standard audiobook, as it contains audio clips from some of his previous stand-up. However, this really makes the audio version superior to the print.
Henry VIII – John Guy
Runtime: 3 hours, 27 minutes
How do you fit all the events in Henry VIII’s life into just three and a half hours? Historian John Guy gives it a go. Covering the major changes to British history like the break with the catholic church, his choice of wives, and his remarkable legacy, this is a short audiobook that still packs a punch. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about one of Britain’s most controversial Kings, then start here.
My Name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
Runtime: 4 hours, 13 minutes
This book was a huge hit when it was first published in 2016 – and has gone on to inspire a one-woman show featuring Laura Linney. It is a short, but very emotive novel. Following an operation, Lucy’s mother comes to visit her at hospital, and this brief visit stirs up powerful memories of her childhood. At heart, the book is about love and family, and the difficulties of relationships, especially between mother and daughter.
How to be Right – James O’Brien
Runtime: 4 hours, 59 minutes
During James O’Brien’s radio show, he often discusses politics with callers. From Brexit to benefits, he has heard many different opinions, and he works to uncover their underlying prejudices and dismantle their arguments. In How to be Right, he shows how he does it. If you’ve ever had a row about some of the hot button issues in politics right now then this audiobook is for you!
Tin Man – Sarah Winman
Runtime: 4 hours, 44 minutes.
Tin Man by Sarah Winman is a striking story of first love. The story follows Ellis and Michael through their teens and into adulthood. Despite this, it’s a very simple narrative that nonetheless bursts with lyrical language and powerful feelings. It is beautifully read by the author, and definitely one of the short audiobooks that you could listen to twice in a month!
Notes on a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig
Runtime: 5 hours, 16 minutes
Matt Haig’s first nonfiction book, Reasons To Stay Alive, has been a hugely influential treatise on mental illness. In Notes on a Nervous Planet, he moves away from thinking about how his depression and anxiety affected him and instead concentrates on the link between the state of the world and rising rates of mental illness. At heart, it’s central message is: it will be okay.
A Bear Called Paddington – Michael Bond
Runtime: 2 hours, 39 minutes.
‘Please look after this bear’ says the sign hanging around his neck, and so Paddington Bear arrives from darkest Peru into the hearts of the Brown family. This is the original story of the bear who loves marmalade sandwiches. It’s full of charm and nostalgia, and best of all – narrated by Stephen Fry!
Lanny – Max Porter
Runtime: 4 hours, 35 minutes
Lanny was longlisted for the Booker prize in 2019, and is an original story about love and loss. The audiobook is quite difficult to describe – it has multiple narrators, and often utilizes them in snippets of conversation to represent the village. The effect is of an ominous atmosphere and raw emotion. Try this short audiobook and see what you think!