Late Night Reading

“I’m really sorry, I know this is kind of awkward,” I do my best impression of the awkward face emoji as I look over to where Jon is already half-asleep.

Jon mumbles something incoherent that I take to mean ‘sure, go ahead.’

“Look, I normally listen to an audiobook when I go to sleep – right now I’m halfway through Jane Eyre and it’s almost my favorite bit. Would you mind? I know it’s annoying – if it’s too annoying I can turn it off, or I can listen with headphones, or I can wait until you’re asleep properly or I ca-”

Jon has rolled over, almost laughing, “I’ve got audible on my phone. I’ve just re-started Harry Potter. Shall we listen to that?”

Three years on and Jon and I still listen to an audiobook almost every night as we fall asleep. As the daughter of two people working with and in the publishing industry, there was no way I wasn’t going to be a book lover. My childhood was surrounded by books. Most of my fondest memories revolve around them – from my Dad’s top notch impression of Reepicheep the Narnian Mouse, to huddling on my sister’s bed each night listening to Mum recount the adventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III and the Hairy Hooligan Tribe.

Yes, books have been a staple in my life. Each Christmas, Santa would bring each of my siblings a book and an audiobook. The first Audiobook I remember listening to was the BBC adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Over the next few years, I built up quite the collection of Audiobook CD’s. Among them, my favorites: 10 Dahl Puffin Classics (The Great Glass Elevator and The Witches – if you were wondering), The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips by Michael Morpurgo, and The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis.

I kept these audiobooks with me throughout my childhood and teenage years, often carting them from one house to the other in my school bag after my parents divorced.

This is how things continued for years, even as the digital age took over, my trusty CD player would be with me most nights.

This isn’t to say that I can’t fall asleep without an audiobook, it’s just that that’s what I’m used to. It’s a form of meditation for me. Focus on the words and picture the story in my mind until it becomes fuzzy around the edges and I start to drift off.

Listening to an audiobook while going to sleep is a little like pinapple on pizza. You love it, you hate it, or you’re not so fussed. I’ve found that audiobook listeners that I’ve spoken to usually fall into three distinct categories:

For me, I fall into the solid ‘I Love it!’ category, although I will give it to the ‘I Hate it!’ camp, if I get too into the story I’ll be up all night.

There’s no denying that Audiobooks have gained popularity over the last few years, with streaming services like Audible being most people’s ‘go to’ audiobook service. In hindsight, I was pretty naive to think that nightly audiobook listening was something that only my family encountered.

Jonathan started listening to audiobooks, not out out of a love of them, but as a part of his mum’s efforts to encourage him to read more. Go-to’s in the Gath household included Harry Potter, Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, and A series of Unfortunate Events. These books helped distract young Jon from the loud noises of the pipes under the floor. From there, he got into the habit of listening to something at night, be it an audiobook or a podcast.

Moving away to university, Jon invested in a subscription to Audible. Slowly building a catalogue of audiobooks.

So there you have it, we’re two audiobook enthusiasts. With that, here’s what we’re enjoying at the moment:

The Harry Potter Series – JK Rowling

I’m what most people would call a potterhead. I’ve read and watched anything Harry Potter related a thousand times. Some may even call me slightly obsessed. Despite all this, I’d not listened to the audiobooks before Jon introduced me to them that fateful night in my 3rd year Uni accommodation. 21 years without Steven Fry’s rendition of Vernon Dursley? 21 Years wasted.

The Discworld Series

Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.

Terry Pratchett

I have loved the discworld series since my sister introduced me many moons ago. Her particular subcategory of audiobook from Santa was The Discworld Series. Obviously, read by Tony Robinson. I remember her recounting the story of how she got Tony Robinson’s autograph. When she first moved out of the family home, she moved in with someone who worked at a hotel in Cambridge. One evening her room-mate noticed Tony Robinson minding his own business in the hotel bar. Knowing that my sister would probably maim him if he came home without attempting, he approached Mr Robinson: “My roommate listens to your voice while she goes to sleep. I know it’s creepy. Can I have an autograph”

It’s the mixture of Pratchett’s wild imagination, and Robinson’s ability to bring his characters to life that keep them close to the top of our list.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Jon says it’s awesome so it has to be on here. It also mentions the Basingstoke Roundabout so that’s probably why Jon loves it so much.

Personally, I enjoy the dulcet tones of Slartibartfast.

The Martian – Andy Weir

This is one of Jon’s favorite. The science has me falling asleep quite quickly, but Jon enjoys the style of it. He just ‘gets’ the science. It’s also the first book that he read cover to cover – and the one he would take if he was stuck on an island full of Tigers.

James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes

Fair enough this is more of a long car journey audiobook. James Acaster is one of the best narrators of awkward stories I’ve ever heard. You want to know how he ended up doing a number 2 starkers in his piano teacher house, or spent the night in a red dress in a bush outside Basingstoke Train Station? This is the book for you.

…Come to think of it, a lot of the books Jon likes tend to revolve around Basingstoke.

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