All Hail the King: The Best of Stephen King

The Best of Stephen King: Our Mammoth guide to the Master of The Macabre will help you find the best slice of King for your  audiobook needs

“You know, sometimes I wake up in the morning and think to myself, ”There just isn’t enough Stephen King in the world’.” – Nobody. Ever.

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At this point, I think It’s fairly safe to say that nobody ever accused Stephen King of not writing enough.

Putting aside the content of his novels, one of the most unnerving things about the ‘Master of Horror’  is his seemingly supernatural capability to keep coming up with new and ever more frightening ideas and characters. The sheer energy of the man is terrifying.

Looking at his list of works, you’d be forgiven for thinking that, like one of his characters,  he was actually possessed by the ghosts of thousands of stories and was exorcising them from his body one at a time, in an attempt to get them all out before he croaks.

Having written scores novels over his career, most of which are so thick that if you want more than three in your house at one time you need planning permission and a building permit, King’s career has been both astoundingly prolific and notoriously wordy with most of his books containing more letters than the complaints file at Harvey Weinstein’s offices.

He’s written novels, novellas, and short stories, short story collections and screenplays, not to mention the non-fiction and the books he wrote under a pseudonym!

 So popular and ubiquitous are his contributions to the big screen that there have even been discussions in the media recently about whether there are too many ‘Stephen King films’ on the market at once, to which I’d respond, ‘What else can we use to fill the time between superhero movies’?( Though it is worth considering what it says about our society in this decade,  that tales of superhumans and the horrors conjured up by Stephen King dominate the box office, but that’s for another day).

In short, or not so short, as the case may be, there’s an awful lot of Stephen King out there. Which, I would argue, is a good thing.

Whilst nobody can churn out that volume of work and have it all be regarded as classic or essential, King has come astoundingly close

 Yes he has taken a few missteps, written some more mediocre offerings to go alongside his bone fide classics and probably added a few thousand words too many on occasion, but it is simply staggering how he manages to keep the quality control level so high with so much of his copious output being nothing less than fantastic.

However, for the discerning consumer of audiobooks, there is a curse within this blessing. Go on audible or any other audiobook site and enter the name Stephen King and you get more results than a  teenage boy entering the word ‘boobs’ into google for the first time and in a similar outcome, the sheer scale and variety of choice in what’s available can be overwhelming. Especially if you’re a newbie.                

Deciding which King contribution to can be overwhelming.  Do you want an established classic or lesser known masterpiece?  A super long novel  to keep you entertained for a series of long journeys or a bitesize jolt of the jitters from a well crafted short story?  Supernatural horror or the horrors that men unleash on each other? There truly is a King story for all occasions, but unless you’ve been blessed with The Shining it can be difficult to work out where to begin (though if you don’t get that joke, that might be your first clue as to where to start). 

Luckily, we are here to guide you through this cornucopia of creepy content, breaking your choices up into easy to digest sections to help you find the right morsel of the monstrous and macabre to suit your mood.

This is not a comprehensive list, nor does it claim to be – so prolific is King that if I summarised all of his work, this article would probably end up being available as on audiobook in its own right before too long. It is therefore inevitable that some works will be overlooked.

If you do feel that  I have overlooked a classic or missed your favourite slice of King then you have two choices: You can politely share your opinion with other audiobook listeners in the comments below so that everyone can explore the title I missed, or alternatively you get bent. The choice is yours.  

With that caveat made clear, strap in for some fun folks, be warned though, this could get wordy…

The Novels

If you’re brand new to King and want to dip your toe in the water before taking the plunge on a full length (and fully lengthy) novel, then skip to the section on short stories.

For most, however, the natural place to start for King is with his novels.

The beauty of a Stephen King novel for an audiobook listener lies not only in the thrill that comes with a scare but also in the immersive nature of the world he creates.

Once you’ve read a few you’ll come to appreciate the intertextuality of King’s work, both with the works of other authors and amusingly, with himself, with easter eggs, cameos and overlaps all contributing to King’s efforts to build not only an isolated story but a larger and more detailed world.

Like Pennywise dragging a child into a drain, King’s novels pull you in and refuse to let go, which for an audiobook listener is simply perfect.

What better way to spend a rainy afternoon, a boring commute or a long bus journey than wandering the vividly painted worlds and creeping shadows produced by one of the most fertile minds in fiction?

Best Stephen King Classics:

Some of King’s better-known works were so popular that they have been absorbed into mainstream pop culture, chances are that even if you haven’t read any of the titles listed below you will have encountered the characters, heard the premise or recognise the content simply by virtue of being media literate in the 21st Century. These then are the books you may have heard of but may not have read and the reasons why you absolutely should.

IT

For those of you might consider this one ticked off, because you’ve seen either the recent films, or the original childhood scarring TV mini-series version of King’s classic, I have some advice for you. Don’t.

This actually goes for most of King’s work, for whilst many of his stories have made it to the big screen, it’s safe to say that condensing everything that makes a Stephen King novel great into the limited time frame of a film (or even two) is impossible.

A lot of the movies are great (and of course some are utter dogshit) but there is so much more to the novels than can be conveyed on screen. IT is a perfect example.

Aside from being a genuinely terrifying story about a group of misfits battling  a murderous shape shifting entity that can become whatever scares them most, not to mention a serious blow to the professional clowning industry, (there were actual complaints from clowns about the impact of IT upon their livelihoods, I shit you not) IT is also a well structured, expansive and beautifully paced novel about adolescence and growing up, that paints a vivid and deeply evocative picture of its time period, setting and the fraternal love between its main characters.

 Much of the enjoyment gained from the novel comes not from the supernatural goings on, but from the way in which King manages to develop such well rounded, believable and nakedly vulnerable characters.

It is  King’s great talent to heighten the tension and stakes in the more horrific scenes, by first taking the time to ensure that the reader is emotionally invested in the characters.  You’re frightened for the Losers because you feel like you know them. Scaring is caring.

A masterpiece of horror fiction and a great novel besides, this is essential King.

The Shining

You know, I don’t know what it was, but I had a funny feeling this novel would make the list, sort of a premonition or something. It’s probably nothing.

Another novel that can’t be considered without mentioning its classic on screen interpretation (which incidentally King himself hated) this story, made famous by a wild eyed Jack Nicholson, is another that is far more rewarding in its literary form.

As a novel  The Shining is a fantastic demonstration in text of  how to build tension and portray mounting pressure.

 The literary equivalent of watching a balloon slowly inflate  to a point far beyond what it should be able to contain, The Shining builds and builds to a terrifying climax, the dicky boiler featured in the novel serving as the perfect metaphor for the protagonist’s attempts to contain what is mounting up inside him.

            The story itself revolves around an author who takes a job as a caretaker at a hotel whilst it is shut up for the winter. If ever there was any doubt as to the genius of  Stephen King and his ability to instill fear, pay attention to how he somehow manages, through his words alone, to make an uncoiled firehose and topiary shrubbery seem like spine chilling threats.

Not to mention the fact that the film’s ending (about which King made a point of expressing his dissatisfaction) is entirely different to the novel

If planning to listen on a bus journey ask for a discount on your seat, you’ll only ever use the edge of it.

Carrie

From a story that bottles up the tension and allows the pressure to build to one in which you wish the bottle would explode, all over some very specific targets.

 A claustrophobic tale of skewed religious fervor coupled with the trauma of an abusive parent, Carrie is another tale which, although it made for great viewing on the big screen, barely had its surface scratched by the movie.

The beauty of Carrie is that the character development in King’s original novel  has you feeling along with her, and almost wishing that you could exact horrific revenge on her tormentors yourself.

The fact that you have already justified her revenge to yourself long before there is even the possibility of it happening, makes the emergence of her supernatural gifts and the crippling way in which she uses them all the more impactful, leaving the reader feeling to feel oddly guilty as if they too had been somehow complicit in the act.

Needful things

A beautiful depiction of small town frictions, a clever study of our selfish desire to possess and an underappreciated King classic, Needful Things is one of  a list of King tales that actually seems to have been diminished by its film adaptation.

In book form, it is the slow building story of a junk shop/ antique store that stocks precisely what your heart desires. Who is the proprietor of this most wonderful of stores? A charismatic newcomer who somehow knows just what you need and is willing to sell it to you, for a price.

King’s own take on the classic ‘deal with the devil’ trope this immersive tale also features cameos from characters present in King’s other works, something King tends to do a lot and which only serves to once again illustrate the scope of the man’s imagination.

The Stand

The Stand is King’s lengthiest novel, and that’s saying something. Actually it’s saying a lot of things. An awful lot of things.

Ironically, King almost didn’t finish the novel because of writer’s block- guess he got over that then..

 The Stand is a post apocalyptic novel which imagines a scenario in which a strain of influenza intended for use as a weapon is released, wiping out 99% of the world’s population (which probably makes it the King novel with highest body count too).

 Those who do survive are drawn either to an elderly woman named Mother Abigail or to a sinister supernatural being named Randall Flagg.

Inspired by the structure and scope of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, King’s take on the fantasy quest has similarly dualistic oppositions of dark and light forces and is similarly epic.

 If possible try to get hold of an uncut version. Whilst this may seem like adding water to an already overflowing glass, some versions have the epilogue ‘The circle closes’ which provides a slightly different and slightly darker ending.

Misery

An exploration into the dangers of obsession and the creepy turns that fandom can take, Misery traces the story of  author  Paul Sheldon, who, having maintained a series of books featuring a popular lead character decides to kill his creation off.

Unfortunately, before he is able to do this he is involved in a car wreck, rescued and nursed by his ‘biggest fan’.

What might initially have seemed like a stroke of luck however, turns out to be far from it, as his saviour learns of the plans to kill off her most beloved character and doesn’t take it well. At all.

She traps Sheldon in the house, bringing him a typewriter to work from and insisting that he complete a new novel in which the character ‘Misery’ is resurrected.

Containing a variety of autobiographical references both to his alcoholism and his feelings of frustration after his attempts to branch out from the horror genre met with disapproval from fans, Misery as a novel is even more violent than the famously gruesome film adaptation.

This is another King classic that overflows with suspense and nail biting tension as Sheldon repeatedly tries to move around the house undetected.

His savior and tormentor Annie is a brilliantly drawn character. Paradoxically repressed and offended by foul language and yet happy to lash out with terrifying violence when displeased.

Salem’s Lot

King’s classic take on the vampire novel evolved out of an earlier short story and  achieves its stated  aim of giving vampires back their bite, restoring them to  their rightful position as  savage and predatory creatures, an interpretation that made them terrifying in their original folkloric incarnations.

A recent article in The Guardian newspaper interviewed horror writers to ask them which novels scared them, the fact that this was the only book to appear twice on that list should be enough of a review to make you want to listen immediately. If it scares the scarers then it should do the trick for you too.

The novel is covered in more detail in my list of the best vampire novels on audiobook that you can also find on our site.

Pet Semmetary

The book that King himself has said scared him the most, Pet Sematary (his deliberate misspelling not mine) is the story of a family that move to an area by a major road and of course the ‘Pet Semmetary’ of the title.

 The latter is an area where local children bury their animals but also a place that holds other even more sinister powers, namely the power to resurrect those who are buried there.

Whilst this might sound like a useful and even miraculous plot of land to have close to your house, that is to overlook the unsavory side effects as those buried and resurrected come back ‘changed’.

 When they’re cat is killed by a vehicle on the road the protagonist decides to put the cursed place to use with predictable results.

All the more reason why he wouldn’t use the place’s magical qualities when his young son is also killed. Would he?

A modern retelling of W.W. Jacob’s The Monkey’s Paw, Pet Semmetary is a genuinely creepy novel that  is definitely better as an audiobook, having a great deal more atmosphere and authentic spookiness than its more slash and gore reliant on screen interpretations.

Doctor Sleep

Once you’ve read The Shining dive straight into its sequel. A particularly exciting prospect as, since the movie has only just been released, you have the perfect opportunity to stay ahead of the curve and read the book before seeing the film.

Lesser-known classics

Whilst the multitude of big-screen adaptations have led certain King novels to be staples in the public consciousness, the sheer scale of his output means that there are many other novels which though of very high quality are sadly still overlooked by many in favour of the more popular titles.

The Outsider

Blurring the edges of genres with admirable skill, King mixes elements of crime drama in to this tale of monsters and doppelgangers.

When a beloved teacher and baseball coach is accused of a horrendous act of sexual violence and murder, the case looks open and shut, with eyewitness and physical evidence set to send the perp down for life.

 Until that is, his alibi turns out to also be provable. How can he have been in two places at once, and if he wasn’t then who committed the horrendous murder?

Though less popular than the established classics this is considered one of King’s best of his later period.

Elevation

What if one day, gravity stopped working, just for you?

 That’s the basic premise behind this novel, in which the protagonist, though appearing exactly the same to everyone else, continues to become lighter and lighter.

Billed as a novel, this one probably fits better into the novella category and definitely feels ‘lighter’ by comparison to some of King’s other much heftier tomes. It’s shorter length and intriguing premise makes it ideal for audiobook consumption though.  

Dolores Claiborne

A king novel for people who don’t really like King novels.

 Much more reliant on real life drama than any supernatural element, Dolores Claiborne is a gorgeously gothic story of one woman’s struggles against her rich employer and abusive husband.

On the page, Dolores Claiborne stands out from King’s other novels as a result of not having the usual chapters and formatting common to his work.

Instead, the novel is presented as one, long, uninterrupted piece of writing and therefore works to make the text appear like a transcription of a confession (which it is supposed to be).

This effect, which makes the narrative unspool in with real cathartic weight,  transfers brilliantly to audio as we are taken into a first-person account which begins as a confession but eventually unravels to be a life story told by a salty, stubborn and brilliantly likeable narrator.

What this novel lacks in supernatural happenings is more than made up for in human drama and realistically painted emotion. One of King’s most underrated novels.

Revival

 Another of King’s newer novels and one which is yet to make it to the big or even small screen as an adaptation ( if you’re reading this Netflix I expect royalties for suggesting it).

In some ways it’s always a treat to read a King novel without having ever seen or even heard of the film.

By resisting any outside influence, your imagination is then free to work on a blank canvas and create your own pure vision of the narrative.

The only downside is that when you do eventually see the movie it’s invariably a disappointment, lacking the depth, detail and creativity of your own personal version.

Revival,  is just such a novel. Wearing its influences proudly on its sleeve, this novel, which picks up elements of Frankenstein, Arthur Machen and Lovecraft, centres around a young minister named Charles Jacobs.

When his life is turned upside down by a tragedy, Jacobs turns against the God he once loved in a polemic from the pulpit like no other.

Jacobs, who has been experimenting with an electricity-based energy source to provide cures to health problems, begins to use these experiments for more extreme purposes.

 For those who are fans of the cosmic level horror of H.P. Lovecraft, the ending to revival offers one of the bleakest, most nihilistic terrifying visions in his entire oeuvre and rips a page right from Lovecraft’s playbook with its inclusion of enormous and enormously malevolent forces.

Best Stephen King Novellas

Shorter than the novels, longer than the short stories, for many the Goldilocks’ porridge of audiobook consumption.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption

Yes,THAT Shawshank Redemption. It is surprising to find how many people are blissfully unaware that a film regarded by many to be in the top ten ever made and one that doesn’t contain anything supernatural, is based on a story by none other than the master of the macabre himself, one Mr S. King.

The movie adaptation is one of three by director Frank Darabont, all of which appear on this list and which are worth both watching as films and listening to as audiobooks for the further depth and nuanced detail that is missed by the films.

Darabont also owns the rights to two more King works ‘The Long Walk’ and ‘The Monkey’ and, if his previous efforts are anything to go by, these should be highly anticipated works, when he eventually gets around to making them.

For those who haven’t seen the film, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, is the story of Andy Dufrane who is wrongly incarcerated in the titular prison.

 The novel details Dufrane’s years behind bars, the inner workings of the prison and the interactions between its inmates and the dark undercurrent of corruption and mistreatment that seems to have been built into the institutions impenetrable walls.

As the title suggests this is a tale of redemption and of stalwart, patient determination, though explaining how Ms Hayworth fits into the narrative would be too much of a spoiler.

The Mist

A group of people are trapped inside a supermarket when a mysterious ‘mist’ descends upon their town.

This fog is revealed to conceal dangerous and monstrous creatures and, fearing to venture into it, the narrative’s characters decide to remain inside, hoping it will eventually clear.

 Brilliantly atmospheric,‘The Mist’ gets much of its horror and tension not, as one might expect, from the threat posed by the things in the fog ( though of course they are terrifying, particularly the only partially seen creature that would ‘make a blue whale look like a trout’) but also from the ‘cabin fever’ tension that escalates within the supermarket.

The religious fervour of some of the characters and the direction this takes in the resulting hysteria is chilling.  Particularly unsettling is the entirely plausible ease with which it takes hold, as terrified people are pressed and manipulated into becoming a living vision of the adage ‘desperate times desperate measures’ .

 Another of King’s tales that was adapted for the screen by Darabont, I would recommend listening to the audiobook version before seeing the film, especially because they have different endings. I’ll leave it to you to decide which you prefer. 

The Body

Adapted for the screen as ‘Stand By Me’ another movie that many do not realise is based upon a King story.

The premise behind the story, that a group of young boys set off on a camping trip, spurred on by the promise of seeing a dead body, provides the framework for a story that explores ideas of friendship, rites of passage and particularly the realisation of mortality and the effect that has on the transition from youth to adulthood.

 Some critics have noted that on the page, the transitions between time periods and the insertion of mini stories told by one of the boys can be confusing, on audiobook however, where shifts in tone and voice can allow these distinctions to be more clearly pronounced and clearly identified, the shifts enhance rather than detract from the experience.  

The Green Mile

Come on, you had to know this one was a Stephen King story! Listed here as a novella but technically a novel that was serialised, The Green Mile is another story which was gorgeously adapted for the screen by Darabont and another that is set in a prison.

The Green Mile of the title refers to the walk the inmates do to the electric chair, the narrative being primarily set on death row.

Much more tinged with the supernatural than ‘Rita Hayworth’ The Green Mile details the arrival at ‘The Mile’ of John Coffey, an enormous, but mentally challenged inmate who seems to display empathic healing abilities.

Another example of a King story told in the first person, the narrator inviting the reader to see the events through their eyes allows for a deeply immersive and vividly descriptive audiobook adaptation.

Bear in mind that some King novellas also appear in his short story collections (for example a clipped version of The Mist is included in King’s Skeleton Crew collection) so be sure to check before downloading that you aren’t doubling up and getting the same story twice.

Best Stephen King short stories & collections

Whilst King will always be synonymous with whopping great tomes, many audiobook listeners prefer shorter instalments of fictiony goodness. Especially if they’re the kind that makes your hair stand on end or induce you to listen to the next one because after the first there’s no chance of you sleeping.

 Luckily,  King has also produced a number of excellent short stories to chill spines and haunt minds. Indeed,  there is a wide range of collections available as audiobooks, from his official collections like Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Night Shift or Skeleton Crew, to more thrown together selections compiling stories from different collections or just anthologising choice cuts from a larger group.

Forrest Gump famously said that ‘life is like a box of chocolates’ (all the best ones are gone?) and so are King’s short stories, albeit with a rather bitter after taste. Like a box of chocolates, sometimes you feel like just having just the one bite-sized sweet treat, whilst at other times you feel like you could devour the whole box. I have therefore borne this in mind.

 Whilst my recommendation as a fan would be to stick to the larger collections, working through and enjoying them as a collection, as you might a great album,  kids nowadays have no idea what an ‘album’ is and prefer to simply order the tracks they like individually (in my day we called them ‘singles and listed to them on the stereogram).

Since there is also the option to pick up individual King Tales on audiobook if you just fancy a taster, (an option ideal for audiobook listeners on short journeys or lunch breaks),  I thought that rather than going through every title in every collection systematically, I would instead offer a  list of individual King classics that are worth seeking out, either as part of a collection or on their own. That way if you are looking at buying a collection, you can be sure to see if any of these classics are included.

The Boogeyman

Though short and superficially quite simple, the effectiveness of The Boogeyman comes from the interplay between carefully overlapping elements.

Playing on every child’s simple, but all too real fear of the ‘thing in the closet’,  The Boogeyman features a character who,  though sympathetic, is also well rounded enough to have deep flaws,  a device which is key to making the story work.

As he pours his heart to a psychiatrist, mulling over the deaths of his children,  the  listener’s ambivalence towards him as a character encourages us to doubt him, his explanations and his terrors.

Is this an unreliable narrator making monsters to explain away his own failings, or a terrified victim of a thing truly deserving of terror?

 Featuring some truly creepy moments and quotable lines, the boogeyman speaks to the frightened child in all of us. Just don’t try teaching it to a class full of children, the parents won’t appreciate it. Trust me.

The Jaunt

Speaking of quotable lines, the impactful sucker punch of these tales’ final few sentences are amongst King’s best and most haunting.

 A sci-fi horror yarn that explores the idea of teleportation, this is one that really stays with you and one of my top recommendations for those looking for an intro to King’s short fiction.

The Crate

King has spoken of his childhood love for horror comics in many platforms. The pre ban likes of EC comics Vault of Horror and Tales from the Crypt enthralled the young King with their gruesome tales and lurid artwork by the likes of Graham Ingles (who actually gets a mention in King’s story, ‘The Boogeyman’ listed above).

This influence is clear to see in many of King’s short stories which retain the ‘ just desserts comeuppance’ narratives in which punishment or retribution is meted out by some gruesome or supernatural means.

Highlight of the brilliantly schlocky anthology movie ‘Creepshow’ The Crate was also available as part of a bone fide comic book, illustrated by none other than comics legend Berni Wrightson ( which was  a match made in heaven, Wrightson being to horror art what King is to horror fiction).

As such it is about as EC comics as King gets and is the story of a henpecked professor who, having discovered a crate containing a ravenous lurking monster, decides that he might have found a way to rid himself of his termagant wife. Brilliant creature feature fun.

The Ledge

Another story in the EC comics mold, though this time without any supernatural element, the ledge is the story of a jealous mob boss who hatches an elaborate plan for vengeance on a man he finds has been sleeping with his wife.

Rather than simply killing his enemy outright, the jealous husband agrees to let him go and even give him money, provided he climbed out of the window and do an entire circuit of the skyscraper he lives in, balancing only on a tiny, narrow, ledge. A simple but brilliantly effective idea.

Weeds

Another slab of science-fictiony goodness and another that wears its Lovecraft influences prominently, this humorous tale was adapted for the screen in the anthology movie Creepshow 2 with King himself playing the main character.

Also known as The Strange Death of Jordy Verill the story concerns an isolated country hic who finds, to his great delight, a meteor that landed on his property. Imagining his find might be worth the money, he takes it inside only to find that the strange weed growing on the rock has attached itself to his hands, and begun to spread.

Graveyard Shift

A good old fashioned creature feature, this one is built around the story of workers in an old textile mill being enlisted to clean out the basement of the building and take care of the rat infestation.

What they don’t realise, of course, is that shut off from the world, the verminous denizens of the basement have evolved in strange, hideous and terrifying shapes and that’s before they even reach the sub basement…

The Monkey

In an early episode of Family Guy, the writers take a pot shot at King, suggesting that he may have run out of ideas.

The sketch involves him meeting his agent and when asked what his new idea is, fixating on the lamp in front of him before shouting ‘lamp monster’ which his agent wearily accepts.

 Whilst this joke does have teeth, there is a humorous irony in the fact that, as demonstrated by the topiary animals and firehose in The Shining, should King chose to make an inanimate object scary, you wouldn’t bet against him being able to do it lamp monster or no lamp monster.

 Another great example of this is his short story ‘The Monkey’ which centres around a child’s wind up toy. A monkey holding a cymbal in each hand and which claps them.monotonously together. And that’s it.

No many tentacled things from the nether regions, no hideous beast under the bed. Just a toy monkey. Is it scary? Of course it fucking is, it’s Stephen King.

Children of the Corn

It often surprises people to learn that this folk horror story of religious fanaticism and human sacrifice is a short story.

Owing to the fact that it was made into a feature length film people assume it to have been based upon a novel,  but not so. King’s vision of a murderous cult lead by a group of children in rural America is short, but, like the best stories has several disturbing ideas at its core.

Best Non-fiction by Stephen King

Just in case you thought King only wrote fiction…

As a non-fiction writer King’s former career as a teacher shines through. As always, his amiable, knowledgeable and at times genuinely funny prose is as engaging when dealing with real-world concerns as with terrors that haunt the imagination.

 It is therefore worth checking out some of his non-fiction contributions available as audiobooks especially if you have an interest in the actual mechanics of how a great horror story or a great story, in general, is put together.

Danse Macabre

Originally suggested to King as a way to avoid answering repetitive questions in interviews ‘Danse Macabre’ is essentially the King of horror writing about horror.

A detailed and expansive overview of the genre from Victorian classics to the present day. A fascinating insight into the madness behind the method.

On Writing

Essentially King’s memoir, covering his career and offering advice to aspiring authors, this is essential reading for anyone thinking of making their own forays into the world of literature and an interesting and entertaining read for those who aren’t.

Bachman

Since there’s so much Stephen King to choose from and get through you might find yourself wanting a break.

 In which case you could do worse than picking up the novels by Richard Bachman. Only trouble is, Bachman is also where Stephen King goes when he wants a break from Stephen King.

King’s pseudonym allowed him to continue publishing at pace at a time when publishers believed that for an author to put out more than one novel a year would saturate the market.

To get around this and, unbelievably, write, even more, King adopted the pseudonym Richard Bachman. 

The resulting novels including Thinner and The Running Man are pacy action-packed sci-fi horror stories that are wildly entertaining and retain many of King’s stylistic traits, including (in true Stephen King style) being adapted for the big screen,  albeit with Bachman listed as the author in the credits, at King’s insistence : After all it’s not like there isn’t enough Stephen King in the world is it?

The 9 Best Vampire Audiobooks

Something To Sink Your Teeth Into: A Guide to The Best in Vampire Fiction Audiobooks

The word Vampire occupies a strange place within the popular imagination. On the one hand, it is a word dripping with connotations and instantly conjures images that are an amalgam of kid’s Halloween costumes, a posturing Bela Lugosi and The Count from Sesame Street.

On the other hand, it is a word that runs a fascinatingly varied gamut of definitions. Covers a huge everything from snarling, animalistic beasts that terrorize and devour, to fresh-faced adolescent heart-throbs that sparkle in the sunlight, all the flavours of nightwalkers are covered by the one word.

To see how striking the range and variety of creatures covered by the word ‘vampire’ is, imagine the ‘Twilight’ Series of vampire based teenage romances (a painful exercise for lovers of vampire fiction I know, but bear with me…) now imagine that instead of a fresh-faced teen pin-up who looks he’s just walked off the set of an advert for skin cleanser, the creature depicted by Max Shreck in the 1922 film Nosferatu was playing the lead.  Spot the difference?

Both are ‘vampires’ but you can’t really imagine Count Orlock having an angsty pout about whether or not to take the blood of his victims, whilst his feral, rat-like appearance, (not to mention his questionable manicuring habits) mean that playing the suave ‘romantic’ vampire wouldn’t quite fit.

For fans of vampire literature and audiobooks, it is precisely this variety in the depictions of the ‘creatures of the night’ that make the subgenre so fascinating and appealing, but also somewhat difficult to navigate.

With well over a century of noteworthy nosferatu having been committed to print and so many different visions of what undead bloodsucker actually ‘are’, choosing a title to get your teeth into can be a bit like going on Transylvanian Tinder: Do you want the romantic well-spoken vampire or the pestilent beast like variety? A classic tale or a modern reinvention? Slow burning and literary or pacy and pulpy?

 Luckily, before you drive yourself batty (batty, bats, see what I did there? Oh mercy!) working out where to ‘stake’ your claim on this genre, there is a helpful guide that will give you some pointers and help you find your preferred brand of bloodsucker.

So, grab your garlic and crucifix and enter freely and of your own will…

1. The VampyreJohn Polidori

It’s a stormy night the early 1800s, a group of friends and literary giants including Percy and Mary Shelley and Lord Byron are confined by the weather to a house in the Swiss Alps and decide that to pass the time they will challenge each other in a friendly competition, each being challenged to write the most frightening horror story they can think of to share with the group.

This is the familiar story told to explain the origins of the young female Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein (or The Modern Prometheus). What is often overlooked or forgotten about this meeting of literary titans and the resulting output, is that another contribution, made by Lord Byron’s physician John Polidori, also made a huge impact upon the horror genre and the visons of Vampirism that would haunt the coming centuries.

Polidori’s The Vampyre was not an entirely original composition, being based as it was on Byron’s own ‘Fragment of a Novel’ and featuring a character that might as well have been named Bord Lyron considering how closely based upon the figure of his patient Polidori’s character Lord Ruthven was.

Questions of originality aside there is no disputing the fact that The Vampyre was hugely influential and all but created the image of the ‘romantic’ vampire that would become such a staple of the genre (meaning Polidori is indirectly responsible both for Dracula and The Twilight series. Ah well,you win some you lose some).

 The story, which centres around the exploits of Lord Ruthven as he travels and claims victims has a distinctly folkloric, fairytale-like feel to it that is particularly evident in the conclusion.

For a tale that predates Dracula, the vision of the vampire here is remarkably well-formed, if a little limp in the retelling. The style is wordy and obviously ‘of its time’ but is well worth checking out for those looking for a more ‘folksy’ or ‘literary’ vampire tale or who are interested in tracking the development of the genre. Audiobook versions are available on Audible and for free through Librivox and video streaming platforms.

2. Varney the Vampire

Despite the alliterative title that makes it sound like a cartoon character from The Beano or Dandy, Varney (subtitled The Feast of Blood) is one of the earliest and most influential Vampire ‘novels’.

Before diving headlong into the book however, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, the text was written as a serialised text (one of the famed ‘penny dreadfuls’ of the era) and is discussed as the work of more than one author. The result of this serialisation and multiple contributors means that at times the text can be somewhat confusing with contradictory ideas or plot points and themes.

The second thing to consider is the text’s length. If you are going to pick up an actual text copy of Varney, you might need to do a few push-ups first as it is a very substantial tome. As a result, audiobook readings of the text can tend to be very lengthy and you may feel like you need to join the armies of the undead just to have any prospect of making it to the end.

On the plus side, Varney is a highly influential text, being the birthplace in print of such tropes as the ‘vampire at the window’, dual puncture wounds on the throat from fangs and the vampire’s hypnotic powers.

It also borrows a strand from werewolf fiction by presenting Varney at times as a sympathetic character (for a list of great werewolf literature available in audio format check out my article on just that topic that can be accessed here).  The geological grandeur of his ultimate demise and even the methods behind his multiple revivals earlier in the text are also notable for their romantic melodrama. For those not put off by its length or looking for a lot of bat for their buck, Varney would be a great choice. 

3. Carmilla – Sheridan Le Fanu

If you asked most people to name a nineteenth-century vampire story written by an Irish author and featuring a predatory creature feeding on a young woman with heavy sexual undertones most would immediately think of Dracula.

However, there is another novella, one which predates Stoker’s most famous creation by 26 years, that includes all of the above. Carmilla, the work of Sheridan Le Fanu,  also has the distinction of being the first lesbian vampire story, skirting dangerously close to causing outrage in its buttoned-up era, due to its none too subtle suggestions of a homosexual attraction driving the eponymous female vamp.

Anyone who has read Dracula before coming to Carmilla will see some striking similarities. For example the descriptions of Carmilla in comparison to those of Lucy in Stoker’s novel and the similarities between Le Fanu’s vampire expert Baron Vordenburg and Stoker’s Van Helsing (who also has a name similar to Hesselius, from whose casebook the story emerges).

Carmilla is available on audiobook as a stand-alone tale and is well worth the investment on its own. However, I would recommend getting hold of Le Fanu’s ‘Through a Glass Darkly’, a collection of his short horror stories that include Carmilla.

4. Dracula – Bram Stoker

No list of Vampire texts would be complete without the Grand Daddy of them all. By no means the first but without doubt the single most influential vampire story ever written, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a bona fide classic.

Whilst many make the mistake of thinking that they ‘know’ Dracula through Hollywood movies, the novel itself can be quite a surprise. Not only in details often missing from the celluloid versions (Dracula’s appearance and particularly his huge moustache being a major example) but also in the fact that with the right reading, Stoker’s Dracula still retains enough atmosphere to be genuinely unnerving.

The epistolatory nature of Stoker’s narrative makes it perfect for audiobook reading as the listener is able to dip in and out between the various narrators, whilst this choice of structure drives the action forward in what is in many ways a fast-paced adventure narrative as much as it is a horror novel.

Having been around for such a long time, the novel obviously has many readings. The two I would most highly recommend being the unabridged Naxos version, read by a cast including David Horrovitch and Jamie Parker and the recent audible version read by noted actor Alan Cummings (who played Eli Gould in The Good Wife and fittingly ‘Nightcrawler’ in X-men) and the ever terrifying Tim Curry (Pennywise the Clown in Stephen King’s IT).

5. Interview With The Vampire – Anne Rice

Another more modern title that is often overlooked on account of its famous movie production is Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire.

Whilst the on-screen version is excellent and well worth the time of any fan of vampire movies, the detail, character development and historical references interlaced with Rice’s narrative make the novel worth the price whether you have seen the film or not.

The novel’s premise is mostly explained by the title and as promised features an account of being a card holding member of the hordes of the undead narrated by a bona fide vampire. Louis de Pointe Du Lac, the bloodsucker in question, narrates the tale with a melancholy weariness that comes straight from the Varney the Vampire mould of the tragic vampire.

It is a testament to Rice’s writing that the characters are so well rounded, showing a depth of personality and idiosyncrasy that can sometimes be missing from the standard cookie-cutter vampires that populate some more modern pulp fiction.

Rice’s novel spawned 11 sequels, of which many agree only ‘The Vampire Lestat’ is of comparable quality.  Speaking of quality, there are a number of versions of the book available as audio and the quality of the recordings varies somewhat. For both clarity of recording  and quality of delivery I would recommend the reading of the unabridged work by Simon Vance, though if you are pressed for time, prefer a deeper, more sonorous voice in the reading and can tolerate grainer quality in the recording, F Murray Abraham’s reading of the abridged version is also very good.

6. The Gilda Stories Jewelle Gomez

In a similarly drained ‘vein’ to Rice’s novel and set in a similar time period (at least in part) The critically acclaimed The Gilda Stories is notable not only for the lustrous quality of the writing and treatment of the vampire narrative but also in its representation of a black female bisexual vampire. Again, much like Rice but with her own fiercely original twist  Gomez exploits the ‘immortality’ element of the vampire myth in order to present the character in various ‘lives’.

These varied lifetimes spread over many years and across a variety of locations allow her to imagine character inhabiting the guise of other ‘characters’ as she metaphorically swaps in and out of these various skins exploring and applying the vampire mythology in a variety of situations and scenarios.

7. The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova

Perhaps of less literary merit but nonetheless entertaining is ‘The Historian’ a recent and hugely successful book which is to vampire literature what Dan Brown is to the study of art history, but then whoever said every audiobook had to be Dostoyevsky?

Like one of the fabled vampire hunters armed with stakes, holy water, and garlic the listener should go into this novel forearmed by forewarning. If you want a great work of highbrow horror fiction, look elsewhere, if you want fun, facts and fangs, then this might be up your street. 

The books central premise, that ‘Dracula’, (by whom the author means Vlad Tepes the real historical figure) is, by means of vampirism, still alive, is an interesting one and the novel’s reliance upon implausibly detailed letters in an attempt to echo the structure of Dracula make it an easy book to dip in and out of.    

 If accepted for what it is right off the bat, is a great piece of pulpy horror escapism. On a long bus journey, flight or just lazing on a beach, The Historian does enough with its weaving of gorgeously depicted locations, historical details and action to keep the listener entertained.

Yes. the initial intrigue seems to fade toward the middle, yes the extended scavenger hunt style plot is held together by some ludicrous coincidences, clunky dialogue and romantic entanglements even more bloodless than some of the victims and yes the ending will simply infuriate some, but still…

 Despite its lofty pretentions toward some kind of elevated worthiness, The Historian remains a somewhat cheesy popcorn adventure story that is, at its heart, the literary equivalent of a standard Hammer Horror vampire flick.  Sometimes, that’s enough.

8. Anno DraculaKim Newman

From a book that apes Dracula to one that re-imagines its conclusion and runs with the consequences. In a strikingly original angle, Anno Dracula imagines a world in which Dracula’s bid to infiltrate British society were successful.

Having defeated Van Helsing and vanquished the other heroes of the novel, Dracula climbs to the upper echelons of English society, even going so far as to Marry Queen Victoria. This allows him to spread the vampire curse amongst the upper crust of  London society and provides him with power and influence. In a manner similar to Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen the text is littered with cameos by characters from other texts (including a great number of vampire novels) as well as historical characters who fit into the narrative at various junctures. Critically well-received, Anno Dracula spawned a sequel and is a well-plotted mix of classic horror and alternative history.

9. Salem’s LotStephen King

Speaking of well-plotted, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot is the sort of well structured and developed work one would expect from King and is possibly the most legitimately chilling entry on this list.

In various writings about this work, King has discussed how his vision of the vampire was influenced by the images he saw in old EC era horror comics and that with Salem’s Lot he sought to reject the sanitised suit-wearing lothario vision of the vampire and instead make them more physical and tangibly, flesh tearingly real.

Built around a simple premise in which, instead of moving to the Carfax estate of Victorian London as Dracula did, a creature of the night instead decides to settle in the fertile feeding grounds of small-town America Salem’s Lot is a genuinely frightening listen not for the faint-hearted and should be applauded for returning the vampire to its rightful position as a creature that inspires real fear.

Bonus left field listens:

For those still thirsting for more, there are a few other slightly more off the wall listens worth a try.

Sharonah Fredrick’s lecture on ‘Vampire Lore from Transylvania to Peru’ available for free on Youtube is an entertaining and fascinating slice of non-fiction presented by a knowledgeable and engaging lecturer that gives a great insight for anyone interested in the history and folklore that influenced the literature above.

The BBC Radio drama Sherlock Holmes vs Dracula will be hugely appealing to fans of either literary giant and weaves the worlds of the two together with admirable creativity. The action, though predictably a little melodramatic, is well-acted and available for free on Youtube.

And there you have it. A whistle-stop tour of over a century of vampire literature. Hopefully more than enough for you to sink your teeth into.

The 6 Best Werewolf Audiobooks

Running With the Wolves: A Selection of the Best Werewolf Fiction Available as Audiobooks

Inside, a log fire crackles softly, its warm, yellow, glow throwing strange shadows upon the wall. In here, is a sanctuary, safe from the elements, safe from the cold and hopefully, safe from other things too. But that, is inside… 

Outside, the snow is driving hard. The wind howls mournfully through the trees and the wolves, from the spaces between them. Things that were never supposed to be, stalk the shadows and the imaginations of those inside.

By the fire, seated in an old rocking chair, an ancient looking woman, draped in a thick woolen shawl, leans forward.

 A hush falls on the hut. Children, gathered expectantly round her ankles, bristle with excitement, tinged with fear, as even the adults stop their chatter and pull up their chairs, ready to hear the old woman’s story. A tale of moons and monsters, of men and of beasts.  She takes a deep breath and closing her eyes, begins to speak…

It might just be me, but wouldn’t you love to listen?

There is something about the oral, folkloric, tradition from which tales of werewolves evolved, that makes these stories perfect for audiobooks. 

Sure, werewolves have hunted on screen for almost a century and prowled the pages of novels for even longer, but there is something about the words, read aloud, that suits this particular subgenre perfectly. Tales of werewolves are meant for recitation, they are stories made to be heard. 

But where to start? 

With the werewolf’s bloody paw prints trailing across over a hundred years worth of novels and short stories, ranging from the truly unsettling to the virtually unreadable, from the horrifying to the horrifyingly constructed, it can be difficult to know where to begin. 

Some of the more recent additions to the genre have tended to emphasise the romantic element or have infused what is, at its core, a tale about man’s own bestail nature, with so much sickly sacharine sweetness that the reader risks slipping into a diabetic coma. 

Finding a werewolf narrative that makes you howl with pleasure rather than frustration can be a dangerous pursuit and no amount of silver bullets will put silver dollars wasted on a substandard audiobook back into your pocket.  

Luckily, even the world of literary lycanthropes has its luminaries. Certain stories and novels that thrust their hairy heads above the rest and cry at the moon to be heard. So, without any further ado (or ‘adooooooooooo’ if we’re sharing cheesy werewolf jokes) let’s lock the doors, load the silver bullets and explore the best audiobooks that the world of werewolves has to offer. 

1. The Werewolf of Paris – Guy Endore

Let’s start with the big guns. Lauded by many as the werewolf genre’s answer to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (and held in equally lofty esteem), Guy Endore’s novel is indeed similar in both scope and ambition to Stoker’s masterpiece and seeks to do for the werewolf what the Irishman’s narrative did for vampires.

Part modern tale, part folklore and part historical fiction, The Werewolf of Paris is an essential jumping-off point for anyone looking to explore the genre.

Set during the events of the Franco Prussian war and the Paris Commune, it unfolds the story of Bertrand Caillet as revealed in  ‘The Galliet report’ a defence of Bertrand written by his step-uncle Al Galliet at his court marshall.

To say that Bertrand is a bad boy or a  ‘bit of a wrong ‘un’ would be quite the understatement, leaving as he does a trail of incest, murder and transformation behind him as he flees his village for the bright lights of Nineteenth-Century Paris. Micheal J. Fox in Teen Wolf he is not. 

As real-life historical events unfold and explode around him, Bertrand succeeds in finding a masochistic ladyfriend who, unbelievably, is almost as mixed up as he is. Her approach to calming his monthly bloodlust being to voluntarily (yes you read that right, voluntarily) allow him to feed on her. The things some people will do for love, eh?

As you may have guessed, this plan to suppress Bertrand’s more animalistic tendencies does not entirely succeed and things go awry with disastrous but highly entertaining consequences. 

The appendix to the main narrative gives a final beautifully gothic twist to the tale and underscores its status as a classic of the genre. For those interested The Werewolf of Paris was adapted into a movie in 1961 by the infamous Hammer Horror studio under the title The Curse of The Werewolf (though it has nothing whatsoever to do with the excellent ‘An American Werewolf in London’ or its risible sequel  ‘An American Werewolf in Paris’). 

The audiobook version of the novel I would recommend is available from audible in reading by Jean Brassard, whose lofty tones, nasal snarl and tendency to place heavy emphasis on the final syllables of words give the reading an air of theatrical melodrama perfectly suited to the material. For the bibliophiles out there, first editions of the novel come with a gorgeous clothbound cover and are both fairly rare finds and worth a pretty penny.

2. Cycle of the Werewolf – Stephen King

Where do you go after a legend, but to a King?

 Considering the scope of his contribution to the horror genre and the breadth of horror characters he has employed or created over the years, it is somewhat inevitable that somewhere within King’s cannon one is bound to find a werewolf lurking. 

Indeed, images of werewolves pop up in a number of King’s novels and stories, notably as the form employed by the demonic clown Pennywise when hunting Richie Tozier in King’ classic novel IT, (which is well worth a listen  ‘its’ own right). 

King’s exploration of the werewolf narrative found its most pleasing and fully realised form with his 1983 novella Cycle of The Werewolf. Later adapted into the film Silver Bullet starring a marvellously hammy Garry Busey.

Cycle of the Werewolf is notable for its structure, with each chapter being assigned to a month of the year in which the titular creature stalks its victims. Each chapter, initially intended to be vignettes but extended by the notoriously wordy King, could work as short stories in their own right. 

The overall narrative follows Marty Coslaw a wheelchair-bound young boy and traces his reactions, fascination and fear of the monthly maulings in his quiet Maine town. 

King’s prose is always superb and lends itself brilliantly to audio. The narratives structure, progressing over the year as seasons change allows the reader to almost feel the months being ripped from the calendar as tension builds and the inevitable confrontation between our protagonist and the hellish hound grows ever closer.

An audiobook is available from Signet and can be found online free from a number of sites for the less scrupulous amongst you. 

Once again for those who like a physical tome to go along with their preferred listening, Cycle of The Werewolf is a real treat as most editions feature jaw-dropping illustrations by horror comics legend Berni Wrightson, that capture beautifully the visceral nature of the narrative. 

3. Gabriel Ernest – Saki

“There is a wild beast in your woods…”

From this evocative opening line alone, you just know that this is going to be good. 

Anyone familiar with the more adult-oriented work of famed children’s author Roald Dahl will know that he dealt in tales with deeply sinister undertones. 

Like a drop of arsenic in a cup of sweet tea, the twists in Dhal’s short fiction often displayed a penchant for the more exotic flavours of cruelty and generally focussed on the darker side of the human character. 

What you may not know is that the blueprint for much of the tone and structure of these works was laid out during the Edwardian period by one of Dahl’s greatest influences, the author H.H. Munro better known by his nom de plume ‘Saki’.

 Saki’s work explores the same dark depths as Dahl’s and often involves a sinister twist, whilst also retaining all of the posturing sensibilities and understated subtlety of the Edwardian period. In short, Saki is what you would get if you put Oscar Wilde, Roald Dahl and the scripts from Black Mirror into a blender. 

The resulting short stories are wickedly cynical, deliciously twisted and often tinged with the blackest of humour. Any dip into Saki’s oeuvre is worth your time, especially in such tales as Tobermory, Srendi Vashtar or The Open Window. In terms of the werewolf genre, Saki’s contribution is the fiendishly endearing tale of Gabriel-Ernest

A story exploring the rebellious nature of adolescence as well as the inherent fear held by one generation for the other, the tale is more subtle in its delivery than say Endore’s rip-roaring yarn or King’s graphically flesh-ripping novella, it does however succeed in unsettling, especially with its twist in the tale, which, in typical Saki fashion, doesn’t so much as twist as curl, like the tail of a scorpion, viciously sharp and loaded with venom. 

The story is available as an audiobook in a number of collections of Saki’s work, collections of short horror and in collections dealing specifically with ‘ Classic Werewolf Fiction’. 

As it is in the public domain at this point, it is also available for free on Librivox and in a number of commendably read versions on Youtube.

4. The Last Werewolf – Glen Duncan

For a more recent take on the werewolf narrative, a great place to dive in would be with Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf. 

An author of immense talent, Duncan has a penchant for the macabre and is another writer whose work seems always to have been formed somewhere in the shadows. 

With I lucifer and Weathercock the British author applied his marvellously lucid and erudite prose to dark and at times, frankly disturbing, themes. (Weathercock in particular is not for the faint of heart). 

It was therefore with some anticipation and not a little trepidation that I greeted his foray into the world of fur and fangs, anxious to see what his acerbic wit and tantalising turn of phrase would make of the werewolf. 

The result, in many ways, picks up where I Lucifer left off, in that it is narrated by another well-written anti-hero of supernatural origins. Duncan pleasingly toys with werewolf tropes acknowledging them with postmodern irony, whilst all the while constructing a story that employs the central tenants of the legend as its frame. 

The Last Werewolf’s cubs, in the forms of two sequels  (Talulah Rising and By Blood We Live) are also well worth picking up, all three are available as audiobooks and stand as proof that modern treatments have in no way entirely polluted the power of the werewolf to terrify and entertain.

5. The Bloody Chamber (The Werewolf and Company of Wolves) – Angela Carter 

From one writer often accused of producing ‘purple’ prose, 

(a style which, with its overwrought grandiosity, I would argue is perfectly suited to the werewolf genre) to another who famously responded to the accusation by not only acknowledging that she did but responding with the question ‘So fucking what?’ Indeed.

When the prose produced is as sumptuously rich as that produced by Angela Carter, you have to think she was entirely justified. 

If anything the adjectival density of Carter’s work only makes it more vivid, with its connotations of luxurious castles, moss clad woods and cosy, if eerily homely, cottages. 

However, Carter’s feminist reworkings of fairytales in The Bloody Chamber are not notable only for the characteristic skill with which they are crafted, but also for the creativity of their reworkings. 

The collection features two stories that could be viewed as werewolf tales in The Werewolf and The Company of Wolves. Both play with the liminality at the root of the werewolf myth and produce, with their atmospherics and subversion of familiar settings and stories, beautifully memorable pieces which are, in and of themselves, worth the price of the whole collection.

As it is, the Bloody Chamber also features a number of other marvellously constructed fairytales, which, from The Tiger’s Bride to The Erl King, prowl the same themes of predatory masculinity, feminine strength and notions of wildness that make the werewolf genre so engaging.

There are readings of these stories by enthusiastic fans available on Youtube, though I would recommend purchasing the entire collection as an audiobook in the version featuring Richard Armitage and Emilia Fox. 

 6. Classics on the cheap – Various

I mentioned above that there are collections of classic werewolf literature available in audiobook format.

Some of these, which feature classic wolf, werewolf and were-animal stories, mostly from the nineteenth century, are available cheaply from Audible. 

They are also available if the listener is willing to search them out individually, for free on services like Librivox that provide volunteer readings of stories in the public domain.

In fairness, these readings can be hit and miss in terms of quality as, despite their enthusiasm and unquestionable commitment, some people simply do not possess the requisite acting skills or tone of voice necessary to make reading engaging.

 I would, therefore, advise any listeners to search out the free versions and try them, but be aware that sometimes with audiobooks, you get what you pay for. 

In terms of titles to search out: Kipling’s The Mark of the Beast in which a man is punished for disrespecting a shrine by being afflicted with the werewolf’s curse is a notable classic well worth a listen, as is Clemence Housman’s The Werewolf, which features a female werewolf and was praised for its authentically folkloric atmosphere by none other than H.P. Lovecraft, high praise indeed. 

So, there you have it. Some great titles in the werewolf genre for you to sink your teeth into, running the gamut from the gory to the grandiose, subtle to sadistic and classic to modern. 

Now you are spoilt for choice, take my advice and as autumn approaches, throw another log on the fire, grab yourself a blanket, listen and enjoy.  

And if you do happen to hear howling outside, it’s probably just a dog. Probably.            

17 Best Horror Audiobooks

From classic gothic novels to new and upcoming psychological fiction, a wide range of audiences are flocking to horror audiobooks in search of frights and thrills. Whether you’re new to the genre, brought here by a Netflix adaption, or just looking for something worth listening to again, this list of our 17 best horror audiobooks is sure to breathe life into the unsettling crevices of your imagination!

Authors pick

Psycho by Robert Bloch is by far my favorite title on this list. Being raised by a filmmaker, I was introduced to the twisted, cunning landscapes of Alfred Hitchcock’s short-story compilations at a young age. Among them was Psycho which I was pleased to stumble upon one late Sunday afternoon on a half-empty school bus as it made its way through the mountain passes. It’s understandable that Hitchcock would adapt such an eerie piece to film, going on to become one of the cult classics of auteur cinema. If you’ve ever watched Bates Motel or the original film adaption of Psycho directed by Hitchcock, then I highly suggest returning to the source of inspiration that gave birth to them!

Let’s take a look at our chosen best horror audiobooks.

1. The Shining – Stephen King

Set in an icy winter landscape, Stephen King sets the mood with this critically acclaimed tale of terror that’s sure to give you the chills!

When Jacks rocky road of alcoholism and unresolved anger leads to accidentally injuring his young son, Danny, he finds himself being dismissed from his job as a teacher. To his benefit, a historical hotel in the secluded countryside of Colorado has offered him the position of the off-season caretaker. In his hopes to reconcile with his family and recover from his addiction, he accepts the role. Jack and his family settle into the Overlook Hotel where we come to see that Danny is no ordinary child. He has the gift of sight beyond the mortal realm, allowing the malevolent forces that crept below the seemingly peaceful halls of the hotel to surface. As they begin to take hold of Jack’s mind, his motivation to pursue his literary works is replaced by an ominous cabin fever of ghastly proportions…

2. The Woman in Black – Susan Hill

Arthur Kipps is a junior solicitor for Bentley, a law firm in London. One day he is dispatched to the north-east coast of England to settle the will of a late widow. Eager to escape from the bland and depressing fog of the city to see the countryside again, he bids farewell to his Fiancée Stella. At the small town of Crythin Gifford, Arthur is to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow.

When asked about any information surrounding the late, reclusive widow, the people in Crythin Gifford become increasingly uneasy and reluctant to tell Arthur anything. Over the course of several nights in Eel Marsh House, he spends his time sorting out paperwork and searching for Mrs Drablow’s will. Completely cut off from the mainland and surrounded only by marshes, he endures an unsettling sequence of chilling confrontations by the Woman in Black.

The most frightening moments are often the suggestive and desolate atmospheres which are left to the imagination. Susan Hill journeys to a time when the rationality of the Victorian Era was tainted by tales of ghostly superstitions.

3. Psycho – Robert Bloch

Norman Bates and his wicked mother Norma have a family business in Fairvale, running a small motel. Since the state green-lighted their plans to rebuild the highway through the area, they haven’t had many guests. One day, an elusive woman by the name of Mary Crane appears at their motel, seemingly lost. Unbeknownst to the Bates, she is a wanted criminal, at large for the theft of thousands of dollars. She is invited to have dinner at their house that night, and quickly realizes that Normans mother has a violent, domineering hold over him. Unsettled by this, she distances herself from the two, unaware of the horrific fate that awaits her next.

Macabre and gruesome at every turn! A definite must-read to anyone with a grim fascination for the darker recesses of human nature.

4. Interview with a Vampire – Anne Rice

Gothic horror

Follow the tale of Louis who is turned into a vampire by a mysterious man known as Lestat. During his time in the city of New Orleans, Louis finds himself at the mercy of Lestat’s sinister influence and struggles to make peace with what he has become. It is not until his bloodthirst drives him to siphon the last drop of life out of a young girl on the brink of death that Louis begins to see a darker fate surface before his eyes. Lestat resurrects ‘Claudia” as their daughter, dooming her to an eternity trapped in a child’s body. 60 years go by and begin to burden her heavily. In a desperate revolt against his toxic way of life, Claudia plans to murder Lestat and escape to Europe with her sole companion. This enthralling exploration of immortality intricately traces the loneliness and tragedy of its stigma.

5. I Am Legend – Richard Matheson

Horror, Dystopian Sci-Fi

Richard Matheson breathes life into the zombie genre with this New York Times bestseller!

Years have passed since a nationwide pandemic swept all remaining life into vampiric zombies. Robert Neville emerged amidst a dusty, weather torn setting of Los Angeles. The last survivor of the human race. Burdened by the loss of his beloved wife and daughter, he spends his days searching the city for supplies, hunting any vampire in his path. By night, his mind is haunted by the memories of their tragic fate. He lies awake beneath the tireless shouts of the vampires that bang against the barricades of his home. Trying to make sense of how things came to this, Robert begins to research the nature of their condition. He sets on a journey to find a cure for humanity and transcend his lonely existence.

6. Metro 2033 – Dmitry Glukhovsky

Sci-Fi, Horror

It has been 20 years since a global nuclear holocaust has reduced the surface of the earth to an uninhabitable, radiated wasteland. The remaining survivors of humanity have taken refuge in various cities throughout the underground Metro of Moscow, either forming alliances or waging war over economic and political ideologies. One station called VDNKh has become a stronghold against mutant creatures which creep into the depths of the Metro’s tunnels from above.

When confronted by an increasing onslaught by mysterious entities known as “The Dark Ones”, the station appoints a young man named Artyom the responsibility of sending word for help to Polis, a legendary city at the heart of the Metro. 

This international bestselling post-apocalyptic novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky explores the consequences of an atomic war with a philosophical undertone about the resilience of human nature. Expect action, thrills and satirical depictions of a radical society.

7. It (1986) – Stephen King

Sci-Fi, Horror

In the summer of 1958 a mysterious, shape-shifting monster that takes on the form of a clown resurfaces in the quaint town of Derry, Maine. Pennywise begins to prey on seven children, one of whom has lost his brother to its grips one year ago. The children soon realize that none of the adults in the town are aware of Its existence, and are unable to help them. They are forced to band together and put an end to the nightmarish creature once and for all. Stephen Kings It is a powerful and terrifying tale of what lurks beneath the surface of a seemingly quaint town, exploring the themes of childhood trauma and the power of friendship.

8. The haunting of Hill House (1959) – Shirley Jackson

Psychological horror

Regarded as the greatest haunted-house story ever written by The Wall Street Journal, this slow burning piece has inspired the works of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman.

The young Luke Sanderson is hosting some unusual guests at Hill House mansion, the estate with he is set to inherit. Among them are, Dr John Montague, a man who is obsessed with paranormal phenomena, followed by Eleanor and Theodora. The two girls, who are supposedly susceptible to the supernatural, lead John to bring them there. His plan is to capture evidence of the forces that are rumoured to inhabit the halls of Hill House. What begins as a seemingly uneventful endeavour gradually descends into a terrifying nightmare as they discover what evil lies ahead.

9. Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft (2008)

Horror fiction, Short stories

With all his original classics such as the Cthulu Mythos anthologies, ‘The Rats in the Walls”, and “Under the Pyramids”, Lovecraft sweeps into metaphysical landscapes and ancient crevices. Immerse yourself in the tales of cosmic horror and bizarre ritualism that inspired thousands of readers across the globe.

10. The Tell-Tale Heart (1843) – Edgar Allen Poe

Horror, Gothic fiction

As recounted by a nameless narrator, one of Poe’s best known pieces earns its reputation in this short tale.

Told with great wit, an unnamed and faceless storyteller details the series of events which lead up to the brutal murder of an old man. The narration tries to convince its audience of the protagonist’s sanity when sanity has clearly betrayed them, attempting to rationalize disturbing behaviours at each turn. Themes of paranoia, guilt and insanity are explored in the creepiest way possible.

11. NOS4A2 (2013) – Joe Hill

Horror, Dark Fantasy

The story revolves around Vic McQueen as she is haunted by a sinister murderer with unnatural powers.

As a young girl, Vic discovers a hidden passage while riding her bicycle through a bridge known as the Shorter Way Bridge. She discovers that the bridge takes her to whatever she is looking for. This leads her to a library in Iowa where she befriends Maggie, the librarian who works there. Maggie reveals that she has the ability to use Scrabble blocks as divination tools. She warns Vic of a dangerous entity referred to as “the Wraith” who we later come to know as Charles Manx.

Joe Hill shines the spotlight on the trauma of child abduction in this chilling novel.


12. The Last Days of Jack Sparks (2016) – Jason Arnopp

Psychological thriller, Dark Fantasy

When a hedonistic journalist sets out to disprove the supernatural, he finds himself bearing witness to what he considers a fake exorcism. Jack Sparks, the egotistical cynic, has ridden a long train of debauchery up until this point. As the tables begin to turn, strange events follow him down into a pit of darkness. There, he will have to confront more than demons and ghosts.

Jason Arnopp leaves a humorous mark on the disdainful culture that exist within the realm of the book.  

13. You (2014) – Caroline Kepnes

Psychological Thriller

Upon meeting the main character, Joe, an uneasy feeling immediately jumps out at you. While he seems normal enough, something remains unspoken. Joe works in a bookstore, and one day he meets Guinevere. What starts off as a seemingly relatable love story quickly reveals its self as something far more sinister. Driven by obsession and an insatiable desire for control, the narrative dives its characters deep into manipulation games, leaving you both rooting for and hating them.

14. Dark Matter (2010) – Michelle Paver

Horror

A rather broke, rather desperate Jack is given the opportunity to fill the role of a wireless operator on an Arctic expedition. They are set to voyage to a remote and uninhabited place known as Gruhuken. All seems well until the team of expeditioners are faced with the loss of one of their crewmen. The days gradually shorten, forcing most of Jack’s companions to leave. He realizes that he has to make a decision on whether to carry on with the project or not, but he does not yet realize what awaits him in the night.

If you weren’t already, Paver will put you off from going to the Arctic any time soon!


15. American Elsewhere (2013) – Robert Jackson Bennet

Psychological Thriller

Not far from a government laboratory in New Mexico, an ex-cop travels to the small town of Wink. Our protagonist, Mona Bright, has come to claim the inheritance left behind by her late mother. Their non-existent relationship leaves more questions than answers, sending her on a quest to uncover the truth about her mother’s past. The picture perfect town of Wink loses its charm as the residents secretive behaviour hint at something darker. Mona is about to find more than she ever bargained for.

While Bennet’s book slips beyond the margins of realism in this unsettling tale, there is an ever present sense of nostalgia to accompany it. At heart, it’s a tale about loss and closure.


16. The Call (2016) – Peadar O’Guilin

Survival Horror, Dystopian

After being overcome with Polio, Nessa finds herself walking a fine line between life and death. She is set to receive “the call”, a trial by fire of gruesome nature. All the children of Ireland are cursed to this fate upon a certain age, being snatched into a distant realm for just three minutes and four seconds. While that may not seem like much, it lasts a whole day in Grey Land, and fewer than one in ten survive. Like all other children, she is shipped off to attend survival college in the hopes of preparing her for the horrors that await her on the other side.

O’Guilin draws from the unavoidable brutality of modern society and explores its role in shaping young minds. There’s no holding back in this bloody tale of determination.

17. The Twisted Ones – T. Kingfisher

Horror, Esoteric Fiction

Stuffed with useless rubbish and locked up for two years, the hoarder’s paradise belonging to Melissa’s late grandmother quietly waits for her in North Carolina. Her father has given her the task of clearing the place out, which she can’t say no to. With Bongo, her beloved canine companion at her side, Melissa sets out to obey her father’s wishes. While sorting through the various items in the house, she stumbles upon a journal belonging to her step-grandfather. That’s when things begin to take a strange turn. At first, the journal seems like the absurd ravings of a mad man. It’s only after a chilling stroll through the nearby woods that Melissa realizes her step-grandfather wasn’t the only person around with some spooky stories to share.

The Twisted Ones crossbreeds ancient folklore with the deliciously horrifying charm of what lays in the depths of the woods.

15 Best History Audiobooks

I always loved learning about history in school and there was always something nice about being taught it from someone passionate rather than reading it from a textbook. Whilst there have been a few history books I’ve picked up and become engrossed in, I often get distracted. However, audiobooks make the perfect middle ground, I’ve found that listening to a history audiobook can feel like being taught by an enthusiastic historian. Here are some of the best history audiobooks to get stuck into and expand your knowledge.

1. A History of the world – Andrew Marr

I remember watching the 2012 BBC Documentary series and being fascinated. This is an epic journey through 70,000 years of human history that shaped our present-day and our future. When I was recently searching for a book on the history of the World I rediscovered Andrew Marr’s comprehensive book. Andrew takes you through the more well-known periods and figures such as Rome and Greece, Genghis Khan and Mao but also digs into many events and people that I had no idea about. The book can be dipped in and out of but Marr’s skill makes it read like a novel carefully and logically explaining how events are directly or indirectly linked and impacted our very futures. This book will really inspire you to become a history buff and no doubt explore some of your favourite periods in more detail.

Listen to A History of the World

2. Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari

It’s bizarre to think that at one time there were half a dozen human species on earth. How different life would be if more than us Homo sapiens survived. Yuval Noah Harari’s incredible book follows the story of humankind. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? It looks at how we got to where we are and where we might be heading. This is a thought-provoking book that I learnt a lot from and would say it is a must not just for history fans but for everyone. It is the kind of book that is full of so many interesting bits of history and the complexity of humans that you will want to share your new knowledge with anyone who will listen.

Listen to the audiobook of Sapiens

3. SPQR – Mary Beard

SPQR is a multi-award-winning book on Ancient Rome from Cambridge University professor Mary Beard. Professor Beard is one of Britains best-known scholars of antiquity with an impressive resume and this book is nothing short of brilliant. SPQR stands for Senātus Populusque Rōmānus (The Senate and People of Rome) and amazingly ot is still stamped on every manhole cover and lampost in Rome. Pretty cool right? Mary’s book examines the Roman empire as she uncovered centuries of untold stories and previously unknown aspects of one of the most discussed and analysed periods in time. I remember studying the Roman empire aged 7 and think it is a beloved and fascinating civilisation that holds many insights. This book is the best I’ve listened to on Ancient Rome and I learnt an overwhelming amount.

Listen to the audiobook of SPQR

4. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World – Jack Weatherford

The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in twenty-five years than the Romans did in four hundred. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization. Vastly more progressive than his European or Asian counterparts, Genghis Khan abolished torture, granted universal religious freedom, and smashed feudal systems of aristocratic privilege. 

From the story of his rise through the tribal culture to the explosion of civilization that the Mongol Empire unleashed, this brilliant work of revisionist history is nothing less than the epic story of how the modern world was made.

Get the Audiobook

5. A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson’s humorous book takes on the mammoth task of summarising everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization. It is an overview of modern science covering cosmology, geology, biology weaved into a brilliant narrative. Bill Bryson is excellent at explaining each discovery and theory going into ideas that were once thought true, how these came about and later disproved or built on. Sometimes some of the chunks of numbers and stats can be a little overwhelming without seeing them written down which is one benefit of the book but on the other hand, it is really nice having such a story read and explained to you. I would recommend starting with this book before moving on to the others on this list so you have a base knowledge of our planet and how it came about.

6. The invention of murder – Judith Flanders

Murder in nineteenth-century Britain was ubiquitous – not necessarily in quantity but in quality. This was the era of penny-bloods, early crime fiction and melodramas for the masses. This was a time when murder and entertainment were firmly entwined. The book features the likes of Sweeney Todd, Jack the Ripper, Burke and Hare (Scottish serial killers), The Mannings, and Thurtell (The Elstree Murder). It is an exciting listen that has been meticulously researched by the author and as such is comprehensive and very interesting.

Listen to the invention of murder

7. The Third Reich Trilogy – Richard J. Evans

Richard J. Evans The Third Reich Trilogy is hailed as one of the best book series on the Third Reich and Richard is considered one of the most prominent historians of Nazi Germany. It covers the rise and collapse of Nazi Germany in tremendous detail. The first volume The coming of the Third Reich follows the unification of Germany in 1871 and takes readers up until 1933 when Hitler seized control of Germany. The second book covers 1933 up until the dawn of World War II with the final volume detailing the war and its end. The work is regarded as a masterpiece and a must for those interesting in learning about this dark period.

Book 1 The Coming of the Third Reich

Book 2 The Third Reich in Power

Book 3The Third Reich at War

8. Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies – Jared Diamond

Winner of the Pulitzer prize, Jared Diamond presents the geographical and ecological factors that have shaped the modern world. From the viewpoint of an evolutionary biologist, he highlights the broadest movements both literal and conceptual on every continent since the Ice Age, and examines societal advances such as writing, religion, government, and technology. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion –as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war –and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history.

Listen to Guns, Germs, and Steel

9. Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 – Tony Judt

The ambitious task of documenting and retelling 60 years of change across 34 nations has been done justice by highly respected and qualified Tony Judt. This is the most detailed and accurate book of Europe since 1945 covering all significant events in balanced weighting and with a thrilling narrative. Postwar: A history of Europe since 1945 is an outstanding book.

Listen to Postwar

10. Black and British – David Olsoga

David Olusoga’s Black and British is a rich and revealing exploration of the extraordinarily long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. Drawing on new genetic and genealogical research, original records, expert testimony and contemporary interviews, Black and British reaches back to Roman Britain, the medieval imagination and Shakespeare’s Othello. Unflinching, confronting taboos and revealing hitherto unknown scandals, Olusoga describes how black and white Britons have been intimately entwined for centuries.

Get Black and British on Audible

11. The Lessons of History – Will Durant

The epic 11 volume series by husband and wife Will & Ariel Durant titled The Story of Civilization was written over 4 decades and is almost 10,000 pages long. That is a lot of reading although I am sure for true History Buffs it is a challenge most would like to complete. If you are looking for a distilled version then following the 10th volume the couple published The Lessons of History, a much more manageable read. The book is full of insights into the nature of human experience, the evolution of civilization, and the culture of man. After writing and researching for so many years they reflect on 5000 years of world history from 12 perspectives. The book examines the great lives, ideas and events for man’s long journey through war, conquest and creation and for themes and answers that can give us guidance on our own era.

12. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families – Philip Gourevitch

In the spring of 1994, Rwanda was decimated. Hundreds of thousands of Rwandans participated in the killing, with machetes and clubs, murdering about a million people, including 70% of the entire Tutsi population, in six weeks. An amazingly well-written account of a harrowing part of history. “Gourevitch constructs a powerful indictment against international inaction . . . In his meticulous journalistic reconstruction, he drives home the point that this is a history like any other” – Observer.

13. Girt & True Girt – David Hunt

A light-hearted and very humorous look at the history of Australia. David Hunt presents the complex and unique Islands foundings in the most amusing and entertaining way. The cock-ups and curiosities, the forgotten eccentrics and Eureka moments that have made Australia. Australian history is not one that comes up very often, and this book could be considered somewhat basic for historians but for those looking to gain insight and a grounding to a remarkable place you can not go wrong with Girt. The follow up was released in 2016 and takes us to the wild south, the Australian frontier. Both are perfect in audiobook form and would be great for a road trip down the gold coast.

14. Caesar: Life of a Colossus – Adrian Goldsworthy

Tracing the extraordinary trajectory of the great Roman emperor’s life, Goldsworthy covers not only the great Roman emperor’s accomplishments as charismatic orator, conquering general, and powerful dictator but also lesser-known chapters during which he was high priest of an exotic cult, captive of pirates, seducer not only of Cleopatra but also of the wives of his two main political rivals, and rebel condemned by his own country. Ultimately, Goldsworthy realizes the full complexity of Caesar’s character and shows why his political and military leadership continues to resonate some two thousand years later.

15. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America – Erik Larson

Big title but a fascinating read. The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and its amazing ‘White City’ was one of the wonders of the world. This is the incredible story of its realization, and of the two men whose fates it linked: one was an architect, the other a serial killer. One man is the architect, Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures. The other Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who built the “World’s Fair Hotel” that was his torture palace where he lured women who were attending the fair. Told at a pivotal point in American history at the dawn of a new era supported by known characters like Buffalo Bill, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, and Archduke Francis Ferdinand.

31 of the best mystery and thriller audiobooks

Mystery and thrillers are some of the best books to listen to. They grab you and hook you in, making hours fly past, perfect for long drives and daily commutes. A surprising number of these titles have been made into films and TV shows, some of which are critically acclaimed and definitely worth a watch. We recommend starting with the original so here are some of the best mystery audiobooks around.

1. The Last Widow – Karin Slaughter

An abduction without a trace, biological warfare and far-right terror. The latest thriller by Karin Slaughter brings back Will Trent and Sara Linton into the middle of a deadly conspiracy.

2. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

A Sunday Times Bestseller, Winner of the Costa First Novel, and a Book of the Year by The Guardian. The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle merges the glamour and intrigue of classic murder mysteries with an innovative, Chinese box narrative.

3. Codename Villanelle – Killing Eve – Luke Jennings

The BBC hit series was phenomenal, Jodie Comer as Villanelle might be one of my favourite characters ever. I was completely entranced by her. Unsurprisingly the series was based from a book series of which the first is called Codename Villanelle. Now, not often but sometimes the screen adaptation is better than the book and I think it would be hard to beat what the BBC produced. The screenplay is excellently written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag creator, potential 007 franchise saver and the robot from Solo) and the cast is great. If you enjoyed it and want more then listen to the audiobooks.

4. I Found You – Lisa Jewell

East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement, she invites him in to her home.

Surrey: 21-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night, she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed….

This is a great story which will keep you guessing with twists and turns every chapter.

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

An international bestseller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a sensation in Sweden and across Europe as well as in the USA. The 2011 movie didn’t bomb but did seem to end the hype over the book series. It took 7 years before the next movie instalment was released which seemed to go fairly unnoticed. Never the less the books are fantastic, dark, twisted and exciting. The first book in the series follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the pierced and tattooed punk hacker Lisbeth Salander as they uncover a 40-year-old murder mystery family saga.

6. The Outsider – Stephen King

A young boy has been brutally murdered, forensic evidence and multiple witnesses point to Terry Maitland. However, Terry is a happily married family man, youth sports coach and one of the most popular and respected people in town. Something doesn’t add up, least of all his iron-clad alibi.

7. Mystic River – Dennis Lehane

Yet another title that has been adapted for the screen. Mystic River is the unsettling story of three young boys innocently playing in the street when a car pulls up and takes one of the boys away. The incident ends their friendship and changes their lives forever. 25 years later and Jimmy’s (one of the boys) daughter is found murdered, the other boy Sean is now a detective and Dave the boy who was taken comes home the night of the murder to his wife and family covered in blood. If Dave didn’t do it can Sean find out who did?

8. All that’s dead – Stuart MacBride

Inspector Logan McRae is looking forward to a nice simple case – something to ease him back into work after a year off on the sick. But the powers-that-be have other ideas…

The high-profile anti-independence campaigner, Professor Wilson, has gone missing, leaving nothing but bloodstains behind. There’s a war brewing between the factions for and against Scottish Nationalism. Infighting in the police ranks. And it’s all playing out in the merciless glare of the media. Logan’s superiors want results, and they want them now.

Someone out there is trying to make a point, and they’re making it in blood. If Logan can’t stop them, it won’t just be his career that dies.

9. Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane

The second Dennis Lehane novel in the list and yet another that made it to the big screen. Tom Stechschulte delivered an outstanding performance of the psychological thriller Shutter Island. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, arrive on Shutter Island, the home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Their assignment is to to find an escaped murderer named Rachel Solando. Cryptic codes, mystery and ever-growing questions leave them desperately trying to figure out what is really happening on Ward C. As the twists keep coming, nothing as it seems.

10. The Lady in the Lake – Raymond Chandler

Private Investigator Philip Marlowe is hired to find a missing woman. Derace Kingsley’s wife ran away to Mexico to get a divorce and marry a hunk named Chris Lavery. Or so the note she left her husband says. Trouble is when Philip Marlowe asks Lavery about it he denies everything. But when Marlowe next encounters Lavery, he’s denying nothing – on account of the two bullet holes in his heart. Now Marlowe’s on the trail of a killer, who leads him out of smoggy Los Angeles all the way to a murky mountain lake . . .

11. The Woman in the Window – AJ Finn

For 10 months Anna has been trapped inside her home suffering from agoraphobia. She can’t go outside. Her life outside her home is only viewed through her camera, where she watches her neighbours’ daily routines until one day she witnesses an attack. But the police don’t believe her, with all her anxiety medication and frequent bottles of wine Anna questions if it happened at all or if there is another reason they don’t believe her. If you enjoyed The Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10 and Gone Girl, this is for you.

12. Dark Sacred Night – Michael Connelly

Detective Renee Ballard partners with legendary LAPD Harry Bosch on an unsolved case close to Bosch’s heart. The cold case is the death of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton who was brutally murdered and her body left in a dumpster years ago. Ballard works with Bosch whilst also dealing with her own cases in this expertly told crime novel from a master of the genre Michael Connelly.

13. The Witch Elm – Tana French

Toby has always led a charmed life – until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family’s ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins. Soon after his arrival, a skull is uncovered inside the old wych elm in the garden. As detectives investigate, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.

14. A Time to Kill – John Grisham

John Grisham’s first novel A Time to Kill initially only had 5000 copies printed but it started his transition from Southaven Lawyer to full-time writer and into the master of legal thrillers. Set in small-town Clanton, Mississippi a father kills the two racists who raped his young daughter. The town sees it as justice done but extremists invade Clanton outraged that a black man has killed two white men. A media circus begins, tensions mount and for the young defence lawyer, it is a case that could break him or hill him.

15. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

Ten people dead on an island and not a living soul on it. It doesn’t make sense. We don’t know who did it, or why, or how. Regarded as Agatha Christie’s masterpiece, this is the classic murder mystery in all its glory. For fans of the book, there is an excellent 2015 tv adaptation with Charles Dance, Miranda Richardson, Aidan Turner, and Sam Neill.

16. Since We Fell – Dennis Lehane

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.

17. The Lying Game – Ruth Ware

The author of “In a Dark, Dark Wood” and “The Woman in Cabin 10”, The Lying Game is twisting thriller from Ruth Ware. Isa and her three best friends used to play the Lying Game, competing to convince people of outrageous stories. Now, after seventeen years of hiding the truth, something terrible has been found on the beach. The friends’ darkest secret is about to come to light…

18. The Secret Place – Tana French

Detective Stephen Moran hasn’t seen Holly Mackey since she was a nine-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she’s sixteen and she’s shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph of Christopher Harper, a boy who was found murdered on school grounds last year. On the photo is a caption that reads “I Know Who Killed Him”.

19. The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case. A brilliant mystery set in the atmosphere of London, The Cuckoo’s Calling is the number one bestseller from J.K.Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

20. Before I Go to Sleep – S. J. Watson

Ever since a vicious attack, Christine Lucas has suffered from anterograde amnesia and is unable to form new memories. Every morning, she becomes reacquainted with her husband, Ben, who must explain who he is and that she had a terrible accident. Christine starts to uncover terrifying truths about her past, she begins to question everything and everyone around her. There is also a 2014 movie with Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong.

21. Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

A murder. A tragic accident. Or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the little lies that can turn lethal.

22. Still Mine – Amy Stuart

The excellent first novel by Amy Stuart, which was followed up by Still Water. Still Mine is a dark, atmospheric story that will keep you guessing. Clare is on the run from her ex-husband, she arrives in an old mining town looking for a missing girl, Shayna Fowles. As Clare uncovers the mysteries around Shayna’s disappearance, she must confront her own demons, moving us deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of lies and making us question what it is she’s really running from.

23. The Dinner – Herman Koch

The Dinner is a really interesting concept for a book. Set in a fancy upmarket restaurant in Amsterdam, the story unfolds over dinner between two couples, starting with the predictable topics of work, holidays, and the mundanes of life, each couple forces the politeness knowing they must eventually discuss the elephant in the room. Each couple has a 15-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act and that the police are looking for them. As the conversation finally turns to the children, we see just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

24. Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides

Successful painter and seemingly happy Alicia Berenson shoots husband Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word. Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought. A totally original psychological mystery The Silent Patient is a gripping must-read debut from Alex Michaelides.

25. Past Presence – Nicole Bross

After a near-death experience in her teens, Audrey can see people’s past lives whenever her skin touches theirs, and afraid of being labelled delusional, she’s never stayed in one place too long or made any deep connections. Her estranged aunt dies and leaves her the historic Soberly Inn on the Oregon coast, reluctant at first she begins to feel that maybe she’s finally found a place of her own. When locals start dying Audrey vows to use her gift to find the murderer.

26. The Night Olivia Fell – Christina McDonald

Gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. Single mother Abi is on a mission to find out the truth of what happened to her daughter after she was found pregnant and fighting for her life on a riverbank. This story flicks between past and present, with flashbacks of Olivia’s own to uncover family secrets. But was this all an accident?

27. Before She Knew Him – Peter Swanson

The first Peter Swanson I read was “A kind worth killing” and I’ve been a fan of his twists and suspense ever since. “Before she knew him” is the story of Hen and Lloyd who move into their new house in West Dartford. Relieved to meet the only other seemingly childless couple in their neighbourhood, they befriend Matthew and Mira Dolamore. During a dinner, Hen thinks she sees something suspicious in Matthew’s study and starts to form a bond with him to unravel the dark secret. But with Hens past, who is the one really in danger?

28. Call Me Evie – J. P. Pomare

In this propulsive, twist-filled, and haunting psychological suspense debut perfect for fans of Sharp Objects and Room, a seventeen-year-old girl struggles to remember the role she played on the night her life changed forever.

29. Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

You have probably read “Gone Girl”, the book that shot Gillian Flynn to fame. Sharp Objects is just as gripping. Two Girls Aged Nine And Ten Are Abducted And Killed In Wind Gap Missouri. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker returns to her hometown to cover the story. Back in her family’s Victorian mansion, a victim of her own demons, she must unravel her past to find the answers of the murdered girls.

30. Bluebird, Bluebird – Attica Locke

31. Two Girls Down – Luisa Luna

When two sisters disappear from a parking lot while their mother is in Kmart, the devastated family hires bounty hunter Alice Vega to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched too thin by budget cuts and the growing meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help, and she will not be denied.  

With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out and they are gone forever.

Top Charles Dickens Audiobooks

Arguably the greatest Victorian author and creator of some of our best-known characters. Charles Dickens work was both popular during his lifetime and in the present day, where it continues to be widely read, studied and reproduced. His vivid characters and depiction of Victorian England have given us some of our most loved stories. Audible has a great collection of Charles Dickens Audiobooks read by well-known Brits such as Matt Lucas, Jeremy Paxman, Rory Kinnear, and Miriam Margolyes. Choose your favourite from the list below.

1. Great Expectations

“There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth

Regarded as Dickens best novel, Great Expectations is a tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward. Told through Pip, an orphan working in a forge but dreaming of becoming a gentleman, Pip must make a decision that will shape the course of his life.

2. A Tale of Two Cities

“You have been the last dream of my soul.” 

After being wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years, French doctor Manette is released from the Bastille jail and sets out on a journey to London in the hope of finding the daughter he never met. Lucie, his daughter is entangled in the love of two very different men, and all are drawn back to Paris, to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. Unlike most of his work, all humour is removed, this is a serious darker story.

3. A Christmas Carol

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” 

This has to be one of the most reproduced and adapted stories. Billy Murry, Mikey Mouse, and The Muppets have all had versions of this Dickens classic. Christmas is just another day for Ebenezer Scrooge. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late. You probably watch this in one form at least once a year but the Christmas Carol Audiobook is fantastic and features Sir Derek Jacobi, Roger Allam, Jenna Coleman and Miriam Margolyes.

4. Bleak House

“And I am bored to death with it. Bored to death with this place, bored to death with my life, bored to death with myself.” 

The plot of Bleak House is centred around a long-running legal battle between Jarndyce and Jarndyce whose legal fees gradually eat away at their inheritance. It is alternately narrated by the orphan Esther Summerson and an omniscient third person and is often regardest as one of Dickens best works. This 900+ page book was adapted into the 2005 award-winning BBC drama of the same name.

5. Oliver Twist

“As he spoke, he pointed hastily to the picture above Oliver’s head; and then to the boy’s face.  There was its living copy.  The eyes, the head, the mouth; every feature was the same.  The expression was, for an instant, so precisely alike, that the minutest line seemed copied with startling accuracy” 

There can’t be many people who haven’t seen the 1968 musical classic Oliver! or one of the more recent but lesser successful adaptations. Oliver Twist is the shocking tale of the underbelly of Victorian Britain and its treatment of orphans. The story follows Oliver who is sold into an apprenticeship with an undertaker. Prior to this, he spent years of miserable servitude and mistreatment at an English workhouse. Hoping to find a better life, he decides to escape his new, equally dreary surroundings and head to London. This audiobook is a brilliant rendition and expertly narrated by Jonathan Pryce.

6. David Copperfield

“I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.”

David Copperfield is the story of a young man’s adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. He encounters villains, saviours, eccentrics, and grotesques – including the wicked Mr. Murdstone, stouthearted Peggotty, formidable Betsey Trotwood, impecunious Micawber, and the odious Uriah Heep. Dickens’ great novel (based, in part, on his own boyhood and which he described as a “favourite child”) is a work filled with life, both comic and tragic. The audiobook is performed by Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, Spooks, Robin Hood).

7. Our Mutual Friend

“And this is the eternal law. For, Evil often stops short at itself and dies with the doer of it; but Good, never.

A mysterious boatman on the Thames, a drowned heir, a dustman and his wife, and a host of other Dickens characters populate this novel of relationships between the classes, money, greed, and love.
Read by Meera Syal.

Other great Dickens audiobooks

8. Hard Times

9. Nicholas Nickleby

10. The Old Curiosity Shop

11. Dombey and Son

12. Martin Chuzzlewit

13. The Mystery of Edwin Drood

14. Little Dorrit

15. The Pickwick Papers

The 15 Best Books on Habits

When it comes to self-actualisation and personal development, we often find ourselves goal-oriented in our approach. Whether that goal is to run a marathon or a successful business, chances are we’re unlikely to reach it by focussing on the goal itself. By looking into the most successful strategies and systems behind daily habits, we can discover the reasons driving our actions and optimise them to improve our results. The 15 books covered in this article all provide their own unique systems and fundamental tools to help you solidify your daily habits.

Almost all of these titles are also available as audiobooks and several are available on Blinkist or as summaries if you want the concise version.

1. Atomic Habits – James Clear

A book which provides a compelling argument for the implementation of daily habits, ‘Atomic Habits’ addresses strategies of success by going to the root of the issue – proving that small actions can lead to big results. One of the best recent books on the topic of habits, the author proposes that in order to get the best results, we should switch our focus from goals to systems. To use running as an example, if you were to switch your focus from the end goal – a marathon – to the process, which would be your training, you would start to turn up to train every day regardless of whether or not you have already competed in the marathon. Goals drain our current capacity for contentment and set you up for unhealthy mindsets about how one day you will be happy once you have achieved them.

Starting small is crucial. The author compares daily habits to atoms; so small that on their own they don’t surmount to much, but accumulated they can add up to something great. Imagine for a moment Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling. He didn’t complete the work in a day, he accomplished it one small brushstroke at a time. The idea of overnight success viewed in this light seems impossible. Every time we have seen an example of overnight success, countless hours have been spent to get to that point. The most appealing part of this system of cultivating small habits is that what constitutes one of these habits can be something as seemingly insignificant as sitting down to write for 2 minutes each day. The author claims that by starting out with something so small – atomic, you could say – there is little room for failure and you have virtually no excuse not to execute on a daily basis. Before long you will have a week-long streak and can use that momentum to build on the already existing habit.

Why Read?
If you’ve given up on a goal before or had trouble sticking to a habit, this book will show you how to avoid falling into these traps with an incredibly simple approach to forming habits.

2. Discipline Equals Freedom – Jocko Willink

Taking on atone befitting of his character – a former Navy SEAL commander – the author takes no prisoners in his approach, and every page of the book is a stirring call to action. Daily practices in this book are defined under the umbrella of ‘discipline’. The author implores the reader to acquire the trait of discipline by just making one small decision at a time. Whether it’s saying no to fast food or deciding to go to the gym when it’s raining out, Willink’s system requires that you ‘declare martial law on your mind’. Often using the idea of going to war with your mind, Willink steps into his former Navy SEAL commander role to dish out short, but effective messages of motivation and advice until the notion of being discipline becomes appealing to the reader.

By appealing to our sense of pride, the author lists all of the excuses we give on a daily basis and tells us not to give them a vote. This no-frills approach to the formation of habits is a hard-hitting wake up call to shake us out of the auto-pilot tendencies we have when it comes to our daily habits. Emphasising the necessity to start the journey toward success right here and now, the author understands the power of small steps in the right direction. However, in order to keep you grounded, Willink constantly reiterates the fact that ‘there is no easy way’, and that all that’s necessary is that you take action right now.

Why Read?
A no-nonsense approach to building the necessary discipline in your life to start and maintain new habits.

3. Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins

While not a self-development book per se, this autobiography from the incredibly inspirational ex navy seal David Goggins tells the compelling story of how he overcame great adversity in his childhoodand used his suffering to become one of the hardest-working people around.Publishing daily videos on his Instagram account to supplement the hardline teachings of the book, the author is extremely driven by his suffering as he puts it. Goggins relates – through his rise up the ranks of the ultramarathon world and journey to become a Navy SEAL – how he would draw upon his suffering to adhere to unbreakable daily routines.

Playing on the human psyche and our hard-wired desire for comfort and convenience, the author questions our motives and claims that we should suffer on a daily basis to snap out of our comfort zone and reach our potential. Rather than suggesting a framework or strategy to achieving success, the author simply states the overwhelming necessity to strive to better ourselves with our daily actions. Once quoted as saying ‘nobody cares what you did yesterday. What have you done today to better yourself?’, Goggins hammers home the idea that we should embrace our suffering on a daily basis and confront our demons to tap into our potential for growth.

Why Read?
A compelling read from start to finish, this captivating autobiography will kickstart your habits with immediate effect.

4. Deep Work – Cal Newport

It becomes increasingly more difficult in today’s society to focus on one thing and see it through to completion. Given the endless number of distractions from mobile phone notifications to enticing social media feeds, how can we expect to get real work done and when our workflow is constantly interrupted? This is a question that Cal Newport tackles in his book Deep Work, in which he advocates for a minute by minute plan for each day, in order to ensure that there is minimal time wasted and every second is used productively. The incredible results you can achieve through daily habits combined with Newport’s system of laser beam focus on one task at a time will set you up for success in the long run.

The author suggests 4 important rules to abide by to achieve the level of focus that will allow you to put all of your energy into every task you take on. From working deeply – the kind of work you expect a writer to produce when all alone in an isolated cabin – to embracing boredom and quitting social media, these rules will guide your daily progress and set you up for sustainable, long-term success. Employing the system for working in this book, learning a new skill becomes possible in a short amount of time meaning you can fast track your success.

Why Read? In a world of non-stop distractions, this book provides the keys for real progress and results. Get on Blinkist

5. Slight Edge – Jeff Olson

A book based solely on the formation of good habits, Slight Edge aims to put you on the right track through incremental improvements. The author starts the book with a story about how he quickly attained unfathomable success, only to then lose it all just as quickly. The author attributes his fall from wealth to focussing too much on the goal of success rather than the steps it took him to get there. Once achieving his goal, Olson lowered his standards with regards to his daily habits and actions and as a result began to flounder.

To combat the ever-present desire in society for a quick way to attain success or some kind of shortcut which inevitably ends badly, Olson proposes an alternative which is less attractive but much more likely to work. The author cites the secret ingredient as your philosophy on life. He asserts that we should believe in the power of everyday actions. By giving importance to a seemingly small habit like doing ten pushups a day, we can condition ourselves to be content when we have done it. On top of this we also take a step – albeit small – in the right direction rather than trying to do everything at once like going to the gym five times a week, only to quit shortly after because we over-exerted ourselves.

Why Read? A great overview of why habits are what we should be focussing on, and how they can benefit us exponentially in the long-term.

6. Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Although the author introduces the book by saying it doesn’t necessarily fall under the branch of self-development, he presents a very strong motivation for action through the idea of the flow state. One way to ensure you do something on a daily basis is to make it both challenging and rewarding, when it is, you have probably entered the flow state. The author defines the Flow state as attainable only when our level of skill and the difficulty of the challenge match up. If we take this definition and apply it to our daily actions, it can prove to be a powerful way to set ourselves up for success. Adding the element of difficulty to scale to our skill level provides an intellectually stimulating challenge that allows us to enter the state of flow, where time ceases to exist and we produce our best work.

‘Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue.. as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself’. The author suggests that by pursuing this state of flow we can achieve success and happiness on the way. Rather than making the common mistake of putting these concepts on pedestals and making them the end goal, they should come about as byproducts of the search for the flow state.

Why Read? An interesting take on the idea of flow state, this book argues that we should always be striving to achieve flow instead of happiness or success. Get on Blinkist

7. Tools of Titans – Tim Ferriss

A book written by an expert in the field of self-development (Tim Ferriss), Tools of Titans – as the title suggests – provides you with the necessary tools to get your life on track and propel you forward. We can often learn a great deal by emulating successful people’s habits and routines, and that’s exactly what this book is about. By seeing what someone highly successful in the field that you are looking to get into does on a daily basis, you can build a good picture in your mind of what your days should look like if you are to make solid progress. The most interesting part of the book in relation to the formation of habits is the section where he asks all the interviewees about their morning routines. From stretching out, to cold water exposure, to completing a few reps of an exercise first thing in the morning, there are plenty of excellent ideas to make your mornings much more productive.

Why Read? An incredibly informative reference book which contains sage advice from the best of the best.

8. Eat That Frog! – Brian Tracy

This curiously named book relies on a simple premise to increase daily productivity: tackling the most intimidating task on your to-do list first. If you’re one of many people who reads a self-development book and feels overwhelmed by not knowing where to start or what to do first, the system in this book will help. One of the biggest obstacles to getting things done and making progress on a daily basis is feeling like you don’t know where to start and have so much information that you don’t know what to act on. The author argues that your success depends on your willingness to jump straight in at the deep end and take on that one challenging item on your list that is holding you back from moving forward.

Maybe you’re trying to start your own business and spend a majority of your time brainstorming and contemplating different ideas before you’ve even started it. Prioritise the one important task, like submitting a business plan or conducting the first transaction, and you will feel a huge weight lifted and can start to build real momentum.

Why Read? This book introduces a simple, yet highly effective idea to prioritise your work. Get on Blinkist

9. The ONE Thing – Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan

Opting for the path of simplicity and subscribing to the philosophy of less is more, the ONE thing suggests that we focus our efforts in one area to maximise efficiency. This book is about narrowing your focus and finding your niche so as not to dilute your output. One of the easiest ways to decide what you should be doing to move in the right direction is to ask yourself: what ONE thing could I do that would drive me forward? By simplifying the strategy – unlike most self-development books which can fill your head with ideas – this book invites you to find out and dive into the single, most important passion or skill that, over time, will lead you down the path of success. If you spread yourself too thin, you will end up as a jack of all trades, but master of none. In order to stand out in a highly competitive market, you’ll benefit from singularly focusing on what it is that can set you apart from the rest.

Why Read? This book is all about finding your niche and what can set you apart from the competition then going all-in on it. Get on Blinkist

10. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

A classic of its kind, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people was one of the first books in the self-development genre to address the formation of daily habits as a crucial ingredient to attain success. Proposing an alternative to the strategies of positive thinking, Covey claims that the building of habits is one of the ‘primary traits’ necessary for success. Using an analogy where he compares habits to the foundations of a building, Covey advises us to go back to our roots and build from the bottom up to set ourselves up for sustainable results.

Covey sees habits as attitudes and mindsets which lead to positive results. Rather than specific things like exercise and reading, the author provides us with the mental tools to establish strong, daily routines. After all, ‘we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit’. The author invites us to reframe how we see success; instead of viewing it as something that comes after a long series of actions, it should be considered as the actions in themselves, however insignificant they may at first seem.

Why Read? A self-development classic, this book provides fascinating insights on the mindsets necessary to become highly successful. Get on Blinkist

11. The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin

A creative idea, based on a monthly system, the Happiness Project taps into our desire to have structure with our habits. Rather than focussing on what you could potentially achieve in a few years, the author suggests that you break your goals down into the 12 months of the year. Say you want to get stronger, January can become the month where you decide to focus on strength. So for every day of that month, when you are at a loss for what to do to move in the right direction, you can remember the theme of the month and act upon it. This unconventional system to create the environment for good habits is very effective, and introduces different habits to you organically after 28 days which means you have enough time to make them automatic.

Why Read? A very accessible, easy to read book which offers a simple solution to your struggles with habits and goals. Get on Blinkist.

12. Happiness by Design – Paul Dolan

Happiness by design is a book which presents a logical approach to reaching the desired yet evasive state of happiness or contentment. In a nutshell, the concept of happiness is a balance of purpose and pleasure according to the author. The author argues that the meaning of moments is more important than the meaning of life as a whole. As a result, we should aim to fill our days with pleasurable and purposeful moments to ensure that we satisfy our needs. He categorises people as either more of a ‘purpose engine’ or a ‘pleasure machine’, then invites the reader to explore the balance in their own lives and see if they are tipping the scale too far in one direction, and if so, then to re-calibrate. Since the central theme of this book hinges upon the balance of the two concepts, we should adjust accordingly and add either purpose or pleasure inspired activities into our daily routines.

Why Read? Offering an interesting perspective on how to attain happiness, this book can help you work towards a healthier outlook. Get on Blinkist.

13. The Flinch – Julien Smith

A self-proclaimed ‘manifesto about starting’, the Flinch is a book about facing up to discomfort and doing what needs to be done on a regular basis. Whether it’s pitching a business idea or public speaking, there is always something that strikes fear into our hearts and paralyses us, impeding our progress. If we are to make any progress with our goals and want to make the step up to the next level, chances are at some point we are going to be faced with something that makes us flinch. The author suggests that by facing up to these fears directly – starting as simple as making the decision to have a cold shower every day – we can react positivity to challenge and let it propel us forward rather than set us back.

Why Read? A book for everyone who knows deep down that their fear of confronting something is holding them back in life.

14. The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

The wild card of the list, this esoteric book from spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle provides a different take on self-actualisation. Tolle’s writing is like his speech – slow, and deliberate – making this an easy read if you allow yourself to be open to the subject. More of a fascinating insight into the world of meditation and being present than a call to action, this book can give you a now-focussed perspective which will aid you when it comes to concentrating on daily efforts over long-term goals.

Obviously a strong advocate of meditation as a daily practice, Tolle offers a spiritual take on its importance and provides us food for thought about this often over-looked habit. As mentioned by many of the high-performing athletes and great minds in Ferriss’ Tools of Titans: meditation is a powerful way to start the day and focus the mind before it gets a chance to be distracted. Like the glue behind many of the other daily habits you strive to acquire, meditation in the words of Tolle is a way to end ‘the dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking’ and so give you more time to focus on what’s truly important to you.

Why Read? A fantastic introduction to the practice of meditation, this book can help you realise why you should make the practice a habit. Get on Blinkist.

15. The Little Book of Ikigai – Ken Mogi

Not a book a lot of people would expect to see on a list like this, the little book of Ikigai is a great introduction into a Japanese life philosophy that values hard work and purposeful, daily action. Why is this philosophy relevant in creating daily habits? Well, because Ikigai can be explained as the reason to get up in the morning. The life philosophy can help us pinpoint what it is that will get us out of bed in the morning and get after our habits with a strong sense of purpose. It is about finding whatever it is that gives you joy, then pursuing it relentlessly despite what society or your social circle might think, in order to live comfortably in the knowledge that you are acting on your passion and doing what you love every day.

Why Read? This book provides a great introduction to the Japanese life philosophy of Ikigai, and explains how you can use it to great effect in your own life.

17 Best Zombie Audiobooks

Are you prepared for a zombie apocalypse? The threat is real enough that the Pentagon actually has a laid out a plan for one so, it is probably best you start thinking about yours! Binge watch The Walking Dead, download Zombie, Run and listen to these 17 best zombie audiobooks to prepare yourself.

1. Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Set in a post-apocalyptic New York, the world is divided by the living and the undead. With a nascent government successfully established in Buffalo, the attention turns to reclaiming New York City, starting with Manhattan, Zone One. Areas of Manhattan are still infected and so civilian volunteers are tasked with removing the final zombies to allow civilisation to begin. Mark Spitz is one of these volunteers and over 3 present days and flashbacks from his life during the outbreak, we learn the struggles of an everyday man living in a post-apocalyptic fallen world. Colson is not a typical zombie writer and this is clearly reflected in Zone One.

Audiobook length: 9 hrs and 57 mins Narrated by Beresford Bennett.

2. The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

A thrilling and original take on a zombie novel. Melanie goes to school, enjoys learning and has friends but each morning she waits to go to class from her cell. Getting to class involves being strapped into a wheelchair with a gun pointed at her. This intelligent girl, like the other children at the base, is a zombie. And their purpose at the bass is so scientists can find a cure and understand why Melanie is so intelligent. At the heart of the story is Melanie’s relationship with her teacher Miss Justineau. This paternal love story leaves you attached to both characters.

Audiobook length: 13 hrs and 3 mins Narrated by: Finty Williams

3. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Six students have taken shelter in a high school to escape the zombie uprising. Yet whilst most of them want to survive, one girl, Sloane Price is severely depressed and doesn’t think dying seems so bad. As the days go by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and the group’s fate becomes more about the psychological than the threat from outside.

Audiobook length: 6 hrs and 58 minutes and is Narrated by: Stephanie Cannon Get on Audible

4. The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

How would you handle a zombie apocalypse? Would you get consumed in the outbreak or last until the world is rebuilt and be a hero? Perhaps you actually want to be a zombie? Max Brooks, the author of World War Z writes a somewhat humour somewhat reference book on his guide to surviving a zombie apocalypse. It is comprehensive, illustrated and entertaining and covers topics like spotting symptoms, weapon selection, different terrains, and why you should destroy your stairs. If you’re a zombie book fan and currently feel a little ill-prepared then get this book.

Audiobook length: 8hrs 42 minutes and is Narrated by: Stephen Hogan

5. Pride And Prejudice And Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Yes, you read that correctly. Using the original text mixed with a twist, the book keeps the general outline by Jane Austen but with added zombies. What you have is early 19th-century England being threatened by the undead. The Bennet sisters are now also martial arts warriors and Mr Darcy is a famed monster-hunter with ancient Japanese fighting skills. Sounds pretty great right? This is a wonderful combination of the civilized, well mannered back and forth between the two young lovers and hordes of rotting corpses being slain.

Audiobook length: 11 hrs 5 minutes and is Narrated by: Katherine Kellgren

Fantasy fan? Check out our list of Best Werewolf Audiobooks

6. Feed by Mira Grant

The first book in the Newflesh trilogy, Feed is an interesting look at journalism and politics in a post-zombie world. 20 years after a virus decimated the population and world resources, Georgia and Shaun Mason, go to cover Senator Ryman’s presidential campaign. Traditional news companies have been replaced with internet journalism, and the bloggers (Georgia and Shaun) uncover a terrible conspiracy behind the infected. Now they must risk their own lives to get the story out.

Audiobook Length: 15 hrs 10 minutes and is Narrated by: Paula Christensen & Jesse Bernstein

7. The Rising by Brian Keene

One of the best selling zombie novels of all time, The Rising is the first book in The Rising series by Brian Keene. In this story, the zombies are not the speechless, brain dead type they are inhabited by demons with all of the knowledge of their hosts. Whilst still slow moving they can speak and use tools making for an interesting twist. The story follows Jim Thurmond, a determined father fighting his way across a post-apocalyptic zombie world, searching for his son. On this journey, Jim is accompanied by a preacher and a recovering heroin addict as they travel across states through an onslaught of the undead.

Audiobook length: 11 hrs 16 minutes and is Narrated by: Joe Hempel

8. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Audiobook length 9 hrs 31 minutes and Narrated by: Vane Millon

9. The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell

15-year-old Temple was born 10 years after the world was devastated by Zombies. This life is all she knows. As she wanders a desolate post-apocalyptic world she comes across the helpless Maury and attempts to return him safely to his family whilst seeking redemption along the way. Temple is a refreshing character and the story is mainly told through her inner voice. If you enjoyed Justin Cronin’s “The Passage” or Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” then you should enjoy this.

Audiobook length 7 hrs 28 minutes and is Narrated by: Tai Sammons

10. World War Z by Max Brooks

Not your usual beginning, middle and an end the book is a series of eyewitness accounts from people affected in some way by the zombie apocalypse. It moves through different places and perspectives as you build up an overall picture of what happened never reaching a climax but rather a series of crescendos throughout. You learn how the outbreak started in China and nearly wiped out the human race. This is the zombie book that blasted the genre into the mainstream, and it is probably the most popular, best zombie audiobook but don’t think it is similar to the movie, far from it.

Audiobook length 13hrs 56 minutes

Read our list of Best Vampire Audiobooks

11. Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne

Chaos and violence are spreading through U.S. cities. An unknown evil is sweeping the planet. The dead are rising to claim the Earth as the new dominant species in the food chain. Day by Day Armageddon is the first book in the Day by Day series which also includes Beyond Exile and Shattered Hourglass. Armageddon follows one man’s struggle for survival in a nightmare world told through his journal. Full of horrifying, life-threatening moments, this is a hardcore zombie action book.

Audiobook length 6 hrs 38 minutes and is Narrated Jay Snyder

12. Slow Burn: Zero Day by Bobby Adair

The first in the Slow Burn series, Zero Day introduces us to a world where a new flu strain has been spreading across Africa, Europe, and Asia turning people into crazed zombies. The protagonist Zed is a classic anti-hero, a guy who is a bit of a waster. During the early outbreaks, he ends up being bitten then arrested for murder and wakes up in jail, not as a zombie but having survived the initial infection. Zed and people like Zed are known as ‘slow burners’ somewhere between a zombie and a human. Still hunted by zombies and not trusted by humans. The book is full of action, gore and tension.

Audiobook length 3 hrs 30 minutes and is Narrated by Jason Damron

13. The Becoming by Jessica Meigs

In the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, the Michaluk Virus has escaped the CDC, and its effects are widespread and devastating. Most of the population of the southeastern United States have become homicidal cannibals. As society rapidly crumbles under the hordes of infected, three people—Ethan Bennett, a Memphis police officer; Cade Alton, his best friend and former IDF sharpshooter; and Brandt Evans, a lieutenant in the US Marines—band together against the oncoming crush of death and terror sweeping across the world.

Audiobook length 8 hrs 58 minutes and is Narrated by Christian Rummel

14. Zombie, Ohio by Scott Kenemore

A fun take on the zombie genre, Zombie, Ohio tells the story from the zombie rather than the humans. The zombie, Professor of Philosophy Peter Mellor, isn’t like any other zombies. Following a car accident during a zombie outbreak he is reborn as an intelligent undead. He can still talk and think but still eats brains. This is a story of how Peter finds redemption and tries to be a moral zombie whilst trying to solve his own murder. It has a good mix of humour and film zoir, merging murder mystery and a zombie outbreak.

Audiobook length 10 hrs 55 minutes and is Narrated by Danny Campbell

15. Zombie Fallout – Book 1 by Mark Tufo

With the H1N1 virus running rampant throughout the country, people lined up in droves to try and attain one of the coveted vaccines. Within days, feverish folk throughout the country convulsed, collapsed, and died, only to be reborn. With a taste for brains, blood, and bodies, these modern-day zombies scoured the lands for their next meal. Overnight the country became a killing ground for the hordes of zombies that ravaged the land. This is the story of Michael Talbot, his family, and his friends: a band of ordinary people trying to get by in extraordinary times. When disaster strikes, Mike, a self-proclaimed survivalist, does his best to ensure the safety and security of those he cares for. Book one of the Zombie Fallout Trilogy follows our lead character at his self-deprecating, sarcastic best. What he encounters along the way leads him down a long dark road, always skirting the edge of insanity.

Audiobook length 10 hrs 28 minutes and is Narrated by Sean Runnette

16. Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies combined Jane Austen with zombies, Ex-Heroes mashes up zombies with another well loved genre, superheroes. A plague of the undead terrorises the world and in LA superheroes, Stealth, Gorgon, Regenerator, Cerberus, Zzzap and The Mighty Dragon vow to protect the living. With thousands of humans seeking refuge in their film-studio-turned-fortress can they  overcome their differences and keep everyone safe?

Audiobook length 8 hrs 33 minutes and is Narrated by Jay Snyder and Khristine Hvam

17. The Morningstar Strain Series: Plague of the Dead by Brad Munson and Z.A. Recht

When a massive military operation fails to contain the living dead it escalates into a global pandemic. In one fell swoop, the necessities of life become much more basic. Gone are petty everyday concerns. Gone are the amenities of civilized life. Yet a single law of nature remains: Live, or die. Kill, or be killed. On one side of the world, a battle-hardened general surveys the remnants of his command: a young medic, a veteran photographer, a brash Private, and dozens of refugees, all are his responsibility—­all thousands of miles from home. Back in the United States, an Army colonel discovers the darker side of Morningstar virus and begins to collaborate with a well-known journalist to leak the information to the public…and the Morningstar Saga has begun.

Audiobook length 10 hrs 55 minutes and is Narrated by Oliver Wyman