See also: recommended new physical audiobooks
13 Minute Murder, by James Patterson et al, read by Becky Ann Baker, Christopher Ryan Grant, Kevin T. Collins & MacLeod Andrews
A collection of ‘three breakneck-speed thrillers’, written with Shan Serafin, Christopher Farnsworth and Scott Slaven respectively.
“John Milton is an assassin for the British government, but he’s old and tired and wants to quit. Unfortunately, that’s impossible. Milton knows too much. The only way out of his job is in a box – there are no exceptions.
“Milton goes on the run and meets a young mother who needs his help. Her son has been tempted by a life with a glamorous gang and the charismatic criminal who leads it. Milton must get the boy out of trouble – before it’s too late. And when his old agency sends another agent after him, the odds against him are stacked even higher.”
“That morning, Jim Sams, clever but by no means profound, woke from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed into a gigantic creature.
“Jim Sams has undergone a metamorphosis. In his previous life he was ignored or loathed, but in his new incarnation he is the most powerful man in Britain – and it is his mission to carry out the will of the people. Nothing must get in his way: not the opposition, nor the dissenters within his own party. Not even the rules of parliamentary democracy.”
I was 10 years old when I came across Boadicea, and she became the first woman to make me realise that the designated future of a girl born in 1950 - to be sweet, domesticated, undemanding and super feminine - was not necessarily the case.
“Boadicea battled the Romans. Nancy Astor fought in Parliament. Emmeline Pankhurst campaigned for female suffrage. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became a pioneering physician in a man’s profession. Mary Quant revolutionised the fashion industry.
“Britain has traditionally been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men and its monarchs. It’s high time that it was defined by its women. In this unique history, Jenni Murray tells the stories of 21 women who refused to succumb to the established laws of society, whose lives embodied hope and change. Famous queens, forgotten visionaries, great artists and trailblazing politicians - all pushed back boundaries and revolutionised our world. In Murray’s hands their stories are enthralling and beguiling; they have the power to inspire us once again.”
“After the Sickness has killed off her parents, and the bombs have fallen on the last safe cities, Monster emerges from the arctic vault which has kept her alive. When she washes up on the coast of Scotland, everyone she knows is dead, and she believes she is alone in an empty world.
“Monster begins the long walk south, scavenging and learning the contours of this familiar land made new. Slowly, piece by piece, she begins to rebuild a life. Until, one day, she finds a girl: feral, and ready to be taught all that Monster knows. Changing her own name to Mother, Monster names the child after herself. As young Monster learns from Mother, she also discovers her own desires, realising that she wants very different things to the woman who made, but did not create, her.
“Inspired by Robinson Crusoe and Frankenstein, My Name Is Monster is a novel about power, about the things that society leaves imprinted on us when the rules no longer apply, and about the strength and the danger of a mother’s love.”
”> “Emma loathes her period. Really, she does. But there’s something she loathes even more: not being able to talk about it. Freely, funnily and honestly. Without men and women wrinkling their noses as if she’s pulled her tampon out and offered it as an hors d’ouevre.
“But somehow, despite women having had periods since the dawn of time, we’ve totally clammed up on anything to do with menstruation. Why, oh why, would we rather say ‘Auntie Flo’ than ‘period’? Why, in the 21st century, are periods still seen as icky? Why are we still so ignorant about such a fundamental bodily process?
“Now, in Period., Emma draws on female experiences that will make you laugh, weep (and, most probably, squirm), in a fierce and funny rallying cry to smash this ridiculous taboo once and for all.
“Because it’s about bloody time.”
Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse and other lessons from modern life, written and read by David Mitchell
“Why is every film or tv programme a sequel or a remake? Why are people so f***ing hung up about swearing? Why do the asterisks in that sentence make it okay? Why do so many people want to stop other people doing things, and how can they be stopped from stopping them?
“These and many other questions trouble David Mitchell. Join him on a tour of the absurdities of modern life - from Ryanair to Richard III, Downton Abbey to phone etiquette, UKIP to hot dogs made of cats. Funny, provocative and shot through with refreshing amounts of common sense, Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse celebrates and commiserates on the state of things in our not entirely glorious modern world.”
“Extinction Rebellion are inspiring a whole generation to take action on climate breakdown. Now you can become part of the movement - and together, we can make history.
“It’s time. This is our last chance to do anything about the global climate and ecological emergency. Our last chance to save the world as we know it.
“Now or never, we need to be radical. We need to rise up. And we need to rebel.
“Allison is in danger at home. Her stepmother has run away and her father is getting worse. So she runs away too and with no where to live finds herself hiding out, miles from home, in an elderly woman’s shed. But this woman, Marla, has dementia and doesn’t recognise her as Allison, believing she is an old friend from her past called Toffee.
“So this is who Allison becomes, morphing into a person Marla usually knows and trusts but sometimes fears and fights. Eventually Allison’s stepmother shows up, armed with a new baby girl, a new sibling. Marla then finds herself, once lonely and vulnerable, the saviour to three desperate women. But Marla’s son is frustrated with his mother, and can be angry and violent. Is there a way for this new family to stay together?”
“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat… but 1.4 million NHS staff are heading off to work. In this perfect present for anyone who has ever set foot in a hospital, Adam Kay delves back into his diaries for a hilarious, horrifying and sometimes heartbreaking peek behind the blue curtain at Christmastime.
“Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a love letter to all those who spend their festive season on the front line, removing babies and baubles from the various places they get stuck, at the most wonderful time of the year.”
“In 1989, a killer dumped the body of twenty-year-old Lucie Martin into a picturesque lake in the West of France. Fourteen years later, during a heatwave, a drought exposed her remains. No one was ever convicted of her murder.
“But now, forensic expert Enzo Macleod is reviewing this case. Yet when Enzo finds a flaw in the original evidence surrounding Lucie’s murder, he opens a Pandora’s box that not only raises old ghosts but endangers his entire family.”
“P. D. James was often commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. As the six tales presented here unfold, the dark motive of revenge is revealed at the heart of each. Bullying schoolmasters receive their comeuppance, unhappy marriages and childhoods are avenged, a murder in the small hours of Christmas Day puts an end to the vicious new lord of the manor, and, from the safety of his nursing home, an octogenarian exerts exquisite retribution.”
“Ten guests travel to an island at the invitation of someone named U.N. Owen. All are strangers, but they have two things in common: they have all been responsible for someone’s death, and none will leave the island alive.
“Over the next two days and nights, each of the guests is killed off in a different manner in keeping with the nursery rhyme, ‘Ten Little Soldier Boys’. As they are picked off one by one, who could possibly be responsible? The killers are forced to turn detective so they can find the unknown murderer, but one by one they become victims…”
“Everyone is talking about Grace Vermuyden’s family. Once it was for all the right reasons - now it’s for all the wrong ones.
“Grace wants the world for her two daughters - especially after her own dysfunctional upbringing. Mia is wonderfully one-of-a-kind, even if her imagination does run a bit wild. Lilly is everyone’s golden girl, with a glittering future ahead of her. Then Lilly collapses suddenly at school, and Grace’s carefully-ordered world is turned upside down. Lilly was the one she didn’t have to worry about.
“But as dark rumours swirl around the school gates and things start to spiral out of control, everyone in their tight-knit community has their own theory about what happened. Grace is shocked to discover her eldest daughter had a hidden life, and begins obsessively looking for clues. Which is when she takes her eyes off Mia.
“Grace thought she had a happy family. But what if she never really knew her daughters at all? “
“Every day, James O’Brien listens to people blaming benefits scroungers, the EU, Muslims, feminists and immigrants. But what makes James’s daily LBC show such essential listening – and has made James a standout social media star – is the careful way he punctures their assumptions and dismantles their arguments live on air, every single morning.
“In How To Be Right, James provides a hilarious and invigorating guide to talking to people with faulty opinions. With chapters on every lightning-rod issue, James shows how people have been fooled into thinking the way they do, and in each case outlines the key questions to ask to reveal fallacies, inconsistencies and double standards.”
“Where do you come from? It’s one of the most basic human questions of all. But there is another question, which might sound a wee bit similar but is actually very different: What do you come from? And, let me tell you, that question can take you all sorts of strange places…’
“In Made in Scotland, legendary comic and national treasure Billy Connolly returns to his roots, reflecting on his life, his homeland and what it means – then and now – to be Scottish.
“Full of Billy’s distinctive humour, Made in Scotland is a hilarious and heartfelt love letter to the place and the people that made him.”
“In this heartfelt, funny, touching memoir, Tan France, star of Netflix’s Emmy award-winning Queer Eye, tells his origin story for the first time. With his trademark wit, humour, and radical compassion, Tan reveals what it was like to grow up gay in a traditional South Asian family, as one of the few people of colour in South Yorkshire. He illuminates his winding journey of coming of age, finding his voice (and style!), and happily marrying the love of his life - a Mormon cowboy from Salt Lake City.
“Humorous and poignant personal essays are peppered with style advice, funny lists, and the truisms that Tan has accumulated in his journey from South Yorkshire to Netflix.
“In Tan’s own words, ‘The book is meant to spread joy, personal acceptance, and most of all understanding. Each of us is living our own private journey, and the more we know about each other, the healthier and happier the world will be.’”
“In a tranquil, leafy suburb of ordinary streets – one where everyone is polite and friendly – an anonymous note has been left at some of the houses.
“‘I’m so sorry. My son has been getting into people’s houses. He’s broken into yours.’
“Who is this boy, and what might he have uncovered? As whispers start to circulate, suspicion mounts.
“And when a missing local woman is found murdered, the tension reaches breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their secrets?”
“It is worse, much worse, than you think. The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and if your anxiety about it is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today.
“Over the past decades, the term “Anthropocene” has climbed into the popular imagination - a name given to the geologic era we live in now, one defined by human intervention in the life of the planet. But however sanguine you might be about the proposition that we have ravaged the natural world, which we surely have, it is another thing entirely to consider the possibility that we have only provoked it, engineering first in ignorance and then in denial a climate system that will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us. In the meantime, it will remake us, transforming every aspect of the way we live - the planet no longer nurturing a dream of abundance, but a living nightmare.”
“Our brains stay active for ten minutes after our heart stops beating. For Leila, each minute brings with it a new memory: growing up with her father and his wives in a grand old house in a quiet Turkish town; watching the women gossip and wax their legs while the men went to mosque; sneaking cigarettes and Western magazines on her way home from school; running away to Istanbul to escape an unwelcome marriage; falling in love with a student who seeks shelter from a riot in the brothel where she works.
“Most importantly, each memory reminds Leila of the five friends she met along the way - friends who are now desperately trying to find her.”