As a gamer I am a big lover of stories. Sadly with reviews, a full time job plus two (nearly three) children and a lot of things on the go, I found that I had less and less time for another favourite hobby – reading. A year or two ago I discovered Audible, where I was again able to read and consume books while on the go. Whether driving, doing the housework and especially in the background while gaming I’ve been able to really get back into reading.
I wanted to share some of my favourite audiobooks for playing while I game. These are perfect for titles such as Elite Dangerous, city builders like Planet Zoo, Tropico or Cities Skylines, and even more fast paced titles like Dead Cells. Essentially, any game where you have a lack of audio story to follow.
Don’t forget to head over to the socials and let me know your favourites as well. All of mine are available on Audible and most of them are beautifully narrated. They are presented here in no particular order, but all are ones which I would thoroughly recommend to sci-fi or fantasy lovers.
Discworld (Series) – Terry Pratchett
How could I not lead with the Discworld. A world in its own right – and a mirror of worlds – written by an absolute genius. Packed with sardonic wit, huge arcing storylines – often over many books in their own individual series – and beautiful social commentary. The Discworld is my favourite series ever and is so expansive that it has its own mini series buried within. It’s hard to find a place to start, but I would recommend “Guards! Guards!” the first entry into the City Watch series.
Jack Reacher (Series) – Lee Child
First discovered years back, Jack Reacher is an ex-MP who wanders the USA, getting into (and resolving) trouble. The Reacher series – I would say to start with Killing Floor, the first released – is expansive, and has since been made into two films starring Tom Cruise. Very action packed and quite militaristic, Reacher doesn’t mind breaking eggs to make an omelette. He also doesn’t mind breaking arms, legs or heads, but always “on the side of good”.
Rivers of London (Series) – Ben Aaronovitch
I’d say this is a great modern take which will be a hit for fans of Dresden. A young police officer in London’s MET service (we don’t say force any more. Official vocab guidelines state that “force” is too aggressive) discovers ghosts and magic. A great mixture of the modern world with contemporary detective drama, alongside fantasy, myth and legend. Led by the enigmatic Nightingale, you’ll discover some great twists, and memorable characters.
The Martian – Andy Weir
A cracking book which was the base of the Matt Damon film of the same name. Stranded on the red planet Mark Watney must not only survive, but ultimately try and find his way home. While the story goes into great detail, and progress across Mars is slow, the narrative manages to avoid dragging and flows well without stagnating. Personally, I would say to digest both the novel and the movie, as both are brilliant works in their own right.
14 – Peter Clines
It’s hard to write about 14 without giving away plot points. A young guy moves into an apartment block which is packed with weird phenomena. Padlocked doors, mutated cockroaches and a mystery inside every room in the LA highrise. It’s not the best written book in the universe, but I really enjoyed the story, even with some familiar nerd fantasy cliches.
Good Omens – Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
One of my favourite books of all time, and a great mix of two wonderful authors. Silly in places and very often laugh out loud funny. This story straddles all of history, from the beginning of the world in the Garden of Eden, and doesn’t end until after the apocalypse. Good Omens is a beautiful romp following the close if unlikely partnership between an angel and a demon. This has also since been made into an Amazon series starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen which I felt really captured the spirit of the book and will certainly draw a tear for Pratchett fans (GNU).
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) – Dennis E. Taylor
A brilliant adventure through the galaxy, and one of my favourite Sci-Fi stories of recent years. We Are Legion is the first book in the Bobiverse, a series which I need to invest more time into as soon as possible. Waking after death as an Artificial Intelligence, we follow Bob’s journey as an interstellar probe searching for new habitable worlds. As he replicates new versions of his own intelligence Bob becomes a warrior, a god, a politician and many other things… all within the first book!
Off to Be the Wizard – Scott Meyer
This is one of my favourite new finds in recent years, and an odd nerdy adventure. “Hacking” into websites, Martin discovers that reality is nothing but a computer program. He also stumbles across the text file which controls the world! Editing his own details, he finds that he can do nearly anything he wants to make his life more comfortable. With the FBI upon him, Martin must flee, and where would be better than Middle Ages England where he can start fresh as an all powerful wizard.
Red Dwarf (Series) – Doug Naylor & Rob Grant
I’ve been a massive fan of the TV show for many years, and was delighted to find that the novelisations are available on Audible. First reading them in my early teens it was great to find a huge amount of detail on Lister’s backstory, and well as much more expansive adventures originally constrained by a 30 minute tv time slot. If you have no idea what Red Dwarf is, where have you been for the last 30 years? Lister – the last human alive – is stuck in deep space 3 million years into the future. His only companions? A creature who evolved from his cat, a neurotic mechanoid, and a hologram simulation of his dead bunk mate. Classic.
Paradox Bound – Peter Clines
I took a gamble on Paradox Bount and it was one which really paid off. I’m a huge lover of sci-fi, and especially time travel and the many complications it can bring. In an American Backwater, Eli follows a mysterious stranger through time and across the country. Searching for answers, competing with factions, and dodging a seemingly all knowing and well written enemy, This is one which I really enjoyed.
Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton
A stupendous novel and another favourite from my childhood. I was originally a little worried that the visual elements of the book would be lost in translation when played through Audiobook. Happily the narration really managed to bring the story to life still, and overall it was well executed. The only drawback which I’ve found on this one is that the follow up – The Lost World – I have only been able to find on Audible in German.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton
I have to preface this one with the fact that I utterly hated the narration on Audible for at least the first few chapters. I am unsure if I just got used to it, or if somebody had a word and got him to tone it down. This is another mystical time-travel-esque one which I am glad I pushed on through with. From the viewpoint of many strangers this period piece sees one man solving a murder mystery. Not knowing who to trust, or where danger may be coming from, I really enjoyed the tangled web which this story traversed.
St Mary’s (Series)
I started here with the first entry, Just One Damned Thing After Another. This is another contemporary Sci-fi adventure, though of course as a time travel series it visits many periods of history for various reasons. The Disaster Magnets of St Mary’s have many challenges to overcome, only some of which they have caused themselves!
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
A great novel and one which the Micro-Bandits are actually really enjoying. The narration on the Audible version is absolutely perfect in my mind, with an older british accent performing all of the voices wonderfully. If you don’t have an inkling of what The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings universe is about… I am not sure that I could do more than 6 blockbuster movies and 70 could do.
Forever and a Day – Anthony Horowitz
This is the story of James Bond, and more accurately of how James Bond became the 007 we know and love. A contemporary title, this one is written using partial writings by Ian Fleming. Thankfully, this does mean that it bypasses a lot of the more… problematic… aspects of older writing styles. Forever and a Day provides a Bond experience which stands by the spirit of the films and the original works.
The Waiting Room – F. G. Cottam
A bit of a break from the norm for me, but one which I am very glad that I had a go with. The Waiting room is centred around an abandoned railway building surrounded by fields and a track which is no longer there. The room harbours an awakening darkness and a new malevolent entity seems to be emerging. Called in to investigate, psychic Julian Creed – TVs most popular ghost hunter and a fake who doesn’t even believe in the paranormal… yet.
The Hoarder – Jess Kidd
A care worker, looking after an aging old man in an expansive town house cluttered with memories of yesteryear. The latest in a long succession of underpaid care workers, Maude is surrounded by saints which only she can see. Following clues left by the past and evading the watchful eyes of the belligerent home owner, she’ll find that both he and the house seem to be unveiling their secrets.