The best audio files for audiophiles
Commute sucking your will to live? Use the time to foster new ideas with our pick of the top podcasts and audiobooks.
EDUCATION – FOR BOOSTING THE OLD GREY MATTER
THE CHIMP PARADOX Professor Steve Peters
If you’ve ever lost your temper and wondered where on earth the retrospectively embarrassing rage came from (and how you can better control the rampage), Peters lifts the lid on that wild chimp in your brain that sometimes runs amok.
THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE Stephen R Covey
One of the greatest self-help books for people who wince at the term “self-help”, this set a new high watermark for anyone wanting to excel both at home and in the workplace. Covey’s work stays with you, too; you won’t wait for things to land on your lap – you’ll actively make them appear there.
LEADING Sir Alex Ferguson and Michael Moritz
Perhaps typically of the legendary ex-Manchester United manager – always one for unpredictability – it’s this book about leadership, rather than his two autobiographies, that proves his most revealing. If you’re a manager in an office, or simply want to be a better leader, you’re learning from the best.
THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE Shawn Achor
Excellent positive psychology crafted to make you happier in the workplace. That “dream job” may not exist, and you most likely need to create professional paradise where you’re currently employed. Achor gives you the tools to rewire your brain to be more positive with extra energy, focus and drive.
CONVERSATION – THE BEST INTERVIEWS AND CHAT
OPRAH’S SUPERSOUL CONVERSATIONS Oprah Winfrey
The podcast equivalent of a nourishing bowl of soup, the self-made billionaire and queen of wellbeing chats with a rich mix of guests. And, because it’s Oprah, the guard is invariably lowered.
AWARDS CHATTER The Hollywood Reporter
This weekly podcast from showbiz bible The Hollywood Reporter is a relatively little-known gem to UK audiences. Not only do they land huge, starry names (how about Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Barbra Streisand for a Holy Trinity of talent?), but the guests also open up. The Ted Danson episode – where the former Cheers star is refreshingly candid about life on and off-screen – is a standout, while Matthew McConaughey cements his status as Balance office hero with anecdotes from a remarkable life.
GRIEFCAST Cariad Lloyd
Cariad Lloyd made her name as one of the best improvisers around (the comedian is a founding member of Austentatious). Cariad lost her father when she was 15, and she draws on this, as well as her ability to think nimbly, to make for a warm and compelling interviewer, with guests talking about the potentially tricky subject of grief. Before you think, “That doesn’t scream
THE HIGH LOW Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton
Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton make for a winning double act on this word-of-mouth smash (if you’re not already on board, we’ll bet you know someone who adores this podcast). The duo talk about the week’s big topics – with a healthy dose of frivolity thrown in for good measure – and, while you might not always agree with what they say, they certainly know how to make a compelling argument. Akin to eavesdropping on two mates having a natter.
RELAXATION – LAUGHTER FOR LETTING OFF STEAM
BOSSYPANTS Tina Fey
Everything you want from a comedian’s memoir: the hunger years, breakthrough and then, thanks partly to an uncanny resemblance to Sarah Palin, global stardom. It’s packed with the sort of showbiz titbits you’ll pass off at social gatherings, such as Amy Poehler fiercely scolding Jimmy Fallon during a Saturday Night Live table read after he said she wasn’t being “cute”.
I, PARTRIDGE Alan Partridge
We’ll put our neck on the line and say this is the singular greatest audiobook of all time. The ultimate example of when a narrated version trumps its paper sibling, thanks to Steve Coogan performing his heart out as the beloved, beleaguered Norwich DJ. Partridge showing his dark side on the topic of people saying “Aha!” will have you rewinding and replaying repeatedly.
STRAIGHT OUTTA CRAWLEY Romesh Ranganathan
Cramming in as many jokes as possible while telling his life story, this could elicit odd looks as you guffaw on public transport. Rom opens up on his early struggles as a comedian and the passing of his father and, like any great showman, leaves you wanting more.
BORN STANDING UP Steve Martin
A fine résumé of a life spent in comedy, Martin reveals how he got into performing, filled stadiums, and then happily quit stand-up at the peak of his powers. Yet it’s his relationship with his dad that stays with you.
INSPIRATION – LOST YOUR MOJO? STEP THIS WAY
A gift for anyone who wants to crank up their personal development a few notches. Wishy-washy cliches? Not on MindValley’s watch. You’ll find therapists, business leaders and even monks imparting years of wisdom across hard-hitting topics, such as the power of consciousness, manifestation, biohacking and more. If you’re like Balance and listen to podcasts while doing chores, you’ll have an extra spring in your step as you fold the laundry.
As well as chatting with life-affirming and inspirational figures, the GLP has created a community. Some podcasts put on live shows in order to unite listeners, but these feel-good folk go further with their Camp GLP gathering, which brings 400 like-minded souls together.
THE TIM FERRISS SHOW Tim Ferris
The American author broke big with The 4-Hour Work Week in 2007 and, if you enjoyed that, you’ll love this podcast, which crackles with energy and insight. Tim is never shy of an opinion and loves to challenge guests (this is no ego stroke), who are invariably top-class performers in the world of business, arts or sport. You come away from each episode brimming with enthusiasm.
HOW I BUILT THIS Guy Raz
Fascinating insight into how some of the world’s best-known companies came to be. It’s especially energising if you’ve thought about launching a business, as you discover how, for example, Chip Wilson saw a gap in the booming 1990s yoga market before launching Lululemon, or how a stranger inspired Joe Gebbia to start AirBnb.