The 10 Best non-fiction audio books

With these, you can learn about Ancient Rome, Victorian murders or modern sexism all without turning a page.

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The Independent Culture

1. The Invention of Murder

In this grisly yet intriguing book, Judith Flanders explains how the media and their coverage of killers such as Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper turned murder into a sensational form of popular entertainment.


2. The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs

Written by US Postal Service cyclist Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle, who also wrote the 2004 book on Lance Armstrong, Armstrong’s War, this is a dark and tragic tale exposing one of the most elaborate doping operations.


3. The Making of Modern Britain

Andrew Marr’s earnest accounts of British history are undoubtedly some of the most popular around. Narrated by the man himself, the book looks at the cultural experience of the first half of the 20th century, beyond simply trenches, flappers and Spitfires.


4. Rome

A dazzling biography of a city that has captured the imagination of historians and artists alike. This abridged version of Robert Hughes’ epic book describes not just the past, but also the author’s personal relationship with the city he first visited as a wide-eyed young man.


5. Jerusalem: The Biography

The most recent work from historian Simon Sebag Montefiore and one of  his most critically acclaimed. Charting the wars, love affairs and revelations  of its occupants, this intimate history  of the Holy City is told in a chain of  narratives be it those of kings, poets or prostitutes.


6. Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism

Looking at the manifestation of sexism in modern society, Natasha Walters takes a nuanced look at contemporary feminist issues, from the experiences of sex workers, to the way gender  differences are reinforced.


7. Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing

An intriguing anthology put together by the prestigious international writer’s organisation, PEN. This collection includes 51 of the best submissions to its American prison writers competition, which they’ve held for the past quarter of a century. 


8. The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England

Following on from Ian Mortimer’s evocation of what life was really like in Medieval England comes his take on a trip to Elizabethan times. Evocative and illuminating, it shows history as something happening rather than something that has already occurred.


9. Charles Dickens: A Life

An incredibly detailed portrait of  one of Britain’s most-loved authors, award-winning author Claire Tomalin paints a picture detailing the  fascinating character of the man.


10. David Attenborough in His Own Words

If anyone had a voice that was  easy to listen to, then it would be  Attenborough’s. This collection of interviews is a fascinating audio history of the much-loved natural history film-maker.