10 Best Inspirational Audiobooks With Senior Protagonists
February 9th, 2022
Audiobooks are a brilliant way to enjoy new stories, and you can listen virtually anywhere – from your laptop, tablet, or even your smartphone. You can also get audiobook CDs, which you can buy in most bookshops, and you can even download audiobook files from your local library.
Audible is one of the most popular audiobook services, and it’s home to some of the best inspirational audiobooks for people of all ages. There’s something especially inspirational about older characters who have wonderful achievements and exciting adventures in later life, so we’ve rounded up some of the best audiobooks for seniors with older protagonists at their heart.
1. The Thursday Murder Club By Richard Osman
The Thursday Murder Club by Pointless and House of Games host Richard Osman became a huge bestseller upon its release in 2020, and it’s easy to see why. This new take on the classic detective novel is set in a retirement village, where four friends meet every week to investigate unsolved murders.
The Thursday Murder Club members use their age to their advantage to uncover new information, showing that you should never underestimate an older person. There’s since been a follow-up published, The Man Who Died Twice, which again features these inspirational older protagonists at its centre.
With a listening time of 12 hours, 25 minutes and read by Lesley Maville, this is one of the best audiobooks for seniors – and indeed fiction lovers of any age.
2. This Much Is True By Miriam Margolyes
Autobiographies and memoirs make for some of the best inspirational audiobooks, and Miriam Margolyes’ recent work, This Much Is True, is a must-listen (listening time: 15 hours, 7 minutes).
Published in 2021 to mark her 80th year, Margolyes narrates the audiobook herself, telling stories from a fascinating life in showbusiness, that’s wonderfully inspirational yet outrageous in places – did you know she was the first woman to say the f-word on TV? And on University Challenge no less.
Having played iconic characters including Lady Whiteadder in Blackadder to Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films, and more recently Mother Mildred in Call the Midwife, this autobiography is packed with tales from an extraordinary life and career.
3. Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day By Captain Tom Moore
Sir Captain Tom Moore was the inspirational lockdown hero who was knighted for his efforts to raise £33 million for NHS Charities Together in 2020 by walking 100 laps of his garden.
Captain Tom captured the nation’s imagination, and his memoir Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day tells his life story, from his childhood in Yorkshire and the battlefields of Burma to becoming a national hero in his 100th year.
Narrated by Derek Jacobi, Captain Tom’s story of an ordinary man embarking on an extraordinary journey around his garden makes one of the best inspirational audiobooks of all.
4. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel By Deborah Moggach
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a much-loved film starring the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and Celia Imrie. If you enjoyed the film, the audiobook makes a wonderful listen.
Narrated by Nina Wadia over an utterly joyful 9.5 hours, Deborah Moggach’s novel tells the story of a group of pensioners who respond to an advert for a luxury retirement home in India, and find themselves in a converted guesthouse in Bangalore – with plenty of scrapes and laughs along the way. This lighthearted, heartwarming audiobook is a great opportunity to travel to India – without having to leave your favourite comfy chair.
5. The Weekend By Charlotte Wood
The Weekend by Charlotte Wood is a 2020 novel that tells the story of lifelong friends Jude, Wendy, and Adele, who are clearing out their friend Sylvie’s beach house after she’s recently passed away.
This novel explores some thought-provoking themes, including the passage of time, shared memories, and the fact that each character is not necessarily where they thought they’d be at this stage in their life, but they still have each other.
We’re recommending this as one of our best audiobooks for seniors, as the protagonists might be older, but they’re certainly not finished living and they’re not done figuring it out, which acts as a brilliant reminder for us all. This audiobook is read over 8 hours, 24 minutes by Brigid Lohrey.
6. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared By Jonas Jonasson
Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared is a brilliant escapist story, opening with care home resident Allan Karlsson, who’s waiting for his 100th birthday party to begin – an occasion he has no interest in attending.
Instead, he climbs out of the window and embarks on a spontaneous adventure, meeting some fascinating – and sometimes criminal – characters along the way. At the same time, we learn the story of Allan’s earlier life, and his encounters with key 20th century figures, including US President Richard Nixon.
Read by Peter Kenny and with a listening time of just under 12 hours, this has to be one of the best audiobooks for seniors who are after a bit of lighthearted escapism.
7. The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry By Rachel Joyce
National treasure Jim Broadbent narrates the audiobook of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce over a charming 9 hours, 57 minutes.
Harold Fry, an unassuming, ordinary man, leaves his home on the south coast one morning to walk to the postbox, and ends up on the longest walk of his life, journeying by foot to Berwick-upon-Tweed, carried by thoughts of his old friend Queenie Hennessy.
The tale of this inspirational journey also has a follow-up that offers another side of the story: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. Narrated by Celia Imrie, this is another of the best inspirational audiobooks and a must-listen for another perspective on Harold Fry’s tale.
8. Three Things About Elsie By Joanna Cannon
After 84-year-old Florence has a fall at her care home, her mind turns to thoughts of the new resident, who strongly resembles a man she believed to have died 60 years ago.
The audiobook of Three Things About Elsie – read by Paula Wilcox over 10 hours, 44 minutes – tells a mesmerising tale of Florence’s past, as long-buried secrets, and the story of her old friend Elsie, begin to emerge.
9. Girl, Woman, Other By Bernardine Evaristo
Author Bernardine Evaristo became the first Black woman to win the Booker Prize for her 2019 novel Girl, Woman, Other, which weaves an inspiring tale of 12 Black women across 100 years – some young, some in middle age, and some older.
Through wonderfully poetic prose, the 12 stories intertwine, with 93-year-old Hattie proving to be one of the most memorable and inspirational characters of them all.
Girl, Woman, Other has to be one of the best inspirational audiobooks for listeners of any age; it’s read by Anna-Maria Nabirye over 11 hours, 17 minutes.
Evaristo has another inspirational novel with an older protagonist, Mr Loverman, which tells the story of 74-year-old Barrington Walker, who is living a double life with his wife, and his long-term lover Morris.
10. The Lido By Libby Page
Last but not least in our list of the best audiobooks for seniors is The Lido by Libby Page, which follows 86-year-old Rosemary, who has lived in Brixton all her life, but it’s changing all around her and becoming unrecognisable.
The one thing she has left is her beloved lido, where she meets 26-year-old local reporter Kate. When the lido is threatened with closure, the two women embark on a campaign to save the outdoor pool, as their friendship blossoms across the generations. This audiobook has a listening time of 9 hours, 17 minutes, and is read by Clare Corbett.
The Power of Audiobooks
Audiobooks can be a wonderful way to escape, discover new stories, learn more about the world, and find new sources of inspiration, at any time of your life. Many people prefer audiobooks as they get older, as they can be great if your eyesight is beginning to struggle, especially in poor light.
Listening to an audiobook is like having someone read to you, and it means you don’t have to carry a heavy hardback around with you – although you might want to invest in a good set of headphones if you’d like to continue listening when you’re around other people!
At New Care homes, we celebrate finding new inspiration at every stage of life, whether that’s through our Oomph wellbeing programme, meeting new people in our care homes and hearing their stories, or via a favourite audiobook. If you have any questions about any of our services, please contact us here.