Category Archives: audiobooks

the moneyless man

The Moneyless Man by Mark Boyle, read by David Thorpe

From Audible:

Imagine a year without spending – or even touching – money. Former businessman Mark Boyle did just that and here is his extraordinary story. Going back to basics and following his own strict rules, Mark learned ingenious ways to eliminate his bills and discovered that good friends are all the riches you need.

Encountering seasonal foods, solar panels, skill-swapping schemes, cuttlefish toothpaste, compost toilets, and – the unthinkable – a cash-free Christmas, Boyle puts the fun into frugality and offers some great tips for economical (and environmentally friendly) living. A testament to Mark’s astounding determination, this witty and heart-warming book will make you re-evaluate your relationship to your wallet.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is the first book that Mark Boyle wrote and the start of his journey that culminated in his living completely without technology as well as money. This was covered in a previous review of The Way Home.

I did enjoy listening to this and definitely didn’t find it boring. However, I felt it was a bit light on the day to day details of life without money. The main reason for writing the book was to promote the Freeconomy concept and to encourage others to give it a try and get involved. He spends a lot of time explaining the Freeconomy concept and the ethos behind it as well as giving tips and information. He also goes into detail why he feels that society needs to change. He doesn’t come across as preachy in any way and does a good job of promoting the lifestyle but I was expecting something more along the lines of his other book and was disappointed not to get the details of life without money.

The best section for me was describing how he managed to get from Bristol to Donegal for Xmas without spending money or compromising his ideals. This involved an appearance on RTE’s Grainne Seoige Show. The narrator is English and it did make me giggle listening to him trying to pronounce her surname. I think I heard at least 4 different attempts and none of them correct!

The narrator was good but had a slightly irreverent tone throughout the whole book. This suited the early chapters that are written in a very self-deprecating style but I found it a bit jarring in some of the more serious later sections.

Overall a good book and I’d recommend reading it before The Way Home.

Finally, I only realised this morning that I saw Mark Boyle being interviewed on The Tommy Tiernan Show a few months ago. The video clip below is short piece of that interview.

Header image source: fossbytes.com

inspire: life lessons from the wilderness

Inspire: Life Lessons From The Wilderness by Ben Fogle

From Audible:

The latest adventure from best-selling author Ben Fogle explores what we can learn from nature about living well and living wild. 

What can rowing across the Atlantic teach us about boredom and about patience? Can coming down from Everest take more resilience than climbing up in the first place? How can the isolation of the South Pole highlight what’s most important? And how can we tap into the same reflective state in our daily lives? 

Writing during the unprecedented period of the coronavirus pandemic and drawing on a wealth of personal stories, Ben reflects on the significance of nature to all our lives and shows us how we can benefit from living a little more wild. Drawing on his greatest adventures, he shares what his time spent in the wilderness has taught him about life. Ranging across seas, icecaps, jungles and deserts, Ben’s stories are filled with wonder and struggle, with animals, adventure, wilderness, friendships, unexpected acts of kindness and heroism, and are bursting with inspiration directly from nature. Ben’s epic stories reveal a new side to his adventures and show how everyone can find meaning in the wilderness, even if it’s just outside their front door. 

Full of exciting adventures and practical guidance, this primer on positivity is a story about overcoming obstacles, surpassing your expectations and inspiring your journey of adventure. 

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I must confess that I knew very little about Ben Fogle before I read this. I knew he rose to prominence because of the BBC series Castaway and that he had done some TV presenting including Countryfile. I was totally unaware of the amount of TV he has done though and had no idea of his achievements by rowing the Atlantic, taking part in the Marathon Des Sables or climbing Mount Everest.

Anytime I’ve seen him on TV I’ve liked his laid back style and lack of arrogance. On TV he comes across as confident and happy so it was interesting that he has fought against imposter syndrome and self esteem issues for most of his life. This is a very honest book and probably wouldn’t have been written only for the Covid19 lockdown.

I particularly enjoyed the second half of the book from when he talked about the Wild Folk. This was also my favourite chapter of the book and I was pleased to see Mark Boyle get a mention too. I didn’t know of the TV series that he made and will be making an effort to get a chance to watch it.

I’m not really sure about the title of the book. I don’t really think it’s written to inspire and it sounds a lot more pretentious than it is. The secondary title “Life Lessons From the Wilderness” is much more accurate and the biggest lesson for me was the impact of taking yourself away from the stresses of modern life, even for shorter periods of time. I’ve found the benefits of this recently myself.

The book is also read by Fogle and unlike Steve Backshall’s audiobook this time it worked really well. The writing styles and personalities of the two are very dissimilar though.

Header image source: fossbytes.com

the way home

The Way Home by Mark Boyle, read by Gerard Doyle

From Audible:

It was 11:00 pm when I checked my email for the last time and turned off my phone for what I hoped would be forever.

No running water, no car, no electricity or any of the things it powers: the internet, phone, washing machine, radio, or light bulb. Just a wooden cabin, on a smallholding, by the edge of a stand of spruce. 

The Way Home is a modern-day Walden – an honest and lyrical account of a remarkable life lived in nature without modern technology. Mark Boyle, author of The Moneyless Man, explores the hard-won joys of building a home with his bare hands, learning to make fire, collecting water from the stream, foraging, and fishing. 

What he finds is an elemental life, one governed by the rhythms of the sun and seasons, where life and death dance in a primal landscape of blood, wood, muck, water, and fire – much the same life we have lived for most of our time on earth. Revisiting it brings a deep insight into what it means to be human at a time when the boundaries between man and machine are blurring.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I find it hard to explain why I enjoyed this so much. It’s far from exciting and the story jumps around a lot, not just within the author’s own life, but also between his development of the smallholding and the islanders of the Blaskett Isles. I think my enjoyment stems from the openness of the author. He is very aware of his faults but also proud of his achievements. He doesn’t try to glorify his struggle without modern technologies but neither does he romanticise his new life.

He also openly acknowledges his struggle to live his new life without technology but also exist in the modern world. At times he must make compromises in order to see his parents and to help his neighbours. He’s also starting from scratch so in order to become established he needs to use the proceeds or results of modern technology.

The reader in this case brings a lot to the experience. I believe I enjoyed this more as an audiobook than I would have as a regular book. Once I became used to his pronunciation and tone, his voice added to the story making it a richer and more enjoyable experience.

Header image source: fossbytes.com

expedition

Expedition by Steve Backshall

From Audible:

Shine a light into the unknown.

There are still dark corners of our planet that are yet to be explored. In this remarkable book, Steve Backshall offers an unflinching account of his adventures into these uncharted territories around the globe, in search of world firsts. Each location brings its own epic challenges – whether it’s the first climb of an arctic ice fall in Greenland, the first recorded navigation of a South American river, or the first exploration of the world’s longest cave system in Mexico. But all of them represent new tests of the limits of human endeavour. 

Accompanying a major 10-part series on BBC and Dave, Expedition is a breathtaking journey into the unknown, and a brilliantly written celebration of the pleasures of genuine discovery.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

I had high hopes for this thinking that hearing the book narrated by Steve himself would bring a sense of authenticity to the story and the experiences within it. However, his constant, breathless excitement and constant over exaggeration of even the smallest happenings soon wore out. The quality of the writing is pretty poor and the narration does nothing to help it. He must have set a personal target to use every over the top metaphor possible and exaggerate every description to the nth degree. Nothing was just large, it was gigantic and so on with over descriptive depictions of scenery and conditions on a continual loop. Rather than create excitement it became bland and uninteresting.

I made it through 8 of the 10 expeditions and barely remember anything of them. I do believe that they were true adventures but trying to explore undiscovered places on the modern Earth is surprisingly uninteresting when described in this book. The book was also a BBC TV series and it was probably better in film than print.

A constant irritation was his references to his family, how much he was missing them and how guilty he was that his son was missing him at the very beginning of his life. In one freak kayak accident he almost dies in a rapid. His lamentations about the possible effect of his death made me quite angry. Why the hell expose himself to these dangers and choose to leave home on these extended expeditions if he was worried about the effect on his family! Selfishness of the highest order and absolutely no right to then complain about it.

Header image source: fossbytes.com

my outdoor life

My Outdoor Life by Ray Mears, narrated by Simon Shepherd.

From Audible:

Ray Mears is a household name through his television series Tracks, World of Survival, Bushcraft Survival, The Real Heroes of Telemark, and many more.

He is a private individual who shuns publicity whenever possible and would prefer to let his many skills tell their own tale – until now.

In My Outdoor Life, Ray tells of his childhood and the formative years when he first developed a passion for both bushcraft and the martial arts skills that are central to his life. Having travelled the world several times over, he is no stranger to risk and has had more than his fair share of dangerous and life-threatening encounters to share with his listeners. But his life is so much more than a tale of derring-do. Shortly after he returned to England having narrowly survived a serious helicopter crash, his father died. Just a year later, he had to face the death of his first wife, Rachel. The book conveys the many sides of Ray Mears, taking us up to the present day – including the previously untold story of his involvement in the man-hunt for murderer Raoul Moat. My Outdoor Life gives us all a chance to share a life story as rich and as inspirational as a walk in woods with the man himself, Ray Mears.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I absolutely loved this! I also believe that I enjoyed it more as an audiobook than I would have if I’d read it as a regular book.

It’s a pretty much no-holds-barred insight into the life of someone that has lived both a public life and a very private life. With this book he gives a very frank, honest and detailed explanation of his life from an early age right up to the present (at the time of writing).

It did take a little bit of getting used to the narrator’s voice. He has a very proper English accent and tone of voice which adds a layer of pomposity at times that I don’t think is intentional from the author. Ray Mears is a supremely confident man, very clear in his morals and beliefs and totally unafraid to voice them and to hold himself and others to his exacting standards. Hearing his views in the narrator’s accent can cause this to be misinterpreted at times.

I particularly liked how he described the most difficult times in his life. The death of his first wife is harrowingly described as is the aftermath. Also the death of his father and the impact it had on him. However, he is also incredibly enthusiastic about the good times, meeting his second wife, surviving the helicopter crash, living with and learning from many different indigenous peoples of the world.

I started listening to audiobooks via Audible using a link from a YouTube channel I watch called TAOutdoors. This link will get you one month free access and two free downloads: audible.com/taoutdoors If you use it I’d highly recommend that you give this one a go even if you have no interest in the outdoors, bushcraft or even know who Ray Mears is!

Header image source: fossbytes.com

we’re alive

We’re Alive Season 1 by Modern Myth Productions

From Audible:

This exciting audio drama is based on an immensely popular podcast that has received hundreds of positive reviews and has had over four million downloads – and counting.


For Army Reserve soldier Michael Cross, the world as he knows it ends in an instant. One minute he’s in college, and the next rioters are roaming the highway around him, breaking into cars and literally tearing people apart. This is the day the dead walk. This is the world of We’re Alive.


The first season features 12 chapters packing performances and sound effects that rival movies and prove that modern audio drama is undead and well. Join our survivors as they band together, struggle to fortify a safe haven known as the Tower, and discover that zombies are far from the worst thing in a post apocalyptic Los Angeles, where the rules of human decency no longer apply.


Little food. Little water. Little hope. Who is lucky enough to say “We’re Alive”?

My Rating: ⭐

Having had great success with my first audiobook and having enjoyed a few podcasts last year I thought this might be a good mix of the two. In addition I usually like zombie horror stories.

I really wanted to like this but just couldn’t. At 4 hrs in I decided to cut my losses and pulled the pin. Dislikable and annoying characters, forced and wooden acting, storylines full of plot holes and a sub standard copy of “The Walking Deadjust about summed it up for me. Don’t waste your time and definitely don’t waste your money. I got this with a free credit on Audible but it costs £20 normally. I really don’t understand why it has been so popular and how it managed 5 seasons!

Header image source: fossbytes.com

lost in the wild

Lost in the Wild by Cary J. Griffith. Read by Roger Wayne.

From Audible:

In the wilderness, one false step can make the difference between a delightful respite and a brush with death.

On a beautiful summer afternoon in 1998, Dan Stephens, a 22-year-old canoeist, was leading a trip deep into Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. He stepped into a gap among cedar trees to look for the next portage – and did not return. More than four hours later, Dan awakened from a fall with a lump on his head and stumbled deeper into the woods, confused.

Three years later, Jason Rasmussen, a third-year medical student who loved the forest’s solitude, walked alone into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on a crisp fall day. After a two-day trek into a remote area of the woods, he stepped away from his campsite and made a series of seemingly trivial mistakes that left him separated from his supplies, wet, and lost, as cold darkness fell.

Enduring days without food or shelter, these men faced the full harsh force of wilderness, the place that they had sought out for tranquil refuge from city life. Lost in the Wild takes listeners with them as they enter realms of pain, fear, and courage, as they suffer dizzying confusion and unending frustration, and as they overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles in a race to survive.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was my first time listening to an audiobook. I’ve listened to a few podcasts but not an actual book. I listened to it in the car on my commutes to and from work and while out walking. It took me a little while to get used to the idea and to work out how to concentrate on listening to the narrator without letting my mind wander and lose track of the story. However, once I got the hang of it I quite enjoyed the experience.

The story is very well done. The author structures the stories of the two men quite skillfully. The two stories are told separately but side by side with alternating chapters. It was a little confusing at the start but once I got used to the names and characters it was a lot easier to follow and keep the two stories separate.

He also tells their stories from lots of viewpoints. He describes the feelings and thoughts of the two missing men, their relatives and the search and rescue teams. In the case of Dan Stephens he also tells the story from the point of view of the scout group that he was guiding. It’s melded together to create a really good sense of suspense and tension. He also manages to tell the story without judgement. Jason Rasmussen makes a series of mistakes that he just recounts without commenting. Similarly he goes through the thought processes of the scout leaders to leave Dan to get help without telling the reader/listener what to think. He leaves it to us to make our own decisions about the rights and wrongs.

The final part of Jason’s story is particularly well told. The pace is quite fast with the story developing very quickly. It’s told from a number of viewpoints while still keeping us guessing to the actual outcome until the very end. The end of Jason’s story is very emotional and well told.

From my first time experience I’d say that the role of the narrator is crucial. In this case he was very good. It’s an American narrator which suits the setting of the story. His accent suits that of the characters and he tells the story in a nice steady pace. It’s fast enough to keep the story moving without the listener losing the details or flow of the story. The only difficulty I had was his attempts to change his voice and tone to match the characters, especially the female characters. It jarred with me a bit but didn’t ruin the experience. I think this is the default expectation when narrating an audiobook but I don’t think I like it.

I’ve already downloaded a second story to listen to. This is more of an audio drama and more similar to a podcast but with a positive first experience I definitely think I’ll be listening to more books like this.

Header image source: fossbytes.com