Sleepless? Try Boring Books!

Many years ago, I began listening to podcasts with headphones to help me go to sleep. It’s always talk, not music I want. Listening to that talk keeps my brain from focusing on whatever’s worrying or obsessing me at the moment.

I started with Stuff You Should Know, when it was just two guys talking and the occasional soothing title jingle. But over the years I have listened to a lot of different ones. Once ads became more common, it was harder to find one that didn’t occasionally have something butt in to the conversation that ruins my almost-sleep or that jars me awake.

About a year and a half ago, I went looking for something targeted at sleep specifically, and found Boring Books For Bedtime, by Sharon Handy. It is now my nightly companion.

Sharon reads from works in the public domain, mostly published on Project Gutenberg. U.S. copyright extends for 95 years, so the fact that they are in the public domain means currently that the books were published in 1928 or earlier. Many she chooses are much older than that. Most episodes are close to an hour long.

Some of the books she selects fall into several different genres—science, nature, cooking, history, philosophy. Plus there are plenty of quirky ones, which tend to be my favorites. I’m especially fond of Fry’s Practical Candy Maker (1884), the 1897 Sears catalog, The Book of Household Management (1861), Symmes Theory of Concentric Spheres (1826), The Railway Travellers Handy Book (1862), and The Manual of Egyptian Archaeology (1895).

While anything can be interesting to the right person, Sharon’s lovely contralto voice—which has gotten deeper over the years, if you listen to older episodes—sets the boring scene each time, washing over you and preparing you to be lulled to sleep: “Good evening, and thank you for joining me for another Boring Books for Bedtime. I hope tonight’s selection provides all the boredom your busy brain needs to quiet down and let you get some sleep. So find a comfortable spot. Adjust your volume. Take a nice, deep breath in….let it out slowly….and off we go….”

Boring Books is 100% listener supported and ad free for everyone. But if you want to show your appreciation for all the hours you don’t lie in the dark wishing you didn’t have insomnia, you can support Sharon on Patreon. Supporters get an additional episode a month, have access to .mp3s of all past episodes, and can find their favorite type in collections by topic. There are also links to versions with no music—the episodes in your podcast feed have a subtle background music, though I didn’t even notice it before I was a member and started listening music-free.  Find Boring Books for Bedtime on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.


About Verla

Wordfreak. Retired private investigator and Spanish court interpreter. Erstwhile librarian. Texan by birth, cheesehead by upbringing, latina by soul, in New Mexico by choice. Lover of things purple. Passionate participant in the Librivox audiobook recording project. We record books that are in the public domain in the U.S. The recordings are then placed in the public domain themselves.
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