Cracking reads and podcast suggestions for no screen Monday and beyond

We are very enthusiastic about next Monday morning’s screen free time – for staff and students alike. Teachers will be setting their classes reading and writing assignments and listening options too. It was good to hear from the HPQ (Higher Projection Qualification) team to asking for suggestions of  podcasts which could help the students with their analytical writing. This took me on a happy exploration of some favourite engaging and informative Radio programmes and podcasts. I don’t think I really answered the intitial question but I think a 30 minute podcast which really inspires and enthuses our students on a walk in the fresh air is time well spent.

Below is a selection of interesting and informative podcasts and radio programmes which are perfect for listening to during lockdown or on local walks.


  • Costing the earth (28 minute episodes) Fresh ideas from the sharpest minds working toward a cleaner, greener planet. Ideal for Geography, ESS, Science  and Global Citizenship.
  • Economics – 50 things that made the modern economy (10 minute episodes) by Tim Harford (ranging from the Gutenberg Press to Chess algorithms, blockchain and the humble pencil)
  • More or Less (30 mins) Harford explains – and sometimes debunks – the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.
  • Desert Island Discs
  • History Hit podcasts hosted by Dan Snow
  • In our Time (BBC Radio 4) one hour podcasts on History, Religion, Philosophy, Culture and Science. You can browse the subject categories in the archive of programmes.
  • The Life Scientific Professor Jim Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists about their life and work, finding out what inspires and motivates them and asking what their discoveries might do for us in the future
  • The Long View Jonathan Freedland presents the series in which stories from the past are compared with current events.
  • Music – Radio 3 music related podcasts index here
  • Open Book Programme looking at new fiction and non-fiction books, talking to authors and publishers and unearthing lost classics.
  • Michael Rosen’s Word of Mouth Fascinating and fun series exploring the world of words and the ways in which we use them
  • Rethink
  • Philosophize This
  • Philosophy Bites
  • The Moral Maze  (BBC Radio 4) Combative, provocative and engaging live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week’s news stories. #moralmaze
  • Nature – Nature’s Voice (RSPB) Bringing you features, interviews and news of birds and wildlife, from back gardens to the Sumatran rainforest.
  • PsychCrunch (podcasts from the British Psychological Society)
  • RadioLab Investigating a strange world. Radiolab has been telling some of the most engrossing stories in science since 2002.
  • Rethink (BC Radio 4) How the world should change after the coronavirus pandemic. Leading thinkers from across the globe give us their route maps to a better tomorrow on subjects ranging from jobs to wealth and travel to leadership, nature to the Olympics.
  • Sport – Talk Sport podcast series on black footballers ‘Coming in from the Cold’   The history of black footballers in England with insights from current and former players and managers. Our contributors were influenced by those first trailblazers in the English game, and then became pioneers themselves, who broke down barriers whilst playing professionally for English clubs and for England
  • Science – The curious cases of Rutherford and Fry and The Infinite Monkey Cage
  • The Conversation weekly podcast  The world explained by experts

Here are some cracking reads too:

Thrillers and mysteries

  • The Dry by Jane Harper (and her other great thrillers set in Australia)
  • The Beach by Alex Garland
  • Snow falling on cedars by David Guterson
  • The devil and the dark water by Stuart Turton
  • Papillon by Henri Charriere
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks
  • After the Fire by Will Hill
  • The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  • Stolen by Lucy Christopher
  • Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
  • Trash by Andy Mulligan
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
  • Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch (police procedural meets surreal magical happenings with plenty of interesting characters and humour).

Some great YA novels

Top quick read:

We were liars by E. H. Lockhart. This clever, beautifully written page turner is full of twists and so gripping you won’t want to put it down. Once finished you’ll want to get your friends to read it and discuss it with them.

  • The Hate you give by Angie Thomas
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann
  • Unstoppable (YA thriller by Dan Freedman)
  • The Territory trilogy (YA dystopian series by Sarah Govett)
  • Moonrise, One and Toffee quick to read, moving YA verse novels by Sarah Crossan
  • Gone series by Michael Grant (dystopian page-turning YA series)
  • Long way down by Jason Reynolds
  • Scythe trilogy by Neal Schusterman
  • The Uglies by Scott Westerfield
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • I am number four by Pittacus Lore


  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  • Eduated by Tara Westover
  • Toast by Nigel Slater
  • Maya Angelou biographical books
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama

Historical fiction

  • Pompeii by Robert Harris
  • Munich by Robert Harris
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (historical setting)
  • The devil and the dark water by Stuart Turton (historical setting, great mystery plot and characters – just a cracking read)

Graphic novels

  • The Walking Dead series
  • V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
  • Long way down by Jason Reynolds
  • Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman
  • Bloom by Kevin Panetta
  • Flake by Matthew Dooley
  • The March trilogy by  John Lewis and Nate Powell.

Feel good novels

  • The giver of stars by Jojo Moyes
  • The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  • Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Where’d you go Bernadette by Maria Semple
  • The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • Where the crawdads sing by Delia Owens

See our padlet for more suggestions

Science fiction and fanasy

  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • The Wayfarer series by Becky Chambers
  • Red Rising series by Pierce Brown
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *