Spotify is essential for music lovers, but it’s got a lot more to offer than good tunes. You can stream audiobooks, radio dramas, language lessons, famous speeches and more for free.
Photo by Daniel Kneckt.
If you like listening to your literature, Spotify has you covered. You won’t find new releases, but there’s a decent selection of classics that make it easy to catch up on all those books the new releases are based off of anyway.
For example, you can listen to almost every one of William Shakespeare’s plays, including tragedies like Hamlet and Julius Caesar, comedies like Much Ado About Nothing and Taming of the Shrew, and historical dramas like Henry V and Richard III. You can also listen to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American classic, The Great Gatsby in its entirety, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, H.P. Lovecraft’s terrifying Shadow Over Innsmouth, and Brave New World read by the author, Aldous Huxley, himself.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that the free tier of Spotify allows on-demand, ad-supported listening on your computer or tablet, but shuffle-only on your smartphone. That means audiobooks are probably not ideal for smartphone listening if you don’t have a Spotify Premium account.
Before TV, there was radio drama, and it was glorious. Fortunately, a lot of old radio shows have been saved and are still available for your listening pleasure. You can listen to some sci-fi greats like George Orwell’s radio version of 1984, multiple volumes of the Twilight Zone radio show, and some of Isaac Asimov’s best radio works, like Hostess and Pebble In the Sky. You can also find some great mystery shows like Dragnet, and some vintage superhero stories from the likes of the Blue Beetle. If you’re looking to laugh, I personally recommend the Baby Snooks show.
You don’t need to fork over $200 for Rosetta Stone to get started learning a language. Spotify has lesson playlists for several popular languages, including:
You’re not going to become fluent just by listening to these lessons, but they will give you a solid groundwork to build on.
Short Stories and Poetry
The short story is where true literary genius shines, and there’s a lot of genius buried in Spotify’s spoken word section. You can listen to horror classics, like The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and The Signalman by Charles Dickens. Or dive into the mythology of ancient Greece and Rome. You’ll even find short stories read by Benedict Cumberbatch, Cillian Murphy, and Neil Gaiman with Amanda Palmer. And the Once Upon a Time playlist has tons of classic fairy tales for kids and grownups alike.
If you’re jonesing to go to a poetry reading, you can almost get the full experience at home with readings from D.H. Lawrence, Jack Kerouac, Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, and more. For the full experience, however, check out this playlist of poetry read by the poets themselves. All you need now is a good cup of coffee.
If you want to get better at public speaking, it helps to emulate the great speakers of history. Spotify has famous speeches from Martin Luther King, Jr., lecturer Joseph Campbell, and astronaut Neil Armstrong. You can also find original recordings of U.S. presidents like Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Barack Obama.
Guided Meditation and Self-Help
Meditation can be difficult to get into, but guided meditation tracks might help you relax and focus. There’s a wide variety of meditation guides to choose from, but in general, they will each lead you through calming stretches and breathing exercises, as well as provide helpful mantras to center on. Many are short, and perfect for a busy workday, or a relaxation session at home after work.
But what if you want to, say, learn how to study more efficiently, or get tips for training your cat? Spotify has you covered there too. You’ll also find helpful tips for managing stress and anxiety, taking strokes off your golf game, and you can even listen to Dale Carnegie’s radio version of How to Win Friends & Influence People.