For runners who log long miles, the choice of what we listen to on our iPods is vitally important. Some of us love music, others podcasts and still others love to listen to NPR or the radio. My favorite, though, is the audiobook.
It took a long time for me to get there. I have always loved both audiobooks and running, but when it came to my miles, I tended to like to pound them out to Def Leppard or Van Halen. And then I tried audiobooks. I have never looked back.
The thing that is really most amazing about listening to audiobooks is that, not only do the miles fly by, but you also get your reading in as well. There is never any need to choose between one activity and the other. With this, you get the best of both. Of course, that doesn’t mean that just any book will do. The books one chooses to run to have to be perfect. They need to be a blend of suspense and motivation, while also being lively enough to keep you wanting to move your feet. Here are 11 of the best books for running that I have listened to in the past couple of years.
1. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
This is a classic choice. Haruki Murakami is a fantastic writer and his musings on the intersection of running and writing are nothing short of massively inspirational. You’ll want to pound the pavement all day after listening to Murakami chat about it.
2. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
This is a long one (23 hours), but worth every minute. Also, longer books tend to be better for running since you look forward to that hour-long morning run when you are really into a particularly exciting page-turner. This is a dark book that is written beautifully, but also is scary and thrilling all at the same time.
3. Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte
This was one of my favorites because anger is such a powerful motivator for a run. And this book will make you so angry. Why are we all killing ourselves with work and general “business”? This is the question that will run through your head as your feet do the same. And yet, the irony of multitasking in this way won’t diminish the enjoyment of the book. Love it. It’s awesome.
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
This is the perfect book for long runs because of its intensity and pace. You will forget you are even human — which is the whole point of listening to books in the first place. Want a longer workout? This is the book to read. You won’t be able to stop.
5. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
An odd story with a few twists and turns, you will love the quirkiness and its fast pace as well as the intensity. Eye of the tiger, indeed.
6. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
It’s just plain funny and clever — and will make you feel oh-so-very empowered as you trudge along those long, hard miles.
7. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Another good, scary one that will keep you hooked and guessing. And that’s what we want here!
8. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
There is no better place to think about mortality and how finite our lives are as humans than on a long run. This book is gracious, beautiful and inspiring. It makes you think. Perfect for a painful, long run.
9. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
No one is funnier (or more feminist) than Poehler. She is that friend who wakes you up at 5 a.m., forces you into your gear and makes you laugh every mile you log. Perfection.
10. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Because it’s amazing. Because it’s scary. Because it’s weird and intense. This one. Always.
11. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
I loved listening to this one. It’s a hilarious read with enough mystery to keep you pushing forward — even when you don’t want to.