As the days get shorter and the nights colder, what better way to make you feel less sluggish and help you stay warm than a nice long run! (Sure, the answer could also be coffee, but in no way do these two rule each other out—rather, they complement each other). And what better way to make that run more enjoyable than with an audiobook!
This late into the fall—with its gloomy, rainy weather and rapidly disappearing daylight—we all could use additional motivation to lace up and head out the door. That’s what I love about audiobooks—at their core is a developing plot that drives the story which, in turn, drives my run. It keeps me engaged, curious, and focused. And the better the plot, the more excited I am to come back for more miles and to find out what happens next.
Here are our staffers’ recent favorites, each with a plot worth the run.
Running While Black
by Alison Mariella Désir
narrated by Alison Mariella Désir
The running community prides itself on being inclusive and accessible—anyone can run, right? But Alison Désir’s experience with running is quite different. In her memoir, Désir weaves her own running journey into her identity as a Black woman. After being fed up with seeing few Black people at local runs in New York City, Désir founded her own group, Harlem Run, to provide a place where people who looked like her could enjoy running together. She traces the history of white supremacy in the sport and leads us into current-day conversations about running in the wake of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder, Black representation at major races, and diversity in the running media.
“Désir’s memoir is damning at times—she spares little sympathy for anti-blackness—but she drives home an important point: not all runners experience the sport in the same way. As a track-and-field nerd, her exposé on the history of Black American distance running was particularly interesting to me. Black marathoning superstar Ted Corbitt—who helped not only usher in races like the New York Marathon, but also the recreational running boom itself—is a new idol of mine.”
by Britt Bennett
narrated by Adenrele Ojo
While grieving the loss of her mother, beautiful seventeen-year-old high-schooler Nadia gets involved with local pastor’s son Luke, a football star that almost was, if it wasn’t for a life-altering injury. The unexpected pregnancy and what follows is a secret they will hide from everyone—including Nadia’s best friend Aubrey. Entangled in a love triangle years later, the three of them deal with a question they won’t be able to shake: What if they made different choices back then—how would life have been different?
“I was so captivated by Britt Bennett’s recent best-seller The Vanishing Half that the moment I finished, I went searching for anything else the author wrote, which is how I found her first novel from 2016, The Mothers. Parts of the book are told from the perspective of, you know, the mothers, in a first-person plural, and their unified, collective voice drives the point of the hive busybody mentality like no other could. Bennett’s storytelling is masterful and Adenrele Ojo—with her soft, low, velvety voice—brings her words to life in such a beautiful way, it placed this book on my all-time favorites list.”
I’m Glad My Mom Died
by Jeannette McCurdy
narrated by Jeannette McCurdy
I’m Glad My Mom Died is a harrowing memoir from childhood actor and singer Jeannette McCurdy, known early on for her role in iCarly. In it, she tells the story of growing up with an abusive mother who pushed her into acting, as well as an eating disorder. McCurdy takes you on the rollercoaster ride of her life, from her first audition to deciding to ditch acting. Despite the heart-breaking details of her relationship with her mom and the seriousness of her disordered eating, McCurdy offers a delivery that makes you laugh and a seriously relatable approach to storytelling.
“I could not stop listening to this audiobook as soon as I hit play! I wanted to know more and more about Jeanette, her mom, her grandparents, her relationships—everything. Her delivery was so captivating, and many of her stories so heart-wrenching, that I was all-in until I finished. And now I’m just left to think about it for months.”
by Stephen Fry
narrated by Stephen Fry
Mythos is a modern collection of Greek myths, stylishly retold by writer, actor, and comedian Stephen Fry. Fry transforms the adventures of Zeus and the Olympians into funny, yet emotionally resonant tales. Fans of Ancient Greece will appreciate this fresh interpretation, while newcomers can jump in and enjoy. Fry’s retelling of ancient myths brims with humor and emotion, while offering rich cultural context.
“If you have any interest in Greek Mythology, Mythos is an easy recommendation. Even if you don’t know anything about Greek mythology but want to learn why people find it so fascinating thousands of years later, check this audiobook out. Stephen Fry does a wonderful job narrating this modernized retelling. It’s witty, funny, and chock-full of drama. It’s sort of an anthology in that each chapter works on its own, so it’s perfect for runners. If you break your run streak, you can easily jump back into Mythos two or three days later without worrying where you left off.”
A Ladder to the Sky
by John Boyne
narrated by Richard E. Grant, Richard Cordery, Nina Sosanya, Laurence Kennedy
Don’t all readers want to be writers? What stops those of us who love books from writing our own? Not only that, but become great authors, ones whose books will be assigned to students or become a Jeopardy question? Maurice Swift has a talent for words, but a problem with ideas–which is to say, he has none. So he steals stories and then turns them into great books. Maurice is equal part as physically and psychologically dangerous to the people around him (although none of them suspect that), as he is charming, intelligent, successful, and talented. Much of the story is told by Maurice’s victims as they recount their gradual understanding of how the man used them and how he will silence them.
“As a writer, I loved this book because Boyne combines an honest description of the snobby selfishness of the literary world (Gore Vidal is an actual character in the novel) with a monster of a human being. What will he do next? How will he do it? Will anyone discover the truth? While becoming a great writer is somewhat of a dubious achievement because, let’s face it, the world isn’t celebrating John Boyne the way it celebrates the Kardashians, Boyne, who wrote The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Heart’s Invisible Furies, is really exploring a personality type. These are men who may not exist in the world of publishing, but certainly exist in movies (Harvey Weinstein), TV (Roger Ailes), and politics (too many to name). These are men who move up the ladder by using and destroying those who are trying to climb ladders of their own. This novel is compelling and shocking.”
In the Weeds
by BK Borison
narrated by Pippa Jayne, Dane Anderson
Where do influencers go when they want to take a break? They escape to the Lovelight Farms to hide for a little while. It just so happens that Evelyn runs into a former fling, Beckett—one she just can’t stop thinking about. When there’s no room for Evelyn at the inn, that former fling offers her his spare room, and that’s where things get interesting. In The Weeds is a delightful second chance romance that’s a pure getaway.
“This is a second book of the Lovelight Farms series, featuring influencer Evelyn and small town man Beckett, but reads as a standalone. I found myself so swept up by the bubbly, chest-tingly feels of this book that I missed my train stop and ended up far north of the Hearst Tower one Thursday morning. The romance has built-in tension, which is one of the best parts of a second chance, but because they’re really getting to know each other this time, Evelyn and Beckett get to blossom into something beautiful. If you like lighthearted, sweet, and sexy romances, this is it.”
If you’d like more audiobook recommendations, click here.
As newsletters editor, Pavlína Černá is the person behind all membership emails sent on behalf of Runner’s World, Bicycling, and Popular Mechanics. When she doesn’t edit, she writes; when she doesn’t write, she reads or translates. In whatever time she has left, you can find her outside running, roller-skating, or riding to the beat of one of the many audiobooks on her TBL list.
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