Opinions differ about whether or not podcasts, audiobooks, music, or just plain silence are the best things to listen to on a long run. There are so many great books to listen to on your run, so why would you spend that time listening to your feet, nose, and jiggly bits screaming about how out of shape you are?
When I'm not doing some sort of guided cardio — shout out to Richard Simmons and my working VHS player — I'm a big fan of listening to nonfiction audiobooks during my workouts. Why nonfiction? Because I have a hard time keeping track of fiction narratives when I'm sweating my ass off, and I need to actually read a text in order to appreciate its literary quality.
That being said, yes, Virginia, there are novels on this list. I've also included memoirs, essay collections, and some cool microhistories — a little something for everyone.
Before you load up these audiobooks and hit the road, please be aware that the Road Runners Club of America and other groups warn against wearing headphones while running, because they may prevent you from hearing approaching traffic, predators, or other warning noises. If you want to listen to books on your run, consider keeping only one earbud in, turning the volume down low, or using open ear headphones.
1. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Bestselling author Haruki Murakami compares his ultramarathon habits with his late-in-life writing career in this fabulous little volume.
2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Trail runners will enjoy Wild, which tells the story of Cheryl Strayed's impromptu quest for healing along the Pacific Crest Trail.
3. The Stand by Stephen King
Want to go the extra distance? Check out Grover Gardner's narration of Stephen King's sprawling, post-apocalyptic trek across the U.S.
4. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Published two years after the author's death at age 22, The Opposite of Loneliness is a curated collection of stories and essays from a literary star cut down before she could shine.
5. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
If you like to be humored when you're killing it on the track, check out Jenny Lawson's Furiously Happy, a celebration of weirdness and laughing at terrible things.
6. The Idealist by Justin Peters
In The Idealist, Justin Peters teases out the history of information sharing, and its relation to 28-year-old Aaron Swartz: a hacktivist prodigy who committed suicide after he was charged with federal computer-related crimes for downloading academic papers from JSTOR.
7. What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey
Everyone needs a little more Oprah in her life, so put What I Know for Sure — a collection of her O, The Oprah Magazine columns — on your workout playlist.
8. The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker
Why do Cheetos taste better than carrot sticks? In The Dorito Effect, Mark Schatzker examines how artificial flavors have screwed up our eating intuition.
9. The Sixteenth of June by Maya Lang
Nora is marrying Leopold, the brother of her skeptical best friend, Stephen. When the three come together for a funeral and a Ulysses-themed party, long-held tensions reach a boiling point.
10. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Has modern medicine focused on extending lives at the expense of their quality? In Being Mortal, surgeon Atul Gawande explores the varied options for end-of-life care that can offer greater dignity and happiness to the dying and their loved ones.