Audiobooks for Long Runs
August 4, 2014 3:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for long, upbeat, engaging audiobooks to listen to while on long runs. Bring on your recommendations!

I like to listen to audiobooks on long runs. I have a bunch of audible credits I'd like to use up so I can cancel my account. Help! I'd like all books to be at least 10 hours long. Not really into scifi/fantasy/romance/horror genre fiction.

For fiction: books that have worked for me are Where'd You Go Bernadette, Delicious!, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, Code Name Verity. Books that haven't worked (though I have or think I would have enjoyed them as regular books): The Signature of All Things, A Tale for the Time Being, Tana French's books, the Robert Galbraith books.

For nonfiction: Although I had read it years ago, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was great as an audiobook. Jon Ronson's books were great. I think I would like most comedic memoirs (Bossypants, etc) but they are all much too short. I would love to find more books like Jon Ronson's that emulate the feeling of listening to a really long This American Life episode. Major caveat: I cannot stand the voices of David Sedaris or Sarah Vowell, so their catalogues are out.

It needs to have enough of a story or mystery to keep me engaged, but light enough that I can tune out a little bit. I prefer upbeat/narrators that have a sense of humor. Not too dense or literary or I completely space out. I've gotten some good ideas from some of the past audiobook questions, but I'm hoping I can get some good recommendations that hit that sweet spot between great book and great listen.
posted by whodatninja to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if this is too much of a genre book for you, but I loved the audio version of The Martian. Set in the near future, an astronaut becomes stranded on Mars and has to be incredibly resourceful to survive until help comes. The narrator is outstanding, and the writing is often very very funny. A good sense of humor helps keep the protagonist going. It's the most engaging thing I've listened to on Audible so far.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:18 PM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise is great on audio.
posted by Fairchild at 4:19 PM on August 4, 2014

Simon & Schuster Audio has been bringing out a series of Hemingway novels read by great actors (Donald Sutherland, Stacy Keach, William Hurt, Brian Dennehy, etc.). Here's a NY Times review.

I can personally vouch (highly) for William Hurt's reading of "The Sun Also Rises" (even though the Times reviewer didn't love it).

They're all available on iTunes, last I checked. You can also find the CDs cheap second-hand.

I'm really into experiencing novels this way having discovered, much to my surprise, that my mind's eye hears written dialog quite blandly. My imagination is not as skilled as a great actor's at "hearing" the tone of written dialog. It should have been obvious, but it took me this long to learn!

I'd imagine that if your imagination does more dramatic and nuanced line readings than mine does, you'd be less interested in being hemmed in to some actor's interpretation.
posted by Quisp Lover at 4:34 PM on August 4, 2014

This may or may not be what you're into (and if it's not, please feel free to ignore) but if the Zombies, Run! app mixes in a story with whatever music you'd like to listen to. You can set it to "long run" which works out to about an hour. They play part of the story, then a few of your songs, then story cuts in, and so forth.

I know you said no genre fiction, but for what it's worth I am completely uninterested in zombie shit and this is still really fun and compelling for me.
posted by rossination at 5:43 PM on August 4, 2014

As you enjoyed listening to Jon Ronson's books you would probably also enjoy listening to his radio program "Jon Ronson on". The seven series he's done can be downloaded from his website (alternate link to Internet archive if that previous one doesn't work). They're just like his TMA stories. Sorry, I realise that's answering a different question to the one you asked.
posted by coleboptera at 5:59 PM on August 4, 2014

I listen to Kate Reading's Pride and Prejudice and Jason's Once and Future King for this because if I miss a section, I am happy to re listen endlessly again. I haven't actually finished either, I just skip around re listening.

14 by Peter Clines is great - funny-scary, fast and read really well by Ray Porter.

Miranda Hart reads her Is It Just Me? and is both funny and bittersweet affectionate to listen to.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:37 PM on August 4, 2014

Consider Hardcore History, a podcast that is as long as many audiobooks by Dan Carlin. I have seriously extended runs because they are so captivating.
posted by krautland at 1:53 AM on August 5, 2014

Thanks for all suggestions so far! I will definitely check out all these suggestions, including the podcasts/games. I really need to use these these audible credits though, so bring on more book recommendations!
posted by whodatninja at 8:11 AM on August 5, 2014

If you are running, then you should definitely check out born to run, a really fun book about running!
posted by aeighty at 9:57 AM on August 5, 2014

Nora Ephron's books: I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing. Both funny and light. They might not be long enough.

The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens
posted by Fairchild at 12:13 PM on August 5, 2014

Have you tried Bill Bryson? He's pretty light and funny and his travel memoirs look like they might hit the sweet spot length-wise at 9-12 hours each.
posted by clerestory at 7:31 PM on August 5, 2014

Scott Brick is a great audiobook narrator. I have enjoyed everything I have listened to by him.

Some suggestions - some are long not all. Most I listened to as Audiobooks

Under the Banner of Heaven - read by Scott Brick - highly reccomend
Girls Like Us - bio of Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon
11/22/63 - Stephen King but not like Stephen King
Devil in the White City - read by Scott Brick
In Cold Blood - read by Scott Brick

posted by MrsMGH at 5:46 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

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