async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: My 5 Top Running Reads of 2019

Friday, December 20, 2019

My 5 Top Running Reads of 2019

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

It's the end of the year and instead of doing a book review, I decided to look back on the running books I've read over the past year and pick my top 5! There were so many good running books released this year. I liked all the books I read, so my decision to pick 5 favorites was a tough one! I also considered doing a 'best of the decade' post, but that's not quite fair since I haven't been reviewing books for 10 years. 

Plus I've still got a few to read. My nightstand has a stack and I plan to make my way through the pile in 2020. I'm looking forward to it!




1. Running with Sherman by Christopher McDougall


I loved McDougall's Born to Run. LOVEDWhen I received the pre-release copy of Running with Sherman, I thought to myself, how could a book about a donkey be good? Guys, it's THAT GOOD. McDougall is a gifted writer and he could probably write a best seller about watching paint dry. Running with Sherman is the story of a neglected donkey who comes to live with Sherman and his family. McDougall sets big goals for Sherman--he wants to run with Sherman in the World Burro Championships in Leadville Colorado. Along the way, he learns a lot about donkeys, including something he calls Donkey Tao, and the power of healing--both animal and human. What a wonderful read! Running with Sherman has been optioned by Netflix to be made into a movie. Don't wait for that though. Read the book.


 2. The Rise of the Ultrarunners by Adharanand Finn

Adharanhand Finn is another gifted writer and runner who chose to explore the subject of ultramarathoning for this excellent book. Not just any ultramarathon, but the Oman Desert Marathon (156km), which takes place in the Sahara Desert. If you read the blog Shut Up and Run, then you'll have heard of this race. Beth Risdon, who writes the blog, recently completed the 50k version of the Oman Desert Marathon. Finn took on the full distance. He was completely unprepared for that grueling race, but instead of killing him, it only strengthened his desire to run more. As he trains for his races, he also shares stories of other ultrarunners and races. Thanks to Finn's excellent book, I'll never have to run an ultra. His stories made me feel like I was there.



3. Running to the Edge by Matthew Futterman

The runners are the ones who get the glory, right? How many coaches have you heard of? Bob Larsen, probably best known for being the coach of Deena Kastor and Meb Keflegizhi, started off as a track coach. In the 1970s, he trained a group of unknown athletes to become the 1976 National Champions. Using unconventional techniques, training in the mountains of California, Larsen preached the importance of running in a group. Running to the Edge is one of those books that seems to have fallen under the radar. It's not a technical book, but there's a lot to take away from it. I couldn't put it down. Time Magazine called Running to the Edge one of its must-reads for summer. I agree.




4. Running Home by Katie Arnold

Another excellent writer who just happens to be a runner, Katie Arnold's biography and tribute to her father is the story of her life and her journey to becoming an elite ultramarathoner. Her father challenged 7 year old Arnold and her sister to run a local 10k, which took them 2 hours to finish. The race taught her the lesson that suffering and perseverance could be their own reward. Although Arnold's father, a photographer for National Geographic, was absent much of her childhood, his impact on her was profound. When he died, Arnold's grief was overwhelming and she experienced severe anxiety. Her journey back is found through running. It's a solution many of us can relate to. Beautifully written, I didn't want to put this one down.



5. Late Air by Jaclyn Gilbert

My lone running fiction selection this year, Late Air was that rare story that successfully weaved running into a meaningful story. Beautifully written but profoundly sad, Late Air is the story of a former running phenom-turned-coach who has to deal with the tragedy that befalls one of his young protegees. He is also dealing with the breakup of his marriage. Juxtaposed with the struggle of his wife trying to put her life together, the coach's life begins to crumble as his wife's comes together. Gilbert herself is a runner and she does a really nice job with this book. I'm surprised that Late Air hasn't become more well known. I'd love to see more running fiction like this.





What was your favorite running read this year? Haven't read any? These are all available via audiobook and would make the perfect listen for your long run! 


These are my top 5 running books for 2019! Have you read them yet? /via @oldrunningmom @raisingrippers @ChrisMcDougall0 @mattfutterman @adharanand @jegilbert0720 #runchat #running 

I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics.





31 comments :

  1. A big YES to Sherman! I mentioned the book on your blog and I got it from the library. What a fantastic and hilarious read! After the book, I wanted to go donkey racing as well. Also, I had no clue that donkeys were such fascinating animals. I didn't know about the film, so that is exciting! Thanks, Wendy, love your book recommendations!

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    1. Thank you Catrina! I loved Sherman--who knew a book about a donkey would capture so many folks' hearts? Looking forward to sharing more good reads in 2020!

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  2. I just realized I didn't read ANY running books this year. I have to remedy that. I love your list. Chris McDougal lives in Lancaster County (where I live) and he comes out to our running club sometimes. He is a great storyteller. When Born to Run first came out, he came to running club in bare feet for a road run. I asked him if he worried about stepping on broken glass, etc. along the side of the road. He said, there is no broken glass along the road. Hmmm....I think there IS!

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  3. My picks are Life is a Marathon by Matt Fitzgerald, 26 Marathons by Meb, Let Your Mind Run by Deena and Born to Run by Chris - his trainer wrote the Woman's Health 10 Week Speed program that I did this summer. Sherman is high on my TBR list. I runfess that I don't like to "read" running books, the audiobook versions are where it's at for me.

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    1. I read Deena's book last year and Born to Run a long time ago! The other 2 books you mentioned are on my TBR list. I will say that I am a fan of reading the books, not listening. LOL!

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  4. I had forgotten about "late air" that sounds like a fun read. I like a fiction books sometimes thanks for the great reviews! What are you reading next?

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    1. I think I"m going to read "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" by Haruki Marakami. I've never read it and so many people love it!

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  5. I too would like to see more running fiction books!

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  6. my bad...no running books read this year, but LOTS of blog posts LOL I have several books on my nightstand, and some of been started, but I Just can't bring myself to read them from cover-to-cover. I used to love reading, too....

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    1. So what happened? I think running and reading are complementary--both are so meditative!

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  7. I've been reading more and have picked up a few books on running as well. I just read 'Swim, Bike, Bonk', which had me laughing the entire time. It's the true story of a guy who had never done a triathlon, barely trained, and successfully completed an IronMan. Sound familiar? A man after my own heart!

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  8. You're right, there isn't a whole lot of outstanding running fiction, and that's kind of sad. I guess we runners are too busy running, LOL, although there are plenty of writers who are runners, too.

    Our "book club" (using that term really loosely as there's not set dates to meet) read Deena Kastor's & Katherine Switzer's autibiographies this year & we all enjoyed both. Although I runfess I didn't have time to finish Switzer's book initially, and ended up finishing it as I drove back & forth to my parents this fall.

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  9. Ooh I need to read most of these still. Not sure what my running book of the year will be but I'll make sure I nominate one. I do love sharing running and reading with you - thank you for being there!

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  10. I'm going to have to try some of these. I don't usually read nonfiction, so Late Air might be the one I look for. Right now, I have tons of time on my hands and am starting to catch up on my reading. Great roundup!

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  11. Of the ones you posted, I've only read Finn's, and I quite liked it. Not sure on that or Susan Lacke's Running Outside the Comfort Zone as my favorite though. Both great

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    1. Lacke's book is on my to-read list! I found her first book really entertaining.

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    2. I think I gave mine to Liz, or I'd send it on to you. I'll double check I don't still have a copy

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  12. What Judy said since I am in that group though I finished Switzer's book right away. Loved it.

    I put a few of these on my library wait list.

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  13. I've actually never heard of any of these books before so thanks so much for the recommendations!

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  14. That last book sounds like something I would enjoy. I am way more of a fiction reader than non - I would probably rather read novels than anything else.

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    1. I mostly read fiction too--Late Air was a welcome change to my running lineup!

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  15. So many great books! I would need to reserve them at my library. Maybe once I finish all from John Grisham. :-) I know you mentioned audiobooks so that is tempting too.

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    1. Sometimes Amazon has deals for the Kindle (I have the app on my iPad).

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