The most recommended marathon books

Who picked these books? Meet our 27 experts.

27 authors created a book list connected to marathons, and here are their favorite marathon books.
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Book cover of Marathon Mouse

Marsha Diane Arnold Author Of The Pumpkin Runner

From my list on children's stories about running.

Who am I?

I’m a multi-award-winning picture book author of many types of books, from The Pumpkin Runner to Badger’s Perfect Garden. I’ve always been a reader more than an athlete, but throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed running - running down a dusty Kansas backroad, running to the pasture to call in the cows, running to the stream to climb a cottonwood. When I reached my sixties, I finally decided it was time to run a half-marathon. Partway through the race, I broke my foot! But I persevered. When I crossed the finish line, I felt a little like Joshua Summerhayes in The Pumpkin Runner.

Marsha's book list on children's stories about running

Marsha Diane Arnold Why did Marsha love this book?

Marathon Mouse is a fun story for our littlest runners. Most of the mice living under the bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island didn’t like the commotion of Marathon Day. But Preston did. Preston braved the crowds and big shoes to run the Marathon himself. And near the finish line, his family, who had told him races weren’t for mice, were there cheering him on.

Marathon Mouse is the only one of my book recommendations about an animal marathon runner. But, as with the books here about people, Preston, the Marathon Mouse, has perseverance and determination and feels joy when he’s running.

By Amy Dixon, Sam Denlinger (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marathon Mouse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

The mice of New York City dread the day of the New York City Marathon more than any other-the crowds, the large shoes, the noise. All of them, that is, except for Preston. He and his family live underneath the starting line on the Verrazano Bridge and every year Preston has dreamed of joining all the other runners in the marathon. This year, Preston is determined to make his dream come true, even though his family tells him that mice are not fit to run marathons. He trains hard leading up to the big day and when the race starts,…


Book cover of One Lucky Christmas

Rachel Corsini Author Of Sushi and Sea Lions

From my list on reads to make you swoon.

Who am I?

I define myself as a hopeless romantic and look for books that put me in the feels. When one does, it tends to last with me forever, if not a very long time. I read a range of books, and for me, a love story just makes my heart full like nothing else. I don’t care if it’s fantasy romance, contemporary romance, historical romance, etc. As you can see, I’m versed in genre romance all the way to the classics. Give me all the love stories.

Rachel's book list on reads to make you swoon

Rachel Corsini Why did Rachel love this book?

If you want something sweet and swoon worthy this is the book for you.

Everything about this book was like eating a cake with royal icing. It just made me smile. I enjoyed their heartwarming sweet love and what they did to keep it going. I liked that it wasn’t so much drama that the story seemed over the top. It was just an enjoyable holiday romance.

By Regina Brownell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Lucky Christmas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A delightful novel about a meddling mother, a marathon of bad dates, and taking a chance on love from the author of The Two-Week Promise.

Twenty-four-year-old writer and bookseller Kasey wishes her mother could accept her for who she is and would stop trying to run her life. Kasey has already gone on a string of blind dates-with everyone from an underwear model to a guy whose greatest talent was burping the alphabet. Now she's on date #31, with a pastor's son, expecting yet another failure.

But Tobias takes her by surprise. She likes his smile. She likes the fact…


Book cover of Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds

Robert Pagliarini Author Of Badass Retirement: Shatter the Retirement Myth & Live with More Meaning, Money, and Adventure

From my list on retirement to help you create more meaning.

Who am I?

If my early childhood was any indication, I would be the last person you would want to take financial and retirement advice from. Why? Growing up, we never had any money! Every day was a struggle for my single mom of five. At an early age, I knew I didn’t want to be poor and struggle for everything. I knew I wanted to enjoy life and experience it to the fullest. I’d watch adventure movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and dream of going to exotic countries and on adventures like Indiana Jones. From those early years, I’ve been committed to creating and living the best life possible for myself and my clients.

Robert's book list on retirement to help you create more meaning

Robert Pagliarini Why did Robert love this book?

I’ve always been someone with big goals and driven to do more, but after listening to this book, I realized that I was setting my sights too low.

What I love about his story and message is that no matter where you start, there is always an opportunity for greatness. I think this is especially important to remember in retirement – it’s not the finish line. You’re just getting started.

If you are looking for that something more and want to be inspired, this book is an absolute must. The story is about retired Navy SEAL David Goggins, and holds no punches. He dishes about his abusive childhood, his struggles as a young adult, and his decision to want something more from life and from himself.

Listen to the audiobook if you can. The author and the narrator engage in a free-form spirited discussion at the end of each…

By David Goggins,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Can't Hurt Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Best Seller

Over 4 million copies sold

For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare -- poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world's top endurance athletes. The only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events, inspiring Outside magazine to name…


Book cover of Magic

Richard Doetsch Author Of The 13th Hour: Chaos

From my list on thrillers break the mold with characters and story.

Who am I?

As an adrenaline junky—years of kitesurfing, skydiving, bungee jumping, Zero Gravity training—I have a passion for thrills and adventure, coupled with the love for my soulmate, Virginia, since we were kids, I live what I write and write what I live. Of course, I filter it all through my vivid imagination to raise the stakes and pull you in. When I look for a great book, it’s tough to get my blood flowing, to get me excited, but these books are the nearest thing to the thrill of freefalling and having your first chute fail to open (been there, done that. Thank, God for the reserve chute!). These books are truly unique, putting you on the edge of your seat and leaving you wanting more.

Richard's book list on thrillers break the mold with characters and story

Richard Doetsch Why did Richard love this book?

The best for last!

You may not recognize the name William Goldman but I guarantee loved at least one of his stories. An amazing storyteller, novelist, and screenwriter: Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, Marathon Man, Misery (he adapted Steve King), Chaplin, The Ghost, and The Darkness, and… The Princess Bride. He’s a man who moves between genres with ease and expertise.

His book Magic tops them all. A depressed magician/ventriloquist heads to a lake house vacation. Murder, mystery, and thrills ensue all told in a shocking style that is truly original. I can’t say more without spoiling it. It’s a short novel, a fast read and it will leave an impression on you for weeks to come. After your mind is blown by Magic, look him up, you’ll be impressed!

By William Goldman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“One of those can’t-put-it-down-until-the-last-page-is-turned monsters that has readers all over the country missing sleep.”—Minneapolis Tribune
 
Corky is a brilliant entertainer with a bright future ahead of him. He has good looks, many women, and enormous talent. He also had a secret and a certainty: a secret that must be hidden from his public at all costs; and a certainty that the dark forces of magic were out to destroy him.

“Fascinating . . . This dazzling psychological thriller cannot be put down! . . . The most imaginative and enjoyable novel I've read since Marathon Man. . . .  [A]…


Book cover of A Beautiful Work In Progress

Jennifer Pharr Davis Author Of Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail

From my list on women who love the outdoors.

Who am I?

Jennifer Pharr Davis has covered over 14,000 miles - and explored trails on six different continents - and in all fifty states. In 2011 she set a record on the Appalachian Trail by covering 2,190 mile miles in 46 days (an average of 47 miles per day). Jennifer is a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and a member of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.

Jennifer's book list on women who love the outdoors

Jennifer Pharr Davis Why did Jennifer love this book?

The author of this book is an amazing combination of personable and empowering. She takes readers on her journey from a city kid growing up in NYC to a trail runner who explores the most scenic trails in the US. When you are finish you will feel like you have a new friend and some new inspiration.

By Mirna Valerio,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Beautiful Work In Progress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Runners' vocabulary is full of acronyms like DNS for "Did Not Start" and DNF for "Did Not Finish," but when Mirna Valerio stepped up to the starting line, she needed a new one: DNQ for "Did Not Quit."

Valerio has tied on her running shoes all across the country, from the dusty back roads of central New Jersey to the busy Route 222 corridor in Pennsylvania to the sweltering deserts of Arizona. When you meet her on the trail, you might be surprised to see she doesn't quite fit the typical image of a long-distance runner. She's neither skinny nor…


Book cover of The Self-Made Olympian

Dennis Barker Author Of The River Road: Becoming a Runner in 1972

From my list on discovery & experience of running.

Who am I?

I have been a runner for 50 years and a coach for 30 years. From 2001-2016 I was the coach of Team USA Minnesota Distance Training Center. During that time I coached 24 U.S. National Champions, including an Olympian & 2 USATF Running Circuit Champions, at 1500 meters, 3000 meters, and 10,000 meters on the track; the mile, 10k, 15k, 10 miles, half-marathon, 20k, 25k, and marathon on the road; 4k, 6k, 8k and 10k in cross country.  Athletes I coached qualified for 30 U.S. national teams competing in IAAF World Championships in cross country, indoor track, outdoor track, and road, and achieved 73 top-three finishes in U.S. Championships. 

Dennis' book list on discovery & experience of running

Dennis Barker Why did Dennis love this book?

Having quit running altogether because of a lack of improvement and a bad college experience, Ron Daws discovered a different way of running that brought him joy and success. Following the training of Arthur Lydiard, Daws began a road racing career that culminated in making the 1968 U.S. Olympic team in the marathon.

By Ron Daws,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Self-Made Olympian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"In Alamosa Colorado, seven days before the '68 Olympic Trials, all the runners herded into the college dorm to watch the '64 Games film. During the marathon coverage, Abebe Bikila came into focus as he "floated" down the Japanese thoroughfare..."Bikila's expression was intense, not a frown but forever unsmiling as he patiently drew away from Ron Clarke and the rest of the world. He was immune to the noisy crowd, the other runners, his healing appendectomy...everything. His gaze on the road ahead never faltered and his cheeks and lips quivered with each stride as though he were counting. His determination…


Book cover of Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon

Marsha Diane Arnold Author Of The Pumpkin Runner

From my list on children's stories about running.

Who am I?

I’m a multi-award-winning picture book author of many types of books, from The Pumpkin Runner to Badger’s Perfect Garden. I’ve always been a reader more than an athlete, but throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed running - running down a dusty Kansas backroad, running to the pasture to call in the cows, running to the stream to climb a cottonwood. When I reached my sixties, I finally decided it was time to run a half-marathon. Partway through the race, I broke my foot! But I persevered. When I crossed the finish line, I felt a little like Joshua Summerhayes in The Pumpkin Runner.

Marsha's book list on children's stories about running

Marsha Diane Arnold Why did Marsha love this book?

One of the things I love most about this book is the foreword, which was written by Fauja himself – Fauja, the oldest person ever to run a marathon. Fauja was unable to walk until he was five years old and after he walked, he was still very weak. People were always teasing him and telling him he couldn’t do things. There’s a wonderful refrain that runs through the book: “But Fauja did not listen and Fauja did not stop.” At 89, he completed his first marathon. He ran marathons from London to New York to Toronto. The book ends with the Toronto Marathon, in which Fauja set a new world record as the oldest person to run a marathon.

By Simran Jeet Singh, Baljinder Kaur (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fauja Singh Keeps Going as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Every step forward is a victory.

Fauja Singh was born determined. He was also born with legs that wouldn't allow him to play cricket with his friends or carry him to school miles from his village in Punjab. But that didn't stop him. Working on his family's farm, Fauja grew stronger to meet his own full potential.

He never stopped striving. At the age of 81, after a lifetime of making his body, mind, and heart stronger, Fauja decided to run his first marathon. He went on to break records all around the world and became the first person over…


Book cover of Crosstalk

L. Darby Gibbs Author Of Dragon-Eyed Dream

From L.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Romantic Wordsmith Tandem rider Devourer of books Devotee of fitness

L.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

L. Darby Gibbs Why did L. love this book?

Any Willis book grabs me and takes me down a road of intensity: emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Crosstalk took a what-if question and pulled me down the potential overwhelm of how humanity’s best and worst might approach its possibility. 

What if you could share your thoughts with others and they with you? What if it was used against you? What if you couldn’t shut it off or couldn’t keep the voices from mounting up until it was a multitude of people shouting between your ears? And it gets worse before it gets better. 

Every time I put the book down, I felt like I had run a marathon. Crossing the finish line? Glorious.

By Connie Willis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crosstalk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Science fiction icon Connie Willis brilliantly mixes a speculative plot, the wit of Nora Ephron, and the comedic flair of P. G. Wodehouse in Crosstalk—a genre-bending novel that pushes social media, smartphone technology, and twenty-four-hour availability to hilarious and chilling extremes as one young woman abruptly finds herself with way more connectivity than she ever desired.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR

In the not-too-distant future, a simple outpatient procedure to increase empathy between romantic partners has become all the rage. And Briddey Flannigan is delighted when her boyfriend, Trent, suggests undergoing the operation prior…


Book cover of Fly with Me: A Novel

Lena George Author Of She's Not Home

From Lena's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Climber Mom Aspiring minimalist Loyal-if-sometimes-preoccupied friend

Lena's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Lena George Why did Lena love this book?

Fly With Me was the most enjoyable book I read all year. It was smart, heartfelt, and well-paced, with a perfect balance of heavy and light. I laughed, and I cried multiple times.

I also deeply appreciated seeing neuro-spicy characters on the page.

This representation—bisexual characters, characters with ADHD—means so much to me. Andie Burke, along with Sarah Grunder Ruiz in her upcoming book, is putting us on the map in the best way. I’m so here for it.

By Andie Burke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fly with Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Flying-phobic ER nurse Olive Murphy is still gripping the armrest from her first-ever take-off when the pilot announces an in-flight medical emergency. Olive leaps into action and saves a life, but ends up getting stuck in the airport hours away from the marathon she's running in honor of her brother. Luckily for her, Stella Soriano, the stunning type A copilot, offers to give her a ride.

After the two spend a magical day together, Stella makes a surprising request: Will Olive be her fake girlfriend?

A video of Olive saving a life has gone viral and started generating big sales…


Book cover of The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life

Nita Sweeney Author Of Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink (Running Can Be the Best Therapy for Depression)

From my list on why people run when not being chased.

Who am I?

I'm a best-selling author featured in the Wall Street Journal, mental health advocate, certified meditation-leader, wife, and dog-mom. And I run. Every runner has heard, "I never run unless I'm being chased." Right. But runners don't run because we have to. We run because we can or, more often, because we must. It's a powerful mental health tool. I also write books: the award-winning running and mental health memoir, Depression Hates a Moving TargetYou Should Be Writing, and, available for preorder, Make Every Move a Meditation. I live in central Ohio with my husband and biggest fan, Ed, and our yellow Labrador Retriever, Scarlet.

Nita's book list on why people run when not being chased

Nita Sweeney Why did Nita love this book?

John “The Penguin” Bingham’s words of inspiration were exactly what I needed when I began to run as an “adult-onset athlete” (his words.) His books are funny and inspirational, informative, and well-written. This is by far my favorite of his many books. Those early months were tough but some days, courage is what it still takes to keep myself out there on the trails and roads.

By John The Penguin Bingham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Courage to Start as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” Take your first step toward fitness and a happier, healthier life.

Has the idea of running crossed your mind, but you haven't acted on it because you don't think you have the body of a runner? Have you thought about running but quit before you started because you knew that you would be breathless at the end of your driveway? Well, put aside those fears because you can do it. John Bingham, author of the popular Runner's World column “The Penguin Chronicles,” transformed himself…