NYC Marathon Q&A with PRH Audio Publisher Amanda D'Acierno
PRH Audio’s Amanda D’Acierno Makes Her NYC Marathon Debut (& Recommends Audiobooks for Going the Distance)

The air is crisp, the cider is hot, and the local knitwear game is strong. It’s no secret that autumn is a magical time in New York City, and core to the Big Apple’s fall moment is the annual New York City Marathon. On Sunday, November 6, out-of-towners and New Yorkers alike will gather across all five boroughs to line the marathon route and cheer on the friends, loved ones, and strangers tackling the famous 26.2 mile course.

This year, the Penguin Random House Audio team has a runner in the race: Audiobook Publisher Amanda D’Acierno is making her NYC Marathon debut! I sat down with Amanda to talk about her marathon year, and how audiobooks kept her company during 18 weeks of training (hint: her recommendations will get your blood pumping, and you can find clips to all of them below).

Becca: Here we are, at the starting line! How did your interest in running the New York City Marathon begin? Have you always been a runner?

Amanda: I was never a runner, but I’ve been a fan of the New York City Marathon for 25 years, and this is my 25th anniversary as a New Yorker! I’ve also lived near 1st Avenue on the Upper East Side [Manhattan] and in Bay Ridge [Brooklyn], which I think are the two best New York City Marathon neighborhoods, and I’ve watched it every single year. Then I ran my first marathon in my hometown of Houston back in January, and managed to get a spot in this one. A marathon seemed like a perfect way to start the year, and now end the year. So, I guess I am a runner now! But I certainly wasn’t a year and a half ago.

Becca: Incredible to go from 0 to 60 like that. (Says the avowed coach potato).

Amanda: Totally. It started when I ran one mile. I mean, I was a big walker. I always walked a lot, especially during the pandemic, I took big 8- or 10-mile walks on weekends. And then one day I ran one mile, came home, and said, “I could do that 25 more times.” And that’s when I signed up for the Houston Marathon.

Becca: Word around the office is, you also listened to audiobooks while you were training.

Amanda: [Laughs] Of course I did!

Becca: Were there parts of your training that were more conducive to listening than others? For example during warm up, cool down, or the run itself…[laughs] I’m clearly not a runner!

Amanda: Well, for marathon training there’s always one day a week that you have a long run. I’ve been training for 18 weeks, and my long run day is always Sunday, and my shorter runs are during the week. I don’t listen to audiobooks on the short runs, I listen to a coaching app. But on the really long run days, I always listen to audiobooks, and it takes my mind off what I’m doing. Which is good, because the long runs get really, really boring!

Becca: Well then I have to ask, what type of audiobooks or specific titles got you through?

Amanda: I like to listen to a mystery or a thriller, and I listen at 1.5X times speed to keep my pace up. I’ve listened to the Richard Osman series (starting with The Thursday Murder Club), The Boys from Biloxi, which is the new John Grisham, and All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers.

Becca: Oooh I recently started that one.

Amanda: You’re gonna love it. I’m also in a very active book club here in my neighborhood, and sometimes find that I use that long Sunday run to finish listening to whatever we’re reading in time for my book club meeting. The book that we’re reading now is Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and I wanted to hear that on audio because it has a full cast and such great effects.

Becca: Maybe this is an unfair question, but if you could recommend just one audiobook to runners, in addition to mystery thrillers generally, what would it be?

Amanda: You know, thinking back to my days working in marketing and publicity, there is one audiobook that people always told us would make them drive faster while they were listening to it, and that’s Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand—particularly during the racetrack scenes. I don’t know if the same thing would translate to running, but I have to imagine if you’re listening to a horse race, then it would motivate you to go a little faster. In a way Carrie Soto Is Back is a little like that too—really anything that’s athletic can be inspiring. Hearing about someone’s training and how they get in shape and the drills that they’re doing, and how it’s similar to what you’re doing in your own training. So yeah, I would recommend Carrie Soto and then for speed, Seabiscuit.

Becca: Going in a slightly different direction, but sticking with audio inspiration, I can’t help but ask if you have a theme song? Having been a spectator at the marathon, I remember that at points along the route they set up big speakers and play music as people run by, and it seems very motivating (even for the crowd!). Do you have a banger of a tune that really gets you going?

Amanda: You know, that’s a hard question, because when I use the training app, they make the playlist, and it’s sort of in the background while they’re coaching you. Also everyone laughs at me, because even though I love music, I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite song. Let’s see, let me look at my playlist now. Oh! “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z. That’s a great one for when I’m getting really tired and need to turn off the book.

Becca: And very on-theme for NYC! Last but not least, you’re on the home stretch. Marathon day is around the corner. What are you most looking forward to and hoping for on the day?

Amanda: Good weather!

Becca: Because they have it rain or shine, right?

Amanda: Yep, it’s rain or shine, and if it’s lightning or severe weather, they just cancel it. But if it’s raining, you’re going! I’m really hoping for 50 degrees, some light cloud cover. No humidity. That would be my ideal. So yes, I’m hoping for good weather and then to actually finish.

Becca: Good weather first, actually finishing second.

Amanda: Yes, because if I don’t get the first one, the second one really is in jeopardy!

As we wish Amanda good weather and good luck, you can listen to clips from the audiobooks she recommends here:

:”In Coopers Chase, a retirement village in England, four residents meet each Thursday to discuss murder. As they pore over old crime scene photos, they swap clues and speculate on possible culprits and methods…Mystery lovers will enjoy the plot, but it’s Mavnille’s portrayal of the characters and their idiosyncrasies that make this worth a listen.”—Booklist, audiobook review

Author: John Grisham
Read By: Michael Beck

John Grisham returns to Mississippi with the riveting story of two sons of immigrant families who grow up as friends, but ultimately find themselves on opposite sides of the law. Grisham’s trademark twists and turns will keep you hooked until the stunning conclusion.

“This intricate, intriguing puzzler should surprise even those readers certain they know where the plot’s heading. Flowers is off to a promising start.”—Publishers Weekly

“When tennis star Nicki Chan threatens to overtake retired tennis superstar Carrie Soto’s record for most slams, the 31-year old player decides to stage a comeback…Twelve performers are credited in this full-cast production, with Stacy Gonzalez handling the bulk of the narration masterfully…In an interesting twist, tennis announcers Patrick McEnroe and Rob Simmelkjaer appear, and the remainder of the readers portray various newscasters and match announcers…Reid has tons of fans and this stellar recording will please them all.”—Booklist, starred audiobook review

“Horse-racing fans, animal lovers, and history buffs will not be able to resist Seabiscuit , an enthralling biographical portrait of a noble champion horse. Scott’s well-calibrated voice lends vitality to this riveting, unique title.”—Booklist, starred audiobook review

Looking for more audiobook recommendations to get your blood pumping all year round? Sign up for our Penguin Random House Audio newsletter