“The Fastest Way to Fall” Made Me Fall In Love With Running All Over Again

Cover image courtesy of Goodreads, image created in Canva

You might’ve noticed I’ve been on a bit of a running-related reading kick lately. I’m the kind of person who falls into hobbies like rabbit holes, and now that I’m gearing up for my second half-marathon (first in person, if life cooperates), I feel drawn to books with running in them.

The Fastest Way to Fall isn’t really about running, at least not primarily. The basic setup is this: Britta is a journalist who pitches a piece about her experience using the FitMe app to get healthier. Wes is the CEO of FitMe and he’s feeling a bit disconnected from his passion for work, so he decides to take on a couple of clients again. 

Naturally, Wes winds up coaching for none other than the journalist reviewing the app — not that he knows it. As the two exchange jokes in app, then via text, and finally in person, boundaries and ethical lines get blurry and sparks fly. 

Though I’m not always the biggest fan of a forbidden romance underpinned by concealed identites like this one, I very much enjoyed this audiobook. 

What I Liked

In the pages (er, audio file?) of this book, Wiliams tackles a lot of difficult topics and handles them well — body image, crash dieting, the balance between loving your body while wanting to get stronger, alcololism, and more. She opens the book with a helpful content warning that notes the ways in which she will address this topics, which was helpful to frame the reading experience for me. 

Britta is fat, and while she struggles with body image like anyone else, she’s mostly just living her life and loving her strength in the curvy body she’s in. I really liked this representation and how she works to hit fitness goals that are (mostly) not related to weight loss. It felt like a realistic portrayal of what it’s like to love fitness in a bigger body. 

The love story starts off with an epistolary element while the two share messages in the FitMe app, and I’m a sucker for this way of love interests getting to know one another. It’s also a bit friends-to-lovers and definitely a slow burn, since they kid themselves into thinking they can just be friends due to the ethical conundrum of their feelings for one another. 

Britta starts training for a 10K towards the middle of the book! I love hearing about people’s training experiences, and a 10K was my first “big” running goal, so I loved seeing this on the page. The way Williams describes training and the feeling of getting stronger as a runner was super relatable and reminded me of my own early days learning to run. 

The relationship between Britta and her sometimes-rival, Claire, was refreshing. The two are competing for a staff writer jobas they collaborate on the Body FTW project (Claire is reviewing a rival app, Hotter You), but they still support one another and try to break out of the “women must be workplace rivals” stereotype. 

I also liked that Britta and Claire are women of color, yet this isn’t treated as a defining characteristic or central conflict in the book. The fact that they’re of color doesn’t come up often, and it’s refreshing to see this treated as just one part of their identity instead of something that has to be a huge conflict in the book. I could see where some readers might be frustrated by this identity being almost overlooked or a side note, but that was not my personal experience with this book. 

What I Didn’t Like

Ahh yes, the “ambitious woman is basically a monster” trope. Wes’ ex and head of rival fitness app Hotter You is a bit of a stereotypical female executive villain, and I did not like that aspect of the book. She could’ve been a compelling character but unfortunately we didn’t see much besides her ambitious, cruel side in the pages of this book. 

I also didn’t love that part of Britta achieving her dream of skydiving required her to lose weight, since she mentions that she used to be over the weight limit. While this is a real thing and thin privilege exists, it felt a bit weird to toss that in at the end of the book when so much of the rest of the story was about Britta learning to love her body for what it can do, not the number on the scale. 

In all, this was a great read! The audio performance was excellent, as well, even if I’ll never quite love the way most male narrators do female voices. 

I recommend The Fastest Way to Fall to fans of forbidden romance, runners, people who’ve struggled with body image (who are ready to read about it), and folks who love some quality banter between love interests. 

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4 Books Every Runner Should Read 

Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

In spite of running fairly consistently since I set my initial “become a runner” goal back in 2018, I haven’t read many books that center runners or running. I’m not entirely sure why that is, because there certainly are plenty of books out there about runners and running. 

Perhaps it stems from the fact that I’m not a runner who easily calls herself an “athlete.” Growing up, I avoided books, movies, and any other media that centered sports. I was not an athletic kid, and the Presidential Fitness Tests were my actual nightmare — I was a straight A student who never failed annything, but I couldn’t study my way into a body that was shaped for the sit-and-reach. 

My first experience with running, outside the springs between bases on the softball field, was the dreaded one-mile loop in gym class. Yet another test I “failed,” clocking in a 15 minute mile partly from not trying and a little bit from trying more than I wanted to admit. 

So, even though I’ve fallen in love with running, I think it’s taken a while to love it enough to dive headfirst into reading about it, too. Over the last year or so, however, I’ve begun dipping my toes into the world of books about running. Today, I want to share three of my favorites from the one’s I’ve read thus far. 

If you’re looking for training manuals or guides to improve the sport, this isn’t your list. What I’m interested in are stories about what running means to people, what the pursuit of running goals can do for your life and your relationship with yourself. Whether you’re a runner yourself or just like reading about people’s passions, these books have a ton to offer. 

(Full disclosure: This post uses Bookshop.org affiliate links.)

1. Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas by Alexi Pappas 

Genre: Nonfiction (Memoir)

Alexi Pappas is an Olympic athlete and filmmaker. She’s also a phenomal writer, who digs into her life and experiences to offer guidance on how to get through the tough times.

Bravey is not just about running, like I expected the memoir of an Olympic runner to be. Running plays a huge part, but it’s also about life, mental health, and just being a human. 

I originally listened on audio but ran out to grab a print copy for reference because there are just so many nuggets of wisdom. I reviewed this book after reading it about a year ago, so if you’re interested in my raw thoughts on the book, you can find them here: 

Turn Can’t Into Maybe
Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas by Alexi Pappasmedium.com

2. A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna Valerio

Genre: Memoir

A Beautiful Work in Progress may have been the first book about running that I ever read, and I was so pleased to encounter a struggle runner like me on the page. 

Valerio doesn’t “look like” a runner (which is a whole other can of worms because there isn’t actually any one look for a runner, but I digress). She doesn’t finish every race she starts, but she keeps pushing and following her passion for the sport.

The writing is hilarious and relatable, and had me considering becoming an ultramarathoner myself. I highly recommend this for a dose of motivation and a reminder that it’s perfectly fine to dare to fail. 

3. Running Outside the Comfort Zone by Susan Lacke

Genre: Nonfiction (Essays)

I picked up Running Outside the Comfort Zone when I finally got back into the swing of things after a running slump. It was exactly the extra inspiration I needed to recall why I love running and chasing impossible goals. 

This book features a number of essays about unusual races that Lacke signed up for during a year of chasing new and unique experiences to rediscover her love for the sport. They are hilarious and inspiring and occasionally a bit ridiculous. 

I wasn’t even halfway through when I decided to click “register” on a half-marathon this October. So, yeah, read with caution if you’re not ready to get out there and see what you’re capable of. 

4. The Bright Side Running Club by Josie Lloyd 

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

You may have noticied the other titles on this list are nonfiction. This is partly because I happen to be a nonfiction writer myself, and I love a good memoir when I’m interested to learn about people’s experiences with a particular subject. Nevertheless, fiction is also an amazing source of inspiration and can teach you plenty about life (and running). 

Josie Lloyd’s The Bright Side Running Club is inspired by her real-life experience of getting cancer and joining a cancer running club, but the story itself is fictional. I loved seeing the protagonist discover running and the ways in which it can help us redefine our understanding of ourselves. Not to mention, forgive lifelong friendships. This is one of my favorite running-related books to date.

Whether you run or not, I hope you’ll pick up these inspiring books about how a love for chasing goals and falling headfirst into a hobby can change your life. They are not just great books about running, but excellent books, full stop. 

Since I am training for a half marathon, I hope to pick up several more great books about running this year. Let me know if you’ve got a favorite that I missed here so I can add it to my TBR! 

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