It’s free, it’s fun, it’s still allowed… it’s walking! During our current circumstances I, like many people, have rediscovered the simple joys of taking a walk outdoors. Walking is good for our physical health (provided we practice our social distancing), and just as importantly, it helps us to clear our minds and focus on the here and now. On my own recent walks, I have discovered many delights, from local architectural details to wildlife, that I would normally miss when driving. Speaking of which, even the drivers seem more polite these days, stopping for me at crosswalks in a most unhurried fashion!
Here are some books on the subject of walking — from the history of it, to personal narratives of “wild” walkers and a memorable fictional character who is on both a figurative and literal journey.
Wanderlust : a history of walking by Rebecca Solnit (2000)
A cultural history of walking explores the practice, from ancient Greece to the present, delving into Wordsworth, Gary Snyder, Rousseau, Jane Austen, and other cultural and literary icons to show how this basic activity has been imagined throughout history.
On Trails: an exploration by Robert Moore (2016)
A groundbreaking exploration of the role of trails in shaping culture, order and history draws on the author’s international travels and findings in myriad disciplines while exploring examples ranging from tiny ant trails and continental hiking paths to interstate highways and the Internet.
Walking by Henry David Thoreau (1862)
This essay, published posthumously, is considered by many to resemble a concise version of “Walden.” Thoreau considers walking to be an effective way to explore both his inner and outer worlds. As he rambles through the woods, his thoughts ramble far and wide until they encompass his hopeful vision for the entire American continent.
Also available as an ebook in Libby (Overdrive)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (2012)
Recently retired, Harold Fry lives in a small English village with a wife who seems irritated by everything he does. Little differentiates one day from the next until a letter arrives in the mail from a woman he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy, in hospice, is writing to say goodbye. Harold pens a quick reply, but a chance encounter at the corner mailbox convinces him that he must deliver it in person. So Harold sets off on a six-hundred mile journey because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie will live.