Saturday, December 14, 2013

Five of the best books about walking

Robert Macfarlane is a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and has contributed to the New York Times Book Review, the Wall Street Journal, and Harper’s as well as the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books.

"To describe Macfarlane as a philosopher of walking," Rob Nixon wrote in the New York Times Book Review, "is to undersell the achievement of The Old Ways: his prose feels so firmly grounded, resistant to abstraction. He wears his polymath intelligence lightly as his mind roams across geology, archaeology, fauna, flora, architecture, art, literature and urban design, retrieving small surprises everywhere he walks…Macfarlane has given us a gorgeous book about physical movement and the movement of memory, one that resounds with stories told to "the beat of the placed and lifted foot."

One of Macfarlane's five favorite books about walking, as told to the Telegraph:
The relationship between walking and writing is as old as culture: footsteps are our first prints, our tracks tell, and every walk is a step away from a story. No wonder, then, that there should be such a long and extraordinary literature of the leg. I have about 15 rucksacks-full of such books. Some are ... exuberant with the joy of the open road, such as Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts (1977), the first of three books describing his legendary tramp in the early Thirties from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople.
Read about the other four books Macfarlane tagged.

Also see: John Mullan's list of ten of the best long walks in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue