Before the last of the snow and ice melted from our sidewalks, my brother was in town for a short visit. We went out for dinner, then back to my apartment. I took off my shoes and plopped down on the couch, expecting him to do that same, but instead of sitting, he began to walk laps around my apartment. Turns out, he’s been trying to walk that magical 10,000 steps every day, and he hadn’t been able to hit his step count for the day yet.
This got me thinking about why we walk. Walking is a long-venerated tradition, especially amongst those with a creative bent. William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, Beethoven, Steve Jobs, many of Jane Austen’s characters… it seems as though walking not only gets the heart pumping, but also the creative juices flowing!
Some people walk for their health (physical and mental!), and others love walking as a cost-effective and eco-friendly form of locomotion. Whatever your reason for walking might be (destroying the One Ring, maybe?) Winnipeg Public Library has many books to get you moving and inspire your own epic journey this summer!
Walking by Henry David Thoreau
A meandering ode to the simple act and accomplished art of taking a walk. Profound and humorous, companionable and curmudgeonly, Walking, by America’s first nature writer, is your personal and portable guide to the activity that, like no other, awakens the senses and the soul to the “absolute freedom and wildness” of nature.
As the founder and president of Walking/Running Room, North America’s largest chain of special stores for walkers and runners, John Stanton has inspired people across the nation to develop healthier lifestyles one step at a time. In this book, you’ll learn how to set realistic goals, design your own training program, find the level of walking that’s right for you, choose the best shoes and walking wear for your needs, prevent and treat common injuries, and enhance your walking with optimum nutrition!
A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros
Frédéric Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B — the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble — and reveals what they say about us. Gros draws attention to other thinkers who also saw walking as something central to their practice. On his travels he ponders Thoreau’s eager seclusion in Walden Woods; the reason Rimbaud walked in a fury, while Nerval rambled to cure his melancholy. He shows us how Rousseau walked in order to think, while Nietzsche wandered the mountainside to write. In contrast, Kant marched through his hometown every day, exactly at the same hour, to escape the compulsion of thought. Brilliant and erudite, A Philosophy of Walking is an entertaining and insightful manifesto for putting one foot in front of the other.
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh introduces beginners and reminds seasoned practitioners of the essentials of mindfulness practice. Slow, concentrated walking while focusing on in- and out-breaths allows for a unique opportunity to be in the present. There is no need to arrive somewhere—each step is the arrival to concentration, joy, insight, and the momentary enlightenment of aliveness. When your foot touches the Earth with awareness, you make yourself alive and the Earth real, and you forget for one minute the searching, rushing, and longing that rob our daily lives of awareness and cause us to “sleepwalk” through life.
The Man Who Learned to Walk Three Times: A Memoir by Peter Kavanagh
Throughout his life, as he developed a very successful career in public broadcasting, built a family, and indulged in his love of music and travel, Kavanagh underwent various surgeries and rehabilitation to give him “normal” mobility after being diagnosed with paralytic polio as an infant. The Man Who Learned to Walk Three Times is a moving memoir of a full life, and of learning the same lesson over and over.
And here’s a walking pro-tip from one walker to another: downloaded audiobooks from Overdrive are a fabulous way to get through your summer reads list while getting that step count up! Grab your headphones, slip on the sneakers, and enjoy that sunshine! Just don’t forget the sunscreen.