The best books about walking

2 authors have picked their favorite books about walking and why they recommend each book.

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Thinking on My Feet

By Kate Humble,

Book cover of Thinking on My Feet: The Small Joy of Putting One Foot in Front of Another

This is a book for people who like to come home to a steaming mug of tea after a long walk in the countryside – rain or shine. Kate Humble takes us with her on her walks through the year, both at home and abroad. Her descriptions of the Wye Valley make you want to put on your wellies and walk out the door, dogs in tow, ready to splash through puddles, hop styles, and walk beneath the trees and the clouds. It is a lovely reminder that it is so often the little things in life that can bring us the most happiness: muddy walks in the woods, chatting to friends over a pot of coffee, watching the sky change as the sun rises. I love this book so much: it’s a lesson in the benefits of learning to live in the moment and to not take the simple…


Who am I?

I'm a writer and a botanist with a lifelong interest in nature. I grew up in southern England where I spent my time running around the fields and woods searching for birds, insects and wild plants (as one does). As well as writing about nature, I run plant identification training courses and have a genetics PhD.


I wrote...

The Orchid Hunter: A Young Botanist's Search for Happiness

By Leif Bersweden,

Book cover of The Orchid Hunter: A Young Botanist's Search for Happiness

What is my book about?

In the summer after leaving school, a young botanist sets out to fulfill a childhood dream--to find every species of orchid native to the British Isles. He has just a few months to complete his quest, which no one has ever done before within one growing season, and it will require ingenuity, stamina and a large dose of luck. As he battles the vagaries of the British climate, feverishly chasing each emerging bloom, Leif Bersweden takes the reader on a remarkable botanical journey. This study of the 52 native species is a fantastic gateway into the compendious world of orchids, and one that will open your eyes to the rare hidden delights to be found on our doorstep. Includes an essential guide to finding all 52 British orchids.

London Overground

By Iain Sinclair,

Book cover of London Overground: A Day's Walk Around the Ginger Line

OK, this isn't focused on the subterranean, but it does touch frequently upon underpasses and tunnels and is a personal journey, passing through the parts of London where the 'Ginger Line' - the London Overground railway -  runs. Sinclair uses his experiences to illuminate the changing city, a jumping-off point for explorations of places, their past, and present. His journey is bound up with writers and artists of all kinds. He, like Ackroyd, has an eye for the bizarre, but Sinclair has a sense of danger, real and modern, while Ackroyd summons the haunting past.


Who am I?

I've lived and worked in London for most of my adult life and am perpetually astonished, amazed, and fascinated by the city around me. It's histories, small and large, are a constant delight and surprise for me, and its hidden places of enchantment fire my imagination. So, when I came to write my first novel, for Claret Press, there was no other place where it could possibly be set and I chose central London which I knew very well and had layer upon physical layer of history. Given that it was a crime thriller, it had to use those hidden places, which mirrored the surface world, as part of the plot. Walk with me along one of London's lost rivers on my website


I wrote...

Plague

By Julie Anderson,

Book cover of Plague

What is my book about?

Work on a London tube line is halted by the discovery of an ancient plague pit and in it, a very recent corpse. A day later another body is found, which is linked with the Palace of Westminster. As the number of deaths climbs Government assurances are disbelieved and a disgraced civil servant and a policeman must find the killer before more die. Power, money, and love curdle into a deadly brew that could bring down Parliament itself.

Walk On! A Guide for Babies of All Ages

By Marla Frazee,

Book cover of Walk On! A Guide for Babies of All Ages

At first glance, this appears to be a picture book about a baby learning to walk...but oh no...it is much more than that! It is a book about learning how to do anything - and a great book for adult learners (an excellent graduation gift as well). In this book, the baby has to face the following as they are learning to walk: support (sometimes what you think will support you, won’t), looking out for things that are fragile, pulling yourself up, and being ok if your knees buckle. Grip and pull yourself up, then find your balance. Remember to breathe, feel the sway, and let go. It’s common to fall down, are your socks bunching up? Shoes too tight? Diaper weighing you down? (Fix things before you start.) Make sure your path is clear of obstacles and expect some rough patches. Look toward where you want to…


Who am I?

I am a mom and life-long educator who has often scratched my head and wondered why kids give up so easily when things become a little challenging. I learned about fixed and growth mindset principles and decided to apply them to an education setting. What I realized during this time is that both adults and kids give up too easily and demonstrate fixed mindset thinking way too often! As a result, I wrote a few books for teachers, parents, and kids about ways to develop a growth mindset! I am sharing some of my favorite books that can be a catalyst for discussing resiliency and perseverance with the kids in our life!


I wrote...

Nothing You Can't Do!: The Secret Power of Growth Mindsets

By Mary Cay Ricci,

Book cover of Nothing You Can't Do!: The Secret Power of Growth Mindsets

What is my book about?

Nothing You Can’t Do! The Secret Power of a Growth Mindset is an engaging, funny, and interactive book for kids who need some support sticking with stuff. Things like sports, school, music, art...just about anything that a kid faces! The book is divided into “secrets.” Here are a few: (Shhhhh don’t tell anyone that I am sharing some secrets) Secret #9: Your Brain Can Get Smarter and Stronger! Secret #10: Bounce Back from Setbacks. Secret #14: Don’t Be Afraid of Mistakes. Secret #25: Have Some Strategies in Your Back Pocket.

Readers can learn to observe life through an optimistic lens, handle mistakes in a positive way and reflect on the potential that we all have when we learn the secrets of a growth mindset. 

Wanderlust

By Rebecca Solnit,

Book cover of Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Like Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost, this book is about what it means to be open to serendipity, to take “subversive detours,” and to travel without a checklist, shopping list, or itinerary. Neither of these are traditional travel books, but instead offer a sense of travel that includes our own backyards and dreamscapes as well as foreign terrain. Solnit is one of the great and one of the most versatile writers of our time, with a roving intelligence that enlivens whatever she looks at, be it medieval maps or downtrodden city streets, and that, finally, is what travel writing is at its best: we encounter not just new places, but new ways of seeing.


Who am I?

Well before I started writing travel books and novels, I was addicted to travel, to wandering, to being a vagabond. As a teenager I would hitchhike and simply go wherever the driver was headed, roaming as far as possible before turning around in time to get home before dark. As soon as I turned 18, I worked for six months day and night and then took the money and spent a year on a very low-rent tour of some 25 countries. As you will see, my picks here have little or nothing to do with hotels and restaurants, and little to do, except in passing, with sightseeing or sports activity or other common tourist activities. Like my own books, they are interested in people and ideas and, as Rebecca Solnit calls it, getting lost.


I wrote...

And the Monkey Learned Nothing: Dispatches from a Life in Transit

By Tom Lutz,

Book cover of And the Monkey Learned Nothing: Dispatches from a Life in Transit

What is my book about?

Tom Lutz is on a mission to visit every country on earth. And the Monkey Learned Nothing contains reports from fifty of them, most describing personal encounters in rarely visited spots, anecdotes from way off the beaten path. 

Traveling without an itinerary and without a goal, in
Monkey Lutz explores the Iranian love of poetry, the occupying Chinese army in Tibet, the amputee beggars in Cambodia, the hill tribes on Vietnam’s Chinese border, the sociopathic monkeys of Bali, the dangerous fishermen and conmen of southern India, the salt flats of Uyumi in Peru, and floating hotels in French Guiana, introduces you to an Uzbeki prodigy in the market of Samarkand, an Azeri rental car clerk in Baku, guestworkers in Dubai, a military contractor in Jordan, cucuruchos celebrating Holy Week in Guatemala, a Pentecostal preacher in rural El Salvador, a playboy in Nicaragua, employment agents in Singapore specializing in Tamil workers, prostitutes in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, international bankers in Belarus, a teacher in Havana, border guards in Botswana, tango dancers in Argentina, a cook in Suriname, a juvenile thief in Uruguay, voters in Guyana, doctors in Tanzania and Lesotho, scary poker players in Moscow, reed dancers in Swaziland, young camel herders in Tunisia, Romanian missionaries in Macedonia, and musical groups in Mozambique. With an eye out for both the sublime and the ridiculous, Lutz falls, regularly, into the instant intimacy of the road with random strangers. 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

By Rachel Joyce,

Book cover of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Harold Fry sets off on the spur of the moment to trek across England, believing he can save a former colleague with terminal cancer. But that’s not all that needs saving. Rachel Joyce’s distinctive voice makes me feel as if she’s sitting next to me, telling the story, and from time to time both of us burst out laughing. But this heartwarming novel also made me consider how poignant life is, how we make wrong turns, and how sometimes we feel the urgent need to make up for past mistakes.


Who am I?

I’ve lived in small towns and capital cities and gone to school on four continents, so I love books in which the location is practically a character in the story. When moving, I struggle to put down roots and feel legitimate in my new home. Writing about old homes helps. While living in New England, I wrote my Jana Bibi trilogy, set in India. Now in New York state, I’m setting a new novel in my native New Hampshire. I’ve been a Jill of all Trades: teaching, software, editing, fact-checking, social science research, and, most happily, fiction-writing. I’m also an amateur musician and an avid foreign language buff.


I wrote...

Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes

By Betsy Woodman,

Book cover of Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes

What is my book about?

Scottish-born Janet Laird (Jana to her friends) inherits her grandfather’s house in an Indian hill station and moves in with her loyal housekeeper and savvy parrot. Her own home, at last! But when the town is threatened by a government dam, Jana has to help to attract tourists and put it on the map. She hangs out her fortune-telling shingle—and Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes is born. Will the ploy work? Readers all over the world responded to the novel’s humor, drama, and Bollywood-style high spirits.  

Clear Waters Rising

By Nick Crane,

Book cover of Clear Waters Rising: A Mountain Walk Across Europe

I followed Nick’s adventures from a young age, and he’s partially responsible for my wanderlust. I learned I didn’t have to conform to society’s expectations, that is was OK to follow my dreams, and to pursue what I wanted from life, not what others wanted for me. Nick’s book takes him on an epic hike across Europe, including walking through winter. He is a master storyteller. 


Who am I?

Keith Foskett has hiked around 15,000 miles on classic hiking trails including the Pacific Crest Trail, El Camino de Santiago, and the Appalachian Trail. He has written four books, and contributes to various outdoor publications. Having once been described as an anomaly (it was apparently a compliment), he now divides his time between walking, cycling, and delving into the merits of woollen underwear.


I wrote...

The Journey in Between: Thru-Hiking El Camino de Santiago

By Keith Foskett,

Book cover of The Journey in Between: Thru-Hiking El Camino de Santiago

What is my book about?

Keith Foskett was the definition of restless. Drifting aimlessly, he knew a piece was missing from his life. But when a stranger in a Greek bar tells him about a world-famous pilgrim's trail, the chance encounter sets Foskett's life in a new 1,000-mile direction. On El Camino de Santiago, the hiker copes with extreme temperatures, fake faith healers, and kleptomaniacs. Threatened with arrest for 'not sleeping' and suffering with excruciating blisters, Foskett pushes himself to new limits. Can he find what he's looking for and reach the finish in Santiago de Compostela?

Cool Gray City of Love

By Gary Kamiya,

Book cover of Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco

In this beautifully written book, you find yourself wandering the streets with the author as he comes upon the quirky and eccentric characters and locations that have charmed us all for generations. But you also meet the real people who do the real work that keep this city running, and he doesn’t shy away from visiting the parts of town that are mostly well off the beaten tourist (or local’s) path! There’s probably no other book about San Francisco that made me so glad to live here, but also felt so honest and true to the strange contradictions that define this place. Kamiya’s ongoing coverage of the city’s history via the online SF Chronicle has furthered his role as an indispensable chronicler of the city’s life, past and present.


Who am I?

I’ve lived in San Francisco since I was 20 in 1978. I helped launch Processed World in 1981, Critical Mass in 1992, and Shaping San Francisco in 1998. I’ve been co-directing and co-curating the archive at foundsf.org since 2009, and have been fully immersed for years in gathering and presenting local history online, on bike and walking tours, during Public Talks, and most recently on Bay Cruises. I have published three books of my own and edited or co-edited seven additional volumes, much of which covers local history. The more I’ve learned the more I’ve realized how little I know!


I wrote...

Hidden San Francisco: A Guide to Lost Landscapes, Unsung Heroes and Radical Histories

By Chris Carlsson,

Book cover of Hidden San Francisco: A Guide to Lost Landscapes, Unsung Heroes and Radical Histories

What is my book about?

In Hidden San Francisco Chris Carlsson peels back the layers of San Francisco’s history to reveal a storied past: behind old walls and gleaming glass facades lurk former industries, secret music and poetry venues, forgotten terrorist bombings, and much more. Carlsson delves into the Bay Area’s long prehistory as well, examining the region’s geography and the lives of its inhabitants before the 1849 Gold Rush changed everything, setting in motion the clash between capital and labor that shaped the modern city.

The definitive San Francisco ‘history from below’, Hidden San Francisco invites you to step out in the streets and use its self-guided walking and bike routes to immerse yourself in a history that is varied, contested, and still being written.

Walking Home

By Simon Armitage,

Book cover of Walking Home: A Poet's Journey

This is one of the best books I have read about a long walk – in this case, the poet laureate Simon Armitage’s account of the 19 days he spent walking the Pennine Way, beginning at its northern extremity and ending up near his home in West Yorkshire. This is not a precious, solipsistic memoir of the sort favoured by many of our celebrated New Nature Writers, but a wonderfully droll account of what was often a hard slog, where at the end of each day Armitage, who set off without any money, sings for his supper, reading poetry in village halls, pubs, barns, and other venues, and takes pot luck with whatever accommodation he is offered for the night. Walking Home provides a vivid portrait of one of our great landscapes, and the quirks of character and acts of kindness he encounters on the way.


Who am I?

I thought I was going to be a farmer, but some serious practical experience after I finished school put paid to that idea. I then focused my attention on conservation, before turning to travel writing. All of which led, eventually, to a growing interest in development issues and how people can make a living from the land. The result is over a dozen books, some of which are narrative-driven travelogues – many based on my experiences in Africa and elsewhere; and some of which focus on the nitty-gritty of agriculture, agroforestry, and related issues. My most recent book, Land of Plenty, provided a state of the nation account of British farming during the tumultuous year (for farmers, at least) when the UK voted to leave the EU.


I wrote...

Land of Plenty: A Journey Through the Fields & Foods of Modern Britain

By Charlie Pye-Smith,

Book cover of Land of Plenty: A Journey Through the Fields & Foods of Modern Britain

What is my book about?

A great many people are fascinated by food – just look at the viewing figures for programmes like MasterChef – but they often know little or nothing about our oldest and most important industry, which is agriculture. This was what stimulated me to write Land of Plenty. During the course of a year, I travelled the length and breadth of Britain talking to the people that supply us with our daily bread and butter, meat and fish, fruit and vegetables. There are certainly many things wrong with the way we use the land, but there is much to celebrate too. Land of Plenty is a homage to the people who have shaped our countryside.

A Good Night Walk

By Elisha Cooper,

Book cover of A Good Night Walk

A good goodnight book slows things down, quiets down the room and the people in it. This book does just that. When nap-time and bedtime were frequent and important in our home we really loved this book. You go for a walk and when you are back home you are ready for bed. Decrescendo. 


Who am I?

I write and illustrate picture books. Before I was a father I just thought of the picture book as my chosen art form. When I became a dad, I saw first-hand how important picture books are in the lives of young children and the people who read to them. They become family friends. For the youngest kids, bedtime and nap-time are rituals performed many times a day, which means those books get read over and over. In doing so, I found some favorites that I still enjoy reading today, even if I am reading to myself!   


I wrote...

Wild Honey from the Moon

By Kenneth Kraegel,

Book cover of Wild Honey from the Moon

What is my book about?

On a cold winter's eve, deep in the woods, a mother shrew frets about her sick young son. His head is hot and his feet are cold, and there is only one known cure: wild honey from the moon. Mother Shrew does not stop to wonder how she will make such an impossible journey. Instead, she grabs her umbrella, gives her darling son a final kiss, and sets out.

Along the way, Mother Shrew encounters one obstacle after another, from a malevolent owl to a herd of restless wild horses to an island humming with angry bees. But she is a mother on a mission and she shall not be deterred.

Walking Denver

By Mindy Sink, Sophie Seymour,

Book cover of Walking Denver: 32 Tours of the Mile High City's Best Urban Trails, Historic Architecture, and Cultural Highlights

I had fun learning more about Denver by walking. I decided to take 32 different friends or family members on the 32 different walks outlined in the book. It was a great way to spend time outdoors in conversation and exploration. It is fabulous if you are new to Denver or if you want to rediscover the city where you have lived for a long time. 


Who am I?

A few years ago, I began rediscovering my hometown of Denver as I walked neighborhoods and revisited landmarks of the city that I had not seen since I was a kid. Essential Denver highlights the fabulous things the city offers from my perspective as a Denver native. I encourage readers to explore Denver, plan outings, and become involved in the community. I hope this Denver book list sparks more interest in landmarks, treasures, and the history of Denver to ensure the city’s future is strong and vital. 


I wrote...

Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

By Lisa J. Shultz,

Book cover of Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

What is my book about?

Perfect for newcomers and tourists to learn about the city. Great for those born in Denver and long-standing residents to rediscover and appreciate the rich history of the city. 

Written by a Denver native to be different from the usual guidebook. The author shares her unique view of her hometown to inspire exploration and appreciation of Denver's treasures. If you are looking for the standard template of most travel guides, this isn't it. If you are looking for fun facts, great lists, and plenty of ideas to plan your next outing, this book is a good choice. 2021 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards: First Place Winner in Travel/Outdoors.

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