Inspiration to Walk

Walking has always been connected with literary sources. As I explored pedestrianism, I found there are related issues of interest such as health and fitness and the current popularity in bicycling. Cycling in our communities is evolving in a parallel way to pedestrian causes as an alternative form of efficient exercise. And, on a personal level, I'm a dedicated cyclist when I'm not doing other things. So, here are a variety of my favorite readings that have inspired me:


Urban Adventure

Walking Exercise & Technique

Health & Exercise

Cycling for Change

The Lost Art of Walking - Geoff Nicholson

Lost Art of Walking An interesting look at the history, science, philosophy, art, and literature of walking. With a keen and wizened eye for dissecting the world around us, Nicholson draws us into a kaleidoscopic world built on something natural yet ephemeral to all of us. Walking, to Nicholson, is both the puzzle and the answer.

He's our guide in an Alice-In-Wonderland-type stroll through human nature, history, cultures and personal lives that leaves us breathlessly climbing the last steep hill with his Mother on her own last journey. He succeeds at drawing out the curiosity and want of self-knowledge in all of us. More to the point, walking is a wonder in and of itself and something worth pondering.

My full Amazon review on the book.

Walking – Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau's essay Walking Ask any serious walker, “Which writer has inspired them the most?" and Mr. T. is on top. His famously quoted "In wildness is the preservation of the world," became the clarion call of the early environmental movement. There's still wilderness in local streams, trees, parks and meadowlands as long as we appreciate nature in them.

Thoreau lectured on walking in the 1850s, and later sent a manuscript of his talk to the Atlantic Monthly, which published it a month after he died. Admirers consider Walking to be one of Thoreau's best brief statements of his philosophy. Also, seek out his essay, “A Winter’s Walk” for more on the experience of walking in nature.

Route 3 - What I saw on the road through New Jersey - Ian Fraizer (New Yorker)

Route 3 Article

A fascinating article by New Yorker writer Ian Frazier, about living in New Jersey and traveling along a highway (Route 3) that has clearly evolved beyond a challenge to drive and into a formidable, curious obstacle to walk. Frazier makes the harrowing trip from Montclair to Weehawkin commenting on the milestones and trivia that makes this required reading for anyone that has ever contemplated a long walk to New York City.

A Literary Visitor Strolls in From the Airport - Charles McGrath (New York Times)

NY Times Article on Will Self's Journey from JFK to Manhattan When eclectic London-based writer Will Self arrived in New York in 2006 he walked from Kennedy Airport to Manhattan, a perilous journey traversing expressways with no curbs and various neighborhoods for about 20 miles. As a student of psycho-geography, he believes a car-ride imposes a “windscreen-based virtuality” on travel, cutting us off from physically experiencing our own topography. Self claimed people don’t know where they are anymore, “In the post-industrial age, this is the only form of real exploration left. Anyone can go and see the Ituri pygmy, but how many people have walked all the way from the airport to the city?” This is a short article about his observations with accompanying photos and map of his journey.

The 90-Day Fitness Walking Program – Mark Fenton and Seth Bauer

90 day fitness walking A quick practical guide that’s easy to read and put into practice. Want the basics about walking as an exercise, without being bogged down in details this is the book for you. Even if you don’t exercise now, you’ll find some solice in simple daily steps too develop a healthy habit of walking. Co-written by the most widely know walker and author on the subject, Mark Fenton.

Prevention's Complete Book of Walking - Maggie Spilner

Prevention's Complete Book fo Walking This is a comprehensive, encyclopedic source of information about walking as an ideal exercise. About 10 years ago walking was enjoying one of its periodic times in the spotlight as an ideal exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle and lose weight. As the book title suggests, the book covers a lot of ground from weight loss workout plans, to finding perfect-fitting shoes,Yoga poses, treadmills and training for walking events and competitions. There's a 6-week Dynamic Walking program to get faster results from your walking routine.

American Idle – Mary Collins

American Idle

A comprehensive look at the social, cultural, moral and physical consequences of living an idle, sedentary lifestyle. The author had a severe bike accident, which drastically impaired her lifestyle. As a former athelete, she began to appreciate the importance of exercise and how we have created a society that avoids physical movement or enshrines it at professional levels. It is a world of overactive minds and underused bodies. Dramatic social changes have happened in a relatively short period of human history that have caused many public health problems today. The author suggests ways of adjusting our lifestyles to match the natural physical requirements of our bodies that have developed over thousands of years of human evolution.

Ultimate Fitness: The Quest for Truth about Exercise and Health - Gina Kolata

Ultimate Fitness The author walks us through some history of fitness, and covers a number of common issues about exercise. How much exercise is enough to be healthy? Can people change their body tone/shape through exercise? What is a heart rate zone? What is runner's high? It turns out that there have been several periods of our own history where healthy exercise was promoted, only to fall behind in our social conscience. As a science reporter for the New York Times since 1987, Gina Kolata has broad knowledge of the what works and what it means to be fit.

Pedaling Revolution - How Cyclists are Changing American Cities - Jeff Mapes

Pedaling Revolution A grassroots movement for bicycles is occurring today on city streets. The author explores the growing urban bike culture that is changing the look and feel of cities across the U.S. He discusses all the pro-cycling improvements in streets of New York City as well as what its like to ride in a Critical Mass event in San Francisco. Mapes is a seasoned journalist and long-time bike commuter,. He covers bicycle advocacy, environmental issues, safety, and health. Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN) is spotlighted as a new activist politician, who has helped unleash a new flood of federal money for bikeways. Bicycling has become a new political and cultural trend that has helped take back streets from motorists. This is a lively spirited book on how cycling, like pedestrianism, is becoming at catalyst for better health and communities.

Bicycle Diaries - David Byrne

Bicycle Diaries David Byrne of "Talking Heads" band fame happens to be a long-time cyclist. Little did we know that he also takes his bike with him to most places he travels. The Bicycle Diaries are his notes on what if feels like to ride in places like Istambul, Berlin, and London. Did you know that its rare to see a cyclist in Buenos Aires? What is surprising, and makes the book more interesting, is that it covers more cultural oddities and travel insight reflecting his artistic, but American tastes. A good casual read for the inner-pedestrian and wishful-traveler in all of us.