books about walking
Book Review

5 Books About Walking to Inspire as You Move through the World

Did you know that there are some great books about walking? Walking is so powerful, yet people often overlook its value. Personally, I walk every day.

I went car-free when I moved to San Francisco thirteen years ago. I do take shared transportation a lot these days, but I still walk when I can. Plus I adopted my pup three years ago and she encourages me to get out for walks every day.

When I get lazy about walking, there are books about walking to inspire me to get out there again. Here are five books about walking that I’ve read and recommend:

1. Walking in this World by Julia Cameron

This book, part of The Artist’s Way series, is a creativity exercise book that also encourages daily walking as part of a creativity plan. It has great tips and information for using movement-based creativity to improve your quality of life. I love the whole series and I was excited when Cameron added the element of walking to the other daily rituals she was already recommending (which includes morning pages, which are a form of daily journaling, and taking yourself on a solo date once a week). I haven’t read this book in years; maybe it’s time for a re-read.

2. On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation by Andrea Horowitz

In this book the author takes a simple short walk with experts in different fields and discovers that each person sees different things in the world. Truthfully, it’s not exactly about walking, but walking is the foundation or starting point for a life of observation. In that way, it’s an inspiring guide for walking, and I found that it also gave me a new perspective that infused creativity into my craft work and writing.

3. The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris by Edmund White

This is one of the first books about walking that I ever read. It revitalized my own interest in this simple exercise. It’s a book about Paris, a book about the history of wandering, a book about the magic of walking through the world. It’s one of those books that just inspires you to want to walk and wander in your own ways.

This book is not to be mistaken with the book Flaneur: The Art of Wandering the Streets of Paris by Federico Castigliano. However, that looks like another of the good books about walking.

4. Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London by Lauren Elkin

This is the story of walking through all of those cities named above, with Paris returned to again and again. It seems to be a good city for walking. In comparison to other books about walking, this one is focused on what it means to be a woman walking through the city. Of course, women wrote several of the books about walking on this list, so they come from a female perspective. However, this book specifically considers the difference between a “flaneur” and a “flaneuse” and the larger picture of being a woman walking through the world.

5. Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

I’ve fallen in love with author Solnit in recent years. The first book of hers that I read was the one about San Francisco, which was lent to me. I also read Paradise in Hell, her book about how we thrive in big disasters. And I really enjoyed The Faraway Nearby, a memoir about memory and stories. Wanderlust is her book about walking, about all of the different ways we walk and the stories of walking that are intertwined through time and her own experience of walking in the San Francisco Bay Area. I love how my own walks crossover with hers since we live in the same region.

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