To all those who got excited about our post a couple of weeks ago on retrospective displays at Central, a big thanks, and wow! You guys are a little scary in your fandom. You will be pleased to know that we now have a table full of sci-fi goodies just waiting to be browsed over and borrowed. Next on the menu is Adventure – we’ll be digging up armfuls of McLean, le Carre, Wilbur Smith and assorted other stories featuring rugged middle-aged soldiers/scientists/archaeologists marooned in the desert/Arctic/South American jungle, who find mysterious artifacts/enemy spies/deadly germs, and who save the world with the help of exotic young and beautiful Russian professors of linguistics. Oh, and a gun.
Once again, please overwhelm us with suggestions of authors and titles, and we will do our best to track them down for you!
Some time ago I suffered a sports injury that rendered me incapable of one the most basic of human activities…walking. So it was with no small degree of irony that I put a reserve on a book titled The lost art of walking: the history, science, philosophy and literature of pedestrianism. I had no particular expectations as to what the book might be like, I just saw it as an opportunity to blow a raspberry at the universe. I’m funny like that.
Anyway, in due course my injury healed and some way through that process Geoff Nicholson‘s tome on the art of perambulation turned up for me on the holds shelf. There really is nothing like losing the ability to confidently stride about on two fully functioning pins to make you appreciate the wonders and joys of walking so I suppose I was a very receptive audience to this book. I’m delighted to say that I really enjoyed it.
Transplanted Englishman Nicholson is a walker who lives in Los Angeles, world-renowned as a city of non-walking drivers. In this book he investigates everything from the spiritual benefits of walking (religious/meditative walking is more common than you might imagine) to the creative (street photographers get their own chapter and the author feels that walking is a good cure for writer’s block) to the “competitive walkers” of the Victorian period.
It’s a highly personal book in which he discusses everything from the family dynamics of holidays at Blackpool (including interminable walks along the “Prom”) to the steep hill walk that may or may not have led to his mother’s heart failure. In every chapter an anecdote or part of Nicholson’s walking history is revealed. Some chapters interested me more than others but all of them unveiled some previously unknown (by me) fact about that most mundane and ordinary of activities. I’d never really thought of a “walker” as being a particular “kind” of person but then I am one.
Read this and you’ll never think of “going for a walk” in quite the same way again.