WANDERLUST – Rebecca Solnit


Except it turns out that the book doesn’t really say all that much about the feeling the word portrays. The subtitle is the more accurate one: a history of walking.

Getting over my slight disappointment – where is that book that deals with the true wanderlust? – I started to read the book anyway.

The book beautifully describes the history of – you’ve guessed it – walking. From the ancient Greek philosophers to Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet and modern activists, she tackles it all.

I loved reading about people walking, why they walked, how walking came to be so eminent in the previous century and then started to disappear. Keeping in mind that since the book was written in 2003, a more subversive take on walking is starting to come about, with both young and old people trying to find their way back to nature and walking – just think about all the biographies of people walking the PCT, like Wild and Girl walks into the woods.

I loved reading about this, because I feel I should walk more. In my urban environment – that I love – I sometimes feel I should be out and about more. Not to shop and be bombarded by flashy commercials triggering all kinds of feelings that just make me want to get the quick fix consuming brings, but to be out in nature and work my body. To feel more like I did on top of Mt. Rinjani.

I thought this would be the perfect book to get me through the Dutch winter – let’s face it, not really walking weather.

Sadly, the book disappointed me. The amazing and great parts notwithstanding, the book was too academic for what I needed it to be. The reviews and back cover made it sound like a more subversive and life-affirming book, but what I got was a book with many great parts and many tedious ones. The subversive nature of it hidden in the background stories of people who took to walking, when walking was not considered an enterprise worth undertaking, of people who walk to write, to question, to challenge.

All in all, if you are prepared for an academic book with plenty of amazing great engaging parts, this is the book for you! If not, read another book first, before you find the peace an quiet for a book like this. Perhaps after a long walk.

My favourite quote (and let me state, there were many!):

I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour.





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