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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique and Wonderful Achievement
This book is rather humbly subtitled a history of walking. But it is much more than that, this is a wonderful work of philosophy, imagination and wonder.
A history this book is rich and wide ranging. Yes we do get an almost Chatwin-esque detail of how walking has entered the western consciousness, but we also gain some wonderful insights into both the society of...
Published on 18 Nov 2003 by Andrew Howell

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5 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars goes nowhere
everyone has their own inner thoughts on their walking. This writers views are dull new age ramblings.
Published on 4 July 2010 by Nick Hindley


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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique and Wonderful Achievement, 18 Nov 2003
By 
Andrew Howell "andyhowell3" (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This book is rather humbly subtitled a history of walking. But it is much more than that, this is a wonderful work of philosophy, imagination and wonder.
A history this book is rich and wide ranging. Yes we do get an almost Chatwin-esque detail of how walking has entered the western consciousness, but we also gain some wonderful insights into both the society of yesterday and today.
Consider just one little fragment: the significance of womens' love of shopping! Apparently, walking to the shops was virtually the only activity which Victorian society felt it appropriate that allowed women to venture out of the home on their own. So 'doing shopping' is about liberation, about revolution and gentle rebellion. Radical walking is certainly a feature of this book.
For me, there is nothing like walking hiking or treking. As Chatwin used to suggest, it is the most natural means of movement and transport. Even Bruce Chatwin at his most fantastical would have been astonished by the scope of this book.
Since Wanderlust's publication I have bought this for several walkers and the first thing they have done after finishing it is to have bought another copy for a friend. If you are a walker then this is an essential text.
But just because this is about walking doesn't mean that this is somehow boring or of a certain nice. Consider some of the Chapter headings. yes they include titles like 'The Legs of William Wordsworth' and 'Of Walking Clubs and Land Wars'. But here there is also 'Paris, or Botanizing on the Ashphalt', 'The Mind at Three Miles an Hour', 'Walking After Midnight: Women, Sex and Public Space' and, lastly, 'Las Vegas, or the Longest Distance Between Two Points'.
This is unique. It is fascinating, authoritative, quirky and entertaining.
If you like walking, over mountains or just strolling after lunch, than this is a book for you. Truly original.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In praise of shanks's pony, 4 Oct 2009
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Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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I have always enjoyed walking: I walk to work every morning and back home in the evening, I adore walking in the mountains and the outdoors in general, when we still had a dog I used to take him out for a walk twice a day, ... but somehow, I never gave this a second thought. After all, what could be more natural for 'bipedal mammals' such as ourselves than to walk? But Rebecca Solnit's wonderful book utterly convinced me that there's loads to be said about walking. In the very first chapter of 'Moby-Dick', Melville claims that 'meditation and water are wedded for ever.' Well, I am now convinced (or perhaps I should say 'have become conscious of the fact') that walking can claim the very same.

'Wanderlust' was a real eye-opener to me. Solnit covers a myriad different aspects of the history of walking: I discovered how the act of walking can express dozens of different things and serve dozens of different purposes, how the meaning attributed to walking changed over time and differs from one nation to the other, how modern cities are designed to accommodate primarily cars instead of people (people walking, that is), and loads of other things. I never imagined how so simple an act could have such a deep connection to the very essence of being human.

Clearly, Solnit has done her research thoroughly, and knows her subject in and out. On the upside: what you get is an astonishingly wide and knowledgeable discussion of walking in every shape, colour and texture. The downside (perhaps logically) is that this is no easy reading: the language is, at times, very learned, and you need to keep your wits about you when reading about people 'less acculturated to the northern European romantic tradition' or 'the spatial and sensual engagement with the terrain'. However, that is a minor quip of mine, and undoubtedly largely due to the fact that I am not nor ever will be a native speaker of English.

All in all, a very good book, one of the kind that suddenly gives you completely new insights into what was until then just an everyday act. Heartily recommended!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book and tremendous scholarship!, 9 Sep 2009
By 
Guerrilla_Urbane (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
Where can one start in reviewing this excellent, wide-ranging, and fresh perspective on something as basic as walking?

The author writes with tremendous enthusiasm on something that many of us take for granted. In the process she draws some deep insights going to the heart of what it is to be bipedal in the world that the human race has created for itself. Parallels are drawn between the ability to walk upright and the evolution of the human intellect. Great philosophers and writers are mentioned who themselves walked as a means of stimulating their ideas and writings. Great thinkers such as Rousseau, Kierkegaard, and writers like William Wordsworth, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen to name but a few of those cited in the book who have walked and thought and wrote. Rebecca Solnit provides rich food for our imagination and understanding of walking in all its forms: from pilgrimage, procession, revolutionary marches and protests, urban street walking, rural walking, mountaineering (vertical walking!), walking as an art form; and more.

Indeed walking is seen as integral to our humanity - a basic 'right' to identify with, and explore our surrounding landscapes and cityscapes. The author identifies the conflict between this right and the 'privatization' of public space, and the spread of suburbia. Walking is the common language that animates our cities and streets, without which they would die.

This is a very personal view of walking, with many deep insights and marvellous quotes. One of my favourites is by the historian G M Trevelyan (1913):

"I have two doctors, my left leg and my right. When body and mind are out of gear (...) I know that I shall have only to call on my doctors and I shall be well again."

It is gratifying also, that the Scottish Rights of Way Society is acknowledged within the book as being the oldest surviving society contributing to safeguarding the public right of access.

This is a fascinating and thought provoking read, which will challenge whatever assumptions you may have about the subject matter. Expect to negotiate the "meadowlands of your imagination."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cornucopia of delights!, 2 Nov 2009
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Solnit is a marvel. In this book about walking, what it means to walk, changing views about walking, different kinds of walking, she has created a beautiful weaving together of all sorts of topics, from evolutionary development - which came first, being bipedal, or cognition; the development of gardens, and what that said about European society; literature, the Enlightenment and the Romantic Movement; reading the landscape as an artwork; womens' freedom to walk; the sexualising of walking - streetwalkers; the spirituality of walking - pilgrimages, labyrinths. And more. Much more.

I read this book with a permanent smile fixed on my face, in delight at the fascinating ideas she unfolds, whilst wearing her extensive research extremely lightly and gracefully.

Its a book you could either devour, cover to cover, or dip into, to explore aspects which particularly fascinate you.

Make sure you read it with a pen/highlighter in hand, as you may feel the need to mark and highlight lots. Her writing is erudite, beautiful and inspired.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book, 15 April 2013
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Ms. A. M. Simmonds (UK) - See all my reviews
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I love Solnit's writing, great and interesting read, would absolutely recommend to anyone who wants to read something fairly easy to read but want's to also learn a lot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A welcomed gift, 19 Oct 2013
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J. Rendle - See all my reviews
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I bought this for my walking relative, and he loves it, I know that he has got much pleasure for the book and would recommended this book for all walkers
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read, 12 Feb 2013
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I cannot believe the one star that someone has given this book. They clearly have no imagination or understanding of walking, mindfulness and how lazy our society has become, this book is brilliant - I even bought it for my brother for his birthday after already purchasing my own copy. Interwoven with history and thought provoking writing - makes you want to go off walking alone with no headphones, mobiles,or anyone yapping to you - get back to nature instead of sitting on your arse thinking about going outside and complaining there is nothing on tv. I think the one star review is ridiculous
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lovely, 20 Oct 2013
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The DVD arrived in very good timing after I ordered it and the packaging was up-to standard. Thank you very much!
I think y mother who loves going for long walks will hopefully enjoy reading this book.
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5 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars goes nowhere, 4 July 2010
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everyone has their own inner thoughts on their walking. This writers views are dull new age ramblings.
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Wanderlust: A History of Walking
Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit (Paperback - 1 May 2014)
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