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The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, Philosophy, Literature, Theory and Practice of Pedestrianism Paperback – 1 Sep 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Harbour Books (East) Ltd (1 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905128177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905128174
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A leisurely, entirely delightful ramble through the history and lore of walking."
-"Washington Post Book Review"

"This book is no mere miscellany, but the story of a man's love affair with the oldest means of locomotion: one foot in front of the other..."
-"The Economist"

"Perfect for the armchair walker."
-"The New York Times Book Review"

"Anyone who enjoys excellent nonfiction should enjoy."
-"Chicago Sun-Times"

?A leisurely, entirely delightful ramble through the history and lore of walking.?
?"Washington Post Book Review"

?This book is no mere miscellany, but the story of a man's love affair with the oldest means of locomotion: one foot in front of the other
?"The Economist"

?Perfect for the armchair walker.?
?"The New York Times Book Review"

?Anyone who enjoys excellent nonfiction should enjoy.?
?"Chicago Sun-Times"

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Geoff Nicholson is the author of twenty books, including Sex Collectors, Hunters and Gatherers, The Food Chain, and Bleeding London, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The book starts with, what I thought, was a very interesting introduction. It hooked me in and made me want to keep reading.

I found myself becoming involved in the theories of why we walk on two legs and the way we view walking. I've always liked things like this - studies show this and that and then someone else has a counter-theory or there are new findings. I think it would be a good topic to debate! There's even a brief dip into the environment argument and health benefits.

I have to confess that I never realised how many words are associated with walking or thought about my own style. My favourites have to be strolled; mooched; sauntered; shambled, hiked and marched. What do the first four say about my style do you think?

I also have to admit that I've never noticed all the walking written into novels but on reflection in my recent meanderings I've walked through many fields and alongside ditches/riverbanks - I've sauntered along dusty roads in India and along High Streets.

I am intrigued by the thought of letting the environment guide you - to let your feet take you where they will with no destination in mind and by the label psychogeography. I can understand having different walks to solve different problems (as Ian Sinclair does) as when my husband and myself walk (or should that be stroll) we choose places for how they make us feel.

The walks themselves are connected with popular people ie Richard Long, Captain Barclay, Guy Debord, to name a few. The author intersperses these walks with his own experimental challenges that parallel these and also with his own personal anecdotes. At the end is a mini biography, which Geoff Nicholson also relates to walking. There is a bibliography and online resources.
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Format: Paperback
Geoff Nicholson is best known as a writer of fiction who occasionally forays into writing non-fiction books about subjects which interest him - The Lost Art of Walking being one of the latter. This book is both an anthology of walking and walkers, while also being a set of personal stories aobut Geoff's walking life.

Geoff isn't one of those serious walkers who kit themselves up with serious equipment and attempt record-breaking distances or timings. But walking is a vital part of his life, even though it often he has "strolled, wandered, pottered, mooched, sauntered and meandered". He's certainly done some serious stuff too - a chapter on desert walking describes a more committed type of walking than many of us would attempt, but on the whole, there is more in this book about walking around cities than in the great outdoors.

Geoff is interested in psychogeography which Joseph Hart describes as "a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities...just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape". And I think that's quite a good description of this book too - the range is vast but certainly focuses on urban walking, the deliberate launching out on a walk through a city with no other purpose than to see something new and to be open to any new insights that come at you along the way.

The book covers a vast range of walking topics. There are chapters on particular cities - London, Los Angeles, New York, in which he describes his own urban walks. He includes more thematic chapters such as "Eccentrics, Obsessives, Artists", and "Music, Movement and Movies".
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If, like me, you are looking for a serious work on walking, don't be taken in by Nicholson's sub title: "The history, science, philospohy, literature, theory and practice of pedestrianism." This book is mainly an uninspiring regurgitation of stuff to be found elsewhere. Exceptions include a rather snidey and graceless account of a meeting with Iain Sinclair, a trip to view J.G. Ballard's old neighbourhood, and the reproduction of some unilluminating email correspondence with Will Self. I'd love to learn the words that exploded in Self's brain when Nicholson got back in touch with him. Despite its sub-title, then, you have to hope that this does not imagine itself to be in any way an academic endeavour. I guess if you enjoy writers like Bill Bryson and Ian Marchant you might like it. You might not, though, because, although Nicholson aspires to their brand of laddish humour, he fails to deliver a punch line. In fact it is so jejune in places that I was taken aback to discover the author is in his latter 50s and has a string of books to his name. One final observation: if I were writing around the topic of walking and topography, and enjoyed taking potshots at authentic voices like Sinclair, I'd make sure I didn't commit schoolboy errors like advising folk to steer clear of the Isle of Dogs when Millwall are playing at home. Yes, Millwall Dock is on the Isle of Dogs, but Millwall FC has lived south of the river since 1910. My advice would be, if you see this book, walk away.
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Format: Paperback
If there's one thing this book leaves you with, it's a sense of permanence which our psychographic trails will leave behind, long after we have passed, through the beautiful art of walking. Splicing an informal and educative ramble of Baudelaire with Will Self, and many others inbetween, from metal music to symphonies of the mind, the magic of our feet taking us places that sort out our heads can NEVER be estimated. Never have I felt like such a walker - it reminded me of the epiphany felt by the common man, walking through the night to the glory of nature in Howard's End. A great walking partner, I'm going to buy one for my dad, and probably many more - and Nicholson doesn't advocate ridiculous boots, synthetique crotch skimmers or sticks. I love a mad walk. I love a long road. I love this book.
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