This week’s Nonfiction November topic is Be / Become / Ask the Expert:
Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).
At some point in the mid-1980s, I found A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins in the little closet our church called a library, and reading about his walk across the country in the 1970s captured my imagination in a big way. I studied maps and read about interesting spots in each state as I planned out many variations of cross-country walks. Outside my imagination, I spent a fair amount of time hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which was practically in my backyard. During family vacations, I always wanted to walk places because it was such a novelty to be outside my somewhat rural area and in areas where people had sidewalks and things to do and see without driving miles in a car first. Even now, my favorite way to move my body and get outside is to walk with my husband either through our neighborhood or on the greenway near our house.
Be the Expert
It’s probably not a surprise that a book lover who loves walking also loves books about walking, and reading those books has taught me about so many other interesting topics.
Home from Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler and Walkable City by Jeff Speck are just a couple of books that have encouraged an appreciation of city planning. Both of those books talk about people and communities seem happiest when they’re not constantly in traffic going from home to work in an endless loop. Planning for walkability is a big part of creating a sense of community.
Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane, and On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor talk about walking in a historical sense, and I’m always on board for some interesting history. Wanderlust discusses walking’s relationship to culture and politics with a look to how trying to keep women in the home was linked to keeping them out of the musing and wandering that was loved by intellectuals. It was another way to keep women out of the conversation. The Old Ways blends natural history and travel writing as Macfarlane walks ancient paths primarily in England but also some other locations. On Trails begins with Moor’s hike of the Appalachian Trail and thoughts of an American pilgrimage, but then he follows the idea of trails to discussions of animals, shepherding, indigenous trails, and even the trails created on the Internet.
A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor was written in the 1970s about the first part of the author’s journey on foot across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933 and 1934. The entire journey is shared across three books, so if you enjoy Fermor’s voice, then you have two more books to walk through with him.
Become the Expert
I’ve shared some of my favorite books related to walking, and now I’d like to mention a couple that are on my radar for future reading. The Last Wilderness: A Journey Into Silence by Neil Ansell is a book about nature and solitude as shared through walks in Scotland and the author’s changing relationship with nature as he loses his hearing. The Salt Path: A Memoir by Raynor Winn describes the journey of a husband and wife who lose their home and decide to walk the South West Coast Path, the longest National Trail in Britain.
I had a whole list of possible subjects for this topic, and food was related to several of those in one way or another, so I’d like to share a couple of other Nonfiction November posts on that topic from Kelly at STACKED and Heather at Based on A True Story. In particular, I heartily second Kelly’s recommendation of The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty and Heather’s suggestion of The Third Plate by Dan Barber. Seeing Hippie Food by Jonathan Kauffman on Heather’s list made me happy that I’m the next in line for that one on the holds list at my library.