Archives For Walking


Yesterday marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau.

Although best known for his books [easyazon_link identifier=”1619493918″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Walden[/easyazon_link] and [easyazon_link identifier=”0486275639″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Civil Disobedience[/easyazon_link], one of Thoreau’s most poignant works for our fast-paced world is his treatise on walking.


Here are five of the most relevant and compelling passages from this work:

Download the full text for FREE:
   [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B0082RXTRE” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]  [ Project Gutenberg


1) To Walk is to Saunter

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Thomas Traherne

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Thomas Traherne
To walk abroad is, not with eyes,
But thoughts, the fields to see and prize;
Else may the silent feet,
Like logs of wood,
Move up and down, and see no good
Nor joy nor glory meet.
Ev’n carts and wheels their place do change,
But cannot see, though very strange
The glory that is by;
Dead puppets may
Move in the bright and glorious day,
Yet not behold the sky.
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An excerpt from

The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

Robert Macfarlane

Hardback, Viking Books.
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This book was at the top of our New Book Releases of the week list…

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THE NY TIMES review of
by Geoff Nicholson

If golf is a good walk spoiled, then walking is a great game made dull. How sluggish locomotion is, compared with the speed at which the mind absorbs new images and information. The brain strains at the body’s tether, seethes for new scenery, new stimulation, bridles at the slow feet below. Look at that tree with such lovely orange leaves, how pretty it is. . . . A minute later: the same tree, the same leaves, still good looking. Walking is adding with an abacus, it’s space travel on a donkey.

All the same, many people do it, and clearly Geoff Nicholson, the British author of “The Lost Art of Walking,” is among them. “I’ve strolled and wandered, pottered and tottered, dawdled and shuffled, mooched and sauntered and meandered,” he brags at the beginning of this pleasant tour of the literature and lore of ambulation. “I’ve certainly ambled and I could be said to have rambled. . . . I’ve also shambled, but I don’t think I’ve ever gamboled.”

It turns out that the highly prolific Nicholson also composes novels on his feet. It’s how he keeps his productivity up. He solves plot twists and problems of characterization as he walks.

Read the full review:

Geoff Nicholson

Hardcover: Riverhead Books, 2008.
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How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes from
and Why We Need to Get It Back

Ann Vileisis explores changes in American eating habits over more than two hundred years, and in doing so, reveals how the most basic human connection with nature-as a source of sustenance-became attenuated and indifferent, leaving consumers mentally disengaged from the world around them.

Vileisis begins her story with a return to Martha Ballard’s famous diary, reminding us that prior to the late nineteenth century, most Americans possessed intimate knowledge of the foodsheds from which their meals were drawn. To some extent, Vileisis challenges historiography that focuses on the disruptive force of agriculture, by arguing that despite its usurpations, pre-agribusiness farming provided humans with personal connections to the ecosystems in which they lived. “Yet at the same time farming changes and disrupts, it relies and rests upon nature’s rhythms” (p. 17).

Industrialization and urbanization soon lengthened the food chain and left consumers increasingly uneducated about the origins of their repasts. Factory-made foods filled daily menus, although consumers initially met them with strong resistance. The greatest strength of this book is found in those chapters that examine the five-decade campaign to elevate the supposed wisdom of government, university, and corporate experts on the nature of home economy. Vileisis highlights the inherent gender bias of this campaign which told women that the traditional kitchen knowledge inherited from their mothers and grandmothers had limited value.

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Ann Vileisis

Hardcover: Island Press, 2007.
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Trusting Doctors: The Decline of Moral Authority in American

Even the advent of a growing scientific basis for medical practice — which we can most accurately date from the middle third of the nineteenth century — has not lessened by an iota the degree to which medical authority has traditionally depended primarily on a well-recognized code of morality. As that authority has been in a state of decline for the past several decades, countless commentators have sought to identify the most significant of the congeries of reasons for which the steady downward slope continues. Has the profession sold its soul to science?

In a thought-provoking dissertation, Jonathan Imber seeks to convince his readers that, at least in America, medical morality — and, consequently, faith in doctors — can be traced to the righteous influence on the profession of Protestant and (to a somewhat lesser extent) Catholic clergy during the latter part of the nineteenth century and the first two-thirds of the twentieth century. He believes that the waning of this influence and the parallel rise of medical technology are to be indicted as having created the situation most directly leading to the loss of doctors’ authority. I would argue to the contrary: that it was always the physician’s morality, more than his technical competence, that provided the basis for his authority during the many centuries before scientific medicine began to bring the full fruits of its discoveries to ever larger numbers of patients. Moreover, that morality originated in religious principles long preceding Christianity — to a large extent, those derived from the ancient Mosaic code.

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Jonathan Imber.

Hardcover: Princeton UP, 2008.
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