Ten Outstanding Books That Combine Walking and Thinking

Inspired by Verso Books’ excellent Guide to Political Walking, below is my guide to books that effortlessly combine walking, with musing about culture, literature, politics and geography, a form of exercise that I endorse.

  1. Wanderlust – Rebecca Solnit
  2. A Time of Gifts – Patrick Leigh Fermor
  3. Wildwood – Roger Deakin
  4. The Wild Places – Robert Macfarlane
  5. The Arcades Project – Walter Benjamin
  6. London Orbital – Iain Sinclair
  7. Mythogeography: A Guide to Walking Sideways – Phil Smith
  8. A Field Guide to Getting Lost  – Rebecca Solnit
  9. Psychogeography by Will Self
  10. The Lost Art of Walking – Geoff Nicholson

I’ll also point you to Paul K. Lyons’ compelling straight line walk across London, which some enterprising publisher ought to pick up.

Please make suggestions of any books that ought to expand this list.

17 thoughts on “Ten Outstanding Books That Combine Walking and Thinking

  1. Interesting list. I was wondering if you’re the one who asked suggestions from the Paris Review. It had several recommendations (here, including the comments). Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn can also be considered.


  2. I’ve only just started reading Open City, by Teju Cole, but it seems like a perfect fit for your list — the narrator wanders the streets of Manhattan. Lots of people have compared it to Sebald (whom I’ve never read).


    • Of the ten books, there are three that stand out as superlative: the two by Rebecca Solnit and Deakin’s Wildwood. These are rich, luminous works I return to repeatedly and find new depths.

      Paddy Leigh Fermor’s book is enchanting, with the added historical piquancy of being narrated in the very early days of the Nazis, before their abuses were manifest.

      The others are curios, all fascinating in their own very different ways. The Arcades Project is lesser Benjamin, but offers an insight into the flâneur, an archetype I am very drawn to.


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