EverWalk’s founders, Diana Nyad and Bonnie Stoll, started a virtual book club during the pandemic, during which they have lead lively discussions on many great books about walking — as well as other inspirational journeys.

For any walkers out there looking to read a book about where our two feet can take us — and why, here are our first twelve book club selections, along with a brief glimpse at what our EverWalk readers thought of them. If you like this list, please join the Book Club on our EverWalk app, where we engage in virtual conversations about books and walking with readers and walkers from around the world!

FICTION

We have read both classics and current fiction, beginning with . . .

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

As this was our first read, we began on a high literary note. Our group was fascinated to conflate Woolf’s own walking and writing habits with the actual route Mrs. Dalloway took through London. We found out that there are actual tours that recreate Mrs. Dalloway’s walk — and much of what she would have seen one hundred years ago can still be seen today! We all resonated with the way that walking sparked memory and insight, love and loss, in the mind of Mrs. Dalloway — as well as the vast range of life one encounters on every walk. This book remains a literary classic for a reason — but it is also a book any walker will both understand and enjoy!

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The other “classic” which our group tackled was Wuthering Heights. Unlike Mrs Dalloway, it landed with a thud. Most of our group knew the book from one of its many film adaptations — and all of us seemed to remember a lot more long walks on the moors. The plot of the book and all of the similarly-named characters proved challenging to most of us — as did the characters. And what seemed terribly innovative and original almost two hundred years ago seemed vastly less so now. All in all, Wuthering Heights proved a disappointment to our group — both as a classic as well as a book about walking. However, the inspiration that Bronte found while walking the moors which led to the book did make it noteworthy, as — of course — its place in sparking so many literary successors.

The Long Walk by Stephen King

Last October, we chose this book written by horror great Stephen King under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. This dystopian — and rather grisly — novel was most certainly a book about walking. The whole book is quite literally one long walk — sparking some lively conversations among our walkers about shoes, socks, and the ability to walk without stopping. Those who enjoyed the book found King’s deep-dive into his characters superb. Others simply found the whole thing a bit too disturbing and dystopian. But all agreed it fit the bill as a good Halloween-time book about walking.

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Released in 2020, we selected Migrations in an attempt to branch out into a current book about an inspirational journey — and the environment (a passionate commitment of our EverWalk founders through their OceansCommit initiative). The group was split on this well-reviewed novel. Some found it beautifully written— and were deeply moved by this dystopian but dreamlike view of our planet’s future. Others could not get past the unrealistic and overly dramatic plot. Most found our departure into inspirational journeys not to their liking. Indeed, this is not a book about walking — but for anyone concerned about the fate of our planet — it may still prove an important read.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

This heartwarming story also met with mixed reviews from our readers. Some loved every last bit of this funny, clever tale of a man who heads out to post a letter and ends up on a very very long walk to visit a dying acquaintance on the other side of England. Others simply could not get past the unrealistic characters, the flawed walking descriptions, and the too-obvious plot spoilers. That said, this book has earned kudos from readers around the world for its characters, its uplifting message, and its humorous writing. So if you’re looking for a fun novel about walking, this book is for you!

NON-FICTION

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

This moving memoir — a first book by Raynor Winn — was among the most popular of our book club picks. (We intend to read her follow-up memoir as well.) The story of a couple, who lose everything at the same time as the husband is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and then decide to walk one of England’s most famous long coastal walks, prompted admiration, much discussion, and the desire among all of us to visit this beautiful part of the world. All of our group resonated with the healing power of a long walk — and we all enjoyed the ways that Winn managed to weave a very personal story in with a kind of walking travelogue that captured both the place and the many walkers they encountered. The Salt Path received five stars from our very discerning group of readers.

The Last Great Walk by Wayne Curtis

The Last Great Walk has proven to be our Number One Pick! A fascinating look at a true event — the cross-country walk of a seventy-year-old walking legend right as this country was shifting from being a walking to a driving culture. The clever and compelling way in which the author weaves American history and popular culture into this amazing and epic story, while creating a clear manifesto for a return to two-legged travel, earned our admiration. Well-written, fascinating and fun, The Last Great Walk is a must-read for all walkers or aspiring walkers — as well as history buffs.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

The whole world loves Bill Bryson’s writing — for good reason. He is knowledgable, funny, wry — all while telling the story of one of the most epic walks in the world. In this bestseller, Bryson takes on some of this epic trail with the most unlikely walking companion — and learns about himself, other people, nature — and the history of the Appalachian Trail. It is a wonderful read for anyone considering this trail or who wants to consider taking on something unlikely and epic in their future!

Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin

The idea of this book resonated with our whole group — but the writing and the choice of cities less so. Our group found itself split on Elkin’s book — loving the idea of being a flaneuse — but not particularly compelled by either the writing or the deep dives into all of the cities. That said, reading this book sparked a lively discussion about the joys of urban walking among our group. So, ultimately this book would be an excellent choice for any walking book club who enjoys a lively discussion.

Tracks by Robyn Davidson

In all honesty, most of our readers called it quits after stumbling into the camel cruelty early on. Those who plowed on, however, loved this book about a woman who Robyn Davidson’s memoir of her perilous journey across 1,700 miles of the Australian desert with only four camels and a dog for company. Like so many epic journeys, the interior transformation proved as compelling as the exterior journey.

Walking by Henry David Thoreau

Although short, Walking did not prove a sweet read, but rather a laborious one. The universal sentiment after reading this essay by Thoreau was that the Thoreau we all believed we knew has very little to do with the actual Thoreau. So while this did not prove to be a favorite, it did provide the opportunity for a deep dive into nineteenth-century American history. And since most of us don’t remember much from school, that alone proved worth our time.

Find a Way by Diana Nyad

Our most recent selection was the memoir EverWalk founder Diana Nyad wrote after completing her epic swim from Cuba to Key West in 2013. Not only does Diana’s story qualify as an inspirational journey — but it was quite literally this swim that inspired Diana and her expedition leader, Bonnie Stoll, to found EverWalk. Our group gave this memoir rave reviews for the writing, the story, the inspiration they received from reading it — and its relevance to anyone (not just epic endurance athletes) who wishes to find a way to live their one wild and precious life with gusto and grace. Five stars from our group — who thoroughly enjoyed their chat with the author.

JOIN US

If you are a reader and a walker, please join our app by clicking HERE — and join the Book Club where you can find out our latest selection. And if you are an author of a book on walking and would like us to consider your book, please email us HERE. We’d love to hear from you.

 

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