The most accessible form of exercise can also be an incubator for ideas and opportunity for reflection. Author Herbert Hobler switched from running to a morning walk, obsessively tracking his journeys. In Walking, a Moving Experience he combines observations from his walks with a memoir about his life and travels.
Hobler opens with some friendly advice for new walkers: Invest in comfortable shoes and hit the streets early whenever possible. (It couldn’t hurt to get a Golden Retriever as well; many of the stories here involve the family’s dogs, who were faithful and eager morning walkers.) From walks around his Princeton, New Jersey, neighborhood to walks around the world—including France, Chile, Hong Kong and Australia—the mood is light and the writing gently witty. Photos from Hobler’s travels and quotes from literature and the world of sports medicine about walking fill things out nicely.
In addition to such strengths, there’s an unfortunate pattern of nesting one anecdote inside another that makes the narrative hard to follow at times. For example, while Hobler walks the aisles of the Orient Express, the train’s clacking sound sets up a flashback: a story from his youth about a train trip to Hollywood that culminated in a date with a teenage Judy Garland. They are both great stories—Garland filches a nightclub ashtray to give him as a souvenir—but combining them diminishes their power. Also, Hobler occasionally writes in foreign dialect (“Itsa an olda Italiano game”), which slows things to a halt. Thankfully, such moments pass quickly and are few in number.
Holbler is a boulevardier and raconteur, and using walking as a theme gives this memoir nice continuity. Readers will be glad they spent time following the author on his travels, and— who knows?—they just may be encouraged to begin walking themselves.
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