8 Books To Read Out Loud On A Rambling, Wintry Walk

One of my favorite things about winter (after all the food) is the long, rambling, bracing walks. In the summer, it’s just too hot to move very far — but in winter, you can wrap up in chunky scarves and cozy hats and trudge through the snow, your breath misty in the air. And then of course, you can come back out of the cold and settle down with a delicious mug of hot chocolate, which is probably the best bit of the whole thing, if we’re honest.

As a massive fan of the wintry walk, I’ve come up with a ton of ways to keep yourself entertained on a long seasonal hike. You can play games (telling a story one word at a time is a particular favorite of mine); you can sing songs; you can pick berries (but not the red ones) — or you can read books. Out loud. Like a goddamn Jane Austen heroine (but with better shoes).

There’s seriously nothing more romantic than the idea of trekking through the countryside book in hand — though of course, it’s not quite the same if that book is The Hunger Games. You need something windy and twisty and passionate; something with a journey. Something like one of these…

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Is there any book better suited to a blustering winter walk than Wuthering Heights? If you want to do this properly, you’ll bring earphones and listen to Kate Bush’s classic song at the same time. (If, like me, you can’t understand why everyone loves this song so much because it’s terrible, you can skip that step.)

2. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

65-year-old Harold Fry is on his way to post a letter to an old friend whom he has just discovered has terminal cancer — but when he reaches the post box, he decides to walk just a little further. To the next post box. And then to the next post box. And then… he decides to walk the full length of England to reach her in hospital. All he asks is one thing — she will wait for him. He will keep walking, and she will keep living. You might want to bring a whole box of tissues on that walk of yours.

3. The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck

The Wild Iris is a poetry collection all about spirituality and nature, so it’s the perfect companion to your trek through the trees. Poetry this beautiful can make the starkest winter landscape seem totally life-affirming.

4. Railonama by Anupama Sharma

Of course, while walking can be the most scenic method of travel, it’s definitely not the most efficient if you want to get somewhere really exciting. So if you really want your walk to take you somewhere, try reading aloud from Railonama, a collection of stories and poems centered around the Indian railways.

5. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

The hero of The Unnamed suffers from a very unusual condition: every now and then, he is struck with an irresistible compulsion to walk. He abandons clients mid-conversation; he abandons his beloved family — and he walks until exhaustion stops him.

6. Diving Into The Wreck by Adrienne Rich

Turn your walk into an exploration of social justice and the patriarchy with Adrienne Rich’s collection of feminist poetry. You’ll definitely be ready for that cup of tea by the end of this angsty walk.

7. Open City by Teju Cole

Julius, a young Nigerian doctor in Manhattan, wanders through the streets as a way of processing his relationships, his breakups, his work life. The novel reads like a perfect map of New York City — both physically and culturally.

8. Iovis by Anne Waldman

Iovis is one long rambling memoir-as-poem about motherhood, politics, and feminism, that will inspire you to start a revolution of your own — just as soon as you can find your way home, that is.

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