Friday, September 9, 2016

The joys of walking & exploring
(even if they are vicarious joys)

One of my #FridayReads is A Walk Around the Snickelways of York.1 The illustrated guide, written by Mark W. Jones, doesn't detail the Pennsylvania city that I have lived near for 18 of the past 22 years, but instead offers a fascinating historic tour of the 1,945-year-old English walled city that began its life as Eboracum.

Snickelways2, first published in 1983, has gone through at least nine editions over the years. I'm reading the 1984 second edition. So, not only am I reading a book about a place that I can't walk around, but I'm reading about it as it existed 30-plus years ago. Some of the paths and alleys and secrets described in the book have, I'm sure, been lost in the name of "progress." But I like that. The book serves as both a vicarious tour and a time capsule of an ancient English city as it was in the 1980s.

I like books about walking tours.3 With the good ones, I can transport myself to a different world. It's like having one of those Star Trek transporters, but for your mind. OK, enough with the similes...

I picked up the colorful set of 1970s England walking guides pictured at the top of this post at the York Emporium earlier this year, and I can't wait to dive into those, too. The Diamond Geezer blog describes the guides and their history, which dates to the 1930s, in this 2014 blog post. Later, Geezer tries one of the walks from the 1970s and finds, to no one's surprise, that things are no longer as they once were. Which is why books like this are all the more valuable. (The fact that they're so aesthetically pleasing doesn't hurt, either.)

Philosophically related posts

And three more related books, one old and two new...
  • The London Nobody Knows, by Geoffrey Fletcher (first published 1962)
  • A History of the World in 500 Walks, by Sarah Baxter
  • Landmarks, by Robert Macfarlane

1. I haven't had a ton of free time for leisure reading lately, but my other #FridayReads include Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places by Rebecca Rego Barry, Doctor Strange #11 and I'm giving Gwenpool a try.
2. Snickelways is a fabulous term coined by the book's author. It is "a portmanteau of the words snicket, meaning a passageway between walls or fences, ginnel, a narrow passageway between or through buildings, and alleyway, a narrow street or lane."
3. Related: The Last Great Walk: The True Story of a 1909 Walk from New York to San Francisco, and Why it Matters Today by Wayne Curtis was a gift last Christmas that I'm still working my way toward on my hefty to-read list.

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