My interest in neighborhood walks started when I was a teenager and I read Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write. In it, she writes about the value that regular walking does for creative folks. I took to walking based on that. As a young adult, the habit fell off a bit in favor of gym time and other (alcohol-based) pursuits.
Once I got married and had kids in strollers, walking was back, baby! Strolls around the block became a great way to get out of the house.
And then, of course, The Pandemic. Everyone was taking laps around the neighborhood all of sudden.
If you’re a walker, you’ve probably had the experience of noticing things in your neighborhood that you miss when you just drive by. Maybe a neighbor planted something new in the flower bed, or someone painted a front door, or got a new dog. Spike Carlsen’s A Walk Around the Block is for people like you – the noticers.
A curious guy himself, Carlsen spent months researching and interviewing people who make our neighborhoods work. Broadly, he divides his musings and trivia into four categories:
- Incoming (Electricity/Water/Mailing/Phones)
Outgoing (Poop hahahaha, Trash, Recycling)
Surfaces (Roads and Parking)
Nature (Pigeons, Squirrels, Trees, and of course Walking)
By the end of the book, you’ll be full of interesting trivia, you’ll have altered a few habits for the good of your community, and you’ll have a new appreciation for the unseen folks who make our cities work.
I do want to mention that I listened to the audiobook version of this during my walks around the block. It just seemed so fitting. I can’t find the narrator’s name, but he nailed the cheeky deadpan delivery of Carlsen’s humor. Unless you like to keep written facts handy, do consider the audiobook for your walks around the block.