The comedian Steven Wright said, "everywhere is walking distance if you have the time." The line makes me smile, but it makes me wistful too. If only I had the time.

Walking folds the walker into the pace of the world, while providing respite from the cares attached to our home or workplace. Baudelaire used the word "flaneur" to describe the walking explorer: "For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world." 

If you're hankering for a long walk but have no time, here are some titles to try, and a longer list, to boot.  :-)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is the story of a man plagued by the sense that he has made nothing of his life. One day he receives a letter from an old friend who is dying, thanking him for a past kindness. Harold writes a letter of condolence, but when he goes to mail it, he's struck with the sense that he must deliver the letter by hand. And so he sets off on a journey of several hundred miles, with only the clothes on his back. As he walks he reflects on the events that shaped his life.

Walking memoirs abound, with a resurrgence tied to Cheryl Strayed's Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. But don't miss the earlier A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson. Relax into the rhytm of Robert Macfarlane's The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, by Robert Macfarlane details the author's effort to become more intimately acquainted with his country by starting at his home in Cambridge, England and following the old roads and ancient tracks that crisscross his country. I'm looking forward in particular to Lauren Elkin’s Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London for a female perspective on Baudelaire's phenomenon.

Happy reading, and happy trails.

If you've admired the satisfyingly compact and elegantly designed Field Notes, then you're an Aaron Draplin fan. The author, graphic designer and founder of the Draplin Design Co. has createdAaron Draplin; photo: Michael Poehlman projects for the likes of Timberline Lodge, Woolrich, Patagonia, Nike, and Sasquatch Festival. You can see the range of his work in the eye-candy book, Draplin Design Co.: Pretty much everything.  He is passionate about design and has talked about it on Marc Maron's WTF Podcast. Here's what he has to say about his favorite music for summer:
 
I hide in the summers. I stay out of the sun and avoid the heat as much as I can. Oddly enough, my workload always swells. Each year I say I’m going to take a break in June and July here in Portland. That never happens. And this summer’s been nuts. Like it always is. Up early and down to the shop, watching the sun come up over Mt. Hood. Working late to beat the traffic back up Sandy Blvd to the house. My summer cycle. And there’s always a handful of records that rise to the top of what’s on rotation in the shop. A special category for me: My “Summer Records.” I can look back at each summer and remember the couple records that really got me. And in a lot of ways, helped me get through the warm months. 
 
In my list, I start with “morning records” and work towards "mid-day records” — as things pick up in the shop, the jams get more upbeat. As the day winds down, you get into the darker stuff. Those are the “late night records.”
 
August is still coming up, and I’ll be back home with Mom in Michigan. I’m always adding a couple records a week to my revolving list and am always excited to see what’s coming next to get into the mix. Maybe it’s a gnarly Bob Seger kick, being up in all that Michigan? We’d be down with that!
 
01. Jonathan Wilson, Gentle Spirit
When you look him up, everything talks about some “Laurel Canyon” resurgence. Los Angeles freaks me out, so I’m not tapping too much into any of that. This sounds like something I would’ve heard on the radio in 1979, sitting in the backseat with my little sister, on the way to the beach or something.
 
02. Mark Kozelek, Night Talks EP
As a long-time Red House Painters fan going back to 1993, I have a weird allegiance for Mark Kozelek. Although, he’s a trying artist to keep up with. I just don’t read articles about him, and stick to digging the records.
 
03. Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Way Out West
Just country enough to not make you squirm. Dreamy stuff.
 
04. John Moreland, Big Bad Luv
We love John Moreland. Our buddy. He’s come to the shop a for a couple visits and I’ve seen him play 5-6 times. Such a nice guy, with a big, big voice. I love his records so much. Thank you, John. 
 
More songs about drug deals gone bad, leaving cities and coming back to cities. And I love it. I’d like to meet this guy. 
 
06. Thundercat, Drunk
This stuff is weird! In the best ways. And funny. And really fun. Lots of little things to listen for. And laugh with. This is my favorite record cover of the year!
 
07. Son Volt, Notes of Blue
The first song on this one … that classic Son Volt. That one was enough for me. Over and over again. Rolling, warm and soothing.
 
08. Chavez, Cockfighters
Arithmetic! Math! Long division! Calculus! ‘90s math-y, rock-y heavy hitters, still hit as hard as they did in 1995. Turn it up!
 
09. The Afghan Whigs, In Spades
Dark, brooding, sinister and dark again. I used to associate them with Cincinnati. Now it’s New Orleans. I met the band a couple years back at Greg Dulli’s bar in the French Quarter. This record fits the mystery of that place perfectly, in a new way.
 
10. Mount Eerie, A Crow Looked at Me
Tread lightly here. This is a challenging record to listen to. As beautiful as it is, it’s like going to a funeral. Brave, dark, sad … oddly uplifting stuff.

 

Manoush Zamorodi explores "essential quandaries for anyone trying to preserve their humanity in the digital age."  Highlights include an examination of the hidden data embedded in that selfie you posted, and how to cope with information overload by spring-cleaning your brain.
 
This podcast gives a fascinating look into the culture and power dynamics around food and restaurants - lots of 'food for thought' (sorry!). They provide a unique local perspective, being based in an air-stream recording trailer here in Portland, and in fact, they've even blogged for us at the library. I learn something new every time I listen.
 
Politically Reactive  with Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu
This podcast takes the listener deep into political and philosophical conversations happening outside the mainstream media, with the understanding that we're not all as 'woke' as the next person -- in fact, they have a segment called "wait a minute" where they break from the conversation to explain allusions and concepts, so you can re-enter the discussion with some context. Oh, and humor, of course.
 
Portland comedy export Ian Karmel and friends 'fantasy draft' anything and everything, including condiments, Taco Bell menu Items, or presidential administrations.  
 
Who better than to settle your disagreements about whether to stay the night on a possibly haunted ship than the hilariously wry John Hodgman and Baliff Jesse Thorn?
 
 
 
Let's Know Things with Colin Wright 
Colin Wright has a smooth voice, a curious mind, and he explores a range of topics. He gives a balanced argument, is a careful connoisseur of sources, and generally just seems like a nice guy. And did I mention I'm a little bit in love with him? I'm a little bit in love with him. 
 
Vanessa Zoltan and Caspar ter Kuile host this podcast with the premise: What if we read the books we love as if they were sacred texts? And so they're on a quest to go through each Harry Potter book chapter by chapter to see what more it has offer us and how we can take this practice into our other reading.
 
 
 
Slate puts out a ton of podcasts, ranging from Dear Prudence's advice column to Lexicon Valley where all things language-related are discussed, but the podcasts that I most try to keep up with are the political ones. Trumpcast, with Jacob Weisberg was created during the election to report on Trump's run for president and it should have ended on election night. Unfortunately, we now have an even greater need to explore and explain all things Trumpian and Trumpcast is still there for us.
 
When I need a break from politics, I listen to 2 Dope Queens. It's a comedy-filled show with Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson telling honest, personal, and completely hilarious stories; interviewing other funny folks; and hosting a wide range of comedians. It's like eavesdropping on two good friends who pretty much have no boundaries on what they'll say to each other. 
 
I am loving Pod Save America, in which former Obama staffers and good friends talk about the politics of the day. They're funny, irreverent and appropriately outraged, and they also bring a lot of knowledge and experience about the way things normally work in Washington. 
 
Things are very, very busy at the New York Times these days. I have a friend who works there, and he says that the news reporters are in "a constant state of barely controlled chaos". The new podcast, The Daily, offers a window into that world, with host Michael Barbaro discussing the news of the day, usually with reporters.
 
I am a longtime fan of Dan Savage's Savage Lovecast, a sex advice show. Callers describe their concerns about love and sex, and Dan addresses these, sometimes with the aid very interesting guests. 
 
 
 
If you like 2 Dope Queens you should also check out Sooo Many White Guys. Comedian and author Phoebe Robinson (of 2 Dope Queen fame) will make you laugh until your sides hurt as she chats with authors, musicians, actors and performers who are for the most part not white guys. In her hilarious and insightful interviews, Phoebe celebrates the work of people of color, women and folks from the LGBTQ+ community. 
 
If you are or were ever a fan of Reading Rainbow, you will love LeVar Burton’s brand new podcast series LeVar Burton Reads. It’s basically Reading Rainbow for adults! With each episode fans have the pleasure of listening to LeVar read one of his favorite short stories for adults. 
 
 

 

The My Librarian team loves to spend time searching for the perfect book for you, dear readers; but when summer comes, we like to indulge ourselves with books that hit our sweet spot. Here are the titles we're excited about.

Alicia

I can't wait to sip some iced coffee, dig my feet in warm sand and dig into the new romantic-comedy, When Dimple Met Rishi. Dimple and Rishi are two gifted teens who meet at a Stanford summer program. Before the two teens met, their parents had arranged for them to be husband and wife. Rishi knows this, but Dimple does not.
 
If you're like me and are a huge fan of the 80s classic The Breakfast Club, you will also be ready to devour One of Us is Lying. Five high school students walk into detention on a Monday, but only four walk out alive. 

Alison

I love a good 'long walk' book, so when Cheryl Strayed recommended Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London, I immediately put it on my 'to be read' list.

 

 

Darcee

My eight-year-old and I are having a blast with Andy Griffiths's outrageously silly series starting with The 13-story Treehouse. It's inspired us to build our own treehouse this summer. We plan to skip the shark tank, but are still hatching plans to simulate Andy and Terry's ice-cream serving robot- Edward Scooperhands

 

 

Diana

If you love Jane Austen, are intrigued by the idea of time travel, and find yourself looking for something on the lighter side, let yourself get swept away to Regency England by Kathleen A. Flynn's The Jane Austen Project. Be warned, dear reader: it's a very difficult book to set down.

 

Eric

As someone who is deeply interested in Communism, and a massive fan of China Miéville's fiction, I'm stoked to read October: The Story of the Russian Revolution, his take on the early months of the Russian Revolution.

 

 

Heather

I was taken by this unusual debut by Paula Cocozza, How to be Human. Set during the summertime in London, this is a whole new look at obsessive love.

 

 

 

Karen

Summer is the perfect time to be entertained by David Sedaris. I can't wait to read his innermost thoughts in Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)

 

 

 

I am loving The Witches of New York1880's New York is only one of the intriguing characters in this novel due out in July about three young witches running at tea shop called "Tea and Sympathy." Sinister and whimsical at the same time, this book will take you away.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Somewhere in a park this summer, you'll find me(ow) reading Mustache Shenanigans by Jay Chandrasekhar. He's part of Broken Lizard, the group that created one of my favorite films, Super Troopers. It's a behind the scenes look into his life and comedy that'll be pair well with sun and a patch of grass. 
 
 
 
 
Summer is the perfect time to create stuff and Whoosh! is the perfect book to inspire kids who have lots of time on their hands!  I love this fun and whimsically illustrated book about Lonnie Johnson, the inventor of the Super Soaker, because it shows how he used everyday objects to come up with some pretty neat creations.
 
 
 
 
 

In Martha's Vineyard, Island of Dreams, Susan Branch uses her uniquely decorated diaries to illustrate one year spent in a one-room cabin on Martha's Vineyard. A perfect book to read during the long warm days of summer- especially if you need some inspiration.

Also, I just listened to The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell  The park was perfectly safe, better than a back yard, right? But when thirteen year old Grace turns up missing, it looks like a repeat of a similar crime ten years earlier. Tense and stagnant, the action of this title takes place during the hot summer. The narrator, Colleen Prendergrast uses an accent that makes me think I am in the middle of a British TV series.
Omar El Akkad is an award-winning journalist who has reported on stories as varied as the NATO-led war in Egypt and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri. His debut novel, American War, has been described by book reviewer Michiko Kakutani as "an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series The Hunger Games and Divergent.”
 
My taste in art leans heavily in the direction of misery. I’m a sucker for bleak books, dispiriting movies and, above all else, sad songs. In that spirit, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite downbeat albums. Some of these records cater in loneliness, others 
in self-loathing, others in general existential gloom. But all are fairly likely to ruin your day.
 
Suede – Dog Man Star
Certain albums should never find their way into the hands of a lovesick teenage boy, and this hour-long piece of gothic outsider Britpop is one of them. A meandering mass of dirges and not-quite- ballads that’s unlike anything this band, or any other, has ever done. I discovered this album at the age of 13 and I’m not sure I listened to anything else for the next year.
 
Jeff Buckley – Grace
The entirety of Buckley’s only studio album – he died far too young, drowned while swimming in an offshoot of the Mississippi river – is excellent. But the absolute high point comes about two-thirds of the way through, when the listener reaches Buckley’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah," followed by "Lover, You Should Come Over" – a combined 13 minutes of utter perfection.
 
Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N2 It
Almost every song on this album sounds like a funereal hymn in which the subject of the funeral has been allowed to posthumously participate. Mike Hadreas sings in an amalgam of sighs and whispers, at once immediate and very far away. The whole album is sad and beautiful but it’s the second track, "Normal Song," that gets me every time.
 
Sun Kil Moon – Benji
There’s a song on this album called Jim Wise. It’s about a man who killed his terminally ill wife and then tried to kill himself, but the gun jammed on the second shot. Jim Wise isn’t even the most depressing song on this record. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
 
The Be Good Tanyas – Chinatown
Whether you like sad songs or not, Chinatown is a terrific record, one of the best pieces of folk Americana of the last 15 years (ironically, the work of a Canadian trio). But if you do like sad songs, there are a couple of world-class numbers here – "The Junkie Song" and the ethereal rendition of "I Wish My Baby Was Born" are both gorgeous.
 
The Antlers – Hospice
Even if the thought of a concept album about a terminally ill cancer patient and her hospice worker strikes you as a terrible idea, you should give the Antlers’ best album a listen. It’s a truly great record, anchored by the standout track, "Kettering." Will the lyrics make you miserable? Of course they will.
 
Holly Williams – The Highway
Like a lot of my favorite country albums, this one is populated with all manner of mean drunks, dying towns and folks so down on their luck they couldn’t possibly get any downer. But The Highway’s crown jewel is its closing track, "Waiting on June." It tells the story of Williams’ grandparents, who were together for 56 years and died shortly before this album came out. It’s a life story told in a single song, and a hell of a song at that.
 
The opening lyrics of the opening song on this album go like this: “When they found your body / Giant Xs on your eyes.” What follows is an hour of sad, melodic music that, given the depths of misery the band plummets to on songs such as "Embrace," is still incredibly controlled, incredibly… pretty. This is road trip music, assuming you’re driving exclusively at night through the backroads of North Dakota in the dead of winter.
 
Ruby Amanfu – Standing Still
Ruby Amanfu’s stripped-down version of Cathedrals, originally recorded by the band Jump Little Children, is one of the most stunning covers I’ve heard in years. It anchors an album full of reimagined takes on other artists’ songs, from Bob Dylan to Kanye West. The only constant is Amanfu’s perfect, crystalline voice. This isn’t a particularly sad or depressing album, just perfectly, wonderfully bittersweet.
 
London Grammar – If You Wait
There are only two reasons this album is on the list. 1) I love Hannah Reid’s voice; 2) when I was writing the final scenes of American War, the song that never left my head was from this album, a track called Interlude. I think of my protagonist’s final moments and this song begins to play, every single time.

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