Dan Rubinstein's Born to Walk is a perfect springtime read, an absorbing book that will awaken your senses to nature and your nature. Rubinstein takes a fascinating look at how the simple act of walking has the power to transform our lives and the world around us.
He talks to us here about great non-fiction, pedestrian surprises, and the perils of reading while walking.
49th Shelf: In Born to Walk, your project is huge—a mix of science, sociology, and memoir, crisscrossing continents, and approaches. What other non-fiction books did you have in mind as a template for organizing and synthesizing such a vast amount of information?
Dan Rubinstein: I live and breathe non-fiction, both books and long-form magazine features, but one of the challenges I had when looking for works to emulate is that most narrative non-fiction books, such as Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, involve a single main character on one main journey. Into the Wild, The Golden Spruce, and Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubinstein (no relation)—books that I consider to be among the finest of this genre—were not great templates for me. They feature the mix of reportage, personal storytelling, and travelogue that I love. But I wanted to write about a string of characters on a range of differ …