Monday, September 23, 2013

Books for your walks

I love taking long walks, and the Oregon Coast offers so many good places to do it - on beaches, over dunes, in parks, and along trails into the green forests.  Every season offers new things to see. And yet, it’s easy to stop paying attention as one walks, to get caught up in one's thoughts and forget to look at the beautiful and interesting sights on either side of the trail.

 That’s why I was intrigued by Alexandra Horowitz’s book On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes.  A New Yorker, Horowitz experienced the same problem that I sometimes have:  she found herself walking through the city without really seeing it.

 So she took eleven different experts with her on her walks: a geologist; an entomologist; a typeface expert; an artist; a blind woman; a sound engineer; and so on. Each companion noticed and described different things about the same city environment.  The point of this exercise was to open Horowitz’s eyes, to help her to observe familiar things in a new way. “I aimed to knock myself awake,” she writes in the introduction.

I found Horowitz’s book helpful in making me more mindful and observant as I walked. And while I can’t take an expert with me on each walk, I can do the next best thing:  I can bring a field guide.

The Newport Library offers a wide selection of field guides for Pacific Northwest birds, plants, fossils, seashore creatures, mushrooms, and more. Click here to see a partial list of what's available.

How about books about our bridges and lighthouses? Or books about local historyRocks and fossils?  If you take nighttime walks, would you like to check out some books on how to identify the constellations and planets

And if you’re looking for new places to walk, we have lots of books on walking trails, too.

In short, we have a lot of resources to help you learn more about the sights and sounds that you encounter on the Oregon Coast.  If, like me, you sometimes forget to observe the world around you, a book can help knock you awake.

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