When I first read A Time of Gifts I felt it in my feet. It spoke to my soles. It rang with what in German is called Sehnsucht: a yearning or wistful longing for the unknown and the mysterious. It made me want to stand up and stride out into adventure.
He marches with the seven-league boots of youth, fatigue barely registering as whole countries roll beneath his heel. The comforting rhythm of his journey — exertion, encounter, rest, food, sleep; exertion, encounter, rest, food, sleep — rocks its readers into feelings of happiness and invulnerability. I could do this, you think, I could just start walking and keep going for a day or two, or three, or four, or more . . .
Listen to Robert Macfarlane reading from his beautiful essay, The Gifts of Reading. Recorded especially for Adventures for Harriet: a 600-mile literary pilgrimage across Europe by foot. Find out more below.