Bloomsbury to Publish Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel
4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time
A memoir of one young man’s coming of age on a cross-country trek told through the stories of the people of all ages, races, and inclinations he meets along the highways of America.
At twenty-three, Andrew Forsthoefel walked out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read walking to listen. He had just graduated from Middlebury College and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn’t know how. So he decided he’d walk. And listen. It would be a cross-country quest for guidance, and everyone he met would be his guide.
Walking toward the Pacific, he faced an Appalachian winter and a Mojave summer. He met beasts inside: fear, loneliness, doubt. But he also encountered incredible kindness from strangers. Thousands shared their stories with him, sometimes confiding their prejudices, too. Often he didn’t know how to respond. How to find unity in diversity? How to stay connected, even as fear works to tear us apart? He listened for answers to these questions, and to the existential questions every human must face and began to find that the answer might be in listening to itself.
Ultimately, it’s the stories of others living all along the roads of America that carry this journey and sing out in a hopeful, heartfelt book about how a life is made, and how our nation defines itself at the most human level.
- The potential to become an American coming-of-age classic: Like WILD, this story of a walk is really a story of becoming an adult — of an earnest young man with LEAVES OF GRASS and LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET tucked in his backpack, trying to figure out how best to live as he travels deep into the
American landscape and the multifaceted American character. An inspirational, good-news story not only about individual striving, but about America itself — a rare thing these days!
- Readers come running for walking books: Peter Jenkins’ A WALK ACROSS AMERICA, a New York Times bestseller upon publication in 1979, has become a classic. In a different vein, Rebecca Solnit’s 2000 WANDERLUST is a perennial favorite. Both continue to sell thousands of copies a year. And
even aside from the phenomenon of Cheryl Strayed’s WILD, several memoirs of the John Muir Trail, the Appalachian Trail, etc. have had success.
- The book began as a very popular story on This American Life, which will rebroadcast the piece at time of publication. The book indeed taps into the rising popularity of stories of everyday lives, from StoryCorps to the Moth to Humans of New York. Studs Turkel’s spirit hovers over the book.
- A sure bet for college audiences; a shoe-in for First Year Reads — also makes a great graduation gift.
“The ideal antidote for even the strongest bout of national doubt . . . [with] frequent descriptive gems.” – Washington Post
Author’s Bio: Andrew Forsthoefel is a writer, radio producer, and public speaker. After graduating from Middlebury College in 2011, he spent nearly a year walking across the United States. It was the greatest privilege and blessing of his life. He now facilitates workshops on walking and listening as practices in personal transformation, interconnection, and conflict resolution. He is currently based in Northampton, Massachusetts.