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Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,781 ratings  ·  312 reviews
Life is fast, and I've found it's easy to confuse the miraculous for the mundane, so I'm slowing down, way down, in order to give my full presence to the extraordinary that infuses each moment and resides in every one of us.

At 23, Andrew Forsthoefel headed out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Bloomsbury USA
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  1,781 ratings  ·  312 reviews

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Jul 27, 2018 added it
Shelves: read-in-2018
I can’t rate this book, because doing so would feel like rating the author’s experience. Reading his journey was long and uninteresting at times, likely an honest reflection of the walk itself. The jubilance the author felt when reaching his destination mirrored my own for reaching the end of his story. While I do not regret the time I spent reading this, I am quite excited about never picking it up again.
Follow Andrew Forsthoefel on his walking journey from Pennsylvania to California as he shares the stories he heard from those he met along the way.

I wasn’t anticipating such a spiritual journey along with the physical one. I’m not sure why because, duh, it is bound to happen. I greatly enjoyed hearing the stories of those Forsthoefel met, especially the Navajo women. But, at times, I felt myself weighed down with his musings on death and dying. Maybe it was because I was not in a place to want t
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Andrew is finished with college but doesn't know what to do next. He decides to take a walk. Across America. A walk to see if he can find out the important things in life.

He does. It's an almost year-long journey, from Pennsylvania, down South, through Texas, across New Mexico and Arizona, to California. Along the way, he meets people, and, true to the sign he wears, he walks to listen.

And, boy, do people talk. They tell stories about their lives, about the deaths of people close to them, abou
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: csb-books-brews
Ugh! I fought to get to the end of this book. I was far more interested in the stories of the people he met than the repetitive belly button gazing he gave throughout this book. While he at least acknowledged that this was the journey of a young white privileged young man, it did not step beyond the journey of a young white privileged young man. I recognize that the loneliness that he felt was real, it was self-imposed and he never made the leap to see that.

When he met the young man with the sa
The Hag Reads
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it

I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway, and the publisher included a letter asking me to review to book in exchange for “winning” the copy.

I didn’t look too much beyond the title, and the blurb touting it as a journey across America (on foot) wherein the author explores the stories of the people he encounters along the way, which both sounded exciting and interesting. I was super excited when I was notified that I had “won” the book (that was over a month ago). It arrived a couple of
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great account of the authors walk across America and to his encounters with the people he meets along the way. His goal to learn something about himself, through self reflection, about his own behavior and beliefs, and also about the lives and beliefs of the people he meets.
This story takes us back and forth from the authors life before the walk, and the lives of the people he encounters, and interviews through his idea of walking to listen. He was hopeful that something in their stor
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think I would probably give this more of a 2.5 than just a 2. If this memoir hadn't been selected as this months book club read I don't think I would have ever picked it up. Andrew's decision to walk across America to learn other peoples stories to more understand himself made me groan in annoyance after reading the preface. I just knew I was going to be annoyed throughout and I often was. I felt like this whole year was his whiny, I'm not ready to be an adult, excuse for not finding a job. I ...more
Amie Newberry
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Loved his writing—he knows how to place words together, but I often felt a current of being preached at by a young 23 year old. Sometimes his epiphanies were rather cliche. I hate saying that...because I respect the journey and the effort...but I struggled with the fact that he pointed a “young finger” at older people, older ideas, older wisdom and wagged it as if he had a better, more sophisticated answer. It was at time condescending. I’d give it 2 1/2 stars...but I rounded up for youthful ign ...more
Richard Becker
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable story of a trip in the tradition of William Least Heat-Moon. I was inspired by this young man who went on a walk in an effort to find himself spiritually. He meets many people along the way who are interested in him, help him, and cheer him on. They include people of every race and religion, including native americans. This is one of my favorite nonfiction books that I have read in awhile. It gives me hope in people at a time that I needed that.
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bravo to Andrew Forsthoefel for embarking on a remarkable journey and sharing it in a tender, funny and beautifully written book. His observations of people, places and the natural world are honest, sometimes raw and always authentic. I cried at the end of this book because I felt the true effort of his emotional and physical journey. So good.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it
In “Walking to Listen” there was a bit too much talk on inner family dynamics/processing that took away from the hyped excitement of walking 4000 miles. But the story about coming face to face with a gorilla and the talk about black bears made it worth the read.

good luck

Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was so impressed with this book; the author's youth did not impede his quest or his personal growth. I would not have expected this of many 23 year olds. His writing and insights were extremely thought provoking and hopeful for those of us who think about how we fit into our communities while enjoying our solitude. ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is somewhere between a 3.5 and 4 for me. I really enjoyed and admired the concept of what Andrew Forsthoefel did by walking across the country with the sole purpose of listening to what others had to say and learning from the conversations he had with the people he met. I also loved reading about the generosity of so many of the people he met along the way who helped him out with food and shelter when most of them didn't know who he was. Sometimes though it was hard to feel like I was ...more
Kristen Freiburger
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A quick and easy read. Loved his connection to his Mom. I appreciate his ability to make us care about his walk across America and the interesting people he met along the way. The walking cane story was my favorite. Thanks for recommending J-9. A perfect book to get me out of my funk.
Mar 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
A twenty- three year old fresh out of Middlebury College in Vermont with no prospects for the future sets off on foot from Philadelphia in Oct of 2011 to “Walk and Listen” — and makes it all the way to the west coast. He learns a lot about himself in this interesting book, but I’m still marveling that his folks had the inner strength to let him go. A startling read.
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Andrew was boldly vulnerable capturing his reflections and experiences during his adventure. The compassion and care he took describing the people along the way was inspiring. Truly remarkable book with passages that spoke directly to my soul.
Fred Forbes
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Since I am into coming of age and "road" stories, this book was a natural mix. Young college grad sets off from Pennsylvania, walking to the California coast, taking time along the way to listen to the folks he encounters. Good to see so many generous folks still living in the U.S. and hearing their interesting stories through his tales. I also enjoyed his references to Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" poetry as he relates it his changing situation. He also references Rainer Rilkes, a poet I was ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
1.5 Stars

The book itself felt like I was slogging through 4 miles of was so undeservingly long...and boring and so self philosophical at times that I groaned in frustration and tried to physically will Forsthoefel to stop writing about it. I rushed through the ending with the exhilaration that Forsthoefel felt at the end of his trip. I needed it all to end.

I'm not going to lie that his experience is awesome, his idea for walking and the fact that he completed his trip and learned from
Montserrat Archbald
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was excited to read this book because I love adventure tales and road trip tales, but the author spent weaaaaaay too much time philosophizing and not enough time on the interesting part: the actual nitty gritty details of walking across the U.S. What did he pack, what did he wear? What was his morning routine? Evening routine? How often did he stop, and for how long? What kind of physical complaints did he suffer? How did weather affect him? He obviously never learned the old English class saw ...more
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
I've ridden my bike across the country, and let's just say this book space was as slow as his walk was. I understand the Merit of this book and I can see parallels to his journey as I doing mine. However, I wish you describe the scenery more and picked up the pace a little bit more with his story. ...more
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a wondrous, adventurous soul-searching book, and a great read for those who suffer from Wanderlust, love the writings or Rilke & Whitman, or just seek a little affirmation that people are still basically good.

23-year-old Andrew Forsthoefel makes his way across the U.S. on foot, armed with a backpack full of provisions, an audio recorder, and a sign that reads "Walking to Listen". What he encounters over the next 4000 miles, as he treks from Pennsylvania southward and then from the South
Oct 06, 2020 rated it liked it
There's a line in a blink 182 song that "nobody likes you when you're 23." I didn't like the author of this book.

The author was kinda floundering in life and decided to "walk across America", and just listen to people's stories. He had a big yellow sign on his back pack that said "walking to listen. He walked south from Pennsylvania, to Georgia, then straight across to California. You get some big pauses in Alabama and Louisiana. The book other wise moves fairly quickly.

His parent's are divorc
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Someone close to me bought me this book as a surprise.

She began by telling me about a guy who walked across the United States and wrote a book about it and I thought: "Damn, that was my idea! He beat me to it!" Well, he did beat me to it, but rather than be upset about it, I was super excited to read the book when she finally pulled it out and surprised me.

I thought the book was excellent, and well-written. The story is fascinating and the conversations the author had with people along the way a
Kelly Ireland
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is by far the best book I’ve ever read. Andrew Forsthoeffel thinks in a way I’m sure most people do, but are too embarrassed to admit. He talks about his hopes, dreams, and lack thereof. His epic search for the answers is a true journey of self discovery and acceptance. As a 24 year old I felt like the book personally spoke to many of the same fears I’m having in my own life and helped me to accept them just a little more. Andrew is genuine and funny in his writing. I found myself cryi ...more
Eileen Leith
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
I only started this book because it was chosen by my book club to read. That is the same reason I finished it with one hour to go before our meeting! I kept hoping the author would give more details at the end of minor things like how many pairs of shoes he went through, how much money he spent along the way, how much his weight was affected etc. I found myself skipping over a lot of the Walt Whitman verses. I was truly amazed at the people who opened their doors to a complete stranger and let h ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful road trip musings and adventures of a young college grad. Searching for the meaning of his life, and wondering about America, Andrew hits the road with a backpack and a plan to cross the country on foot. Many vignettes of encounters with "regular folks" along the way, sensitive to racism, poverty, white privilege. Even though I'm older, I was wishing I could be like him. The journey is hard, but he came away from it wiser and accepting of our diverse country. ...more
Steven Severance
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This is a unique and sometimes great book.
A 23 year old walks across the country to listen to others life stories.
There are pieces of wisdom here, if not from the writer than from the other story tellers.
Each reader will probably respond to different sections. THe book paints a diverse picture of America and humankind.
I am 57 and did not really respond to his central themes of death, lonliness and coming of age. He talks about those three topics way to much, but still it was a cool project and a
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book having not heard of the author or his story before, but due to my love of travel and speaking to randoms on those travels. I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would, it is well written and the stories of those he met were interesting and some heartbreaking. I'd recommend this to anyone who like to meet you people on travels as I felt like I met everyone on his. ...more
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall a good book...the author gets into spells of existential rambling in some points. Sometimes I could follow it and appreciate it, other times not so much. I really enjoyed the story as a whole- walking across the whole country in a year (!) and all the little stories from people he met within.
Jessica Fellows
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the book. Didn’t want it to end. I love reading of travels and this is a great book about not only the authors amazing walk but the journey he takes as a young adult into life. I loved hearing all of the stories of the people he meets along the way and about the differences their lives can take. I highly recommend this book.
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