Email this review


A guidebook to aimless wandering.

When Smith (The Imaginary World of…, 2014, etc.) stumbled across an old copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass in a used bookstore and found some handwritten notes in the book, a wave of excitement went through her body. What did "WW will show you the way," "Solivitur ambulando," or the small thunderbolt symbol under the words "The Wander Society" mean? Determined to learn more, the author spent considerable time researching online and on foot to uncover this elusive society of aimless wanderers. In this book, she compiles her discoveries for those intrigued with the idea of meaning found through a re-examination of life. "While we cannot say for sure exactly who the Wander Society is,” she writes, “I believe its members exist to aid us in our quest to discover our own deepest soul life, to help us to move to a higher place of consciousness." That may seem an impossible or even fruitless task, but thanks to Smith's compilation of notes, observations, musings on the writings of Whitman and many other "wanderer" writers, as well as specific tasks to perform to become a full member of the Wander Society, readers will have no difficulty incorporating these ideas into a daily routine. By following the listed initiation rites—e.g., making a wander badge complete with a stitched lightning bolt insignia or finding a talisman, reading at least some of the suggested literature, and simply getting outdoors and walking—contemplative readers and those inclined to New Age rituals will have a fun time away from the hubbub of modern life, even if they never attain full membership in this secret society.

The amusing and informative philosophy of a hidden culture that proposes that wandering is the key to a soulful life.

Pub Date: March 29th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-14-310836-8
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2016


NonfictionWALT WHITMAN'S AMERICA by David S. Reynolds
by David S. Reynolds
ChildrenWALT WHITMAN by Milton Meltzer
by Milton Meltzer
ChildrenWRECK THIS APP by Keri Smith
by Keri Smith