Emily’s Walking Book Club has been meeting for monthly walks on Hampstead Heath since 2012. It is an extremely friendly and relaxed group of people, bound together by a love of books, and of walking.

The idea behind it is that it’s much easier to talk while you’re walking – something about the rhythm of it loosens your thoughts and your tongue too. Perhaps it’s also easier because you’re looking around at beautiful landscape rather than making stressful eye-contact.

Here is a piece I wrote about it for the Spectator.

We were delighted to be recorded for Radio 4’s Ramblings with Clare Balding, first broadcast in 2013, for which we discussed Elizabeth Taylor’s Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont. You can listen again if you follow the link.

We set off at 11.30 sharp from Daunt Books Hampstead, and return there for 1pm. There’s a £5 suggested fee, but if you can’t afford this (plus the cost of travel and the book – I know, it adds up!) then just come along anyway and pay what you can. Fancy joining us? Great! Just turn up – details below – you never need to book a place (the Heath is always big enough to accommodate us), but please make sure you are suitably attired – there is usually a lot of mud, and it can be very wet and windy – and, of course, that you’ve read the book.

Our next meeting:

Sunday 9 June, 11.30-1pm

Up at the Villa
by W. Somerset Maugham

From: Daunt Books Hampstead, 51 South End Road, NW3 2QB

Suggested fee: £5

As June comes to Hampstead Heath, so we can imagine ourselves away to June in the hills surrounding Florence, where Mary Panton begins to feel ‘a lightness of spirit she had thought never to feel again’ after the death of her husband, a year before. Will she accept the proposal of Sir Edgar Swift, a friend of her father’s, or will she be led astray by roguish Rowley Flint? In fact, she takes matters into her own hands and something totally unexpected occurs.

I thought this might be in the comforting, if predictable, spirit of The Enchanted April – privileged English lady goes off and rediscovers herself in Italy (I actually ADORE that kind of book) – but in fact this swiftly turns very dark and chilling. I sat down and read it cover-to-cover in an afternoon. Looking forward to discussing it!

Sunday 28 July, 11.30-1pm

Anil’s Ghost
by Michael Ondaatje

From: Daunt Books Hampstead, 51 South End Road, NW3 2QB

Suggested fee: £5

Anil is the orphaned daughter of a respected Sri Lankan doctor who returns to her homeland in the early 1990s as a forensic scientist. She’s paired with a reticent archeologist, and together they must prove that a skeleton found in an ancient grave for monks is in fact the victim of a recent government killing. What begins as a literary thriller expands to become more meditative, as Ondaatje – author of The English Patient – considers the impact of this bloody period of Sri Lanka’s recent history on his characters and explores the isolation that can lie at our core.

Emily’s Walking Book Club has also popped up across the UK at Literary Festivals, Writers’ Retreats, and even at a hen party. If you think it could be the right thing for your own special event – birthday / team away day / school outing / anything else then please get in touch. I love taking this idea onto new ground.

Drop me a line if you’d like to find out more.