You wouldn’t expect a book by Stephen King to be on this website. But I think almost every book has something in it we can all learn from. The book The Long Walk follows Ray Garrity who volunteers to complete the long walk: a walk until the last boy is standing (alive). The boys have three warnings if they slow down under 4 miles per hour before they are killed. This walk takes place every year and the prize for success is anything they want for the rest of their life.
I first heard about this book on an Obstacle Course Race podcast (I wish I could remember the details). The hosts were asking their guest about books they would recommend and The Long Walk came up. I enjoy Stephen King’s writing (especially in the Dark Tower) so I downloaded the book.
Enjoy Stephen King books or not his writing in this book is brilliant as always. At times the pace can seem slow and the dialogue between characters a bit mundane. King makes up for it with exciting twists and moral dilemmas.
Whether intended or not I believe The Long Walk is a metaphor for life. We are all walking through life with our inevitable death at the end. Although there is no lottery for living the longest, we are constantly trying to find happiness but for most it’s one more step away. Working harder doesn’t get us to the finish line any faster. Not working hard enough ends our chances of success. The characters in the book push themselves beyond what the walk (life) dealt them until they couldn’t push any more. The Long Walk is not only a physical trial, but a psychological one, as the Walkers are continually pressed against the idea of death and their own mortality.
How far could you walk if your own life was on the line? How would you behave around those competing against you? Could you maintain friendships? All of these questions makes for a great read on perseverance and human capacity.
I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.