Based in New York, USA, Walker Ryan is a professional skateboarder and author of 'Top of Mason'. Aside from being a very talented skateboarder, Walker loves to read. This sparked his enthusiasm to write his own book, and to encourage others to read too. With Top of Mason being one of the few books out there that involves skateboarding, Walker hopes that this book may influence skateboarders in-particular to pick it up and have a read.
I caught up with Walker to hear more about his book, and to see what other things he does during the week to look after his health. You can purchase Walker's book over on the Old Friends website as a hard copy, and on Kindle or smart phone.
Hey Walker, could you tell us about some of the things you do during the week to keep yourself feeling well?
I try to read or write a little bit every morning. Living in the NYC in the winter can be rough for skating, but even if I can’t get out and skate, just pushing around at least a few times a week is super important to me.
Reading, writing and skating – sounds like a good mix. You've just published a new book called 'Top of Mason', how did this come about?
I love to read novels and I’ve always wanted to see skateboarding captured authentically in fiction. I came up with an idea for a story, set in San Francisco, and just started picking away at it. I had never tried writing a novel, so it was kind of an experiment. But after a lot of revisions, I’m happy with where it’s at. My friends and family really helped shape it with notes and feedback after reading early drafts.
Photo: Dan Zaslavsky
That's really cool, and there's not many skateboarders who are writing books, what are your hopes for people reading it?
My hope is that skaters who don’t necessarily consider themselves readers pick it up and enjoy reading it. It’s a quick, easy read which is the sort of book I most enjoy reading. If the skater-reader likes it, maybe after my book they’ll pick up some others. There’s a lot of people who don't enjoy to read fiction, so I'd hope to change that a little.
And when you're not reading and writing, you're a professional skateboarder, which means you probably manage to get out skating quite regularly. Do you think this is something that benefits your health in any way?
Yeah with skating, even if I might not do anything more than an ollie, just pushing and going fast gives me a nice satisfying rush along with a little exercise. I feel like the rush levels me out and the exercise is good for other obvious reasons. I’m admittedly not the best 'exerciser', so just going out to skate around and walking the six flights of stairs to my apartment a few times a day feels like it’s probably good for my body.
Yeah you're right, just a few times skating a week plus regularly going up and down stairs is a great way to keep active. People often forget about stairs when it comes to exercise, but six flights will definitely get your heart and lungs going. Is there anything that you'd like to change about your lifestyle?
I wish I was a little more on it with home exercising or strengthening work outs. I definitely lean toward the quick and easy, maybe not so healthy meals. So yeah I think there's a few things I could improve on.
It's quite a balancing act between work, exercise, healthy eating, socialising etc. I guess we have to be kind to ourselves so that we don't get too overwhelmed, and just try to do the best we can. Thank you Walker, good luck with the book, it's next in line on my Kindle!
With so many different types of books out there, it can be daunting for somebody who doesn't read very much to try and find the book for them. Growing up I (Ben) wasn't the best reader, nor did I prioritise reading over other things. I had to read a lot for my physiotherapy degree, which helped me get into the routine a bit, but I'd say the thing that sparked my interest in books was when a family member gave me a book for my birthday that I actually enjoyed. I became immersed in it, and inspired to read more when I had finished it. It took me forever to read, as I wasn't a fast reader, but I felt such a sense of achievement when I had finished it.
I guess my point it that if you don't consider yourself much of a reader, that's totally normal for many people, and it may be that you just haven't yet found the right style of book for you, or that you have other priorities in your life at the moment. It can also be difficult to know where to start looking, which is why I think 'Top of Mason' is a great one to start with, particularly for skateboarders. It's easy-to-read, not too long, and very relatable to people in their 20's or those who enjoy a good novel!