Our Outside/In column features books about ways to discover, enjoy, protect, and advocate for natural areas and the protection of wildlife, prairies, woods, and watersheds. We feature both new and classic books about hiking, biking, birding, outdoor travel, and other inspiring topics which will make you want to get up, go outside, and breathe some fresh air. Best of all, these books are yours for the borrowing from one of our favorite indoor spaces: the San Marcos Public Library.
Six Walks: In the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau
In Six Walks Pushcart Prize winner Ben Shattuck distills the healing power of nature into a narrative that’s pure pleasure to read.
Hoping to escape “a constellation of grief” over a breakup, Shattuck sets out one May to retrace the footsteps of Thoreau by walking the beaches of Cape Cod. What started as a distraction turned into six ambitious treks, vividly brought to life here in Shattuck’s poetic retelling.
On his first outing, a serendipitous meeting delivers him to the oysterman’s cottage where Thoreau slept 150 years earlier. When Shattuck is later diagnosed with Lyme disease, he’s spurred to tackle two hikes: up Maine’s Katahdin Mountain and Massachusetts’s Wachusett mountains—where Thoreau walked after his brother’s death. Like Thoreau, Shattuck finds consolation there in the “urgent beauty of the night sky.”
Shattuck’s later expeditions often veer into precarious, amusing predicaments requiring the kind intervention of strangers. These are chronicled with warmly confiding prose, self-deprecating humor, and expressive, richly textured drawings. Shattuck also notes how dramatically human endeavors and climate change have altered the land since Thoreau took its measure.
Fans of Annie Dillard will especially enjoy this mesmerizing debut memoir.
From reviews in Kirkus, Publishers’ Weekly, & Booklist. Submitted by Stephanie Langenkamp, SMGA Outreach Committee Member and retired SMPL librarian.