Ben Shattuck

Ben Shattuck, a former Teaching-Writing Fellow and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is a recipient of the PEN America Short Story Prize and a 2019 Pushcart Prize. Shattuck’s first book, Six Walks: In the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau (Tin House, 2022) was a New Yorker magazine Best Book of 2022, a Wall Street Journal Best Book of Spring, a New York Times Best Book of Summer, and a New England Indie Bestseller. His forthcoming book of short stories, The History of Sound, will be published by Viking in July of 2024. He lives with his wife and daughter on the coast of Massachusetts, where he owns and runs the oldest general store in America, built in 1793. He is also the founder and director of the Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ Residency.


  • Lyrical. . . . The author’s comedic talents are formidable and the characters he creates are hard to forget.

    —The Wall Street Journal

  • Resonant. . . . With its lovely illustrations and thoughtful insights about nature, love, and friendship, Six Walks celebrates taking time to see what really matters.

    —The Christian Science Monitor

  • Comforting. . . . it’s the sweetness in the sorrow that is captured in this writing, along with the natural world’s endless invitation to solace.

    —The New York Times

  • Shattuck’s main message is the primacy of love, for both the people around us and the world we inhabit.

    —The New Yorker

  • Part of the fun in Six Walks is how today’s reality—and Shattuck’s sense of humor—take over.

    —The Boston Globe

  • A poignant tribute to nature.

    —Town & Country

  • Brilliant. . . . A momentous landmark in time, reminding us of what might be lost in this world and what must be preserved.

    —The Rumpus

  • Humble and sincere. . . . he gleans new insight into masculinity, intimacy, climate change, and the politics of outdoor spaces.

    —Poets & Writers

  • Moving. . . . Six Walks witnesses how, in every season, choosing to step into the natural world can lead to healing and peace.

    —Chicago Review of Books

  • A love letter to New England’s natural world and the timeless revelations that walking in nature gives to us.

    —The Arkansas International

  • Relatable and compelling. . . . with exquisite black-and-white drawings.

    —Harvard Review

  • Shattuck’s descriptions match Thoreau in their beauty and sincerity.

    —The Provincetown Independent

  • A must-read.

    —South Coast Today

  • A gorgeous reminder that walking is the most radical form of locomotion nowadays.

    —Nick Offerman

  • I think Thoreau would have liked this book, and that’s a high recommendation.

    —Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

  • Inspired by Thoreau, but soon onto something that is very much his own, Ben Shattuck takes us on a journey that bores into the history of both himself and his native New England.  A book of loss and redemption, fear and fragile hope, Six Walks is rich, evocative, and like the boat gunwale that cuts off the tip of his finger, unexpectedly dangerous—in that best of Thoreauvian ways.

    —Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Hurricane’s Eye

  • Walking as means of healing, walking as a way of seeing what’s there, walking as a method of pulling you out of yourself and rejoining the world—in this beautiful, smart, and moving book, Ben Shattuck shows us where putting one foot in front of the other can take us. Thoreau’s footsteps serve as map, but Shattuck has made a fresh journey right into the heart of things. In painterly prose, he brings us along on his walks and proves the best sort of guide: curious, open to the chance encounter, deeply attuned to rhythms natural and personal and to the strange joys to be found even in periods of pain. Most of all, he reminds us, every step of the way, of what’s on offer every time we walk out the door.

    —Nina MacLaughlin, author of Summer Solstice: An Essay

  • By walking in Thoreau’s footsteps, Ben Shattuck ends up following the long trail left by wandering thinkers and writers like Rousseau, Muir, Walser, Benjamin, and Solnit. Along the way, Six Walks offers a moving meditation on nature and history—and what our precarious place between these two realms may be.

    —Hernan Diaz, author of In the Distance

  • What a very beautiful book. Every page is a pleasure. Charming, insightful, and full of humanity, this gem reminded me how profound it can feel to simply walk the earth.

    —Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Dreamers

  • A beautiful and thought-provoking journey of discovery, which will leave you very glad that you walked a while with Ben Shattuck.

    —Eric Jay Dolin, author of Rebels at Sea

  • Ben Shattuck asks of Thoreau ‘Why was it so comforting to read this antique account of winter and loss?’—and I felt the same about Shattuck’s book. A beautiful account of wandering through a season of illness and loss, and walking with Thoreau into the light.

    —Casey Walker, author of Last Days in Shanghai

  • A joy to read.

    —Provincetown Magazine

  • This is a book for learning the spiritual practices of attention and wonder from a master teacher—both Thoreau, and his student, Shattuck.

    —Spirituality & Practice

  • Moving. . . . For contemplative readers, this may be the perfect beach read.

    —On the Seawall

  • Meditative and centering.

    —Literary North

  • Poetic.

    —Kirkus Reviews

  • Shattuck’s involving and poignant chronicle of immersions in nature, misadventures, family history, and a love story is shaped by his preternatural gift for discerning the essence of each moment and each place.

    —Booklist, Starred Review

  • Resplendent. . . . Fans of Annie Dillard will find this mesmerizing.

    —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review