The New Walden Is Done.

Lovingly printed, bound, boxed – and eagerly anticipating its home on a bookshelf near you.

To recent subscribers, hello! Welcome to Wonderlust, where anything concerning identity is fair game and I sometimes try to sell things that are meant to bring you joy for a long time.

I’m Matt Steel, creative director at Steel Brothers and I’m a live wire of excitement right now. When you’ve got seven quiet minutes, turn up your speakers, watch the video above and you’ll see why I’m stoked.

Some of you learned about our self-published edition of Thoreau’s masterpiece, Walden, earlier this year when we launched our preorder campaign. Others have followed this project, lo, since the 2016 Kickstarter-that-died. Many of you have written to me over the years with enthusiasm and encouragement, patiently impatient to see this book come to fruition and hold it in your hands.

Whether you’ve waited seven months or seven years, the wait for The New Walden is almost over.

My advance copy (the star of our little video) arrived a few weeks ago. I’m thrilled with the result. The book feels lovely. Hefty, but light and compact enough to hold comfortably in one hand. The paper’s texture and opacity are just right. The printing, which I supervised this fall in person, is superb. The foil-blocking on the cover has a firm, deepish deboss. The rounded spine allows the book to fall open flat. The text, crystal-clear. The reading experience is both meditative and lively – exactly what I wanted.

On December 8th, a ship carrying one thousand hand-numbered books on three palettes made port in Miami after three weeks at sea. Soon, they’ll arrive here, in Gainesville, and I’ll turn into a labeling and shipping dervish.

That’s the good news. The frustrating news is that even though they’re finally in the right country – the right state! – I can’t get my twitchy paws on them just yet. The books sat Vipassana – or rather, laid in savasana pose (if books could meditate and practice yoga, Walden would) – for four days before the palettes were even carried off the ship. Since Monday, they’ve languished in a cargo prison known as a Container Freight Station. Sometime between five minutes ago and next week, the warden will stump down to The New Walden’s cell and announce that the day (and the truck) of deliverance has come.

Christmas is only ten days away, and I’ve hoped all along to ship every book purchased thus far in time for day-of unwrapping. We were on press back in September, for crying out loud!

While there’s still a chance we’ll ship a bundle of books before Christmas, only a few Gainesville locals will be able to snuggle up with The New Walden on Christmas afternoon and smell that fresh-squeezed German ink.

TL;DR: If you bought a book and are looking for an actual ETA, it will arrive on your doorstep in January.

A Little Gift from Steel Brothers

Enough with the logistical grumbles. Let’s spruce up this email with a little holiday cheer.

If you want a beautiful, archival (and slightly belated) gift for the nature-lover or bibliovore in your life, we’re offering a special $15 holiday discount. Simply write or copy and paste the code into the discount field during checkout.

Here’s your code for $15 off: XMASWALDEN

This offer will vanish like the angel’s share of a well-aged whisky at 11 pm EST on Tuesday the 20th, so don’t sleep on it.

Do the Right Thing

My next essay will be the very last installment in the Walden saga. In that production journal/travelogue/epilogue, I’ll show you how we turned the longest-lasting project of my career into a collectible product. After that, Wonderlust will return to its eclectic range of identity-related subjects, from branding to faith and the human personality.

But for now, I want to end this email and the year with gratitude. Let me tell you about the most important person in my life, without whom The New Walden and so many other ventures would’ve never seen the light of day.

My beautiful wife, Leslie, has put up with this project since 2015. Self-initiated work often founders without devoted cheerleaders, and she’s cheered me on the entire time. Even through three career changes and a cross-country move.

I can’t praise this woman enough, y’all. She’s an ambassador of compassion and peace to everyone who knows her. Her laughter is loud, frequent and infectious. She’s the strongest person I know. And when I grow up, I want to be as patient as her.

She’s the anchor of our household. She sat with me in dark corners this year. (There’s been more than a little upheaval and change in our little studio; more on that another time.)

Her relationships with my parents, my brothers and their families make my heart melt.

She’s a marvelous mother to our four kids, a cat named Waffles and a dog named Winnie.

Throughout sixteen years of marriage, Leslie’s belief in me – or rather, her belief in what I can do through Him who strengthens me – has never wavered. Not once. Not even when others doubted, when I took risks that didn’t pan out, when I was depressed and struggled to find hope.

Naturally, bringing her with me to England and Germany this fall and making a leisurely anniversary-getaway-working trip of it was the very least I could do to thank my bride. We came to press-check Walden, but we filled most of those ten days with quality time, exploration and gorgeous meals.

Next Thursday, we’ll close the shop for some much-needed holiday rest and play. My family and I are traveling to Colorado for Christmas. Bring on the snowboarding, the treats and tipples, the glorious mountain sunsets!

As for Steel Brothers and 2022, it’s been a hard year that’s ending better than it began. We’re in the middle of a branding and web project with a nonprofit that’s close to my heart. I can’t wait to share the outcome with you.

Until then, I hope you have a lovely Christmas and a joyful New Year. I’ll sign off with Ian Cron’s parting words from his Typology podcast:

May you have love,
may you have joy,
may you have peace,
may you have healing,
and may you have rest.

As always, thank you for following along, friends. God’s peace to you.


Steel Brothers