Walden

By Henry David Thoreau,

Book cover of Walden: Life in the Woods

Book description

Henry David Thoreau is considered one of the leading figures in early American literature, and Walden is without doubt his most influential book.

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Why read it?

5 authors picked Walden as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I first read this book at M.I.T., and it changed my outlook on life and its meaning. On odd weekends, I would drive out to his pond and stare at the lake to restore my own natural balance.

It is true that Thoreau was not as self-sufficient as he wished us to believe, but his lesson of mindfulness is a gift of Zen. I have emulated him my whole life and live on my own pond, Westwood Lake, where I’ve written my own chronicles of the seasons.

From Lawrence's list on becoming the hero of your own myth.

The classic book on what happens when we dare to live differently: “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.”

Thoreau takes on the ordinary traps of daily life that humans so often fall into, and explores the spiritual costs of becoming human havings rather than human beings. This book contains everything: nature, philosophy, economics, a heady dose of DIY energy, and a reminder of how little it takes to live a very good life.

From Elisabeth's list on living big in small spaces.

We backyard veggie growers owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Native Americans who passed on to us their protein-rich maize, squash, potatoes, and beans. One beneficiary was that great contemplative gardener Henry David Thoreau who tended a bean field on the shores of Walden Pond at Concord, Massachusetts. "What shall I learn of beans or beans of me? I cherish them, I hoe them, early and late I have an eye to them and this is my days work," he wrote. He still does not disappoint – even after 160 years. 

From Bill's list on backyard veg.

In 1845 Thoreau built a small cabin on land owned by his friend, the philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, and conducted a two-year experiment in simple living. Walden is his account of this experiment. It's a hard book to summarize since, although quite short, it combines memoir, philosophical reflection, natural history, and social commentary. But it is beautifully written, and it has been an inspiration to countless readers who, like Thoreau, believe that we can deepen our experience of life by drawing closer to what is natural and elemental, reducing our dependency on things and, at least for a…

From Emrys' list on simple living and the good life.

Walden is the story of one man’s return to simplicity and connectedness with nature when he leaves the trappings of 1845 civilization behind to build a cabin and live beside a lake in the woods of Massachusetts. In doing so, he discovers the beauty of quiet contemplation and true necessities of life. It has been called, “one of the most influential books in American literary history".

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