The best Henry David Thoreau books 📚

Browse the best books on Henry David Thoreau as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Winter: From the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau

Winter: From the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau

By Henry David Thoreau

Why this book?

Modern living requires that we move, consume, absorb, and process quickly—and our bodies can’t always keep up. Thoreau’s journals transport us back to Massachusetts between 1837 and 1860, where his recordings of seeds and birds and worms, his philosophies on man and mankind, and his personal struggles against all else are set against the hush of frozen rivers, crackling fires, and ringing telegraph wires. Especially when read daily, this most prolific botanist, transcendentalist, and introvert of New England history reminds us to value the comfort of contemporary living, but never to forget the value of moving, observing, and living a…

From the list:

The best nature books to help us disconnect from modern life

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Book cover of Walden: or, Life in the Woods

Walden: or, Life in the Woods

By Henry David Thoreau

Why this book?

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 the list:

The best books to inspire simple living

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Book cover of The Transcendentalists

The Transcendentalists

By Barbara L. Packer

Why this book?

When I began writing about Emerson – not a usual task for a philosopher -- and was trying to figure out who the American Transcendentalists were, Barbara Packer’s brilliantly written study of the movement came to my assistance. She covers it all, from the background in European Biblical criticism and the idea that the sacred books of the world’s religious traditions are forms of poetry, to the Annus Mirabilus of 1836 when Emerson published Nature; to figures like Margaret Fuller, whose electrifying Conversations sparked a homegrown American feminism, Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May), and, of course, Emerson’s young friend,…

From the list:

The best books about philosophy and human life

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Book cover of Earth's Echo

Earth's Echo

By Robert M. Hamma

Why this book?

This is a perfect book to take on a hike in the woods, a walk along the beach, or a stroll down a country lane. The author combines his own poetic reflections with those of sages from many different religious traditions across the millennia. There are six sections and a set of readings for each day of the week. This book would be ideal for church camp devotionals, a Lenten devotional, or for your summer reading to get you centered and attentive to God’s Creation.

From the list:

The best interfaith books for connecting religion and nature

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Book cover of A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm

A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm

By Edwin Way Teale

Why this book?

“For us it is a farm with a different kind of harvest,” Teale describes of how his aging Trail Woods farm yields observations, memories, and adventures. Teale has been called a “20th-century Thoreau” for his work as a naturalist, writer, and nature photographer. But in chapters titled A Hammock in the Woods, Stone Fences, The Man in the Brushpile, and more, his expression of love for living things transcends scientific observation; he shares his relationships with stones, plants, and animals so that we recognize they are made not only of earth, but of spirit, too.

From the list:

The best nature books to help us disconnect from modern life

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Book cover of Hospital Sketches

Hospital Sketches

By Louisa May Alcott

Why this book?

Disease killed far more Civil War soldiers than battle did, and the single greatest determinant of survival was nurses. Before she went on to fame as an author, Louisa May Alcott served as just such a Civil War nurse. When war came, Alcott itched for a way to do her part and headed South with eager enthusiasm, which did not disappear but which did run headlong into the tragedy and suffering of war. Alcott herself fell dangerously ill and had to return home before the war’s conclusion. Naming herself “Tribulation Periwinkle,” she then wrote this account, detailing her real-life experiences…

From the list:

The best books with accounts of the Civil War from people who were there

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