Book Review: Walden

Walden: Or Life in the Woods

By Henry David Thoreau

Copyright 1854

BR 12576, 3 volumes

To read Walden is to step outside the mundane, to explore the wonders of Nature, to discover afresh the timeless delights and challenges of being human.

Penned nearly two hundred years ago, Thoreau’s account of living at Walden Pond is a vividly delicious feast for the spirit and senses alike. Everything is described in rich detail: the cost and materials for building his cabin, the varieties of trees and wildlife he encounters, his feelings and opinions concerning the functions of government, the need for the railroad, for education, and so much more.

But if Thoreaus descriptions stray into tedium at times or seem to be a bit self-involved, they will just as suddenly sweep you off your feet and carry you away with surprise and wonder. The antics of a loon, for example, flying overhead and diving into the pond’s depths, passing under and beyond his little boat ; his careful, awe-filled study of bubbles forming amid the ponds ice in winter; and the child’s eye he brings to a battle between black and red ants, all keep the pages turning. The author’s deep appreciation of Nature is apparent in every line, and his invitation to join him in experiencing Walden’s woodland sanctuary feels like a veritable call to prayer.

Throughout his discussions, Thoreau shares his vast knowledge with humility and sensitivity. He calls elements of the natural world by their actual names, cites classic and scientific sources, relates Eastern and Native American spiritual traditions, and interweaves objective fact with local hearsay.

Poetic, humorous, and deep, Walden transports readers back to simplicity, and urges us to wrestle big ideas. Most importantly,by relating his experiences at Walden pond, Thoreau shines a light into every person’s soul and proclaims:Wake up friend, and live!

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Walden

  1. Hi, Joan–What a well-written book review!  You have made me want to read WALDEN again.  Many years ago, when I was in my decoupage-plaque-making days, I made many plaques to give as gifts.  One that I kept for myself has the “different drummer” quote from Thoreau.  Through the decades, this quote has always meant so much to me.

       In 1979, I was on a bus tour of the New England states–one of my favorite trips ever–unfortunately, despite all that we experienced, the bus only drove past Walden Pond at a distance because the tour guide said that there was nothing really to see there.  Well, I still would have loved to stand there and walk there.  I hope that more people enjoy Walden Pond today.

       You should have a golden bookmark for this review!

    Best to you and Ari–Alice and Willow

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful remarks, Alice. Yes, just to stand at Walden would certainly bring Thoreau to mind/heart! May the echos of his message be heard once more. Blessings to you and Willow. *smiling heart**yellow butterflies*

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