Book 26: Walden, Henry Thoreau (August 31)

Posted on 02.09.2014

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Walden-First_Edition-2x26. Walden, Henry Thoreau (Aug 31)
I’d wanted to read this one for a long time. I was a big fan of Thoreau in school. We read a lot of excerpts from his writings over the years, and he always had a lot of poignant things to say.

At 32, though, he comes off more as a cocky college student who thinks he knows everything. I feel terrible for saying that, and I know that I probably sound like that often, and back then as well. I was done with the book 15 minutes into it, but figured it was better to soldier through it and give it a chance (not my normal MO) than to write it off immediately.

Walden is a book about Henry’s 2 years spent living away from society (or far enough outside of town – 2 miles), according to his own rules, off the land near Walden pond, which was located on his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson’s property. It’s about that, and also devolves into rants here and there about the way men choose to live, and effectively, why his transcendental choices to live in a certain way were better than what most chose to do. Basically, his living away from society on his own terms was better than the choice made by many to be normally functioning members of society.

I know I’m really getting old when this is the way I feel about a book that I most likely would have loved 10 years ago. I think I have a bit of a problem with it because the voice it’s written in sounds an awful lot like someone I used to know, who had enough money to be able to tell the rest of us to try to live as simply as possible. He always really annoyed me, although I originally considered him a friend.

To be fair, Walden DOES have a lot to say, and Henry has a lot of knowledge and views to impart. I definitely considered whether or not I could grow beans on my balcony while listening to the book, which I got on super sale from Audible and listened to on my commute to and from work, and during slow periods while at the office.

The narrator of my copy sounded a bit like a know-it-all, as well. I wonder if that was his goal, or if that’s the way this guy actually talks. It didn’t make me want to listen any more for that.

Walden is an interesting reflection on life in the woods, and in general. However, what it’s suggesting is not something that many people would be able to undertake.

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