I deeply wanted to love this book. And, I’m pretty sure I do. Though, it is hard to absorb when your mind is overloaded, so it wasn’t too easy a read on my commute to and from work, or before bed after an exhausting day.
I’ve been wanting to read Walden for a long time, after having read Into the Wild and The Call of the Wild. I am loving books about escapism and living in the woods. This theme is really resonating with me right now because it’s just about all I want to do!
Also, the cover was pretty.
You need to be in an inquisitive, insightful state of mind to take in Thoreau’s Walden. It’s very introspective. And, he’s fairly spot on with a lot of his thoughts too.
His main contention is that society puts emphasis on the wrong things: working hard, making money and having nice things, rather than the simple luxuries that the world offers freely – like cooking a plain meal, watching ants amble about and feeling the sun. Like I said, he’s pretty spot on. A lot of this type of thinking is cropping up today through mindfulness movements and positive psychology. In that sense, Walden is very philosophical.
Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them.
Philosophy aside, Thoreau is extremely diligent about describing the fine details of his experience living in a tiny shack in the woods. Even down to the temperature of the pond throughout the year, and when it froze.
He even uses some pretty beautiful imagery and clever language:
What is man but a mass of thawing clay? The ball of the human finger is but a drop congealed. The fingers and toes flow to their extent from the thawing mass of the body. Who knows what the human body would expand and flow out to under a more genial heaven?
Thaw with his gentle with his gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor with his hammer. The one melts, the other but breaks in pieces.
His beautiful descriptions of the sounds of nature, the shifting of the seasons and simplicity of life make we want to run away and live in the woods too.
But really, I just can’t get over the beautiful cover art by Seth Lucas.