Walden: Thoreau’s Classic Book About Life

As I read Henry David Thoreau’s Walden: Life in the Woods, I had a thought that could seem corny.

“You can’t see the forest for the trees.”

The 19th century philosopher/author told readers that the mundane details of everyday life can prevent us from seeing the big picture and, unless we take a step back, we can miss what is most important.

Thoreau stepped back by living alone in a tiny cabin on a pond in Massachusetts for two years. His thoughts about his experience fill the classic book.

His writing style may confuse you at times, but his nuggets of wisdom will make the effort worthwhile. You can read it cover to cover, or randomly open to a page, where you are likely to find thoughts about life and society worth pondering.

It may leave you searching for your own way to step back. (Click on the cover if you want to check it out on Amazon…the Kindle version is just 60 cents.)

5 thoughts on “Walden: Thoreau’s Classic Book About Life

  1. Read Walden in highschool and hated it. Read it in my 20s and hated it. Read it in my 40s a few yrs ago. Loved it. Thoreau and Emerson are both required reading for adulthood in my opinion.

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  2. Coming to the conversation late, I agree wholeheartedly with Kiabooks and I was in my twenties when I tried to read it (after Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) but didn’t get beyond the halfway point! Later in life I became a Franciscan friar. I read Walden again during a one-year period in a silent monastic routine during my novitiate and it spoke to me very clearly, especially because a short walk down the hill from the monastery kitchen garden there was a small fishing lake where I could really get into the ‘life in the woods’ and it made a present contrast because it was not a ‘religious’ experience of the same kind.

    I like your throw away line, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” That’s a very pilgrim/walker kind of remark. So much goes through our heads as we walk, and the humour is distinctive! This is the second book on my list – for the virtual pilgrimage I am writing – which coincides with yours, Reg. So I guess I’ll have to do a comment on the third too!


  3. Thanks for following up…sounds like we share a love of similar (or the same) books. On the subject of pilgrimages, from your note, I think you might enjoy the Way of St. Francis in Italy…we walked it in 2018. It is part of the book I am writing. A decent amount of road walking, but the remote parts are plentiful and we saw few people (or none) on many sections. But the ties to Francis’ life are powerful.

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    1. I walked it from Rome to Assisi in January 2009 to mark the 1209 walk back tom Assisi of Francis andf the first brothers, after having their Rule approved by Pope Innocent III in St Johgn Lateran (which was then the see of St Peter.) It was a hard walk as it was bitterly cold. My account of the pilgrimage appeared in the Pontifical Beda College review of 2008-2009. This was shortly after I had done my Worcester-Compostela pilgrimage, the previous summer. Yes, it is a lot of road walking, but the remote parts are wonderful. I particularly remember the Franciscan hermitage at Speco di Narni and the chestnut tree that is supposed to date back to St Francis’ time.

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