"Walden" by Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau lived from 1817-1864, a Harvard-educated young man who built a shack in the woods, near Concord Massachusetts and lived there for two years. What makes his writing interesting and important is his contemplation of life. He was a philosopher and poet, but also a naturalist. The book has not been out of print since 1854.
The best thing about this book is the quotes:
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
This is the only picture that I can find of Thoreau.
The themes in this book are significant in every age. There are times when the complexities of life can overwhelm us and his simpler existence seems appealing.
What can we learn from him?
1.) appreciation of solitude- Quote: "I love to be alone. I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude".
2.) appreciation of nature- Quote: "Our eyes contemplate with admiration and transmit to the soul the wonderful and varied spectacle of this universe. The night veils, without doubt, a part of this glorious creation; but day comes to reveal to us this great work, which extends from earth even into the plains of the ether".
3.) appreciation of literature- Quote: "Reading is a noble intellectual exercise, not that which lulls us as a luxury and suffers the nobler faculties to sleep the while, but what we have to stand on tip-toe to read and devote our most alert and wakeful hours to".
4.) appreciation of life- Quote: "This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore".
I love the title of this book. It reflects the importance of water-Walden's pond. Water is the focal point. Thoreau thought of water as "liquid joy and happiness".
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation". Thoreau thought the world's values were topsy-turvy. He marched to a different drummer and others have heard echoes of that sound. We will look for this echo in the life of Daniel Suelo in "The Man Who Quit Money".