Some books you read furiously, tearing through the pages as quickly as possible, barely able to contain yourself in your rush to reach the hoped for climactic conclusion. Walden is not a book to be hurried through in this way. Instead the book sets a wonderful gentle pace, and in response you relax, take a breath and meander slowly through each chapter, pausing for much thoughtful contemplation along the way.
Walden represents Henry David Thoreau’s account of the two years he spent living on the shore of Walden Pond (Concord, Massachusetts) in a cabin which he built himself. Thoreau undertook this project to learn more about himself and to prove that it is possible to live a rich life by focussing on the true essentials, appreciating the many wonders of nature, and living within our means; in essence by living a simple life.
‘I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.’
Rather than reading his personal views from afar, you feel as if you are there with him, engaging in a series of meaningful conversations. At times his style is autobiographical, at others taking the form of philosophical musings, regardless of his approach there is no doubt that Thoreau will get you thinking.
While published in 1854, Walden examines the constraints and limitations imposed on individuals in their efforts to live within society, issues which are still very relevant today. Touching on topics such as the economics of living, happiness, reflections on solitude and interactions within society, Thoreau will cause you to look at your own life from a different perspective. The prose is elegant and like the lifestyle it is extolling, beautifully simple and uncluttered.
While everyone may not agree, for me this book is a life changer; like finding a soulmate. It is not a book I want to sit on my bookshelf gathering dust; I want it with me always, to remind me that another path is always possible.