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Walden and Other Writings

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  3,150 Ratings  ·  161 Reviews
The quintessential back-to-nature book, Walden is an account of Thoreau's attempt to find a spiritual awakening by returning to a simple life in the Massachusetts woodlands. Thoreau's rejection of the values of the then-burgeoning Industrial Revolution still reverberates for contemporary readers. His quest for something deeper and more meaningful than materialism created a ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by MetroBooks (NY) (first published 1854)
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Jun 19, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am giving 5 stars to "Life without Principle," "On Civil Disobedience," and the following chapters from Walden: Economy, Where I Lived and What I Lived For, Reading, Solitude, Higher Laws, Conclusion. The rest of the book was about nature. While I'm thumbs up when it comes to experiencing nature, I'm thumbs down when it comes to reading about it. I wish I could appreciate the way he describes grass blowing in the wind and ants fighting with each other, but I just couldn't, so I'm not rating hi ...more
This book is a treasure for lovers of the simplicity movement. It is now one of my favourite, and one which I would come back to again and again.

It’s not just Thoreau’s message of simplicity, self-reliance and independent thinking which resonates strongly with me. The passion, vigour and clarity in which he puts forward his arguments is incisive and convincing. His writing style is exactly as he is – straightforward, concise, uncompromising and often sarcastic and contemptuous against those he b
Barrett Brassfield
Have to agree with E.B. White (author of Charlotte's Web, among other things) who once said that every high school senior should be given a copy of Walden upon graduation. Many of course will choose not to read it but for those who do, and make it through the slog that is the first chapter, Thoreau's timeless classic offers much wisdom on thoughtful living. Why thoughtful living? Because Walden is full of what of what buddhists refer to as the fire of attention. Each chapter, even the dreadful f ...more
I'm just gonna say it, I like Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays and poetry better. His writing is more refined and stylistically pleasing. Reading "Civil Disobedience" is like bachelorhood being shoved in your face. Thoreau clearly isn't speaking of a method of action that could ever be followed by the family-man or woman or young adult. I understand his ideology and thought-process, but it doesn't seem to include an ounce of practicality in it.

Nonetheless, he's a good essayist who has respectable v
I find Thoreau's command of the written language to be astounding. I very much liked this book and I'm surprised that I wasn't required to read this in high school or college.
Sep 04, 2015 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never have understood why this dense book is assigned for schoolkids to read. Yes, it is unprecedented in American literature, a great book--without being particularly "good reading." It's formidable, and I have never gotten through it, chapter after chapter. I find it a great dippers' book, and maybe those who assign it are exactly that, dippers. Several of Thoreau's other works are more engaging and accessible, from the Maine Woods (perhaps my favorite) to Cape Cod, even A Week on the Concor ...more
Aug 09, 2007 Steel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Business majors, mostly
This book just edged out the Richest Man in Babylon and Money: How to Get as Much as You Can of It!!!! as my favorite book of all time. Not getting results at work? This book can help! A classic self-help manual, this book can teach you how to make money and become the most popular person of all time, just like its handsome, wealthy, much adored author. You can even learn how much it costs to build a 1840's style log-cabin. Did you know that pumpkins make good chairs? I bet that even if you did, ...more
At long last. It took me a while to make it through this. It's not something that I could power through 30 pages of on my lunch break. Reading Walden is a lot like watching paint drying. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Like if you could really experience the paint drying.

Thoreau was way ahead of his time. A lot of people are starting to come to the same conclusions he came to some 150 odd years ago: Man has a deep connection to nature, and nature fills a need in man that
Jul 13, 2007 amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was going to say something silly and Garden State-y about how Walden changed my life, but am rewording because the experience of reading this book was more like...confirmation. Which is to say, I've chosen a certain way to live that I believe is the right one for me, and reading Walden was like being told, "That's right, that's what you need to do. Keep on keeping on, you're heading in the right direction." Except that the life Thoreau writes about is not directional in the least. But you get ...more
Aug 02, 2011 Fred rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prof-development
Thoreau is kind of a douche. Not gonna lie. This is a guy who thought that he would get back to nature by living in a shack on mommy and daddy's property. He makes some good points of philosophy but so does the drunk at the end of most bars. All in all, I think that Thoreau is vastly overrated.
May 29, 2016 Rocío rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amo a este hombre.
Mar 02, 2010 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
by Henry David Thoreau

I read Walden right after graduating high school, so it’s interesting that I pick it up now, one month after graduating college.

This book can be as dull as the wet leaves of winter, without life or color. That is the case when you read Walden just to get through it.

I learned something of how to read this time around. I learned that if I slow down, I can catch not only their words, but the richness of the intent. Even more, it can teach me things not on the pape
John Defrog
Thoreau gets name-dropped so often in my circle of friends and in other books I’ve read that I finally decided to read him. This collection has the important stuff – “Walden”, “Civil Disobedience” and “Life Without Principle”, as well as some other writings. And sorry, but most of it didn’t really register with me. The reason has less to do with whether I agree or disagree with his overall philosophy, and more to do with the fact that much of it seems even less relevant in 2016 than it reputedly ...more
Nov 17, 2013 Adam rated it did not like it
If Edgar Allan Poe was the original goth, Henry David Thoreau was the original obnoxious vegan. His tone at the beginning of the book is like a know-it-all kid in his first year of self-employment: smarmy and convinced he's cracked the code on the only right way to live. As the book goes on, he mellows out a little. I guess living in the woods was good for him. While still being condescending of his neighbors (“…his little broad-faced son worked cheerfully at his father's side the while, not kno ...more
dead letter office
i know i'm supposed to like this book, but i had trouble. walden read in large part like a compilation of shopping lists and an ode to miserliness. and really, thoreau wasn't nearly so far removed from civilization as he seems to have felt he was. there are moments when his philosophizing is worthwhile, but on the whole i thought it was a bit of a cranky, tedious diary.

civil disobedience and life without principle are something entirely different, though. if it weren't for the "other writings" t
Jul 08, 2014 Kerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-kindle-reads
I was torn between, three and four stars. I don't like to admit it, but, it's lengthy attention to detail did make it a chore to read in parts, and then at others I found it beautifully profound and the slog seemed insignificant. I've settled with three because it's not a book I can see reading in it's entirety again, a book I'll definitely flick through though.
Jun 16, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mark by: Tracy Liao
Though written in the period between roughly 1830-1860, Thoreau's focus in these writings on individualism, solitude, non-conformity, and introspection is refreshing and relevant today in a world so often dominated by social conformity and the personality ethic.
S Moss
Sep 10, 2015 S Moss rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Book for All Ages
The edition I read is dated 1937, 1950)

This classic rewards rereading at different stages in one’s life. According to a date in my copy, I purchased and first read Walden in 1960. I taught it in high school in the mid-seventies, and just last month reread it. From my different sets of markings in my copy I can see what struck me on my various readings, how my large view of the book in my late teens was complimented by my understanding of the more classical references in my lat
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 02, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Walden and Civil Disobediance--Everyone. Other Writings, Not so Much
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Good Reading: 100 Significant Books
The introduction to the edition I read quoted American philosopher and Harvard professor Stanley Cavell as saying "Emerson and Thoreau... are the founding philosophers of America" and comparable in complexity to Plato. As you can tell from my disparate ratings below, I nevertheless found reading Thoreau a decidedly mixed bag. Given their influence on the environmental movement and non-violent mass protest movements, I'd highly recommend reading Walden and the article "Civil Disobedience" no matt ...more
Steve Rainwater
Oct 02, 2016 Steve Rainwater rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(note: this was originally posted on my blog at )

I usually review pulp science fiction books, science books, even the occasional graphic novel, so a review of a classic like Walden may seem a bit out of place here. But I do try to read a little of everything including the classics and Walden has been on my reading list for a long time. The edition I chose is Walden and Other Writings, 2000, Modern Library Paperback Edition; partly because I also wanted to read Thoreau’s ess
Amy Holiday
Jan 07, 2017 Amy Holiday marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
OK, I started this immediately after "Up From Slavery," and was totally curling my lip at the differences in the lives of Thoreau and Booker T. Washington. Washington worked his ass off, and Thoreau seemed to take pride in paying lower-than-value prices for things. Not that living in a cabin off of your own means was easy by any means, but Thoreau seemed to care not much for other people, while Washington did everything he could for other Black folks of his time. White privilege personified. Rea ...more
I’ve been working on Hendy David Thoreau’s Walden for some time now…a couple of years at least. Read a little, think a lot, emulate (in some ways), and think some more. It is a worthy read, and one I shall read again, and dip back into often. What follows is a collection of thoughts that stood out for me from this reading of Walden. As I look back over some of my notes and highlighted passages, I realize that there is something of a theme, a connected thread that speaks to me.

Thoreau describes
Jan 16, 2017 Eloïx rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
That was a difficult reading. I should have read it in my native language as the old and twisty english made it even more harder to understand. I skipped some pages several times because I was drowning in the descriptions without finding the purpose of it. I guess some of them must have been really interesting a century ago for the people living there, and certainly that Thoreau could not know that his writings will be read nowadays, but for me it was too long. And then I would read some nice pa ...more
Oct 31, 2016 Pedro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty great essays and pretty great style. Walden - a bit too sanctimonious, but worth reading.
Oct 04, 2016 Amanda marked it as abandoned-incomplete  ·  review of another edition
I was already aware that Thoreau didn’t really live the monkish life of seclusion and self-sufficiency that he claimed, but I was willing to read this semi-memoir anyway for the slice-of-life stuff: descriptions of his idyllic days in the forest and garden alone except for animals. But I only made it through 30 pages of off-topic rants before I gave up. If I wanted to listen to some old white guy bitch about modern technology and “young people these days” I’d just go to Facebook. If you want a b ...more
Chad Warner
Nov 25, 2009 Chad Warner rated it it was ok
Recommended to Chad by: James Huizenga
Shelves: non-fiction
We read some excerpts of Walden in my high school American Literature class, and I've heard Thoreau quoted many times over the years, so I decided to finally read the book. It was definitely a different type of book than I usually read, because Thoreau records his daily activities and philosophical musings while living an experimental, mostly self-sufficient life by Walden Pond.

He includes a lot of detail of the plants, animals, and people he saw and interacted with at the pond. These details h
Sep 26, 2015 Brenda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George as a child. The book was about a boy who idolized Thoreau so much that he decided to run away from home and live inside of a hollowed out tree in the mountains. He experiments with algae, makes pancakes out of acorns, and befriends a hawk. Overall, it was an interesting read for a ten-year-old who had already read all of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I love books about “roughing it”, which is why I was surprise ...more
May 21, 2016 Gry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, nature
Walden is a beautiful book that deserves its status as a great classic. My recommendation to those who wish to read it, though, is to read it and absorb it slowly. You can't binge read this one. You need to take it in sips like a cup of hot tea or a fine wine. This applies to the other four essays at the end of this volume as well.

The only reason I docked this book one star is that I didn't really like the chapter about the Baker Farm. It stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the book, as he
Colette Laforest
I didn't like this book in College and I don't like it now, 30 years later. Sure HDT, has some good one liners but when it comes to living in the woods, I'd rather read Bill Bryson's "A walk in the woods"
Nov 16, 2014 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I class Walden with those works that are widely read yet gravely misapprehended. Its author is an oakum-unwinder, frost-skimmer or hermit indeed; and he does recommend the life lived by that philosopher's dictate, to Explore thyself. But he's an unsimple writer, and so his message is unsimple, because it is a straight message, and it alights upon unstraight, or straitened, ears. Walden is not about forsaking society. It is about coming closer to the living rock--and understanding the world more ...more
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Henry David Thoreau (born David Henry Thoreau)was an American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, philosopher, and abolitionist who is best known for Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.

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“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” 1194 likes
“The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest.” 47 likes
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