Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau)” as Want to Read:
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  556 ratings  ·  55 reviews
paper, 415 pages
Published June 13th 2004 by Princeton University Press (first published 1849)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  556 ratings  ·  55 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau)
Daniel Clausen
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2019
I loved this book for so many reasons. I guess the first reason is that it was imperfect. It’s Thoreau’s first published work – self-published – a financial failure. I like that. My first novel was pretty much the same. I think most first time authors have to go through something like this. And usually, despite the book’s many flaws, something good shines through.

The book is full of wonderful descriptive language and tangents that lead the book off into the backwoods of imagination. That’s wond
robin friedman
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Week With Thoreau

In late August, 1839, Henry David Thoreau and his brother John took a two-week trip on the Concord and Merrimack rivers in a boat called the Musketaquid that they had built themselves. John Thoreau subsequently died of lockjaw in 1842, a death which greatly affected his brother. While living at Walden Pond from 1845-1847, Thoreau worked on the manuscript of what became "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", and the book was first published, with little commercial succes
This is a book that is meant to be read slowly. While ostensibly a travel book, it is actually a book of prose and poetic digressions attached onto a thin narrative. Some of those digressions are incredible. The poetry is not quite the same level, but it can be impressive nonetheless.

It was in 1839 that Henry David Thoreau, accompanied by his brother John, took a boat trip north along the Concord River and, when it met the Merrimack, continued north, though this time upstream. Shortly thereafter
This is my second time to read this book. I enjoyed it much more than the first time. Think of it as a beta version of Walden. This book ostensibly presents his experience of a week long boat voyage with his brother John. It is primarily a weave of thoughts of the author inspired throughout the trip. The thoughts include, fish, fishing, local history, scripture, genius, literature, symbols and metaphors...and on and on. The book is well written and beautiful in its own rambling way. It is perfec ...more
Feb 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book, far from a vacation travelogue, was Thoreau’s first published work. Like any novice effort of someone as talented and unique as Thoreau, it is a mixed work and several kinds of mixed work. There is the journey he and his brother took together, collapsed from the actual two-week duration into a single week. There is poetry, philosophy, biology, botany, theology, history, literary criticism, and much more in the form of long essay length digressions from his journey up and down river. S ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
A meandering journey in search of the universal in nature, history, poetry, philosophy.
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoreau, sincere and erudite, digging through history, using his own brilliance with which to see, speaks to us of river and tree, of Homer and Egyptian, of poetry and prose. The calm mind of Thoreau flows quietly over centuries.
Hannah Smith
"But behind the sheaves, and under the sod, there lurks a ripe fruit, which the reapers have not gathered, the true harvest of the year, which it bears forever, annually watering and maturing it, and man never severs the stalk which bears this palatable fruit."

At times a simple and poetic travel narrative, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers follows Thoreau as he weaves together careful descriptions of Nature with intimate musings on friendship, virtue, literature, and culture.

I am tryin
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers” was Henry David Thoreau’s first published book. In it, one can already see the roots of the ideas he would establish in his great writings like “Walden” and “Civil Disobedience”. As a great fan of Thoreau, I enjoyed taking a step back and seeing the beginnings of a great writer forming themselves in this book. While “A Week” is not quite on the same level as “Walden,” it has its own merits.

The book is an account of a canoeing trip that Thoreau took wi
R.K. Cowles
Nov 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nature
3 1/2 stars
Howard Olsen
Sep 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Throeau's admirers laud him as a nature writer, and often describe this work as a "journal" recording a week's worth of river travel in Van Buren-era Massachusetts. This will not prepare you for the profound pilosophical and literary qualities found in this book. This is no journal. The seven days on the river are a framing device for Thoreau's extended thoughts on nature, religon, America, friendship, fish, and anything else that might cross his mind. Living as we do in an age of specialization ...more
Maarten Van doorn
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: zelfontwikkeling
Didn't finish. Not what I expected. Too much babbling on, without really saying interesting stuff. Of course, such a style was to be expected in a book like this, but this book has a too unfavourable information to noise ratio for my taste.

Already started on Walden, much better so far!
Jan 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
a wonderfully sloppier, more circular version of Walden
Jan 21, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university
DNF - Thankfully, I will never know what happened on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.
Michael Holm
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature, literature
I read this work in another edition - Modern Library published in 1992 which includes Walden and other works.

Henry Thoreau and his brother, John Jr., built a rowboat and floated down the Concord River from Concord, Massachusetts to the Merrimac River and then on down that river and walked to Concord, New Hampshire. Then they returned to navigate (row and sail) back up the rivers to their starting point. This outing is reported over nine chapters such as Concord, Saturday, Sunday, The Inward
Jim Neeley
Dec 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Its taken me a while to get back to my good friend Thoreau, I believe the last book of his was Walden. On the surface, this book was about a boat trip Henry took with his brother John on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers in 1839. Presented as a journal of that trip, it takes the usual dense but wonderful Thoreau meanderings, much like his trip on the rivers. He speaks to the changing landscape and economy of this part of New England at the dawn of the industrial revolution. He gives a wonderful h ...more
Dan Graser
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"At intervals we were serenaded by the song of a dreaming sparrow or the throttled cry of an owl, but after each sound which near at hand broke the stillness of the night, each crackling of the twigs, or rustling among the leaves, there was a sudden pause, and deeper and more conscious silence, as if the intruder were aware that no life was rightfully abroad at that hour."

This transcendentalist travelogue detailing almost two weeks of travel of the titled New England rivers, to and from Concord
Robert Reinhard
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great pleasure to follow his mind up the river traveling with his brother who is never named or described and to read the immediate story and nature accounts and the offshoot essays in between the other paragraphs. In hindsight very modern. Thoreau has read the great books and poems of literary history but he also finds every one of their words written in almost a parallel script in the nature and people he observes. And there's the practical skill for example one night when he climbs up a mou ...more
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first formal exposure to Thoreau, though I was familiar with him before reading this book. Though I had a basic understanding of his main philosophical beliefs, I was just astounded at how deeply and sincerely is was able to communicate them. This book was such that each sentence was its own little book, and I saw so many sentences that I could write a whole essay over alone. This book is in no way easy reading. You have to take it slow and often read passages multiple times, but it ...more
Steve 'Rat'
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I understand not judging a book by its cover, but I still feel it should be safe to judge one by its title. After enjoying HDT's 'Maine Woods' I was disappointed that Concord & Merrimack was such a tangential mess. To be fair, some of those tangents are interesting. But unfortunately there are also plenty of times when 'tangential' is being very polite.

When you go for a long hike or on a similar activity your mind tends to wander. This book is not a record of the trip itself but rather of those
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This book reads in many ways like "Walden." Thoreau switches back and forth between the journey at hand and the nature surrounding it (he and his brother's travels on the Concord and Merrimack), and his thoughts on humanity. It reads in some ways like journal entries. Those who value "Walden" will find much of the same here. ...more
Jun 21, 2019 added it
Shelves: quit-reading
I read 1/3 of it. That's all the energy I could muster. I've enjoyed Thoreau in small doses, and I loved the recent biography of him, but I can't subject myself to pages and pages about his critique of 19th century prose or his thoughts about 19th century literature. I've run out of steam and patience for his rococo metaphors and disconnected musings. ...more
Hal Brodsky
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
a bit too thick and wandering for me. I did highlight some good quotes to look back on later.
Rebekah Byson
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thoreau is a writer that works a magic on my soul that I can't explain. ...more
Lydia G
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
WOW! I even found maps to find out that these places are gone now, or still there. Very good read.
Goodreads user
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Magnificent book. The long digressions, though they sometimes be indecipherable, add to its charm. Thoreau describes his surroundings and tells of his past experiences in a very seductive prose—his evident specialty.
Patrick Murtha
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Bracingly original, especially in structure, and entirely self-recommending.
Bob Beckert
Mar 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jack Alexander
Mar 18, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the parts about the actual boat trip, though after reading it, I have serious doubts that he actually took the trip from Concord MA to Concord NH by boat. In this book his writing style seems to wander around temporarily, he frequently repeats actual phrases and themes, he copied text directly from other sources without giving credit, and his rhetoric was often nonsense making for difficult read and an incoherent story.
Tom Pare'
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspired and inspiring. Not a narrative, per se, but a number of meditations loosely tied to each day of the week.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod
  • Grass (Arbai #1)
  • Raccoons Are the Brightest People
  • Sounder
  • Z Izrastiny s láskou: Reportérem mezi dvěma zeměmi
  • The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It
  • Understanding Emerson: The American Scholar and His Struggle for Self-Reliance
  • Joseph Andrews
  • The Common Sense and Sovereignty & the Goodness of God: by Mary Rowlandson with Related Documents
  • The American Transcendentalists: Essential Writings
  • Oroonoko
  • White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America
  • Cities of the Plain (The Border Trilogy, #3)
  • Regret: A Theology
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
  • Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
  • The American Notebooks
See similar books…
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.

Thoreau's books

Related Articles

Lori Hettler is the founder and moderator of The Next Best Book Club, one of the most popular groups on Goodreads, and has been a reader and...
65 likes · 33 comments
“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” 1296 likes
“The language of Friendship is not words, but meanings.” 519 likes
More quotes…