JG (The Introverted Reader)'s Reviews > Thumbing Through Thoreau: A Book of Quotations by Henry David Thoreau

Thumbing Through Thoreau by Kenny  Luck
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May 30, 2010

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Read from May 30 to 31, 2010

Kenny Luck has collected an assortment of quotes from Thoreau and Jay Luke and Ren Adams have illustrated them.

Thanks to the publicist for sending me an unbound galley for review.

I see this review as being in two parts: the quotes and the format.

The quotes are pretty easy. I think most people already have at least a vague idea as to what Henry David Thoreau was all about. Here are some quotes that I marked from this book:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential fact of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

"It is never too late to give up our prejudices."

"Moreover, any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already."

"The stars are God's dreams, thoughts remembered in the silence of his night."

I found several obvious typos, both in Luck's introduction and in the quotes themselves. That feels like a huge no-no in a book of quotations. I did read an advance copy, so I hope that these were corrected before the final printing.

Now for the format. (You can search inside this book on Amazon, so you can see what I'm talking about there.)

Part of the reason I asked to review this was because of the gorgeous cover artwork. I knew this was an illustrated book of Thoreau's quotes, so I fully expected that kind of artwork to be on the inside. It isn't.

There are two illustrators. I am not an artist, so I may get some terms wrong, but hopefully you'll know what I mean. Ren Adams uses "traditional Chinese brush painting techniques." I would describe Jay Luke's style as pen-and-ink. At first I was disappointed because the illustrations were so very spare and I had expected lush woodsy scenes like the cover. Once I thought about it, I realized that the simple black-and-white illustrations on the inside matched Thoreau's "Simplify, simplify!" philosophy perfectly. However. They did start to feel generic. I don't know if the illustrators ran out of ideas or time or something, but I felt there were entirely too many illustrations of dead trees.

The formatting is a little odd too. The font is in varying shades of gray. Important words are in a larger font. I can see why this would seem like a good idea, but in reality, I read the large words with extra emphasis, which led to some odd cadences. The alignment of the text is set to justify, but some quotes were so short they felt like they should have been centered.

Overall, it was a good book with a good idea, but the format was not to my taste. I might have paid more attention than I normally would have because I did receive this for review. Thoreau lovers should be happy with it.
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