• Henry David Thoreau
  • December 31, 2020
    Read, recorded or researched
Walden is a reflection on life written by Thoreau in the 1850s when he went to live near Walden Pond in isolation for 2.5 years. There, he built his house, caught his food, mused on life and wrote this. Despite closing on 200 years old, nothing has changed. We are still the same, and so are the things we care about. Walden is a really refreshing perspective on life, and why we should live simply.

The Best Points



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Thoreau’s main message through Walden is “simplify, simplify, simplify.” And he provides a number of thought-provoking nuggets as to why that’s something more people should strive for:

  1. The improvements of ages have had but little influence on the essential laws of man’s existence.
  2. Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have.
  3. Shall we always study to obtain more of things, and not sometimes to be content with less?
  4. Man spends the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it.
  5. A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book! The book exists for us, perchance, which will explain our miracles and reveal new ones. The at present unutterable things we may find somewhere uttered. These same questions that disturb and puzzle and confound us have in their turn occurred to all the wise men; not one has been omitted; and each has answered them, according to his ability, by his words and his life.
  6. We undervalue nature. Ponds are great crystals on the surface of the earth, Lakes of Light. If they were permanently congealed, and small enough to be clutched, they would, perchance, be carried off by slaves, like precious stones, to adorn the heads of emperors; but being liquid, and ample, and secured to us and our successors forever, we disregard them, and run after the diamond of Kohinoor.
  7. It is remarkable what a value is still put-upon wood even in this age. After all our discoveries and inventions no man will go by a pile of wood. It is as precious to us as it was to our Saxon and Norman ancestors.
  8. I did not use tea, nor coffee, nor butter, nor milk, nor fresh meat, and so did not have to work to get them; again, as I did not work hard, I did not have to eat hard.
  9. A living dog is better than a dead lion. Shall a man go and hang himself because he belongs to the race of pygmies, and not be the biggest pygmy that he can? Let every one mind his own business, and endeavor to be what he was made. Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
  10. We are acquainted with a mere pellicle of the globe on which we live. Most have not delved six feet beneath the surface, nor leaped as many above it. We know not where we are. Beside, we are sound asleep nearly half our time. Yet we esteem ourselves wise, and have an established order on the surface. There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dulness.
  11. I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one. It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves…The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains.