I’m probably a horrible person who will never be able to fully embrace simple living because I can’t get through Walden. I know Thoreau has some gems in there, but they’re just hidden in the middle of so many words. I found it mind-numbingly boring.
I first started reading it to get a sense for New England when I discovered that we were moving here. I did the same thing with Wallace Stegner’s The Gathering of Zion when we moved to Utah and Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona when we lived in California, both times with great results. With Walden, however, I didn’t have such a great experience.
After a few months trying to trudge through, I decided to keep reading it because everyone says that you have to read Walden if you’re going to embrace the principles of voluntary simplicity. I disagree. I think something like Duane Elgin’s Voluntary Simplicity might be a better choice for someone hoping to get inspired towards simple living in the 21st century.
In the end, I decided to simplify my life by removing this book from my currently-reading list so it could no longer taunt me there. If you’re reading this review and have recommendations for books that will give an overall sense of the culture and history of New England (the stuff in the nearly 400 years since the Mayflower), please leave a comment.