Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What I've been Reading: Walden, Henry David Thoreau ||

Book Review:

Life in the Woods, Henry David Thoreau:

This weekend I went camping, but it rained all day Saturday which meant I was set to spend the majority of the day alternating between reading and sleeping in the car. Luckily I had brought with me the perfect book for a weekend in the bush, Henry David Thoreau's explorative work, Walden.

The main thing I found intriguing and addictive about this book was the open, progressive and thoughtful take on the idea of 'other' lifestyles. Thoreau operates from a philosophic, as opposed to materialistic, mindset. Throughout the piece he explores the energetic, mental and economic costs of removing oneself from western civilisation. Though he only spends two years living on Walden Pond (on a block that was owned by Emerson!) you can tell how trans formative that time was.

There are many moments in Walden in which the reader is shown just how simple life can be, and how creatively stimulating when other stimulants are removed. Thoreau's lifestyle is Spartan, but it is also not dictated by societal 'norms', rather he spends his time opening himself up to ponder those 'norms' and analyse them for what they are; coming again and again to the conclusion that most of what we value, materially at least, is of little consequence and does not improve or negate the circumstance and mood of ones life.

Thoreau also celebrates difference repeatedly in the book. Instead of fearing what goes against status quo bias he embraces it, if it is logical, and continues to actively seek out the 'other' narrative,
gleaning as much information as he can from empirical experience. He experiments, cultivating beans and other produce, with his diet and with what is and isn't necessary when one has so carefully cultivated a creative mind.

I'm a huge fan of anything that strikes me as rebellious and/or analytic. If you've read any of my previous blog posts you'll definitely understand why I loved this book so much, I mean, it's an 'original' story, a 'new' narrative. It's something different. And despite its standing as an American classic, this story of seeking out something new - rather than something that is a slight shadow of someone else's dream - has not yet become the norm, Thoreau's level of open-mindedness is still the exception.

5/5 - because damn, this is a freaking good book.