I read Walden in high school for American literature class—and I didn’t know how to appreciate it. The teacher assigned Walden for Christmas break and I was not surprised that it became an object of my procrastination after perusing for a few days. When days of the break were numbered, I took to reading, no, actually skimming excerpts of Walden or individual quotations and thought them to be insightful and thought-provoking. When taken one sentence at a time, after, of course, carefully screening for only those which inspire deep thought and meditation, Thoreau is just fine. But the overall impression was underwhelming.
I started reading it the first weekend after school broke for Christmas, I realized I was so bored. Thoreau takes over three-hundred pages to talk about spending two years in the woods, and with the amount he rambled, I thought essay-length would be more readable. I was not as put off by the lack of human contact and dullness of life as his being self-righteous and pompous. In between the lines I could sense his condescension. Anyway, that was past tense.
Maybe certain books are meant for mature years of a reader. Walden is definitely such a book. It must have been 20 years since I read it and something compelled me to pick it up at the library store. The copy in question is Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau in a retro cover. This edition includes Civil Disobedience, The Journal, Maine Woods, and Life Without Principle. I know better this time to pace my reading so that I leave enough room for reflection and meditation. After all, this is a work of philosophical nature, something that, unlike fiction, is not meant to devour in huge portion. Maybe I should bring a chair to Muir Wood and read it for a day—to experience the serenity and harmony of nature.