What is The Book that you come across most often as you read about simplifying, minimalism, or living life with less clutter? Or the book and writer that has been quoted the most, perhaps. I guess I gave the answer away in the title of this blogpost, which is all about #23 on my Book Challenge list – a book more than a 100 years old; Walden; or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau.
Thoreau, 1817-1862, wrote this book after he went into the woods to be able to concentrate on his writing. He built himself a house and stayed in it for two years, living simple, spending little money, but spending a lot of time thinking about what matters most in life. No surprise then that he is a very influential person for those who want that kind of life style.
I find Thoreau to be a very interesting person (I had to google him a bit) when reading about him on the internet, because his ideas was modern and radical for the time he was living in. Actually, I think some might say that they are new and radical in our time too, because they are so far from what we as a society have come to be at this point. Everyone is so caught up in a life that is totally the opposite of what Thoreau was talking about. Some of us (hipsters? I’ve been called that because I like simple living and growing my own food…) (…which is funny, because I am far from anything hip) have taken the idea of living simple to heart, and the word is definitely spreading, but a lot of people think that people who doesn’t want things in their life, who’d like to spend time and not money, are odd birds.
I keep thinking while I am reading Thoreau, that what if people had just listened to him (and his likes) from the beginning? What if this consumerism hadn’t spread, and all of us had just decided that living simple with purpose, would be the best thing for everybody? What would the world have looked like now, 150 years later?
I must admit I didn’t read every word in this book. There were large portions of it that I just skimmed through, because yeah, I’m not deep enough to care about what color the leaves had, how the fish swam, or what the chimney was made of. I think that Thoreau had way to much time on his hands writing everything down, and had he blogged about his life I am sure I would unfollow him a week into his experiment. Luckily he didn’t blog, he wrote a book, and although I skimmed a lot, I also read some passages very closely, they spoke to me on a different level. I wanted to move out into the woods too! And become a vegetarian. And build everything from repurposed old things.
Thoreau is definitely a man to quote, and to get a sense of who you’re quoting, I think you should read the book.