Guus Bosman

software engineering director

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Walden, written in 1856, is a famous American book about living in the woods and finding one self. The strength of the book is the way Thoreau looks and nature, and captures the spirit of living in the woods near a lake in print. I enjoyed his observation of natural phenomena. The way he described Walden lake -- the way it freezes in the winter and how it thaws in spring -- gives you a renewed appreciation for nature. Thoreau spends several pages describing how a loon is flying over the lake.

His economical and sociological viewpoints on the other hand, are inconsistent and somewhat immature. For example, Thoreau is arguing against the principle of division of labor but at the same time he is more than happy to use highly specialized tools, such as a good axe, to build his own house.

The psychological aspect of the book -- looking into oneself and finding the relationship between yourself and the world around you -- is not very convincing and rather superficial.

Incredibly, he also said that it is better to make bread without using yeast! "Yet I find [yeast] not to be an essential ingredient, and after going without it for a year am still in the land of the living; and I am glad to escape the trivialness of carrying a bottleful in my pocket, which would sometimes pop and discharge its contents to my discomfiture. It is simpler and more respectable to omit it.” While you can certainly make great breads without yeast, I think that Thoreau has crossed a fundamental line here ;)

Joking aside, this was an interesting book. It was slow at times, but over-all I enjoyed reading this American classic.

Henry David Thoreau

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