From his childhood, through his time at Harvard, his years of drifting from one job to another, this narrative biography follows a literary icon. A quirky introverted intellectual, Thoreau was a teacher and a private tutor, a pencil-maker (actually improving on the process), and a handyman. He was friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson (who was also his mentor), Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the Alcotts. Thoreau had a deep love of the natural world which inspires many of his actions – a trip down the river with his brother, his time on Walden Pond, a trip to the mountains of Maine. On land borrowed from Emerson, he built a cabin on Walden Pond – the notes of his time there would result in his most well-known literary work, Walden. He also spent a night in jail for refusal to pay his poll taxes – the notes of his time there would result in another of his well-known works, Civil Disobedience, which inspired Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Luckily, the book is far more than a list of facts, it is the story of a man’s life – his work, his friendships, his dreams, successes, and failures. It’s the story of a trip with his brother, teaching Nathaniel Hawthorne to row a boat, falling in love, spending time with Emerson and his family. I was captivated by the tale of his life which made me wish for simpler times, when berries grew in abundance by the roadside, ponds were full of fish, and forests and fields were lush with vegetation. And I was admittedly more than a little jealous of his ability and opportunity to spend several years in his waterfront cabin, thinking, reading, and writing…
Title:The Adventures of Henry Thoreau: A Young Man’s Unlikely Path to Walden Pond
Author: Michael Sims
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Publication: Bloomsbury, February 2014