In the ‘Thoreaus’ of a ‘new’ old book

My student was incredulous.
I had just admitted I had never read “Walden.”
I told him I quoted Henry David Thoreau all the time.
“Most men live lives of quiet desperation.”
“Beware all ventures for which you need new clothes.”
“The perception of beauty is a moral obligation.”
And, of course:
“Simplify, simplify.”
I use that last one primarily when guiding students to be better writers.
But the book itself? No, I had never read it.
The next time I saw him the student had a copy of Walden for me. His copy.
And now I’m hooked.
Two things that struck me immediately is that one, Walden was written in the mid-1800s (I don’t know why, but I had always thought of it as an early 20th Century book) and two, Thoreau was only 30 when he wrote it.
I’m going to live with Walden for quite a while. Maybe not the two years, two months and two days Thoreau spent alone in the woods, but certainly not the three or four days it usually takes me to polish off a book either. Part of the reason is the mid-19th Century prose. This always slows me down. Another is that right off the bat I found myself stopping to share Thoreau’s insights with my friends and/or my kids via emails and texts.
It started with this:
“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”
I read that on page 7. And had to send it to everyone.

Ed Ackerman