Christopher Findley, Opinions Editor

With all of the books that you are required to read in high school, perhaps none is more despised by the general population of students than Walden, or Life in the Woods. This book features the adaption of over two years that a transcendentalist named Thoreau spent near a pond called Walden. Throughout the book he describes his beliefs about how people should live in terms of materialism and work ethic, while also using the pond as a metaphor for himself and his development over the time he spent in the wild.
Most students absolutely loathe this book. They view it as boring, pretentious, or just plain difficult to enjoy on any sense. This book doesn’t really have a story, and is devoid of all dialogue. One enjoys this book because they reflect upon what it has to say and attempt to apply it to their understanding of the world around them. It requires deep thought and reading that most people aren’t used to – because most people don’t even take the time to read literature, much less analyze on any level deeper than what is presented to them directly.
If you can’t already tell, I for one Thoreau-ly enjoyed Walden, and I’m in the vast minority. It speaks to people regardless of religious philosophy, yet the nevertheless attempts to bridge its messages with the various belief systems of different people, speaking on Christianity and Hinduism. Thoreau speaks about the perseverance of hard work and experiencing the world around you, as well as preaching about the elevation of minority’s needs, such as the abolition of slavery (this is a nineteenth century work) and persisting beliefs among readers that Thoreau himself may have been a homosexual. He is quite open about his beliefs and shares them without reserve, yet also admits to not always following them himself. It is in Thoreau’s ability to admit his occasional hypocrisy that I find his endearing nature truly shines through.
In the end, you probably won’t enjoy Walden. You aren’t used to it, it isn’t entertaining, and it requires a lot of work as a student and a reader. But I hope that you attempt to appreciate it for what it is and view it as art, rather than just another assignment.