Letters to a Spiritual Seeker | Henry David Thoreau

Let me just confess something up front: I bought this book because of the beautiful canoe on the cover. Sure, I rationalized it in other ways. “Spiritual” in the title peaked my interest, and I did appreciate Walden. But it was the canoe sold it.

To read the blurbers, you’d think this book was a new gospel. Here’s what Terry Tempest Williams said: “I open this book at random and find daily strength in Thoreau’s words that gives me courage. . . . This is a book I keep on my desk as a record of shared faith.” I can’t agree.

While there were occasional moments of brilliance, I found this collection of letters increasingly self-indulgent. The off-hand references to scripture and mythology came off as pretentious.

The layout of the book was another problem. Because of the culture gap and Thoreau’s wide range of references, there were copious notes. This would be good if they were printed on the same page as the letter. Instead, all 64 pages of footnotes were tucked away at the end of the book. That means you have to flip back and forth to read just under a third of the content of the volume.

Read and enjoy Walden. Don’t get sidetracked here.

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