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Simple Manifesto #56 – Read Walden, by Thoreau


This is part of our series on Leo Babauta’s Simple Living Manifesto. We invite you to join us on the journey.

The 56th idea in the manifesto is:

Read Walden, by Thoreau. The quintessential text on simplifying. Available on Wikisources (or Google Books) for free.


Nebraska | Photo by Jonathan Blundell

I can honestly say I’ve never read Walden (aka Life in the Woods). I’ve been skimming it the last week or so in anticipation for this post but I haven’t read very deep into it. So, if you’re looking for a great review or lesson from me… well… I don’t have one to offer.


The end.

Ok — as you can see from the text below — I kid.

While Walden has been a big influence on Leo Babauta and others, I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve read over the last few months that have personally helped me in this Living Simply journey.

Live Simple: Radical Tactics to Reduce the Complexity, Costs, and Clutter of your Life by John Denver – This was the first e-book I found while starting this journey this year. Denver lays out a number of great ideas and tactics for life, stuff, home, resources, dreams and more. Additionally, Denver offers the book in several formats. An e-book, a printed copy, as well a free version online.

the simple guide to the minimalist life by Leo Babauta – This was the second e-book I read on minimalism and simple living and probably the standard in my mind when it comes to living simply. Of course Leo kinda sets the standard for most things living standard as well. A must read either way.

The Art of Being Minimalist by Everett Bogue – Everett’s come a long way in a super short time frame. I thought his book was great, however I don’t think it was his best writing. In all honesty, I think this was just a stepping point for bigger better things for Everett. In my mind, Everett’s blog writing has improved dramatically since he released his book and I’m certain his next project will be even bigger and better.

simplify by Joshua Becker – In my mind, this book is 2nd only to Leo’s. I love Joshua’s posture and mentality when it comes to simplifying and minimalism. Like the others it comes across as real and authentic but it’s also attainable. Joshua is a big believer in rational minimalism — and I agree. You have to find what works for you and your family — otherwise you won’t live it at all.

Simply Car Free by Tammy Strobel – I read Tammy’s book within the last month and really enjoyed it. The book goes far beyond just “living car free” but it does a great job at tackling that topic as well. Tammy is another great, unique voice in the Living Simply world. In fact, it was her blog that convinced me I wasn’t crazy for starting We Live Simply. Her mantra — “To create social change through simple living” and she’s doing just that with her blog and book.

Now as an aside, you’ll notice all but one of these books are advertised on We Live Simply. It’s not because they love my site so much, as it is that I love their books that much. I decided early on (after a few weeks with random Google Ads) that I wanted to be sure I could stand behind each product advertised here on the site — and I’m proud to stand behind these books — I wouldn’t advertise their books (or write about them here) if I didn’t.

So what about you? What books have helped shaped your simple life?

What has helped you Live Simply?

Join us!

Write a blog post about the point above and then share the link in the comments below…

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1 to “Simple Manifesto #56 – Read Walden, by Thoreau”

  1. I’ve been having a great conversation via e-mail with one of our readers. With their permission I’m sharing it here…

    READER: I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of weeks and enjoying the posts you’ve written although I haven’t signed up to log on nor do I twitter.

    Unfortunately, I was an English lit major and read Thoreau’s biography. I just can’t get over the fact that while he was living by Walden Pond, Thoreau’s mother washed his clothes for him every week! As the mother of adult children, I dislike that he was not being responsible for himself.

    On the other hand, I have been an avid reader of simple living books for decades starting with Living More With Less by Doris Jantzen Longacre, through Your Money or Your Life, Tis a Gift to Be Simple, Janet Luhr’s and Elaine St James’s books and many others, to Nothing’s Too Small to Make a Difference by Wanda Urbanska and Frank Levering. The recently published book, Simplify by Joshua Becker, is a great addition to the library of simplicity and minimalism books.

    Even though I don’t blog about simplicity and post about the beauty around me and my gratitude for the pleasant parts of life, I am a long time adherent to simple living and minimalist principles.

    JDBLUNDELL: It is pretty crazy to think a grown man would have his mother wash his clothes. I don’t think my mom’s washed my clothes since I graduated high school.

    I guess it makes simplifying much easier if you can pawn your tasks off on someone else.

    I know my life would be :-) .

    I’ve added the books you suggested to my To-Read list.

    I greatly appreciate your insight and taking the time to drop me a note. Comments and emails from folks like yourself are a huge encouragement to continue writing. So many thanks and many blessings to you and yours.

    READER: Here are three links for information about Thoreau and Walden Pond. I have been pondering the possibility of your sharing the information. The only reason I would be hesitant is that many people in the simplicity/minimalism world idealize Thoreau and they may see this as a criticism of their choices, lifestyle and themselves personally. While I certainly do not want to battle a small issue like Thoreau’s book, I think everyone needs to realize that all writing must be read with an understanding of when and why it was written: context, context, context!

    I know there are gems of insight that we can ‘glean’ from Thoreau’s writing. No one is perfect, and we can appreciate the ‘intent’ of Thoreau’s choice to live for a year on Emerson’s property. He was a Transcendentalist; his experiment of living in solitude and writing about it was a temporary arrangement. After his year living in the cabin (and returning to the family home on weekends–he was a modern college student before his time!), he moved back into that family home where he lived the rest of his life.
    I guess what the bottom line is here is that I believe in simple living and minimalism, but I don’t think that Thoreau is the best role model. Certainly, there are other books and lives more worthy of our emulation.

    jdblundell: So glad for comments like these. I appreciate all the differing viewpoints each of you have. Keep them coming! Would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions as well!

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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