What Do I Read Next?
‘‘Walden’’ and Other Writings, edited by Brooks Atkinson and with an excellent introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson, is a collection of Thoreau’s major works, including additional nature writing and political essays such as ‘‘Civil Disobedience’’ and ‘‘A Plea for Captain John Brown.’’ First published in 1937, the collection was republished in a new edition in 2000.
Essays: First and Second Series (1990), edited by Douglas Crase, collects the major essays of Thoreau’s mentor and friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson. These essays were originally published in two separate volumes in 1841 and 1844, and they express philosophies and attitudes very similar to those found in Walden.
My First Summer in the Sierra (1911), by John Muir, is the most popular work of the famous conservationist and, along with Walden, is a classic American nature journal. Muir was just a young man in 1869, when he spent the summer helping to drive a large flock of sheep through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Years later, when his diary of that summer was published, it inspired thousands of Americans to visit the area that later became Yosemite National Park.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974), by Annie Dillard, is sometimes cast as a modern Walden. In it, Dillard records observations made over the course of a year at Tinker Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The book won a Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.
Leaves of Grass (1855), by Walt Whitman, was published the year after Walden. It celebrates nature and the American landscape in poetry much as Thoreau’s work does in prose.
Little Women (1868) is a classic novel based on the childhood of its author, Louisa May Alcott, the daughter of New England transcendentalist Bronson Alcott, who was Thoreau’s friend. The book tells the story of the March family, following daughters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy from childhood to adulthood. The Marches are transcendentalists who value self-reliance, individualism, compassion, and education above material and social achievement.