Thumbing Through Thoreau – Book Review

If a man dos not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. from Thumbing Through Thoreau, page 46 –

Kenny Luck felt drawn to Henry David Thoreau who he saw as a “literary and intellectual soul mate.” In the winter of 2006, as a third year undergraduate student, he began collecting quotes by Thoreau – approaching the task as a devotional rather than an academic pursuit. The result is a book of collected aphorisms which are illustrated with black and white drawings.

Most people are familiar with Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond – a place he was inspired by and found the solitude to support his writing. A dreamer, idealist and maverick, Thoreau wrote about society, religion, love, and nature – he was a philosophizer and social critic whose voice is as relevant today as it was back in the nineteenth century.

Luck’s book is divided into three sections: Society & Government, Spirituality & Nature, and Love. In each section, he includes some of Thoreau’s best quotes and ideas about these subjects. Each quote is accompanied by a simple black and white drawing. I read an unbound galley for this review, and so I feel I did not get the same experience of the illustrations as I would have enjoyed with a finished copy of the book. Even still, it is evident that the drawings are powerful in their simplicity.

Jay Luke is a musician and artist from Pennsylvania who graduated from Marywood University. He researches the forgotten histories in the towns around him as part of his work for the Olyphant Coal Miner Association. His illustrations appear on the even numbered pages of the book.

Ren Adams is a professional artist and writer living in New Mexico. Most of her illustrations in the book are done using the ancient art of Chinese brush painting – a technique which uses ground charcoal and water to create delicate images. Her work is found on the odd numbered pages of the book.

Thumbing Through Thoreau is one of those books which should be part of one’s personal library – a book to be savored and pondered for the wisdom within its pages. I found myself reading some of the quotes aloud and recognizing the truth behind the words.

Some of my favorite quotes in the book:

Our life is fritted away by detail…simplify, simplify!

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Our life should be so active and progressive as to be a journey.

All romance is grounded on friendship.

I would like to leave you with the book trailer which gives a great sense of this book. For more information about the book visit the dedicated website.

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    • Trisha on August 6, 2010 at 07:21

    I wish you had signed up for the joint annotation project I started for this book! It would have been fun. I love that castles in the air quote!

  1. Wendy – thanks for a fantastic review! Thank you so much for including pages from the book and sharing the artwork with your blog readers. I always love to read which quotes in particular catch a reviewer’s eye and I agree with your selection of “Our life should be so active and progressive as to be a journey.”

    Thanks again,
    Tribute Books

  2. I think this book sounds wonderful, and though I haven’t read much about Thoreau, I know just enough about him and his work to be interested in this book. Very cool review, thanks!

    • Molly on August 6, 2010 at 17:41

    When I thought I was going to study in Oxford this summer, Walden Pond was one of about twelve books on the reading list. To try to get a jump start on the homework, I read that one in April and truly enjoyed it and plan to re-read it several times.

    I will definitely check out this book as well.

    • Teddy on August 7, 2010 at 21:53

    I love Thoreau! I agree that most of his quotes are still valid today. I would love this book!

  3. I also love Thoreau! his wisdom is timeless. This is a fantastic book.

    • Wendy on August 15, 2010 at 09:00

    Trisha: I’m sorry I didn’t know about your project! There are so many great things happening on the blogs…I don’t seem to be able to keep up with all of them!

    Nicole: You are quite welcome! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to take a look at this book!

    Zibilee: You’re welcome – I love the wisdom in Thoreau’s writing.

    Molly: I’m almost embarrassed to say I have not read Walden Pond (although I am very familiar with its concepts and of course had heard about it). After reading this book, it has made me want to get a copy of Walden Pond.

    Teddy: If you love Thoreau…then you would love this book!

    BuyBooksOnLine: Thanks for weighing in.

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