11 September 2017: "It's like a really tough fitness program. It weeds people out in the beginning." --a student in my ENGL 312 class on the opening chapter in Walden.
If you haven't read it in a while (or ever), it might surprise you to remember/learn that Walden opens not with deep reveries about nature, but with roughly 50 pages of economic advice, including monetary tallies. It is, for lots of people, a real barrier to entry. And I always ask students to think about why Thoreau does this. The answer my student gave above is a pretty smart one--only part of the answer, but an interesting part nonetheless.