9 Henry David Thoreau Quotes To Live By

In celebration of Henry David Thoreau’s 204th birthday and to inspire readers post-pandemic, here are nine of Thoreau’s most memorable quotes to live by.

Book Culture Classics Favorite Quotes On This Day

Today, Bookstr celebrates the 204th birthday of Henry David Thoreau. The transcendentalist is most known for his writings on nature and ecology, which led to the creation of his most famous work Walden. In his personal life, he was a steadfast abolitionist who whole-heartedly fought against the Fugitive Slave Law that required people to return formerly enslaved people back to the state they escaped from. His views on the government were considered to be that of an anarchist. So much so that he created his second most famous piece, Civil Disobedience, which would later inspire the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Thoreau never really fit the mold of what it meant to be “normal” during the 1800s. So to inspire readers as we inch toward new lives post-pandemic, here are nine memorable quotes by Henry David Thoreau!




“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.”

Theoretically, Thoreau supports making internet friends across the globe. Continue your fandoms, stan pages, and WattPad stories because you can never make enough friends. Hopefully, one day you can meet them all.


“Things do not change; we change.”

A most fitting quote to symbolize this past year. Keep fighting for what’s just and right, even though others may think it’s wrong. The people hold more power than we may even realize.



“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”

If you ever are afraid to say something, remember this quote. We all have something important to say, so don’t be afraid to use your voice. Along with that, being a good listener is so undervalued. Listen and read people’s stories, and grow from what you don’t know.


“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”

Thoreau is shaming all of us and our evergrowing TBR piles. But seriously, take this quote as an encouragement to get started on that pile. Don’t know where to begin? Check out Bookstr’s recommended reads!


“All good things are wild and free.”

We have all had to put our lives on hold this past year. But take this quote as inspiration to live your best life past the pandemic. Have the courage to do everything you’ve ever wanted to do. Continue your education. Take the trip. Switch careers. Life is so short. Do the things that make YOU happy.


“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

With the rise of social media as a career path, many people are looking to “be their own boss” and leave behind the corporations that take advantage of their employees. However, all that glitters is not always gold because life isn’t always about luxury. It’s always a fantastic idea to grow and work your way up the ladder of life. However, as we have learned this past year, basic life amenities, friends, and family are the most important aspects of living a fulfilled life. And at the end of the day, social media is overexaggerated and fake.




“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…”

Now, much research has established that when Thoreau claimed to live amongst nature, he really didn’t. Walden Pond isn’t far from his hometown of Concord, and rumor has it that he would return to the town to catch up with friends (and give his mom his laundry). However, there is something to be said about leaving the cityscape and escaping to unexplored pastures. We naturally slow down and quiet our minds. It may not hurt to spend some time outdoors, away from all the noise…especially after spending over a year in isolation.


“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”

Again, Thoreau was an avid rule-breaker. His “anarchist” ways were considered insane in the 1800s; however, his way of thinking simply included ending slavery and pushing the American government to do better to protect its people. Doesn’t sound so crazy now, does it? With that said, complacency in injustice won’t change anything. In the end, our constant fight at holding the government accountable will only bring good for future generations.


“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”

This year has been tough. But when we are tired of fighting, we should never forget to have love. Having compassion and empathy for those around us can help change the world. Continue fighting, but continue loving more.