In July 1845, Henry David Thoreau built a small cottage in the woods near Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. During the two years and two months he spent there, he began to write Walden, a chronicle of his communion with nature that became one of the most influential and compelling books in American literature. As the favorite book of generations of readers, Walden has become part of the American landscape. Its message of living simply, in harmony with nature, is needed now more than ever. Here are select passages that provide a perfect introduction to Walden, along with woodblock engravings by Michael McCurdy and two audio CDs with samples of the text read aloud.