2017 having been the bicentennial of the birth of one of America’s most iconic nature writers – Henry David Thoreau – it’s not at all surprising that the publishing world saw a spike in books taking as their respective subject his life, his work, or simply invoking his spirit. Such is all well and good, but of all the different volumes that crossed my desk, none left me thinking that I really understood just what it was about the fabled pond that gave rise to Thoreau’s famed essays in the first place.

Perhaps Robert Thorson‘s forthcoming The Guide to Walden Pond: An Exploration of the History, Nature, Landscape, and Literature of One of America’s Most Iconic Places will remedy this problem. According to the accompanying information enclosed with the advance reading copy that recently found its way to me, Professor Thorson takes his readers on a walk “around the pond’s shoreline, pausing at fifteen special places to learn about people, historic events, and the natural world.” Along the journey, appropriate selections from Thoreau’s essays are presented, so that by its conclusion “the place of his book will merge with the book of his place.”