Walden; or, life in the woods by Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)
Thoreau an early environmentalist moves to a cabin beside Walden pond, while he lives there for two years he observes nature farms and studies life in general.
Not only is this book filled with everyday activities from his journal but it is a critique on modern life society and other topics which is still as relevant today as it was nearly 200 years ago. If anybody is the father of voluntary simplicity and downshifting then Thoreau is the man.
“men have become the tools of their tools. The man who indepemdently plucked fruits when he was hungry is become a farmer; and he who stood under a tree for shelter a housekeeper. We no longer camp as for the night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven. We have adopted Christianity merely as an impoverished method of agri-culture.”
I could quote this book all day but I will leave it to you to find the great passages within it. He is credited in influencing Tolstoy, Gandhi and other thinkers, and when you read it you will see why. The tradegy is that these thoughts of voluntary simplicity are not new to us at all but we are still a long way from finding a balance with our natural environment.