In the Direction of Your Dreams

Bunchberry, Walden Pond, October 2004
Bunchberry, Walden Pond, October 2004

“His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore; while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and “Yankee” love of practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time imploring one to abandon waste and illusion in order to discover life’s true essential needs.” Link

The man referred to above once quipped that on his library shelves were almost 350 books, and he’d written every one of them! He was self-published, and most of his shipment of books lived with him. He believed in his message when publishing house editors did not.

That man is Henry David Thoreau. And without any intention to do so, since I’ve found my writer’s soul and voice over the past few years, I have come to a deeper brotherhood with the man in that we are drawn towards the same elements of simple beauty nearby and show a similar repugnance for waste and illusions of all varieties but especially in the political and pop-cultural realms.

And out of that reverence and celebration of the simple, the real and the wonder-ful has come two books–that I wrote and published myself–and I think HDT would have approved, at least of the independent effort at self-expression and perhaps with some of the sensibilities and nuances of language here and there.

This week I’ll post highlights, photos, and audio links from Slow Road Home and What We Hold In Our Hands. More about the books at

Like Mr. Thoreau in 1854, I’ll hope that by the first of the year, maybe there will only be 340 books on the shelves because some will want to own the “complete works” of F. B. First.

To expedite that wish, please note there is a new order form to pay by cash or check that you can download and print at this link or order by PayPal here.  I’ve removed the notecards from the order form as I’ve decided to discontinue that product once the remaining card sets are depleted. And the calendar order forms will be a separate document; I’m expecting to hear about (if not receive) them this week.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler. ~ H D Thoreau

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Wow, that quote from Wiki about Thoreau described you to a T.
    I never knew Walden Pond was self published, along with many other books. How ’bout that! I bet it’s nice for you to have that kinship.

  2. Thoreau has been one of my heros since I read Civil Disobedience as a young teenager. I didn’t know that he had written almost 350 books though – the Wikipedia entry doesn’t list anywhere near that many. It says “20 volumes” and mentions a two-million word diary. It really doesn’t matter how much he wrote – what he did write resonates to this day.