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Irving House is a quaint oasis tucked within the cultural and academic activities of Cambridge. This guesthouse-style hotel sits on a quiet residential street two blocks from Harvard Yard, just a short walk to Harvard Square and the subway to Boston. Close enough to Harvard University, guests could actually hear the bell for dining. You meet deep-thinking types – Ivy League grad students, visiting professors, scientists, researchers.

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Photos: Joanne KY Teoh

Innkeeper Rachael Solem’s homely touch is evident – rooms with shelves of old books sourced from garage sales and used bookstores in the Cambridge area. Guests are invited to take a volume or two with them on their journey, or to leave a few behind to share with other travellers. Such is the pleasure of serendipity, of encounters among dog-eared volumes shared by travelers the world over, many inscribed with scribbled names and places of olde book stores.

The rooms come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate travelers visiting Cambridge to enjoy its cultural, culinary and academic riches. A room for one with shared bath is clean and well lighted. As are rooms large enough for a family, with private bath. With two small porches, hardwood floors and Oriental carpets, Irving is homier than a hotel.

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Photo: Joanne KY Teoh

It is a delight to wake each morning. A hearty continental breakfast awaits in the basement kitchenette. Tuck into chewy bagels smeared with cream cheeses, croissants, rolls and breads with butter and jams. Choose from raisins and cranberries with homestyle yoghurt and fresh fruit. As the aroma of fresh coffee wafts to embrace you, you are reminded of home and simple pleasures, and to take time to savour the small things.

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What would we leave our wages in the till for? The mass of men, as Thoreau said, live lives of quiet desperation. Work is our prayer. No one should do work that does not make a positive contribution to community. To live well is to be removed from the narcissism of our age and reject the anxieties of the culture around us. How do we seek to enjoin our secular impulses with the sublime?

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Photo: Joanne KY Teoh

People who have read Walden or other Thoreau writings have often visited Concord, Massachusetts, to see in person those places Henry wrote about. The oldest inland town in the United States, Concord is the site of “the shot heard around the world” that began the American Revolution; home of Trancendalist authors and the advent of their literary revolution.

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Photo: Joanne KY Teoh

Join the Thoreau Society, the oldest and largest organization devoted to an American author. Members represent a wide range of professions, interests, and hometowns across the US and the world. They are connected by the conviction that Thoreau had important things to say and crucial questions to ask that are just as significant in our time as in his.

Through its programs, publications and projects, The Thoreau Society is committed to exploring Thoreau’s observations on living with self, society and nature, and encouraging people to think about how they live their own lives. The society runs a shop that features an extensive selection of books by and about Thoreau and other Concord writers.

The Shop at Walden Pond is located at the Walden Pond State Reservation. Here, you can pick up Walden Pond memorabilia.The building is directly across the roadway from the pond. Or visit the eStore

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