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We've got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you'll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)

(6) Tree Line

Thoreau wants his book to be difficult – but not incomprehensible. He wants to challenge his readers to think, to question, to examine every element of their lives (and perhaps every element of his novel). Sometimes it's just the continuously academic, esoteric content that makes it difficult. Luckily, there's a good dose of humor mixed in, mainly directed at Thoreau himself, as well as lush descriptions of natural beauty to break up the more philosophical prose.

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