Walden belongs to two genres: memoir and philosophy. It can be called a memoir because it chronicles two years and two months of Thoreau's personal history. The alternative definition of memoir—an essay on a learned subject—also applies to each chapter of Walden. All parts of the work derive from Thoreau's personal experience. Every chapter provides a detailed explanation of one aspect of life on Walden Pond. All details included are factual, despite a few moments of exaggeration or hyperbole, and the book seems quite rigidly organized.
Walden also stands as a work of philosophy because it deals with many serious themes and questions about how people should live. For instance, Thoreau seeks solitude and self-reliance in order to escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life. He argues in favor of "simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!" More precisely, he disapproves of the modern world's preoccupation with material comforts and asks difficult questions about the true nature of labor, leisure, and individualism. Contrary to the popular beliefs of the time, he claims that people can live without complex societal systems and technological comforts. All one really needs to fashion a good life is a healthy body and a clear mind; all else is excess.