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How Should We Live?: Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life Hardcover – November 1, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: BlueBridge (November 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933346841
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933346847
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“A fascinating rattlebag of intelligent, stimulating essays on everything from work to love, time to empathy . . . densely researched but readable, wise, and witty. By taking the long view to debunk some myths of modern life . . . Krznaric frees us from passing trends to answer the fundamental question: how should we live now?”  —Financial Times

“This modern guide to living a good life by nurturing relationships, giving more to others, and resisting the self-imposed tyrannies of work, time, ambition, and achievement, is entertaining and instructive.”  —Times

“An intriguing upmarket self-help guide. . . . The virtue of this book is that it takes a number of ideas that we might regard as givens of the natural order of things . . . and makes clear how historically contingent they are.”  —Guardian

“Human history provides examples of almost every possible lifestyle or philosophical position; Krznaric selects some of the most telling. . . . Our responsibility, he argues, is not just to take inspiration from the past; we also need to recognize where we have inherited damaging or limiting attitudes.”  —Independent

About the Author

Roman Krznaric is a cultural thinker, founding faculty member of the School of Life in London, and creator of the acclaimed animated video "The Power of Outrospection." He is author of the blog, and his articles have appeared in a number of print and online publications, including the "Huffington Post," " Psychology Today," and the "Wall Street Journal." He has taught sociology and politics at Cambridge University and City University, London, and advises organizations including Oxfam and the United Nations on using empathy and conversation to create social change. He has been named by the "Observer" as one of Britain's leading lifestyle philosophers.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sinohey TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Modern Western society is caught up in a whirlwind of materialism fueled by unquenchable consumerism, prompted by an abundance of choices and an unending variety of options; where to live, what to wear, what to eat, what to drive, or where to vacation and recreate. The choices of education, career and jobs is sometimes baffling. Even the accessibility to potential mates, romantic partners or spouses presents an array of candidates thru personal contacts or the technology of social media. The abundance of so many alternatives is a blessing of modern times but may also be a curse. Where can we find the time, within the constraints of a lifetime, to partake from it all? Time has become our obsession and our currency; we parcel it to our interests and activities, to our friends and significant others, but often unequally and frequently "rob Peter to pay Paul".

This book teaches that the fast paced and stressful life is not conducive to happiness or fulfilment. The author, cultural thinker and philosopher, Roman Krznaric, believes that we must consciously `deprogram' ourselves to achieve a satisfying life and look to the "Ancients" for guidance. "I think of history as a wonderbox, similar to the curiosity cabinets of the Renaissance -- what the Germans called a Wunderkammer. Collectors used these cabinets to display an array of fascinating and unusual objects, each with a story to tell..... There is much to learn about life opening the wonderbox of history."

In the Introduction, Krznaric writes, "How to pursue the art of living has become the great quandary of our age. I believe that the future of the art of living can be found by gazing into the past.
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Format: Hardcover
How Should We Live?: Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life
Roman Krznaric
BlueBridge, Dec 1 2013, $22.95
ISBN: 9781933346847

Philosopher Roman Krznaric seeks answers in present and past civilizations as to "how we should live". He breaks down his response into four broad equal yet hierarchal categories (Nurturing Relationships, Making a Living, Discovering the World, and Breaking Conventions) with each containing three supportive elements. "Nurturing Relations" opens with an intriguing look at "Love" starting with the transformation over the centuries of St. Valentine and introducing six underlying themes while exploring the "Great Ideas from the Past ..." like how the ancient Greeks and other cultures dealt with this feeling as compared with contemporary treatment. Likewise Mr. Krznaric does the same with "Family" and "Empathy" as well as the elements in the other three categories.

This is an interesting philosophical look at comparative cultures, past and present. The inclusion of descriptive anecdotal examples adds fascination especially as to how a belief changes over time while also making it easier to understand the various key premises. However, that leaping about between time and place also limits the depth provided to each discussion; as the book is an intriguing but very expansive response to the title question. Hopefully, Mr. Krznaric follows up with deeper treatises (perhaps separate extensive books on each of his four categories) as even his broad brush provides readers with a thought-provoking comparative analysis of how various civilizations lived and what we should consider adopting.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"How Should We Live?" by Roman Krznaric is an enjoyable book, interesting, well-written, encouraging, hopeful, uplifting, entertaining, and informative. The tone is conversational, even witty and clever at times. The occasional light-hearted remarks and humorous observations are appreciated, as this is the kind of material that writers tend to over-intellectualize (i.e. make boring and / or incomprehensible) or over-simplify (i.e. insult the reader by wasting their time).
Krznaric questions the status quo and provides historical context for aspects of our modern lives that we may have grown so accustomed to we take them for granted. When dealing with topics such as family, work, time, and creativity, Krznaric often clearly and concisely identifies 4 or 5 contributing factors, kinds, or types of things, then discusses the relationships between them and the influence they've had on each other in ways that sometimes seem commonsensical but which may never have occurred to the reader (and even if some of the conclusions are not ground-breaking, it's nice to be reminded). His engaging volume challenges the reader to reconsider and evaluate alternative ways to be / live, and he offers sound, practical suggestions for making day to day life more rewarding. I refer to his insights as suggestions rather than solutions or advice, because, in his effort to connect with his audience, he clearly recognizes some ideas will resonate more than others with different people.
Krznaric is clearly a curious person, a talented writer, and a well-read thinker, as the comprehensive bibliography, quality illustrations, and chapter notes demonstrate. The notes do not interfere with the flow of the text.
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