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How Should We Live?: Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life Hardcover – November 1, 2013
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“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
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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.
Face it: the digital age has definitely seemed to have removed some of the historical barriers to publication that used to exist. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean there are a lot of books out there. To find a book that is actually worth the time it takes to read it is rewarding. "How Should We Live?" by Roman Krznaric is one of those timeless books.