Written by Orison Swett Marden in 1913
A Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 21, 2018
Note: Anything appearing in BLUE is a link to a reference on the subject
DISCLAIMER: I discovered Orison Swett Marden (1850 – 1924) a couple of years ago and have been reading his books ever since. None of his writings have disappointed me; they are all great! What surprised me was that they were all written in the late 1890s-1915. The lessons contained in his writings are truly priceless.
The Joys of Living has to be read with the date it was published kept in mind, 1913. Marden writes as most people wrote during that period of time and refers quite often to “man” or “men” meaning of course both sexes, men and women.
What is the book about? Sadly Marden wrote about what he perceived to be the wrongful paths that so many people in the 1900s and earlier had taken. His objective was to point out where they had gone astray and what they could and should do to insure they in fact do live a life of joy. What makes this book doubly sad to me is that the same things apply in 2018 that he wrote about in 1913; it is quite apparent, at least to me, that we as a society have learned very little since he published this wonderful book.
Like all of his books, it would be fruitless of me to think I could write an adequate review of the Joys of Living. Every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence packs powerful messages that can literally lead someone from the darkness of uncertainty to the light of success. The lessons apply to everyone. It is hard to read this book and not be affected in a very positive way. You can purchase the book as a Kindle read on Amazon for just 99 cents as you can for most of Marden’s books if you purchase them as Kindle reads. It is hard to imagine a better use of a dollar.
Here is an excerpt from this wonderful book to give you a feel for his style of writing and content. As you read it, keep in mind how few of us today ever read just one book a year. When I was active in real estate sales I was shocked at how few real estate agents ever read a book on sales.
The pursuit of education by a soul hungry for knowledge, yearning for intellectual growth, is the highest kind of pleasure, because it gives infinite satisfaction and infinite advantage.
He is the greatest man whose supreme ambition is to make the most of his life, to enrich it by self-education, self-culture, self-development and helpful service, until every fiber of his being becomes responsive to every good and helpful influence in the entire range of his environment.
What a joy people who have had the advantages of education and superior opportunities for culture and refinement may find in helping others who have been deprived of these opportunities, and whose souls hunger for the richer, fuller life to gain them.
One of the grandest sights in the world is that of an adult seizing every opportunity to make up for the loss of early educational advantages, pouring his very soul into his spare moments and evenings, trying to make himself a larger, fuller, completer man.
It is of immense importance to teach children to avoid unpleasant, disagreeable, soul harrowing books. Keep them from reading morbid stories, morbid descriptions of crime and misery in the newspapers. Do not let these black pictures etch their hideous forms into their tender, sensitive minds. (Note: There was no TV, no video games and probably not many violent movies in 1913 like there are now. You have to be brain dead not to think such things play dirty tricks on the minds of today’s youth yet they persist and the violence becomes the new normal. Studies have shown that very few people in 2018 read a book a year! That is deplorable!)
Many people who have lived troubled lives have regarded their love for books, their library, as their most precious possession— their Heaven upon earth. In their books they find solace, comfort, peace of mind, which passeth all understanding.
Whenever things go wrong with us and we are weary of life, when everything seems to bore us, when we are too tired and too distressed and too weary to work, we can call to our side the greatest writers that have ever lived and find rest and refreshment. The humblest citizen can summon Shakespeare or Emerson to his hovel, and he will give him his best.
Oliver Goldsmith once said: "The first time I read an interesting book, it is to me just as if I had gained a new friend; when I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting with an old one."
It might be truly said that those who have no friendship for books can live only a half life. One who has but one hundred choice books in his library has one hundred doors each of which opens on prospects of infinite joy.
Who should read it? Everyone from the age of 8 on up but especially teenagers! How the world would be different if Marden's wisdom was actually taught in our schools. As time goes by ageless wisdoms like his books will become lost in time and therein IS the pity!
Would I read it again? Absolutely
Would I buy it as a gift? Absolutely