My Rating of “Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius” by Ryan Holiday: 6 / 10
Stoicism – how to live a life that is simple, introspective and removed of external stimulus. A life that latches control and direction where you’re looking to head. This is a philosophy I’m continually working on. It is a lifetime habit everyone should think about incorporating. Reading books on the concept as well as learning from the original teachers is something I’ll always looking to do.
This is why I read Lives of the Stoics. Some background first. Ryan Holiday (one of two Authors of this book) compiled a book called the The Daily Stoic. It is a page a day book revolving on the topic of stoic philosophy from the master philosophers themselves. The Daily Stoic is one book I’ve read every day since 2016. It helps me set up my day routine of putting the important things first. Holiday has also written other books however with this book has partnered with his publisher. The authors chronicle all the famous and interesting stoic philosophers, emperors and people of that era in what led them to their respective approaches to life.
I struggled reading this book for multiple reasons. When I purchased it I thought it would be a how-to book. Instead the book is a biography on stoic philosophy. For example, you get to learn about Marcus Aurelius and how he grew up and how he had a mentor. Furthermore, how Aurelius with his upbringing led him to become the Emperor of the Roman Empire. Second, I struggled due to the format I chose. Normally I read how-to books in Kindle format and biographies as audiobooks. Furthermore I select the Audible format if the author narratives as you get that extra touch. Unfortunately, Ryan Holiday isn’t as talented a narrator as he is an author. Throughout the book his monotone narration allowed my mind to get distracted. This is more a mistake of my own versus Holiday.
With the above said, Life of the Stoics is still an interesting read. Each chapter about a philosopher, teacher, mentor or student helps the reader learn not so much about the “what” of stoic philosophy but the “why” and “how”. Like most readers of this topic, one must continue sharpening the saw in the practice of this approach. Learn about the lives of the masters and apply it to yours.