Hello and welcome to a new thing I have been wanting to introduce on my blog for some time. I am always getting book recs and such from book blogs, bloggers, and friends who love reading a ton. While I LOVE the recommendations, I have always been curious to see if books recommended by those who are not known for their love of books would be just as enjoyable or maybe even a new favorite. So over the past few months as I watched youtubers or their other social media accounts who are not book centric and started to take some notes of books they mentioned. This month I decided to give jacksepticeye’s or Seán McLoughlin’s book recommendation a try.
This pick I came across in his video entitled, Jacksepticeye’s REAL Personality Revealed (Enneagram Test), who would have thought a book rec would have come from a title like that? lol. But, this just comes to show you that you can find books anywhere. Anyway, the book mentioned in this video is How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius by Donald J. Robertson. When I studied history for my degree I did take quite a few philosophy courses, but have not really touched it since then, a shame because I really liked those classes because they challenged your own thinking. So, when he mentioned this book, I knew it was one I was going to use in this series.
“Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, cognitive psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius together seamlessly to provide a compelling modern-day guide to the Stoic wisdom followed by countless individuals throughout the centuries as a path to achieving greater fulfillment and emotional resilience.
How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes readers on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian—taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day—through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity, and guides readers through applying the same methods to their own lives.
Combining remarkable stories from Marcus’s life with insights from modern psychology and the enduring wisdom of his philosophy, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor puts a human face on Stoicism and offers a timeless and essential guide to handling the ethical and psychological challenges we face today.” –goodreads.com
Even though I was already sold on this book because it is a topic I want to explore again I didn’t know too much about the book itself until I got my hands on it and read the above description. What stood out to me most was the fact that this book seems like a combination of a history, philosophy, and self help. On top of that it seems like the author is going to be taking ideas that many scoff at because they are “old” and revitalizing them though a modern lens. As someone who has studied history, you really can see a lot of parallels to old idea and civilizations and the modern day if you only took the time to really see the connections. Obviously, this is not to say the past is perfect in anyway, but nor are we perfect now. One thing for sure is that the past and present are connected.
What I Liked
While I really loved this book quite a bit, there are a few things that stood out the most while reading this book. The first being the authors ability to showcase ancient philosophy in a way that is easily understood. Not only was it easily understood, I liked how the author connected this philosophy to modern psychology. As someone who studied both of these a bit in the past, it really solidified my understanding as well as cementing the fact that this does in fact have a place in the modern world. I would like to make it clear that I feel like this book would still be easily understood and impactful if the reader does not have any background or previous interest in these fields. The authors plain language and explanations don’t come across as belittling or condescending, but like a friend talking to you and explain something new to you. Nothing is overly complicated in the slightest.
The second things that really stood out to me, I kind of already hinted at, but the authors way of telling the story of Marcus Aurelius or Stoicism was phenomenal. As someone who had no idea about either of these topics. Though his narrative way to telling the history combined with his friendly way of giving examples of how to bring these practices to your life it is an enjoyable read. It neither reads like someone knowledgeable talking down to someone or like you are in a lecture. When reading about ancient ways of thinking or individuals, this can often happen. But, Donald J. Robertson stands out in this regard.
What I Didn’t Like
I have to say I really don’t have anything specific to note in regards to dislikes when reading this book.
I am really glad that I came across this video by jacksepticeye because otherwise I would have never read this book. If you couldn’t tell already, I loved this book. I annotated it quite a lot. You would be hard pressed to find a page without a scribble or underlined passages. It was organized very well, the narrator/ author had a very clear and kind tone, and I learned quite a lot without feeling like I was attending a class or seminar. My personal opinion is this is a wonderful book and if you are interested in this topic, look further into this book.
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