The Importance of Living

by Lin Yutang · read August 31, 2019


Somewhat unexpectedly hilarious and thought-provoking. The book begins with a disclaimer that it's not really a book on philosophy, just a collection of the author's thoughts, and it is very true to that disclaimer. Certain parts I completely disregarded because they were outdated or just not relevant to me, but there was a lot of content that I found fascinating and I loved the emphasis on simplicity and not overcomplicating things.

One of my favourite passages in the book:

But the essential fact remains that human life has got too complicated and the matter of merely feeding ourselves, directly or indirectly, is occupying well over ninety per cent of our human activities. Civilization is largely a matter of seeking food, while progress is that development which makes food more and more difficult to get. If it had not been made so difficult for man to obtain his food, there would be absolutely no reason why humanity should work so hard. The danger is that we get over-civilized and that we come to a point, as indeed we have already done, when the work of getting food is so strenuous that we lose our appetite for food in the process of getting it.

Julia Cooke © 2023