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The Importance Of Living [Paperback]

Lin Yutang
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 7 1998
The Importance of Living is a wry, witty antidote to the dizzying pace of the modern world. Lin Yutang's prescription is the classic Chinese philosophy of life: Revere inaction as much as action, invoke humor to maintain a healthy attitude, and never forget that there will always be plenty of fools around who are willing-indeed, eager-to be busy, to make themselves useful, and to exercise power while you bask in the simple joy of existence.At a time when we're overwhelmed with wake-up calls, here is a refreshing, playful reminder to savor life's simple pleasures.

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Is it really a philosophy book if it has a section entitled "The Importance of Loafing"? Harvard scholar, Taoist, and modernist Lin Yutang wrote The Importance of Living to express his highly subjective, personal feelings after years of studying ancient Chinese texts, and created a wonderfully slow-going yet radiantly clear guide to the simple life. Taking walks, drinking tea, long talks with friends are all important to Lin, whose stories and retellings of Taoist classics meander away from his points, find new ones, and remind us to enjoy the life that's all around us without needless worry.

Lin's prose is gentle, like the conversation of a favorite lazy uncle who is more at home sipping lemonade on the back porch than gulping lattes between meetings. The sincerity of his humility is surprising to a reader used to postmodern writers who seem to pride themselves on their self-abasement. Though Lin deliberately avoided fame and notoriety, correctly observing that it only leads to troubles, one can only hope that his wisdom, timelier than ever, finds a wider audience among today's too-busy-to-breathe global culture. His philosophy, more practical and enjoyable than the usual Western writings on the subject, reminds us all of the vital importance of simply living. --Rob Lightner

From Library Journal

Published in 1937, this was one of the original "don't worry, be happy" books. The Chinese philosopher here expounds on the mindset people need to develop in order to have a more successful and peaceful life.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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In what follows I am presenting the Chinese point of view, because I cannot help my self. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Offers a complete philosophy of life Sept. 9 2002
Format:Paperback
This is a true modern classic (to those who consider 1937 modern anyway). Lin Yutang offers a meandering, informal look at life, happiness, the differences between Eastern and Western cultures, the enjoyment of food and many other things. What I like best about this book is not what it argues for or advocates (Yutang is about as far from an academic philosopher as you can get) but the joy and wisdom he injects into every paragraph. He is often considered a Chinese thinker, but this is only partially true. His very broad studies and experiences make him a true cosmopolitan, the sort it is hard to find today. The Importance of Living is really a call to appreciate the earthly pleasures of life and not take so seriously the overrated follies of modern civilization. You don't have to completely agree with his views to appreciate his style. The ideal life for Lin Yutang is that of a lazy, wandering Taoist scholar. Not a humorless ascetic, but someone who approaches life with a sense of humor and an ability to enjoy the small pleasures. Yutang identifies himself as a hedonist (later in life he became Christian, but that's another story). There are many self help and new age books out today that tell you how to live a simpler, more spiritual life. This book tells you the same thing in a way that is far wittier and less sanctimonious.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living life without fighting it! July 7 2000
Format:Hardcover
I have a soft spot for this book because I recently learned that this was my grandfather's favourite book ever. And as he was born in 1900, was a silent man and left us a huge library, I simply had to read this book to see what it was about.
Mr. Yutang is definitely a nice person. It would have been a pleasure to have some conversation with him.
I know that some of his beliefs can seem quite strange, in this crazy 21st. century days we are living, but in a certain way I believe he embodies the Chinese tradition of letting things pass instead of fighting with them.
This book has some funny passages, such as the one where he describes his passion for walking in the rain and how he later would lie to explain to people why he was all wet...
It certainly packs a different approach to life and it is interesting to learn his opinions about our western life styles. And having lived in America, he never condemns any of it, but simply points some absurds and curiosities that couldn't be easily accepted by a chinese.
There is certainly some to be learned from his culture of appreciation and his delightful essays about many aspects of our lives that would have simply passed unnoticed otherwise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of wisdom and beauty Oct. 3 2001
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed Dr. Lin's books since I was a high school student. If you carefully read this book and apply the philosophy embedded in this book, your will discover the beauty of life more and live a happier and more sensible life. Strongly recommend this book to those who are always busy and don't have time to enjoy their lives. (if you still have time to read a book.... ^__^)
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good essence under complicated cover Nov. 14 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
What I like about this book is the author's eloquence in evaluating simple acts in our life taken as granted (e.g. laying down, drinking tea, having a nice conversation) and in bringing out their simplicity yet beauty. In this manner, he teaches us how to enjoy them as they are and therefore gain a deeper appreciation of life itself. This book is like a reminder of things that we already knew but became forgotten as we grow older and is a collection of concrete philosophical ideas that would enrich our way of living.
The downside of this book is the tendency of the author to be verbose and to use complicated expressions. It is somewhat a vocabulary marathon to understand what he writes, not to mention the chinese expressions oftenly used without clear explanation (even with the explanation summary at the end of the book). The other is the impresssion of somewhat chinese-centric and xenophobic writing style.
In conclusion, this book is valuable in the way it reminds us the importance and enjoyment of living. It is however not an easy reading, and his writing style needs some getting used to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The nobility of laziness June 28 2000
Format:Paperback
Mankind has been laboring under the curse of Adam for so long that we have come to see work as not a painful necessity but as a noble act. Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth. For those of you who are interested in just why loafing is so artful, a perusal of this book would well repay inspection
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4.0 out of 5 stars Old philosophies still good? March 17 2000
Format:Paperback
I read the 1937 publication, and I'm not sure if it's been updated since then, but it was well worth the read. Sure, it had several items that could be considered politically incorrect, but you have to admire a man that places such a philisophical importance of food. I borrowed the book from an uncle and read it very tongue-in-cheek. So why am I reviewing it on this site? I have to return the book and I wanted a copy of my own.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Combating the Rat Race Feb. 16 2000
By Pierce
Format:Paperback
Americans don't know how to relax. They want a one hour course in stress relief when they would be much better served by reading this book and learning about leisure. Even certain reviews of this title seem to take life far too seriously. Now, I'm off to practice indolence.
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