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The Importance Of Living Paperback – Sep 16 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (Sept. 16 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688163521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688163525
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 3 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #42,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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

About the Author

LIN YUTANG was born in 1895 to a mission family and became one of the best-known Chinese scholars and writers.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
To start off with, this was an incredibly fun and enjoyable read. Lin takes on the job, of comparing both Eastern and Western philosophies of life. The author has a very down to earth writting style. Lin is always honest and up front, about his own perspectives and opinions. These personal opinions will at times, contrast with the readers point of view. There are also sections, that are outdated. For instance, he compares Western and Chinese clothing styles. Lin also believes, smoking does not involve any health risks. The book was written in 1935.

Throughout Lin`s life, he was exposed to both Western and Chinese culture. He is also a student of various Western and Chinese philosophers. This is the essence of the book; the compariosion of Western and Chinese methods, on how to live well.

This book will appeal to anyone, that has enjoyed the occassional Stoic, Epicurean, orTaoism insight.
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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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback
I found Lin Yutang's writings many years ago. The book gives me a peaceful feeling and leads me back to the importance of simple living. I enjoy the author's views on aging especially in a society where aging is not often honored. I have quoted Lin Yutang often when working with elderly people who sometimes feel that they are forgotten.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lin Yutang - The Imprtance of Living is the story of a Chinese boy who is raised in China with western values. Trouble is, as an adult he knows little of his own culture. Lin Yutang's deep search for the Chinese soul, told with great gentleness and sensitivity to two worlds, is to see both through new eyes. Very well and wisely written.
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