Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Self-Reliance” as Want to Read:
Self-Reliance
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Self-Reliance

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  3,697 ratings  ·  217 reviews
Redefining the classic essay, this modern edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s most famous work, Self-Reliance, includes self-reflections from both historical and contemporary luminaries. With quotes from the likes of Henry Ford and Helen Keller to modern-day thought leaders like Jesse Dylan, Steve Pressfield, and Milton Glaser, we're reminded of the relevance of Emerson’s pow ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published June 7th 1967)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Self-Reliance, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Self-Reliance

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Stephen
Photobucket

6.0 stars. This book seriously affected me in a very postive way. It's not really even a book but rather a long essay. Essay or book, it had a profound impact on me. In fact, I was utterly floored while reading this and it has become one of my "All Time Favorites."

Other then gushing and throwing great heaps of praise on the work, I am not sure how best to describe the contents so as to do it justice. If I had to try and sum up Emerson's Self Reliance I would say that it is first and foremost t
...more
Riku Sayuj

Shreyaan swadharmo vigunah paradharmaat swanushthitaat; 
Swadharme nidhanam shreyah paradharmo bhayaavahah.

The Bhagavad-Gita, 3.35 (Chapter 3, Verse 35)

[Better is one's own Dharma, though devoid of merit, than the Dharma of another well discharged. Better is even death in one's own Dharma; to attempt the Dharma of another is fraught with danger.]

I felt that Self-Reliance is a book length homage to this verse. Emerson, while talking loftily of originality seems to have not the slightest compunctio
...more
Loy Machedo
Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson is a collection of thoughts published by the author in the year 1841. It is indeed a very rare manuscript as it urges its readers to do the unthinkable – trust your gut feeling, your intuition, your common sense, your heart, your spirit and soul – rather than follow the will of the majority or the popular opinion of the masses.

Personally, I consider this, his masterpiece

But herein lies the twist.

I will request you not to read the book.

Simply because this book
...more
Sanjay Gautam
*****
one of the greatest works I've ever read!
Philip
For Emerson, the greatest good is to elevate and worship ones’ self, and the greatest sin is to look outside ones’ self. While who we are is a product of what has come before and will contribute to what will go on, Emerson sees a danger of looking to the past or considering the future in our actions. He preaches that we should have a focus entirely on the present. Being true to ourselves in the moment may cause inconsistencies and misunderstandings, but this is all part of his greater good. Emer ...more
Derrick
"If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in suc ...more
Hans
Emerson has a way with words that I find seldom matched by others. His prose is rich with imagery that it feels as though I am constructing a physical edifice out of his ideas as I read. My own bias is apparent in the fact that part of the reason I like Emerson so much is that my own meditations on life are similar to his. This particular book, for which is he is most well known for, emphasizes that nothing of true value can come from without and only from within. I can see though how his philos ...more
Aaron Goldfarb
The first time I read "Self-Reliance," I didn't. It was assigned summer reading before my senior year AP English class and I was too busy golfing and playing pick-up basketball to waste my summer on a book written by a dead guy with weird sideburns. At age 23, I read it the second time, printing out a public domain edition using a temp job's laser printer then plowing through it on my lunch break. This week was my third time to read it and by far the most valuable thanks to the Domino Project's ...more
Johnrh
Comments and passages.

Although this 1841 essay is somewhat imbued with “Divine Providence”, Emerson makes a cogent as well as eloquent argument for being your own person. As per John Ruskin, you must read this 19th century English work “letter by letter”, but it is worth it. A few sample passages:

“Ne te quaesiveris extra.”

(“Do not seek outside yourself.”)


“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart, is true for all men- that is genius. Speak your late
...more
John Spillane
Maybe it was the narrator or the dated language was too hard for me to follow but boy did this miss. I'll probably listen to it again because it's short and I assume the problem is mine. The final line "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles." and the famous "hobgoblin of little minds" bits were the only lines that made me perk up.
Drew
One word to describe both Emerson and his essay Self Reliance, profound. If you have been board as of late and feel like you want to intellectually challenge yourself and think, then I suggest you pick up Emerson. I've been saying to a few friends of mine how I've been mentally unsatisfied with some of the books we've been reading in our book club and how I've wanted something to challenge me more and make me think, well this is where i found it. Self Reliance is great and don't think your gonna ...more
John Gurney
Self-Reliance, though a century and a half old, is full of timeless wisdom, written in Ralph Waldo Emerson's memorable prose. May more of us have the fortitude and bravery to be self-reliant in thought and deed!

Some of my favorite quotes:

"Whoso would be a man, must be a non-conformist."

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."

"I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead in
...more
Ken Moten
Since I have already given my main thoughts on Emerson and his prose-style in my review of The American Scholar, I can be laconic on this essay.

This essay is very simply an exhortation by Emerson to be yourself and not to conform. This seems like it would have been much more effective in the 19th century or even the 1950s, but now its bite has dulled because of how individualized are society is or at least pretends to be. This could have had a bigger impact on me if the prose was not STILL so d
...more
Kevin
I THUS PROUDLY DENOUNCE LOGIC - What Mr. Emerson is really trying to say.

I would like to start this review with a quote. Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote thusly: “Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say ‘I think’, ‘I am’, but quotes some saint or sage”.

I think - I say again, I think - Mr. Emerson is a good writer; his way with words is undeniably extraordinary. As a philosopher, however, he demonstrates nothing but utter failure in this essay. “Self-Reliance” is
...more
Sonny Wyatt
"Our age is retrospective, it builds the tombs of the fathers... why can't we have a religion of revelation to us instead of the history of theirs." with this opener I was hooked. Emerson's idea was to convey the necessity of a deep belief and high regard of self and the intellect of your own mind. Regard more highly that new thing which you can bring into the world over the inventions, and innovations of existing things, or thoughts brought forth by others. Follow your inner constitution rather ...more
Korakot Chuawong
Incredible idea!. The best way of living in nowaday society.
Jowayria Rahal
Emerson and Thoreau are easier compared than contrasted since they both were proponents of the same trend; transcendentalism_ the idea that man, by meditating the self and examining nature can transcend his humanity and fuse into the soul of God to end up being one with Him.

Their themes are pretty similar : know yourself, trust yourself, examine nature to figure out what/who you are, do not rely on the government and man is inherently good. They both_as transcendentalists- were non-conformists
...more
Alex
I have the "Domino Project" version, put out by Seth Godin and co. I loved the extra quotes they added, and the selection of main points from the essay.

This will be a book that stays on my counter. Because it's a reminder, a cold bucket of water to the face, in a world where media and other people's opinion are broadcast at an indigestible rate. The message is summed up as "trust yourself," and "stop looking outward" for guidance. Find your inner spark and stoke the flame. I believe in self edu
...more
Mario Tomic
Great read on trusting yourself and your own intuition rather than automatically following popular opinions no matter who they come from. This book is a great balance in terms that it expands your mind to go back to the realization that all great people built themselves around having free minds not trapped by popular teachings. The book itself is not easy to read as a lot of the lessons are compressed and explained in 19th century style of writing. On the flip side it's not very long so you can ...more
Jenevieve
Review first published on My Blog. Check out all my reviews there.

Mr. Emerson wrote of his beliefs that within each of us, there is a greatness possible but it can only be found by being true to ourselves and foregoing conforming to societal norms simply because they are expected of us. He speaks to how we often second-guess ourselves and the value of our thoughts until we receive validation from outside forces. "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private h
...more
Sokcheng Seang
Admittedly, this was the first time I read Emerson's work. I was in awed with his use of language. As a non-born English speaker, I have quite a lot of difficulties trying to understand his points most of the times. However, I have come to the conclusion that this whole essay wants to prove only a handful of statements- namely, "be true to yourself", "trust your guts", "contradict yourself", "do not conform".

While these advices are helpful in trying to establish your own thoughts, it borders too
...more
Erika B. (Snogging on Sunday Books)
Totally digging Emerson! He was one smart fellow! He said things like-

"Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string."

"What I must do, is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinio
...more
Vinicius Dalpiccol
It was ok. Having read the stoics before this is probably influencing my rating, because it feels like Emerson was only repeating things I had already read before on Epicurus' and Seneca's works. I think if one is not familiar with those philosophers or stoicism in general, Self Reliance is not a bad read per se, but then again, why not go straight to the source?
Gail Fagerstrom
I am re-reading Self-Reliance... Emerson knew and said then what the world pays to have someone famous tell them now.

"Truth is handsomer than the affectation of love. Your goodness must have some edge to it, else it is none."

"Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing."

"I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

H
...more
Bett Correa
I keep listening to this over and over. It's so rich and inspiring. A lot is packed into this short book. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Rozemarijn
Extremely interesting to read and beautifully written. Full of one liners and inspiring quotes.
Connor Petersen
Normally, I am not a fan of classical American literature, such as Mark Twain's Huckleberry Fin. I tend to find this genre of literature to be depressing, boring and show only things that I feel as if I have already thought myself. However, Emerson's Self-Reliance has completely shifted my opinion. Being a self-proclaimed (and also proclaimed by many others)"Right Winger", I was compelled in this works view of the art that is depending on one self. The initial topic to truly compel me was the to ...more
Daniel Nogueira
Best quote: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today. Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood? Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, ...more
Meryem Raitab
Self-Reliance

Self-Reliance, a novel who shares the qualities of individuality, society, and self-reliance, was the masterpiece of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson, who taught by experience, wrote Self-Reliance from journal entries of his youthful adventures. Emerson thought of self-reliance as a virtue and a blessing. The importance of self-reliance, self-reliance and individuality, and self-reliance and society, were the ruling ideas into which Emerson created the supporting, yet teaching novel.
...more
Yuen
This book really gives you a tight good slap on your face because of the thought osmosis. You can probably guess what this book is all about, that is, to be self-reliant of course with the additional supporting details. I can tell you no one can write/explain about self-reliance any better than Emerson though I haven't read much about it. It's normally what we hear from the elder people. Be yourself! Stand your ground and don't be afraid of it etc. etc.

Just to give you a clear idea of what I'm t
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Young Man's Guide
  • Strenuous Life
  • American Boys Handy Book
  • Essential Manners for Men: What to Do, When to Do It, and Why
  • The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry
  • Seek: Reports from the Edges of America and Beyond
  • The Frontier in American History
  • The Crisis
  • Boy Scout Handbook
  • Parallel Lives
  • The Dangerous Book for Boys
  • Stages on Life's Way (Kierkegaard's Writings, Volume 11)
  • Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life
  • Read This Before Our Next Meeting
  • We Are All Weird: The Myth of Mass and The End of Compliance
  • Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas
  • Self-Help
  • The Boys of Summer
12080
in 1803, Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston. Educated at Harvard and the Cambridge Divinity School, he became a Unitarian minister in 1826 at the Second Church Unitarian. The congregation, with Christian overtones, issued communion, something Emerson refused to do. "Really, it is beyond my comprehension," Emerson once said, when asked by a seminary professor whether he believed in God. (Quoted ...more
More about Ralph Waldo Emerson...
Self-Reliance and Other Essays Essays and Poems The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson Essays and Lectures Nature and Selected Essays

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” 2829 likes
“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” 492 likes
More quotes…