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Lin Yutang - The Importance of Living (Writing In Asia)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  848 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
This is a personal testimony, a testimony of my own experience of thought and life. It is not intended to be objective and makes no claim to establish eternal truths. In fact I rather despise claims to objectivity in philosophy; the point of view is the thing. I should have liked to call it "A Lyrical Philosophy," using the word "lyrical" in the sense of being a highly per ...more
ebook, 480 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Patterson Press (first published 1937)
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Diane Barnes
I am going to bail on this book. I have been reading a few pages at a time for about 4 months now, and while it's a nice, calming book about different philosophies in China and other countries around the world, with the view that people should slow down and enjoy their world, apparently this advice is just for men. In his opinion, women MUST be mothers to be happy, because it's their reason for existence. Women MUST be married, to create a family and home to take pressure off the husband trying ...more
Vikram Karve
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, self-help
A book that enriched my life and taught me the art of living

There is one book you will never find in my bookcase – you will always find it by my bedside near my pillow. At night, just before I go to sleep, I open this book to any random page, and read on till I drift off to blissful idyllic sleep.

The name of this book, which has had a profound defining effect on me, maybe even subconsciously shaped my philosophy of life, is called: The Importance of Living writt
Dr X
Sep 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is like sitting around with your grandfather while he shares his thoughts about everything under the sun, so long as your father is a witty, erudite, philosophically inclined Chinese man. I received this book as a gift. It has an irresistible table of contents, with chapter headings like On Having a Stomach, On Being Wayward and Incalculable, The Problem of Happiness, The Cult of the Idle Life, Celibacy a Freak of Civilization, On Lying in Bed, On Sitting in Chairs, On Rocks and Trees, ...more
David Beckwith
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Lin Yutang, Rumi, Martin Buber, Lao T'se, Jesus, Buddha, Rabindranath Tagore, Gandhi...these are the words that can heal our troubled world. In a sensationalized world, the reader of Lin Yutang's great classic will learn how to enjoy merely sitting, lying in bed, reading, writing, walking, and nearly everything one can do that harms no other or self.

For my money, the most important part of "The Importance of Living" is where he discusses, at some length, the non-soldier, and all the good and ne
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having just finished this book, I would say that this is probably one of the most beautiful books I've read. Lin Yutang has the soul of an artist and the taste of a connoisseur and through his strongly subjective, yet entirely 'reasonable' opinions and style of writing, I found myself very easily carried away into his points of view on life, the arts, philosophy and the love of pleasure. I cannot imagine everyone would feel the same way, but I feel that reading this book has greatly benefited an ...more
Anh Dũng
Mình có duyên với quyển này thiệt. Bắt đầu đọc quyển này là hôm con bạn dẫn mình tham gia khóa thiền của thầy Minh Niệm. Nhưng mình chẳng hiểu tại sao lại bỏ dở từ đó đến giờ. Mấy bữa về quê vào vườn ở quên, chiều chiều gió mát thổi, tiếng lá của cây sao xào xạc làm mình nhớ đến những bài văn, bài thơ tiểu học ngôn ngữ tượng thanh, tượng hình và hàm xúc; bất giác mình nghĩ: 'những cảm xúc nên thơ lạ không chỉ có ở trong thơ văn' (sắp già tới nơi cmn rồi :D). Vậy nên lại lấy quyển này ra tiếp tục ...more
Mary Karpel-Jergic
An interesting and quirky read. I had seen a couple of quotes from this author and this had prompted me to read a book written by him. Written in 1936 it is historically embedded in its time so some of his views appear somewhat anachronistic, especially around women, but that aside the book offers a philosophy of life that is in contrast to the Western way of life which values efficiency, punctuality and a desire for achievement and success. It is a book that extols the Chinese way of life and I ...more
Preili Pipar
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book, favorites
Ma sain selle läbi!!! Ja see oli super! Tegemist küll filosoofilise raamatuga, aga mitte sellisega, mis oleks raske ja keeruline lugeda. Mõnus, lihtne, tabav. Muidugi kõiges ma ei nõustunud autoriga :D, aga ka need kohad olid head lugeda. Kui tundub, et vähegi tahaks lugeda midagi filosoofilist, aga veidi kardad, siis see on alustuseks väga hea valik.
Ja seekord ma tsitaate välja ei toogi. Neid on nii palju, et raamat on kleepse täis :D Loe ja leia omad! Igal juhul soovitan!
Aitäh soovitajale ja a
Patricia Welker
My first book read after retiring was The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang. I enjoyed the easy going stories in the old Chinese scholar perspective. How to relax, smoke and make a proper pot of tea. I recommend this book for the point in life when slowing down is permissible and possible.
Nick Klagge
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Those who are wise won't be busy, and those who are too busy can't be wise." -Lin Yutang

This is a lovely old book that I discovered due to Robert Wringham quoting it, with high commendation, in his book _Escape Everything!_ Mr. Lin, who was born in China in 1895 and published _The Importance of Living_ in 1937 shortly after moving to America, has an outlook on life that will be familiar to anyone who has read Wringham's publication, The New Escapologist: deeply interested in exploring how we li
Ben Hammond
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd wholly recommend this to anyone who feels like they need direction and quelling of their anxiety about life. The only reason I'm giving this 4 stars is because it is outdated in societal terms, particular in the views of women. As a person of principle I can't 'forgive' these views even if they are of a man of a previous generation. But the prose concerning beauty, nature and religion it is quintessentially Chinese and has really opened my eyes into reading more Chinese/East Asian literature ...more
Steven Malone
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I regard the discovery of one’s favorite author as the most critical event in one’s intellectual development.
-Lin Yutang

My exposure to Chinese culture and philosophy comes, these days, through my experiences with Tai Chi Chuan and various other martial arts and Qigong. This study brings me close to many Chinese and Taiwanese people. None are more gracious, accepting, and friendly. I appreciate how their culture blends into ours so seamlessly.

Lin Yutang’s The Importance of Living is, to me, the
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up an old edition of this book for £2 at a vintage bookshop in Johannesburg and couldn't put it down for the rest of the holiday.

Someone in the comments described this as listening to the rambling of a grandfather! I thought that was very accurate! Though much like any out of touch grandfather I didn't agreed with all Yutang's ramblings it was nevertheless fascinating. But the stronger appeal for me was with his way of looking at things. The best way to explain it is that lovely quote
Lin Yutang's book is slightly hard to classify, if only because, as he admits, he's writing a book about Chinese culture and academic history which he doesn't intend to be taken as especially scholarly or serious in large part. That's not to say it isn't fun, though. The book is an awful lot of fun, even if by the end it starts to run out of interesting things to say. I particularly enjoyed the seventh chapter ("The Art of Loafing"), and highly recommend the entire book on that grounds alone - i ...more
I'm putting this back on my "to read" list because there's just no way I want to read this book in any fly by night way. It's almost 500 pages and has the most wonderfully named chapters--"On Having a Mind" and "Cynicism, Folly and Camouflage" and a whole section on "The Importance of Loafing." This is a book made for long, lazy days, to be savored and read slowly with lots of time in between for contemplation. Maybe when I retire I will buy myself my own copy and settle into a chair on the deck ...more
I'd love to give this a higher review, and objectively I have the date of original publication firmly in my thoughts but for every nuance and charmingly phrased thought and spark there were at least twice the number of sweeping generalisations to the point of xenophobia and misogyny upon occasions, many of which were backed up by repetitive caveats that overshadowed my general enjoyment of the book. That being said I would recommend it to anyone with an open literary mind and there were a number ...more
Sarah Shahid
I didn't like this book
the writer underestimates the human mind
and makes it nothing
he describes us badly and makes us like animals
May 31, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rather disappointingly,the majority of this book consisted of sweeping statements, sexist comments and outdated/inaccurate comparisons.
Gnuehc Ecnerwal
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book off of the shelf labeled 'Philosophy' at my local bookstore, (where it was correctly placed.)

It seems to me that quite a few people looked at the title on the cover and assumed that it is the kind of book that tells you how to live your life, like so many 'self-help' books and so many 'guru of meaningful living' books. To be honest, if you had to read a book, or have SOMEONE ELSE to tell you, how to live YOUR life, it is rather sad.

This is not that kind of book. It does not giv
Jovvi Rain
Jan 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a great fan of philosophy, especially when wittily delivered and erring more to enjoyment of life then worries and woes.
But ye gods, he does ramble doesn't he?
I found myself skim reading more and more until the book was fair whizzing past my face. It was like listening to someone who had an idea, but had sort of lost it half way along the road and is muttering random, vaguely related, topics as he goes in hopes of remembering what he meant...
Many of his views are also hopelessly out of date
Jasmine Pope
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found his views of Christianity small considering he seems to believe being a Christian means you try to do good to get to heaven (100% false- John 3:16).

Rating is reflective of the enjoyment of slow reading I experienced and his style, or rather, his flavor of writing. My favorite section was that about the flowers. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it because I have no previous desire to speak or think of flowers, but it was beautiful. I do believe he has some very wise and interesting
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This book is verbose. In all honesty, I probably read around 300 full pages of the 428 that it contains. However, that's all you need to do. When he gets lost talking about one topic that you have gotten the gist of you are not missing out by passing a few pages to get to the next topic. Being from 1937, there was some dated points of view regarding things like women and smoking. However, overall I would say that I liked the book and I found some interesting thoughts and ideas throughout it. I h ...more
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First written in 1937, this book is a collection of essays on topics we all deal with in our human experience. A sampling of section titles( there are 14) are: The Awakening, On Being Human, The Importance of Loafing, The Enjoyment of the Home, Relationship to God and The Art of Thinking.

This book can be read straight through or sampled by chapter or essay.

This book is very relevant to the times we currently live in.

Highly recommended.
"Those who are wise won't be busy, and those who are too busy can't be wise." -Lin Yutang

See ei ole mingi eneseabi raamat, rohkem nagu filosoofiline (sealjuures ka väga pikk) essee. Mulle meeldis lugeda eriti võrdlusi Lääne ja Hiina vahel. Nii hämmastavalt erinev suhtumine.
Shannon Kline
I have very mixed feelings about this book. It contains some delightful gems of wisdom, but is outdated in many ways. Yutang had me wrapped around his little finger while discussing the joys of leisure, but lost me when he started discussing basically anything related to women.
Brian  Ambrosini
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not an easy read by any means. While I feel I got the majority of it, I can only imagine the amount of stuff I missed... So a re-read is necessary.

Very deep, detailed and clear. I had a great time with the author.
Jan Soller
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I promise that I have NOT read every word in this treatise. But I've read many. It is a return-to-in the future book for me, to read more. I came to this book thanks to Will Schwalbe, Books for Living.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful exposition of traditional chinese characteristics and its contrast to those of the west
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the great books that discusses the art of living, though from an old school practitioner, though the perspective is highly interesting and would make you re-think how you conduct life.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit I flew through this book-skimming a bit. It is a very dry, very wordy book but it is definitely worth giving it some of your attention.
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Prolific writer of a wide variety of works in Chinese and English; in the 1930s he founded several Chinese magazines specializing in social satire and Western-style journalism.

Lin, the son of a Chinese Presbyterian minister, was educated for the ministry but renounced Christianity in his early 20s and became a professor of English. He traveled to the United States and Europe for advanced study; on
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“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” 210 likes
“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.” 180 likes
More quotes…