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Most Brilliant Thoughts

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You don't have to be a genius to sound like one. Here's a collection of the most profound and provocative wit and wisdom in the English language in two lines or less. Edited by entrepreneur John M. Shanahan, who created the wildly successful Hooked on Phonics program, this wonderful book presents the best that has been thought and said on every imaginable topic.

Classified by such themes as "Truth, Lies, and Deception," "Men, Women, and Relationships," and "Passions, Virtues, and Vices," these quotes contain timeless messages for all humankind. Oscar Wilde: "A man who marries his mistress leaves a vacancy in that position." Charles de Gaulle: "The cemetery is filled with indispensable men." Abraham Lincoln: "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." Sophocles: "Men of ill judgment oft ignore the good that lies within their hands, till they have lost it."

Perfect for anyone who has ever been left speechless, this book will make you as glib as Oscar Wilde, as profound as Winston Churchill, and as wise as Aesop. Inspirational, entertaining, and thought-provoking, this is one collection that no library or bookshelf should be without.

324 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 1999

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John Shanahan

14 books2 followers

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5 stars
46 (24%)
4 stars
62 (32%)
3 stars
50 (26%)
2 stars
20 (10%)
1 star
10 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Lena Hershey.
57 reviews34 followers
February 8, 2018
I didn't expect this book to be funny, but it made me cry laughing.
This guy included his own "brilliant thoughts" , which include these nonsensical gems:

"If you don't bring Paris with you, you wont find it there."

"Reality is the other person's idea of how things should be."

"There are three important steps in a mans life: birth, marriage, and death ... but not necessarily in that order."

1 star. But also 10/10 would recommend.
Profile Image for Jesse Broussard.
229 reviews55 followers
July 6, 2010
The author is arrogant, repetitive, and careless in his citations (he attributes a quote from Ovid's Amores to Cato and enters the same quotes in multiple locations throughout the book). He apparently never thought anyone would read it cover to cover, and I wish he'd been right.

Just a tip: if you're writing a book called "The Most Brilliant Thoughts of All Time," you probably shouldn't quote yourself, and you really shouldn't quote yourself twelve times, but if you're going to quote yourself twelve times, you should really make sure that they're all new quotes: not ten quotes with two repetitions. And seriously: how do you quote yourself more than Chesterton, Bierce and Shaw combined? Ouch.
Profile Image for Ben.
559 reviews5 followers
August 24, 2022
Another 50 cent find at the Hummelstown Library book sale. Some nice quotations, and the book provides them with a few chapters. Nothing super in-depth, but just the quote - the person and their dates.
Profile Image for Ross Lampert.
Author 4 books11 followers
September 22, 2015
A high school buddy gave me this book a long, long time ago. Now that I’ve read it, I have to wonder why. In the spirit of its “(In Two Lines or Less)” subtitle, here are my thoughts.

Cynical: But Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary did that better.
Repetitive: Go ahead and use the same quote in different chapters. No one will notice.

Egotistical: Never trust an editor who considers more of his own thoughts “brilliant” than those in all of the great religious works ever written… combined.

Repetitive: Go ahead and use nearly-identical quotes in the same chapter. No one will notice.

Disorganized: Organizing quotes like these along themes within a given chapter is a great idea. It’s just not required.

At least I learned the full or true names of various famous people: F. Scott Fitzgerald (Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald), Voltaire (François Marie Arouet), George Orwell (Eric Blair), Anatole France (Jacques Anatole François Thibault), George Eliot (Marian Evans Cross), and Leon Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronstein), among others. That’s not enough to recommend this book, however.
Profile Image for Dominic C.
4 reviews
October 19, 2015
This book is essentially a long list of quotes. Because of that, it isn't the most entertaining reading material. Don't get me wrong, the people who wrote/spoke these quotes were geniuses. The collection of these quotes however was quite boring. I think this was mostly because I read all of the quotes, page after page, until I got tired. I believe it best to read this book much differently. You should just pick up this book, go to a random page in a section you want quotes about, read the quotes on that page, put the book down, and go about your day. This book isn't meant to be read straight.

Overall, I think this book contains some of the most brilliant thoughts ever created, but isn't great in terms of something to curl up and read.
Profile Image for Tim.
123 reviews
August 7, 2007
Great book for quotes, but I wish they had more positive quotes. Some are pretty glass half empty kind of stuff.
Profile Image for Lisa.
124 reviews3 followers
March 26, 2008
Great book of quotes. I love to look at it whenever I have a few minutes.
Profile Image for Marina.
31 reviews
February 28, 2018
Pros: witty thoughts from every possible source
Cons: Repetitive, The author used his own thoughts in the chapters.
Profile Image for Jessie.
147 reviews40 followers
July 13, 2018
Wonderful book filled with wise saying from scholars, writers, and a just a few very from the author to keep up on our toes.
May 20, 2023
Handful of ignorant, sexist quotes. Someone tell the author we’re not in the 1950’s and to get in touch with reality.
Profile Image for Veronica.
102 reviews66 followers
June 29, 2019

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are some else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
Oscar Wilde

Moderation is the last refuge for the unimaginative.
Oscar Wilde

That all men are equal is a proposition to which, at ordinary times, no sane individual has ever given his assent.
Aldous Huxley

Endurance is frequently a form of indecision.
Princess Elizabeth Bibesco

A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world: everyone you meet is your mirror.
Ken Keyes Jr.

Dogma does not mean the absence of thought, but the end of thought.
GK. Chesterton

Madness is to think of too many things in succession too fast, or of one thing too exclusively.

Every extreme attitude is a fight from the self.
Eric Hoffer

There is no great genius without some touch of madess.

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
Arthur McBride Bloch

Make me chaste and continent, but not just yet.
Saint Augustine

A ship in harbor is safe—but that is not what ships are for.
John A. Shedd

What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.
Oscar Levant

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
William James

Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.
Arthur Conan Doyle

Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increasses great ones, as the wind blows out candles and fans fire.
Duc de La Rochefoucauld

The strength of a man’s virtue should not be measured by his special exertions, but by his habitual acts.
Blaise Pascal

Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.
G.K. Chesterton

I prefer an accommodating vice to an obstinate virtue.

Beware the fury of a patient man.
John Dryden

Pride is generally censured and decried, but mainly by those who have nothing to be proud of
Arthur Schopenhauer

Simple pleasures…are the last refuge of the complex.
Oscar Wilde

Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do it himself.
A.H. Weiler

There is luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel no one else has a right to blame us.
Oscar Wilde

Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.
Abraham Heschel

We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.
George Bernard Shaw

Distrust all those who love you extremely upon a very slight acquaintance and without any visible reason.
Lord Philip Dormer Stanhope Chesterfield.

’Tis not the drinking that is to be blamed, but the excess.
John Selden

Only the shallow know themselves.
Oscar Wilde

To ridicule philosophy is really to philosophize.
Blaise Pascal

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
Edith Wharton

Man is ice to truth and fire to falsehood.
Jean de La Fontaine

Individualism is rather like innocence: There must be something unconscious about it.
Louis Kronenberg

I have not been afraid of excess: Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
William Somerset Maughan

Idleness is only the refuge of weak minds.
Lord Philip Dormer Chesterfield
Profile Image for Becky.
379 reviews12 followers
April 27, 2010
Someone gave us this compilation of "brilliant" thoughts. Yes there are a few of them but the editor picked and chose some of the stupidest ones ever. Shanahan in the section on Men, Women, and Relationships had to have picked the most pessimistic misogynist quotes available. Since when does one go to Oscar Wilde for advice on healthy male/female relationships? Even the other quotes one the subject were dripping with anti-marriage, anti-love, and anti-equality views. As a whole I'd rename this work as "The Most Pessimistic Thoughts of All Time." Shanahan had better stick to Hooked on Phonics and leave the actual choice of words to more actual brilliant minds.
Profile Image for Scott Macon.
6 reviews3 followers
February 5, 2008
I reference this book quite often when composing emails or letters...I will also use the material in my photography work....

Quote: Philosophy....a road with many routes that lead from nowhere to nothing....

that say it all.
Profile Image for Scott.
7 reviews
March 12, 2012
great quick reference quote book, just perfect for a quick pick me up. was a gift and it was perfect. i think books make great gift ideas. mom always said that, too
Profile Image for Amy.
58 reviews9 followers
March 13, 2011
I go back to this book again and again for brilliant insight.
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews

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