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The Importance of Living
by Yutang Lin
ISBN 0688147178 / 9780688147174 / 0-688-14717-8
Publisher HarperCollins Publishers
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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 [via]