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A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine is a book about the ancient philosophy of stoicism and how it can fit into modern day life. Irvine’s motivation for writing this book has been to teach others about stoicism. Irvine is a philosophy professor who recently started to practice stoicism. He writes in the introduction that the notion of practical philosophy - philosophy for everyday life has disappeared. He aims to teach the stoic philosophy as a philosophy for everyday life and at least to spread the knowledge of philosophy as practical philosophy.

The book is quite thorough on stoicism and covers some of the major themes of stoicism by the four most prominent Roman stoics. Irvine has categorized the writings of these Roman stoics into subjects that we can more easily digest and succeeds in doing so. He gives a nice historical intro to philosophy and stoicism which I quite like and also rounds it off quite nicely with suggestions on how to become a stoic. Having read some of the stoics (Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus) I highly agree on his interpretation of these and really like the categorization of the stoic themes.

Even though the description of stoicism is in my opinion spot on I do feel that Irvine spends a bit too much time trying to persuade the reader into adopting stoicism and defending it. These parts of the books is however not spoiling the rest of the book too much and for someone else it might be the persuasion needed. It just distracted the message of the book for me.

Overall a very enjoyable book and an excellent introduction to stoicism. Very actionable as well and will cause you to think about your own practical philosophy. Would recommend to people who are interested in stoicism.

4 out of 5 stars.