[Book Review] The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

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Ralston Medouze

Ralston Medouze

Ralston is a teacher and entrepreneur. He's passionate about achieving goals and has a wide variety of interests. Some of his goals include traveling the world and learning 5+ foreign languages.
Ralston Medouze

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

Summary

In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius contemplates many things about life and the self – it’s a classical book on philosophy. He ponders questions about why we do the things we do and tries to give an explanation of these occurrences from his point of view. While some of the ideas and suggestions may be outdated, there are many timeless, useful nuggets of insight that make this a book worth reading.

What can I learn from this book?

This book will make you think: about yourself, your values, and life around you. Simply, this book presents Marcus Aurelius’ views on how to live the best life. It’s a book for those who wish to learn and grow. He reflects on his philosophies on virtue, happiness, tranquility, and more. There are many lessons within that can help any person in life.

Is it complicated?

The Meditations is very short but involves some deep thought. Though the words are not complicated, it can be tough to read, especially if you’re not a fan of philosophy. The presentation of the words in this book are very dry and matter-of-fact, so it can get boring if you are reading it straight through. For these types of books, I would suggest that you read it bit by bit, anyway as it is best to read each part of the book separately and contemplate on the ideas in that section for some time. Otherwise, you can read this book in an afternoon.

What is the best part?

In the beginning of this book, Marcus Aurelius takes the time to reflect on his past lessons, his teachers, and his good fortune in life. This is a lesson in itself, and it was particularly striking to me because it lines up with something that I deeply believe as well. That is: gratitude is an essential component to success, happiness, and self-improvement. While he elaborates on his ideas, he takes the time to mention words of gratitude for the things that he has in life and for the people who taught him. The entire first book of the meditations is devoted to this, which not only shows the profound impact it had on his life, but a sort of humbleness of the man himself. Since the book is a classic, you can also get it for very cheap as well.

What are the drawbacks?

This book was originally written in Ancient Greek, so you will be reading a translation of his words. While this works fine, it’s true that there is no better way to read a book then in its original form/language. Your enjoyment of this text may vary with the translation of the book that you pick up.

What would you rate it? (5/5)

I consider the content in this book to be a very high value. For that alone, I would give it a five. The translations, however, can vary greatly, reducing some of the enjoyment of the book. Nevertheless, it’s a short and valuable read for anyone. I give this book a five.

Would you recommend it?

I would recommend this book as one that you should give a couple of reads. It’s simple and short, but it will take some time to fully process all of Aurelius’ ideas. This wouldn’t be the first book that I would recommend on your journey to self-improvement unless you’re deeply interested in classics, but it is still high on my list. For beginners, I think that there may be some more modern books that can present similar ideas in a more easily digestible form.
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