How much do I want to read more? 6/10
I got surprised to read a critic of "success books" right from the start, which sounds quite relevant:
"We Americans devour eagerly any piece of writing that purports to tell us the secret of success in life; yet how often we are disappointed to find nothing but commonplace statements, or receipts that we know by heart but never follow."
According to him, we fail to learn from those lessons because of the lack of "human element" that makes it sounds real and brings the story to within out grasp.
But this is not actually from Benjamin Franklin.
BJ was fond of books and he attributes a great part of his success to it.
We Americans devour eagerly any piece of writing that purports to tell us the secret of success in life; yet how often we are disappointed to find nothing but commonplace statements, or receipts that we know by heart but never follow.
Most of the life stories of our famous and successful men fail to inspire because they lack the human element that makes the record real and brings the story within our grasp.
While we are searching far and near for some Aladdin's Lamp to give coveted fortune, there is ready at our hand if we will only reach out and take it, like the charm in Milton's Comus.
The thing that makes Franklin's Autobiography different from every other life story of a great and successful man is just this human aspect of the account. Franklin told the story of his life, as he himself says, for the benefit of his posterity. He wanted to help them by the relation of his own rise from obscurity and poverty to eminence and wealth.
The youth who reads the fascinating story is astonished to find that Franklin in his early years struggled with the same everyday passions and difficulties that he himself experiences, and he loses the sense of discouragement that comes from a realization of his own shortcomings and inability to attain.
As a writer, he has produced, in his Autobiography and in Poor Richard's Almanac, two works that are not surpassed by similar writing.
For him writing was never an end in itself, but always a means to an end. Yet his success as a scientist, a statesman, and a diplomat, as well as socially, was in no little part due to his ability as a writer.
Franklin was the first American author to gain a wide and permanent reputation in Europe. The Autobiography, Poor Richard, Father Abraham's Speech or The Way to Wealth, as well as some of the Bagatelles, are as widely known abroad as any American writings. Franklin must also be classed as the first American humorist.
The first part, written as a letter to his son, William Franklin, was not intended for publication;
His book is the record of that unusual life told in Franklin's own unexcelled conversational style.
F W P
1 - ANCESTRY AND EARLY YOUTH IN BOSTON
DEAR SON: I have ever had pleasure in obtaining any little anecdotes of my ancestors.
I undertook for that purpose. Imagining it may be equally agreeable to you to know the circumstances of my life.
Having emerged from the poverty and obscurity in which I was born and bred, to a state of affluence and some degree of reputation in the world, and having gone so far through life with a considerable share of felicity, the conducing means I made use of, which with the blessing of God so well succeeded, my posterity may like to know, as they may find some of them suitable to their own situations, and therefore fit to be imitated.
2 - BEGINNING LIFE AS A PRINTER
FROM a child I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books.
Plutarch's Lives there was in which I read abundantly, and I still think that time spent to great advantage.
There was also a book of DeFoe's, called an Essay on Projects, and another of Dr. Mather's, called Essays to do Good, which perhaps gave me a turn of thinking that had an influence on some of the principal future events of my life.
and telling me verse-makers were generally beggars. So I escaped being a poet, most probably a very bad one; but as prose writing has been of great use to me in the course of my life
When about 16 years of age I happened to meet with a book, written by one Tryon, recommending a vegetable diet. I determined to go into it.
I made the greater progress, from that greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension which usually attend temperance in eating and drinking.
And I read about this time Locke On Human Understanding, and the Art of Thinking, by Messrs. du Port Royal.