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Poor Richard’s Almanack by Benjamin Franklin: A vintage reading; 1733-1758

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Jan 21, 2013

Eat to live, and not live to eat

Book Cover
Book Cover

Reading has a profound impact on how we live our life let alone how we operate ourselves in a day to day basis. The art of living could be fundamentally changed and modified by a good book. The fascination, understanding and poignant feeling a good book can give is more than we can think of.

Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, which Franklin started publishing in the year of 1733 is a fascinating read. The book is such an enjoyable reading that it takes you together to finish at a time. In a very subtle way Franklin explored many of our day to day life’s philosophy, understanding, trifles of living, cultural contradictions, and basic human impulses profoundly. Franklin wrote Almanack, which is happen to be his one of most popular work, under the pseudonym Richard Saunders.

At the beginning of 1733’s Almanack Franklin started with such a beautiful confession that makes one to laugh and think at a time. Franklin begins:

I might in this place at tempt to gain thy Favour, by declaring that I write Almanacks with no other View than that of the public Good; but in this I should not be sincere; and Men are now a-days too wise to be deceived by Pretences how specious so ever. The plain Truth of the Matter is, I am excessive poor, and my Wife, good Woman, is, I tell her, excessive proud; she cannot bear, she says, to sit spinning in her Shift of Tow, while I do nothing but gaze at the Stars; and has threatned more than once to burn all my Books and Rattling-Traps (as she calls my Instruments) if I do not make some profitable Use of them for the good of my Family. The Printer has offered me some considerable share of the Profits, and I have thus begun to comply with my Dame's desire.

What a straight but compelling; poignant but fascinating statement! As the book goes on you will be thrilled, entertained and thoughtful by wonderful single liner, statement, wisdom, wit and insight.

Hunger never saw bad bread.
Beware of meat twice boiled, & an old foe reconciled.
Great Talkers, little Doers.
A rich rogue, is like a fat hog, who never does good til as dead as a log.

Relation without friendship, friendship without power, power without will, will without effect, effect without profit, & profit without virtue, are not worth a far to.

Eat to live, and not live to eat.
The favour of the Great is no inheritance.
Fools make feasts and wise men eat 'em.
The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.

Men & Melons are hard to know.
He's the best physician that knows the worthlessness of the most medicines.
A fine genius in his own country, is like gold in the mine.
There is no little enemy

Strongly recommended. You can find a pdf copy for free here converted to HTML in september 1999


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Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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