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Ben Franklin on Vanity

I just started reading Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography. This paragraph surprised me:

And lastly (I may as well confess it, since my denial of it will be believed by nobody), perhaps I shall a good deal gratify my own vanity [by writing this]. Indeed, I scarce ever heard or saw the introductory words, "Without vanity I may say," but some vain thing immediately followed. Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves; but I give it fair quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others that are within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of his life.

Fascinating! Thank God for vanity? Wow...

But you know, it makes some sense. It seems to me that modesty is good when it helps you achieve what you set out to achieve, and modesty is bad when it stops you from achieving what you set out to achieve. Whether modesty is effective or not depends on the situation. Some situations call for it. Some don't.

It seems to me that there's a certain kind of pragmatic humility that'd always be good to have. Knowing what you don't know, knowing that there's a lot of skills you don't have, understanding that even your best reasoned judgment of a situation might be overlooking some details...

What I've Been Consuming

On Imported Blog

This is a monthly series that documents what I've consumed and, from music to movies and video games to books. It doesn't include everything I've consumed this month, but things that have made an impact or left an impression on me. This is for my own personal tracking, so if this doesn't interest you, feel free to move right along.

After my Kindle broke, I didn't read for months. Ryan Holiday's writings changed that dramatically. Once I had to buy books for school, I snatched up the opportunity to pick up some books that had been on my to-read list, which recently jumped from 10 or 20 books to 556 items as of today. (Buy me books?)

So here's what I've read over the course of August and September, a dramatic increase over the amount I'd read when I had to rely on a library:

I bought books waiting to be read, including Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and The Trial by Franz Kafka. I'm very excited to get to them, but I hope to finish Ben Franklin's Autobiography first. We're also reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in class, and I'll comment on that next month.

Quick Note About Book Series: I absolutely despise book series. I understand it's a way to get kids to read more, but it's a cheap way to extract more money out of an audience that can't afford it (I got $4-5 a week in allowance). The books are repetitive and waste precious space reminding the audience of certain constants, and if you don't have the creativity to put your series into one book--no matter the size, please stop publishing. I have stopped many series halfway because I simply outgrew them. And now I'll never know the endings...

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