The Road to Character

The Road to Character

Book - 2015
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"I wrote this book not sure I could follow the road to character, but I wanted at least to know what the road looks like and how other people have trodden it."--David Brooks
 
With the wisdom, humor, curiosity, and sharp insights that have brought millions of readers to his New York Times column and his previous bestsellers, David Brooks has consistently illuminated our daily lives in surprising and original ways. In The Social Animal, he explored the neuroscience of human connection and how we can flourish together. Now, in The Road to Character, he focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives. Responding to what he calls the culture of the Big Me, which emphasizes external success, Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our "résumé virtues"--achieving wealth, fame, and status--and our "eulogy virtues," those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed.
 
Looking to some of the world's greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character. Labor activist Frances Perkins understood the need to suppress parts of herself so that she could be an instrument in a larger cause. Dwight Eisenhower organized his life not around impulsive self-expression but considered self-restraint. Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic convert and champion of the poor, learned as a young woman the vocabulary of simplicity and surrender. Civil rights pioneers A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin learned reticence and the logic of self-discipline, the need to distrust oneself even while waging a noble crusade.
 
Blending psychology, politics, spirituality, and confessional, The Road to Character provides an opportunity for us to rethink our priorities, and strive to build rich inner lives marked by humility and moral depth.
 
"Joy," David Brooks writes, "is a byproduct experienced by people who are aiming for something else. But it comes."

Praise for The Road to Character
 
"David Brooks's gift--as he might put it in his swift, engaging way--is for making obscure but potent social studies research accessible and even startling. . . . [ The Road to Character is] a hyper-readable, lucid, often richly detailed human story. . . . In the age of the selfie, Brooks wishes to exhort us back to a semiclassical sense of self-restraint, self-erasure, and self-suspicion." --Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review

"A powerful, haunting book that works its way beneath your skin." -- The Guardian (U.K.)

"Elegant and lucid . . . a pitch-perfect clarion call, issued not with preachy hubris but from a deep place of humility, for awakening to the greatest rewards of living . . . The Road to Character is an essential read in its entirety." --Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"Brooks--the New York Times columnist and PBS commentator whose measured calm gives punditry a good name--offers the building blocks of a meaningful life in The Road to Character ." -- Washingtonian ("Four Books Washingtonians Should Be Reading This Month")
 
"Engrossing . . . Brooks's poignant and at times quite humorous commentary on the importance of humility and virtue makes for a vital, uplifting read." -- Publishers Weekly
Publisher: New York : Random House, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780812993257
Characteristics: xvii, 300 pages ;,25 cm.

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m
mattclute
Apr 04, 2017

Not a great book. Expected a much different read. Highly recommend Dr. Henry Cloud's book titled "Integrity" over this one.

j
jackzelda
Jan 27, 2017

David Brooks should stick to radio where he is articulate and his columns which are focused.

In the book, he takes a pompous, preachy, presumptuous, prudish tone using a lot of psychobabble. He has one good idea and expands it into a scattered book, when a column talking about the duality of character would have sufficed.

Don't waste your time. It led to a very spirited discussion in our book club because we couldn't say enough about how bad it was! And several of us are David Brooks fans!

d
D_Johnston1
Sep 13, 2016

Probably one of the worst nonfiction books I've ever seen. That people are impressed by the three source sub-undergrad level profiles is remarkable enough. That people so consistently praise the pretentious and repetitive prose? That's stupefying. I suspect that much of the praise comes from people who enjoy wagging their fingers at the kids these days and think that Brooks gives them some veneer of objectivity. Either that or they're simply in awe of the great man writing it, because nothing in this book warrants the praise it's received.

t
theCobras
Apr 29, 2016

This book is an inspiring, challenging classic. Character is presented as the most important priority in a person's life. The book highlights thrlives of figures in history who have suffered to develop character.

c
caowenhong
Apr 10, 2016

I chose this book for self improvement. Brooks used great figures from the history as the examples to explain the road to character. Although it is inspiring to read about great historical figures but it also made it hard for me to relate my road to character.

o
okieman
Mar 01, 2016

A very good contemporary guide to this topic. *Not* the typical preachy tone that bogs down many books about character. The author's style is idiosyncratic and can vary from eloquent to vaguely clunky, but not enough to distract readers.

f
fbindel
Aug 31, 2015

Just OK. A few quotables. Seems to reach out to those of his readers, listeners, viewers, part of a mainstream eddying in the backwaters of apathy and quietism. Otherwise, preaching to the choir. Worth a skim.

w
writermala
Aug 09, 2015

I was intrigued by this book just reading the blurb. The mention of "Resume Values" vs. "Eulogy Values," grabbed me hook, line, and sinker.
Seeing how much the definition of "character" has changed over the years, it is indeed a monumental task that David Brooks has undertaken in this book.
Brooks uses great figures from history to illustrate his points and often quotes from their lives or works. This makes for some very colorful prose such as "Large angels take a long time unfolding their wings, but when they do they soar out of sight."
We need to ask ourselves the tough questions like who we are and balance our resume lives and our eulogy lives. Then and only then can we attain joy; for joy is not something you can aim for it is a byproduct that comes when you are aiming for something else.
Not an easy read by any means but worth reading.

l
library8449
Jul 07, 2015

Star Gladiator, your analysis of David Brooks' book is full of such anger, which appears to be the result of extreme left radicalism. How can you live with such hatred in your heart?

2
20500001054712
Jun 15, 2015

I am looking forward to reading this book by David Brooks who comments weekly on the PBS Newshour. I like his thinking although I don't always agree with his politics.

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caowenhong
Apr 10, 2016

caowenhong thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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okieman
Mar 01, 2016

okieman thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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elainemorrison
Aug 18, 2016

A person does not choose a vocation. A vocation is a calling. People generally feel they have no choice in the matter. Their life would be unrecognizable unless they pursued this line of activity.

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