Self-Reliance – Review


Some other reviewers have justifiably complained that the format of Self-Reliance is hard to read. While it is hard to read, it is an ambitious book and the format works well if you treat them as separate books. Read the right hand pages only for the full essay, the large red text on the left hand pages for the quotes from the essay, or the small text at the bottom of the left page for modern quotes on the same subject. 

This was the first time that I read this essay, and I thought it ok with brief flashes of insight and brilliance. There is a lot to like here, even if the style and rhythm feels very old now.

Pros:

* Essay has substance. A classic worth reading.

* Ambitious layout. For book lovers, its fun just to flip through.

Cons:

* Public domain. The main text is free, so you are paying for the extra quotes and the format.

* The extra quotes are the weakest part of the book. I can’t imagine going back to try and find and read them.

* Essay itself was good, but I thought the break out quotes were better. Language is too flowery to really impact most modern readers.

All in all, this one is skippable. There are some good books from the Domino Project – pick up Anything You Want and Poke the Box and you won’t be disappointed.