Book Review: You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt

You Learn By Living

You Learn by Living. Indeed you do. What and how much will depend on you, your family, community, country and time. A fulfilling and useful life is especially important  to Eleanor Roosevelt. To live a useful and fulfilling life, you need to be responsible, to be able to hold your values, dig the facts and then act.

Eleanor Roosevelt starts  her eleven keys for a more fulfilling life with one having to first learn how to learn, how to face one’s fears and the importance of dealing with time. Then she continues with the difficult art of maturity and the need to constantly readjust. Before dealing with facing responsibility she goes through how to get the best out of people, one’s right to be an individual and the necessity to learn to be useful. She ends with politics: How indeed everyone can take part in politics and how to learn to become a public servant.

When writing about political life, she is at her strongest. There are several pertinent observations and poignant insights. Though here her President is her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt (and/or possibly his successors Harry S. Truman or Dwight D. Eisenhower). I wonder, indeed, how she would write about the advice as to the quest of information and facts now. Eleanor Roosevelt chose to work assisting her husband and behind the scenes. She nevertheless took part – something she strongly encourages.

There is also the question of her sexuality. There is some evidence of her having a female friend/lover. In view of this, I think, the chapter of The Right to Be an Individual can be interpreted in this light. One’s right to wear personal clothes might not only be taken quite so literally.

You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt (1882-1962) was first published  in 1960. I read the 50 year anniversary edition of 2011 by Harper Perennial. The passed time shows. The book is more personal rather than scientific. There is also the feel that it is written by an older person. The examples are not always quite there and it sort of wonders a bit. However, I am pleased that I came across this book. It has been good to know how she thinks and, of course, the book does give one something to think about. For me it was also a comparison as I just completed Becoming by Michelle Obama prior to buying this.

STARS: 4/5

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