My First Book of The Year 2020 Finished

Photo from late December 2019.

This morning I finished my first book of the year: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius as translated by Gregory Hays. It was the book I initially selected at the start of the month and the year. However, it also was the book I rethought only a few days later might not work for my first book of the year because of another book that I thought would work better to start the year. In the end, though, I think my first choice was the right one.

Interestingly enough, at least to me, it was the right choice for the very reason I spelled out after rethinking it. That being, with there being a lot of aphorisms in Meditations, I thought I’d get more out of it if I read a chapter a day over two weeks and journal on one or two passages each day. And I believe that I did.

Here are a few of the passages that struck me as I read the book:

Suppose that a god announced that you were going to die tomorrow “or the day after.” Unless you were a complete coward you wouldn’t kick up a fuss about which day it was—what difference could it make? Now recognize that the difference between years from now and tomorrow is just as small.

It’s silly to try to escape other people’s faults. They are inescapable. Just try to escape your own.

Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions—not outside.

As for the runner-up, I believe I will return to it eventually. I just can’t say when.

What’s next?

Starting today through Monday, I am doing my own Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Readathon as I have Monday off from work. I want to begin reading Pillar of Fire: America in the King 1963-65, the second part of a trilogy that begins with Parting The Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63, which I read years ago, and concludes with At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68, which I hope to read in the future.

I also want to dip into the following:

  • A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shephard.
  • The Radical King, edited and introduced by Cornel West, which collects speeches and writings of King.

On the non-reading front, tomorrow afternoon I am going to a neighbor’s to watch the AFC Championship game. As I texted him:

Go Ch…. Ti…oh I don’t care. 🙂

It just will be good to see him since I haven’t seen him since…well…last year!

And as I’m finishing this post just before hitting “publish” this morning, it’s beginning to snow, three to five inches expected, not a huge amount, but enough that I’m glad I’m not going anywhere and will be hunkered down for the day reading – and napping, but of course.

30 thoughts on “My First Book of The Year 2020 Finished

  1. I actually took a nap today, which is a rare thing. I haven’t been feeling good though. I just hope I can sleep tonight. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius sounds like a relevant read even today. I like the the third quote you shared. As someone who spends a lot of time in my head and who knows anxiety more intimately than I would like, it’s a good one to keep in mind. I hope you enjoy your MLK readings tomorrow. My daughter will be finishing up her math board game project, I imagine. Just because she has a day off from school doesn’t mean she escapes schoolwork, unfortunately. I hope you enjoyed the game and your visit with your friend! Have a great week, Bryan. Happy Reading!


  2. I never thought much about Marcus Aurelius, but your passages from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius sound so thought provoking. I am putting on my TBR list now. And as Deb said, it seems timeless. Sounds like a perfect choice for your first book of the year too. I might have to rethink my choice for next year…

    Snow?! Yes, I remember that white stuff! Since moving from the snowy east coast to SC, it’s a rare treat. We were suppose to get some, but instead we got freezing rain. At the beginning of the week it was in the 70’s and now it’s barely above 40. I think I prefer Spring.

    Have a great week!


  3. Guess what – I am now much much more intrigued by the Marcus Aurelius book than I was when you first mentioned it. I’ve been looking for a good book or site or media that I can read daily. Something very positive but not cliched. Those passages you shared have me hooked. Have you checked out the Daily Stoic site? They have a podcast that I often listen to. The focus there is more on stoicism but it features very good advice. Love that you are doing an MLK readathon! I considered reading a book or two to commemorate but I’m still looking for my bearings…


  4. I love the passages you shared. So thought provoking. That first one really gave me pause. And I love the idea of a MLK readathon. Wish I’d thought of getting a proper book for it. My son has one that I love that we read every year so that’s something, I guess,
    We’ve also got lots of snow already on the ground with more expected 😦


    1. As I told Deb here earlier, my MLK readathon hasn’t started well, and even putting on pause today for other reading and the football game, but I’ll start Pillar of Fire tomorrow and dip into a few passages from Kim tomorrow.


  5. Snow?! My daughter is headed east as we “speak,” flying to NY from CA. I hope she has her heavy jacket with her on the plane. Have a wonderful MLK readathon.


  6. Adding Meditations to my TBR based on your recommendation. Sounds like something I would enjoy and the read/journal aspect is inspiring, too. Enjoy the Taylor Branch series — my husband read it years ago and I know he liked it very much.


  7. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius sounds like it is filled with wisdom. And it sounds unexpectedly timeless. It’s crazy to think it was written nearly two thousand years ago.

    I was a child when Martin Luther King Jr. was at work. I look back on his words and his actions now and I marvel at his peace and his love. He should have been angry and violent, but he chose to take a different path. I hope you enjoy the second part of the trilogy as much as you enjoyed the first.

    Reading while it is snowing outside? That is an experience I have never had (and probably never will have). It sounds calm and quiet. Perfect.

    Have a lovely holiday weekend.


    1. The modern translation helps too…I’ll be honest that I didn’t get any reading done Saturday (during the snow) and today I’m continuing a book a friend recommended. On Monday, I’ll begin my MLK readings.


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