This Beauty: A Philosophy of Being Alive

Why should we consider life valuable? To answer that question, Nick Riggle (On Being Awesome) offers an introduction to aesthetics in his accessible and motivating second book, This Beauty, which proposes that the meaning of life is to appreciate and share in beauty.

An associate professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego, former professional skater and a new father, Riggle has varied life experiences upon which to draw. His philosophical and pop-culture references range from Plato to Drake, from Schopenhauer to Saturday Night Live. One of the author's main strategies is "using clichés as clues," probing well-worn sayings for the wisdom they may yet contain. Take "you only live once," for example. There are two opposite responses to this statement, he suggests. The one adopted by "The Preservationist" is to view life as fragile and protect it at all costs. The other is to embrace recklessness. "Carpe diem," right? Except, he discovers, "seize" might not be the best translation for what we are to do with the day. Instead, we should "harvest" it by being fully present in each moment.

Whatever we value--fashion, food, literature, music--makes us individuals, Riggle contends. And what we love, we want to share with others and respond to. That could start through imitation, but will ultimately fuel fresh creativity. How inspirational to think of life being "animated by beauty." This convivial guide for the questioning is perfect for readers of Rob Bell and Alain de Botton. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

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