Top positive review
Re-read This Classic; Wow! Almost Thirty Years Can Really Make a Difference
Reviewed in the United States on February 17, 2014
Where to begin? This has to be one of my Top Ten favorite books. If you are unaware of who Erich Fromm was, do a quick Wikipedia search. It's pertinent. This is not an overly-abstract, philosophical read; it's easygoing, not too long, and it's insightful.
I FIRST read this as a recreational read in my twenties and it made a positive impression. Read this book and you'll be able to answer this question for yourself: What is the Point of Living: To Have or To Be?
In my twenties, I was most impressed with this quote (capitalization mine): "If you are what you HAVE and you lose what you have, what then are you? But if you are what you ARE and you lose what you have, no man controls your destiny."
Now, with 25+ years of REAL living behind me, I've seen the real-world impact of what Fromm describes as the true cost of the soul-crushing alienation of the obsessive "having" state typically pursued in our society. The end result of this lifestyle choice is not pretty: neither for individuals, nor for societies in general. Think "Crash of 2008" and its aftermath and re-alignment. Or think of your Best Friend who's out shopping for her 12th Cadillac, trying oh-so-desperately to keep ahead of the neighbors.
Fromm clearly spells out the choices inherent in HAVING or BEING and the polar opposite results those two pathways ultimately produce, in terms of neurosis, happiness, or the lack thereof. My older eyes see Fromm as a Utopian Idealist, but I still think this is a terrific guidebook for individual ethics, offering many deep insights into the Art of Living Well. Read it and get a healthy head start on Knowing Thyself.