Introduction to How to Be a Friend:
In an age of social media “friendships,” it is important to learn how to cultivate and develop real friendships. That is what humans were meant to do and thus innately desire to do. But sometimes it is hard to do so. We require guidance. How to Be a Friend by Cicero is one of the best books on that subject that I have read. It’s like How to Win Friends and Influence People (another book on how to be a friend that I have reviewed), but shorter, more personal, and easier to read.
Summary of How to Be a Friend:
Instead of writing How to Be a Friend in the dictatorial, list-like way of many modern books about friendship, Cicero writes in much friendlier way. How to Be a Friend is a running dialogue between two Romans about their recently deceased friend. Through that dialogue, Cicero is able to show how friends should treat each other and what true friendship is.
And while he does have a few salient points that he wants readers to understand, such as that it is important to desire true friendship rather than to get things out of people, he mainly leaves the dialogue open to interpretation. He expects the reader to read closely and then draw their own conclusions, rather than explicitly stating each and every point that he is trying to make.
Analysis of How to Be a Friend:
I thought that How to Be a Friend was an absolutely wonderful book. It was engaging, interesting, and entertaining all at once. Each line of dialogue draws the reader in because of how expertly crafted it is, and Cicero is able to use that dialogue to drive home his points in a way that seems natural rather than forced.
Furthermore, I thought that Cicero’s style of using dialogue to make his points made How to Be a Friend much easier to read and understand than other philosophy books such as Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. So in that respect I would recommend it to the philosophy novice as an introduction to Greek and Roman philosophy; it is easier to read, so it should help you to learn about philosophy without having to experience some of the initial frustration.
Finally, I think everyone should read How to Be a Friend because the title of the book sums up what it is about; how to be a friend. Modern Americans struggle with the concept of friendship; too many friends are virtual, ephemeral nothings that only drive insecurity and social media obsession. If you read this book, you will be able to escape that trap and develop real friendships.
If you do want to focus on building real friendships in your life, I would recommend that you read How to Be a Friend and How to Win Friends and Influence People. Both are great handbooks for how to look past the shallow indicators of friendship that many focus on, and instead building healthy and mutually beneficial relationships with like-minded people. Enjoy reading!
By: Gen Z Conservative