Book Review: The War of Art

I was long thinking which book is a good one to take a first step into writing about the books that I read and what I thought about them.
The War of Art is now the book that I am going to start with and I hope I will extend this series in the future more.

Details

The War of Art was written by Steven Pressfield and first published back in 2002.
It is a guide book on how to overcome the inner barrier of not doing tasks or work. With just around 200 pages the book is not very long and can be finished within a day. This is also mostly due to the way a page is filled with content, but later more on that.

Structure

The book is structured into three main chapters which are referred to as books. Each book has a theme to it. Each chapter or book has then a collection of more or less short bursts of texts. Referring to them as chapters is not correct from my perspective, as most of them hardly fill out a single page or take longer than 30 seconds to read.
This makes reading the overall book easy and approachable. Here a single burst of text, there a single text and you make good progress reading through it.
Even though the title mentions art specifically it is not only meant for artists but rather for artists in the broader sense of people who create something new.

Book one is all about the premise of the book and introduces the concept of resistance and the personification of resistance. With resistance the author refers to the power that stops the reader (you) from doing things and starting things.

After identifying the problem (resistance), in book two we learn the definition and attributes of a professional.
The overall structure is again very similar to book one just with a different theme.
Defining a professional is again mostly done in a straight up way with clear words.

Book three then creates the syntheses of the first two chapters. Here the concept of an angel is introduced. A generic concept of a force that overcomes resistance and helps the shift towards professionalism.
Where the first two books are more a characterization and definition part, the third book really is then about guiding the reader to change their life and overcome resistance in order to achieve more.

Feelings about the book

Personally I feel that the book is too much connected to religion and paints a picture of heavens and hell. The author seems uses a lot of analogies that seem to connect resistance to the fact that someone is guilty of acedia (laziness).
This is a broad characterization from my perspective but fits into the early 2000 style of living and guidance books.
I believe that nowadays it is more accepted to not do a lot of things but rather life out your happiness. But again, you need to see this book in context to the time it was written in.

Each chapter is written as a burst of text, rather than having a real connection between them in most cases. They can be read independent and not in order. This is great if you just want to look something up in the book, but does not create a whole lot of fun reading the book itself in one go.
Through this style the book made the impression on me, that it is more like a collection of commandments rather than having a book. It is a unique style for sure, but one that you need to like.

Due to this style of writing, the amount of real life examples is mostly limited to experiences the author itself had in his life. And most of these are very dark and about suffering. The point in which he had a benefit of following his own rules or recommendations is missing from my perspective. This is a problem I believe as guidance books should not operate on a “Do this do that” principle but rather help you to understand the advantages of changing your life in the proposed manor.

Conclusion and last words

Overall I believe that the book has the correct premise but uses odd mechanics and symbols to transport it.
When you can oversee the clear connection to religion and how it shapes the book, I think it is a good and short read. Does it offer anything groundbreaking new? I don’t think so.
But what it does, is to have clear words and statements that can be remembered. A trait that not a lot of guidance books have in my perspective. The author does not fool around long and really wants to provide value for the reader. To put value a bit into perspective: the book was 1,19€ when I bought it two weeks ago, this is not much for 200 pages of content.
And this is achieved for me, the book does not repeat itself or has empty gestures or texts in it.

If you have made it so far in the post: Thank you for reading!
Next up I would like to hear from you if you liked this format or anything that can be done better.

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