Book Review – As A Man Thinketh

As a Man Thinketh
James Allen

Narrated by: Mark Cawley
The Savoy Publishing Company
Publication Date: 1903




This little volume (the result of meditation and experience) is not intended as an exhaustive treatise on the much written-upon subject of the power of thought. It is suggestive rather than explanatory, its object being to stimulate men and women to the discovery and perception of the truth that– “They themselves are makers of themselves.” By virtue of the thoughts, which they choose and encourage; that mind is the master-weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as they may have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in enlightenment and happiness. ~via Goodreads

As a Man Thinketh is one of those works that I have known about for a long time but never felt particularly motivated to read. However, as the Buddhist proverb states, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” The journey of self improvement that I have embarked on in the past few years has led me back to this iconic work by James Allen, and I have found it as profound as it is succinct.

Because of the age of this book, it is now in the public domain. The practical benefit is that there are plenty of sources for this work in all its forms. For example, the audiobook can be found for free from LibriVox and My only suggestion would be to find a good narrator. The language differences are inevitable with a book 114 years old. The narrator for a work like this can either make it instantly accessible, or turn it into one of those tomes of English literature that we all dreaded in school.

At just under an hour for the complete audiobook (38 pages in its original edition), it is the shortest work on the subject that I have read. It is also the oldest work on the subject that I have read to date, being published in 1903. That being said, its brevity belies its impact and its poignancy wears like granite through the years.

James Allen wrote 19 books in total through his writing career; but this, his second work, is by far the most successful. It has secured him as a pioneer in the self-help category and it is not hard to see why. As I was listening to As a Man Thinketh, I was looking for a quote to include here. However, the work is so short and densely packed that each line is innately quotable. It truly must be consumed and absorbed as a whole.

As a Man Thinketh quickly and directly states profound truths of the human mind. Its core is the belief that our ideas become our thoughts, our thoughts become our actions, our actions become our habits, and our habits create the results of our lives. If an idea is a seed, its blossom is action, and its fruit is our successes and failures. How we live our lives is a direct result of how we think and the ideas that we nurture within our minds.

Allen, eloquently leads us into this domain with the passage from which he drew the title (Proverbs 23:7) “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

I am giving As a Man Thinketh 4 stars, and would suggest it to anyone who is embarking on the same journey of self discovery and improvement.

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