Review: Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists

Review:  Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists


(Buyers description from

“Bestselling expert James Geary’s enlightening, entertaining compendium of wit and wisdom, from Sun Tzu to Desmond Tutu–and 350 aphorists in between.

Both an expert and a collector, James Geary has devoted his life to aphorisms–and the last few years to organizing, indexing, and even translating them. The result is Geary’s Guide, featuring classic writers like Voltaire, Twain, Shakespeare, and Nietzsche, but also more surprising figures, such as Woody Allen, Muhammad Ali, Emily Dickinson, and Mae West. Some of the aphorists appear in English for the first time. But it is more than just a conventional anthology. It is also an encyclopedia, containing brief biographies of each author in addition to a selection of his or her aphorisms. The book is a field guide, too, with aphorists organized into eight different “species,” such as Comics, Critics & Satirists; Icons & Iconoclasts; and Painters & Poets. The book’s two indexes–by author and by subject–make it easily searchable, while its unique organizational structure and Geary’s lively biographical entries make it different from all previous reference works.

Geary’s Guide is eminently suitable for browsing or for sustained reading. A comprehensive guide to our most intimate, idiosyncratic literary form, the book is an indispensable tool for writers and public speakers as well as essential reading for all language lovers.”

Personal Review:

Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists changed and improved my life!  I never wrote or took notes in books before I read this one.  The maxim’s within induced me to begin responding to them or even write my own!

The book is formatted so that it introduces the person who spoke or wrote the aphorisms (Winston Churchill or Cicero for example), briefly describes their lives, and then lists a number of their sayings; most often 7 to 10 of them.

Some aphorisms would be humorous in nature while others were deep and thoughtful or even grim and harsh.  Every page is so jam packed with thought that I would feel satisfied for a day after reading a few pages.  I read this book over a period of three years!  It was gifted to me, I put it down and then picked it up and read a few pages a day until I was finished.

As I began to find stand out quotations and stand out individuals, I began to highlight the best and write responses or my own maxims which were inspired by what I read!  A habit was formed that vastly improved my skills as a note taker and as a student.  These days, I regularly write my own aphorisms, short stories, and essays!

After reading Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists  I have improved my writing skills and discovered a few new historical heroes whose writings or short bibliographies inspired me.  No matter your interests or sensibilities, I’m sure that you can find a few individuals and their sayings that will inspire you!  My own copy of this book is precious to me as I have put a lot of my own thought and writing into it!


Man of the West