Book:  How to Live on 24 Hours a Day

Author:  Arnold Bennett

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

CitationBennett, A. (2010). How to live on 24 hours a day. New York: Merchant.

Big Takeaways & Key Ideas:

  • You tell me that you are too tired to do anything outside your workday at night. In reply to which I tell you that if your ordinary day's work is that exhausting, then the balance of your life is wrong and must be adjusted. A man's powers ought not to be monopolized by an ordinary day’s work. (pg. xi)

  • Many people look at the hours from 10 to 6 and consider those hours to be the “workday”, to which the 10 hours preceding them and the six hours following them are nothing but a prologue and epilogue. Such an attitude kills his interest in the “other” 16 hours, saying they are nothing and often wasted. This general attitude is utterly illogical and unhealthy. If a man willingly chooses not to effectively use two-thirds of his life, how can he hope to live fully and completely? (pg. 44)

  • If someone wishes to live fully and completely, he must arrange a day within a day. And this inner day must begin at 6pm and end at 10am. It is a day of 16 hours, and during those 16 hours he can cultivate his body, his soul, and fellow men. This must be his attitude. And his attitude is all important - his success in life depends on it. (pg. 45)

  • One of the chief things which a typical man has to learn is that the mental faculties are capable of continuous hard activity; they do not tire like an arm or leg. All they want is change – as opposed to rest - except in sleep. (pg. 46)

  • If you don't do anything between 6 and midnight, 6 hours have gone since you left the office – gone like a dream, gone like magic, unaccountably gone! But you say: “a man is tired”. So be it. But when you arrange to go to the theater with a pretty lady what happens? You rush to the suburbs; You rush back to town and another train; you keep yourself busy for 4 hours and you don't think about going to bed. You just go. When you have something definite to look forward to at evening time, something that is to employ all your energy – the thought of that something gives a glow and a more intense vitality to the whole day. (pg. 52)

  • What I suggest is that at 6 you look facts in the face and admit you are not tired, and that you arrange your evening so that it is not cut in the middle by a meal. By doing so you will have a clear opening of at least 3 hours. I do not suggest that you should employ 3 hours every night of your life in using up your mental energy. But I do suggest that you might employ an hour and a half every other evening in some important and consecutive cultivation of the mind. You will still be left with three evenings for doing whatever you would like. (pg. 54)

  • Novels are excluded from serious reading for those who are bent on self-improvement. The reason is not that novels are not serious - some of the greatest literature of the world is in the form of prose fiction. The reason is that bad novels ought not to be read, and that good novels never demand any appreciable mental application on the part of the reader. (pg. 90)

  • In addition to reading, you must also think. I know people who read and read, and for all the good it does them they might just as well cut bread and butter. They take to reading as better men take to drink. They fly through books quickly, their sole object being how many books they can get through. They will tell you how many books they have read in a year. Unless you give time to careful reflection on what you are reading, your time will be chiefly wasted. This means that your pace will be slow. Who cares. (pg. 95)

  • It is good not to chatter too much about what you are doing but others are not. Do not show sadness at the spectacle of a whole world deliberately wasting so many hours out of every day, and therefore never really living. It will be found that taking care of oneself is quite all one can do. (pg. 98)