A reading club with a view to the future

087 J. Rufus Fears: Life Lessons from the Great Books

Exploring timeless lessons in morality, virtue, and leadership from classic texts, emphasizing the relevance of the classics in modern times.

Grant L. Voth: Great Mythologies of the World


In Life Lessons from the Great Books, J. Rufus Fears, a renowned classicist and historian, takes listeners on a journey through some of the most influential works of Western literature. Fears discusses the timeless wisdom contained within these classics, exploring the moral, ethical, and philosophical lessons they have to offer. From Homer's epic poems to the works of Shakespeare and beyond, Fears demonstrates how these great books can help us navigate the challenges of modern life, teaching us about leadership, virtue, and the human condition.


Title: Life Lessons from the Great Books

Author: J. Rufus Fears

Publishing Year: 2013

Publisher: The Teaching Company

Length in hours: 18 hours and 16 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. The classics are timeless and offer invaluable lessons about the human experience.
  2. Reading and studying the great books can help us become better leaders and individuals.
  3. Virtue, morality, and ethical behavior are recurring themes in classic literature.
  4. The classics teach us about the importance of personal responsibility and accountability.
  5. The study of the great books is essential for a well-rounded education and a deeper understanding of the world.
J. Rufus Fears: Life Lessons from the Great Books

5 funny quotes

  1. “Reading great books is like having a conversation with the most brilliant minds of human history.”
  2. “The great books are like a time machine, allowing us to travel to different times and places.”
  3. “The great books are like a mental gym, giving our minds a good workout.”
  4. “Reading great books is like exploring a vast library filled with treasures waiting to be discovered.”
  5. “The great books are like a banquet table, offering us a feast of ideas and insights.”

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. “The greatness of the great books is not in their answers but in their questions.”
  2. “To understand ourselves and our place in the world we must turn to the great books as our guides and inspiration.”
  3. “We are not always able to choose the events of our lives, but we are always free to choose our response.”
  4. “The power of the great books lies in their ability to make us see the world in a new light.”
  5. “The great books provide us with the tools to lead a life of wisdom and purpose.”

5 dilemmas

  1. Is it better to live a life of pleasure or a life of purpose?
  2. Can a person truly change, or are they defined by their past?
  3. How do we balance the individual’s freedom with the needs of society?
  4. Should we always follow our conscience, even if it conflicts with the law?
  5. Is it possible to have a meaningful life without belief in God?

5 examples

  1. Socrates – The Apology
  2. Homer – The Iliad
  3. Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy
  4. William Shakespeare – Hamlet
  5. Friedrich Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Referenced books

  1. "The Odyssey" by Homer
  2. "The Republic" by Plato
  3. "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius
  4. "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare
  5. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

Share a quote

“The greatness of the great books is not in their answers but in their questions.”

J. Rufus Fears: Life Lessons from the Great Books
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