How a man uses money-makes it, saves it, and spends it-is perhaps one of the best tests of practical wisdom.
-from "Money-Its Use and Abuse"
Who better to take inspirational advice from than a man named Smiles? But unlike the feel-good cheerleading that the term "self-help" says to us today, to Smiles it might well have been synonymous with "hard work." For this 1859 volume is dedicated to "stimulat[ing] youths to apply themselves diligently to right pursuits,-sparing neither labour, pains, nor self-denial in prosecuting them-and to rely upon their own efforts in life."
Though the author himself admits his lessons are "old-fashioned but wholesome," he nevertheless delivers stern but well-intentioned lectures on such commonsense concepts as the importance of learning from failure, how work is the best teacher, and the value of thrift, gentility, and honesty, all peppered with examples of such noble industry from the lives of writers, scientists, artists, inventors, educators, philanthropists, missionaries, and-gulp!-martyrs. It's as if all paternal wisdom had been reduced to a single book.
British writer, political reformer, and moralist SAMUEL SMILES (1812-1904) trained as a doctor but found fame as a journalist, contributing to several British newspapers and serving as editor of the Leeds Times from 1838 to 1845. Among his other inspirational titles are Character (1871), Thrift (1875), and Duty (1880).