This has to be one of the best books I have read this year [2019]. I just couldn’t put it down.

In this book, Ryan Holiday writes about the need for quiet time and reflection, and how important it is in order to be happy and productive.

I love history and I love how Ryan has fused amazing history stories and examples to drive his theme of stillness.

Spending time alone, being still, has led to peace, thought-through decisions, a sober and peaceful life.

In today’s ever buzzing destructive life of noise and busyness, being still has to be the new superpower.

“We are overfed and undernourished. Overstimulated, overscheduled, and lonely.”

That is a quote from the opening monologue of the book. And one I think is a good summation of what it feels like to live in our current society.

In this book, you can see that Ryan has spent time with his mentor Robert Greene, he uses historical references to validate his assumptions and opinions about this idea of stillness.

This book, more than any other he has released, is a book of wisdom with thousands of years of evidence behind it. He has distilled that information for us, and depending on your own personal situation, each of the three sections might resonate differently.

The book looks at stillness from three sections: Mind, Spirit and Body. 



One thing I really liked about this book was how he also gives examples from other schools of thought on the topic of stillness, such as Buddhism and Christianity, as well as Stoic, Cynic, and Epicurean philosophy.

The examples are rich with insight and stories that are deeply fascinating. From John F. Kennedy to Anne Frank to Winston Churchill.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-read book that will inspire you to become a better person, this book is worth picking up.

My favourite quotes from the book:

  • “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone. — Blaise Pascal”
  • “Stillness is what aims the archer’s arrow. It inspires new ideas. It sharpens perspective and illuminates connections.”
  • “If you wish to improve,” Epictetus once said, “be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters.”
  • “How different would the world look if people spent as much time listening to their conscience as they did to chattering broadcasts? If they could respond to the calls of their convictions as quickly as we answer the dings and rings of technology in our pockets?”
  • “You will never feel okay by way of external accomplishments. Enough comes from the inside. It comes from stepping off the train. From seeing what you already have, what you’ve always had.”
  • Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it. — Colin Powell”
  • “Thought will not work except in silence,” Thomas Carlyle said. If we want to think better, we need to seize these moments of quiet. If we want more revelations—more insights or breakthroughs or new, big ideas—we have to create more room for them. We have to step away from the comfort of noisy distractions and stimulations. We have to start listening.”
  • “The trackless woods. A quiet child, lying on her belly, reading a book. The clouds cutting over the wing of an airplane, its exhausted passengers all asleep. A man reading in his seat. A woman sleeping. A stewardess resting her feet. The rosy fingertips of dawn coming up over the mountain. A song on repeat. That song’s beat, lining up exactly with the rhythm of events as we walk down the street. The pleasure of getting an assignment in before a deadline, the temporary quiet of an empty inbox. This is stillness.”
  • We are overfed and undernourished. Overstimulated, over-scheduled, and lonely.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday

  1. I also finished reading this book last week…wisdom indeed. Ryan Holiday is one of the authors i have chosen to study. I have all of his books. I enjoyed his trilogy on how to be a better person and Stoicism namely: Obstacle is the way, Ego is the enemy and Stillness is the key. Great review!

    1. He is a true student of Stoicism and Robert Greene’s mentee… I have read Ego is the Enemy and Stillness is the Key. I will get Obstacle is the Way by next week… I love his storytelling and love for history stories….

      1. I also read Robert Greene’s latest book The Laws of Human Nature…i admire his research skills he goes deep when he explores a subject. If possible you should also get The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday.

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