I’ve read books on How to Have and Be a Friend before but none of them can quite compare to this jem of a book, Friendship, by Hugh Black. Published originally in 1898, there really is nothing in here that has ceased to relevant. In fact, I would almost suggest that we need this book on the market today more than ever.
This book has been picked back up and repulished by Joshua Press because we currently live in a culture that has devalued friendship. We seem to think we can “make it on our own” and forge our own paths and make our own ways straight without the use or need of fellowship and the truest of communion with our friends. Hugh Black thoroughly examines the unique relationship that a friendship is, telling us why it’s important to have one, be one and value one. (Again, I have never read anything better!)
Black took (takes?) a firm stand on the qualifications that you should look for in a friend, encouraging you to avoid those of ill repute and surround yourselves with people of good character and moral integrity (among other things). This book is explicitly Christian and useful to. Do you consider yourself to be a Christian and do you proclaim that you are? Then you might want to read this book. No, actually, you should read this book.
If we, as Christians, had a proper and Biblical understanding of what being a friend truly meant, then people might truly begin to know us by our love and our actions would speak loudly and accurately of our faith.
Friends should be chosen by a higher principle of selection than any worldly one*, of pleasure, or usefulness, or by weak submission** to the evil influences of our lot. They should be chosen for character, for goodness, for truth and trustworthiness, because they ahve sympathy with us in our best thoughts and holiest aspirations, because they ahve community of mind in the things of the soul. All other connections are fleeting and imperfect from the nature of the case. A relationship based on the physical wiethers when the first bloom fades: a relationship founded on the intellectual is only a little more secure, as it too is subject to caprice. (page 54)
*because they are wealthy or wear the right clothes
**because they say what we want to hear or pamper our vanity
There were many things that Black says in Friendship that caught my attention. This is a book that I easily devoured on the first reading of these 122 pages. It does not take long to work through this book. That said, I can already tell you that I need to reread it and will do so again and again! It is a valuable resource, a kick in the pants, sound advice, a deep thought and incredible inspiration and encouragement. This book will make you reevaluate the friendship you have now and the friendships that you wish to build up in the future. I cannot recommend this book more highly and any attempt to do so will sound phoney which is something that this book clearly is not. So I lay it at your feet for consideration and hope that you will pick it up and chew on it a bit yourself.
Here’s a teaser for you: The lesson of life is death.
I also give this book 5 Stars! Check out our other 5 Star Reads.
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.