Book Review: Courage is Calling (Ryan Holiday)

Book Review: Courage is Calling (Ryan Holiday)

Why Did I Read This

Simple and quick answer – curiosity. Firstly, luckily I didn’t read it, I listened to it on Libby as an Audio Book, and listened to it while doing inventory at work over two months.

I found out about Ryan Holiday after watching the WiseCrack video on Stoicism:

I’ve been a big fan of WiseCrack videos ever since their old school 8-Bit Philosopher videos (and yes, thats going back a bit now that I realize it).

So I will admit that I went into the book a bit skeptical of Ryan Holiday…. and was not surprised or shocked… or dismayed from my opinion of him.

I can see why he is loved and favored by the Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, loving crowds.

Ryan Holiday

From Wikipedia:

Ryan Holiday (born June 16, 1987) is an American Stoic philosopher, author, public-relations strategist, owner of the Painted Porch Bookshop, and host of the podcast The Daily Stoic.[2] Prior to becoming an author, he served as the former director of marketing and eventually an advisor for American Apparel.[3] Holiday’s debut to writing was in 2012, when he published Trust Me, I’m Lying. Holiday’s notable works include his books on Stoic philosophy, such as The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, Stillness is the Key, Discipline is Destiny, Courage is Calling, and Lives of the Stoics.

Ryan Holiday – Wikipedia

I really think calling Ryan Holiday a philosopher is a stretch here. More like “philosophical hack” or “philosophical self help guru to make himself money”. The way he distorts and uses stoicism as a means to the end of his writing is completely antithetical to what Marcus Aurelius wrote about.

A great quote I saw from a GoodReads review:

Calling Ryan Holiday a philosopher is like calling Bezos a philanthropist or Trump a human rights activist. This is another privileged communal narcissist that cares only about his ego. Funny enough as one of his books is called Ego is The Enemy. He also became one of the incels’ guru among Jordan Peterson and Joe Rogan.

Przemek Kotowski – Courage is Calling Book Review

Book Review: Courage is Calling by Ryan Holiday

So lets just get into this.

Ryan Holiday’s bestselling trilogy–The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, and Stillness is the Key–captivated professional athletes, CEOs, politicians, and entrepreneurs and helped bring Stoicism to millions of readers. Now, in the first book of an exciting new series on the cardinal virtues of ancient philosophy, Holiday explores the most foundational virtue of all: Courage.

Almost every religion, spiritual practice, philosophy and person grapples with fear. The most repeated phrase in the Bible is “Be not afraid.” The ancient Greeks spoke of phobos, panic and terror. It is natural to feel fear, the Stoics believed, but it cannot rule you. Courage, then, is the ability to rise above fear, to do what’s right, to do what’s needed, to do what is true. And so it rests at the heart of the works of Marcus Aurelius, Aristotle, and CS Lewis, alongside temperance, justice, and wisdom.

In Courage Is Calling, Ryan Holiday breaks down the elements of fear, an expression of cowardice, the elements of courage, an expression of bravery, and lastly, the elements of heroism, an expression of valor. Through engaging stories about historic and contemporary leaders, including Charles De Gaulle, Florence Nightingale, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Holiday shows you how to conquer fear and practice courage in your daily life.

You’ll also delve deep into the moral dilemmas and courageous acts of lesser-known, but equally as important, figures from ancient and modern history, such as Helvidius Priscus, a Roman Senator who stood his ground against emperor Vespasian, even in the face of death; Frank Serpico, a former New York City Police Department Detective who exposed police corruption; and Frederick Douglass and a slave named Nelly, whose fierce resistance against her captors inspired his own crusade to end slavery.

In a world in which fear runs rampant–when people would rather stand on the sidelines than speak out against injustice, go along with convention than bet on themselves, and turn a blind eye to the ugly realities of modern life–we need courage more than ever. We need the courage of whistleblowers and risk takers. We need the courage of activists and adventurers. We need the courage of writers who speak the truth–and the courage of leaders to listen.

We need you to step into the arena and fight.

Courage is Calling (GoodReads Blurb)

This is a claptrap of cliches, observations, and just recounting the same stories over and over and over. Its a padded out, extended, blog post, that could have been thinned down, or narrowed into a single chapter. But that doesn’t sell as much.

It reminds me of some of Paulo Coelho’s “pseudo – philosophical” claptrap books. The type that gets you invited onto Oprah and makes people love reading it because they feel smarter than they really are.

This is the equivalent for the frat boy “bruh” “alpha male” boys.

Firstly, lets start with the idea that the entire premise is predicated on a fault – that greatness relies on courage. And one can only obtain greatness via courage.

This is ironic because his previous book was Ego is the Enemy and flies completely in the face of this. So which is it Mr. Holiday? Whatever sells books I suppose.

This book is a collection of doctored stories repeated over and over and over and over and over, cherry picked evidence and a ton of cliche observations that are not worth the value of a paper they were printed on.

The Bible passages are certainly on that cherry picked side, and are often completely used out of context as well. I’m no Biblical scholar, and have even stopped being religious many years ago, but his usage of the Bible is ignorant, insufferable, and I imagine to the Christian populace probably problematic and annoying.

Another issue is the way the quotes and stories are presented. Its a jumbled mix and mash, a puzzle not yet put together into a coherent flow. At times the flow is right, at times he seems to have the correct unity, the correct grouping of stories and quotes and anecdotes with a loosely thinly tied bow to keep them all packaged together, but then theres many times that they are random, out of place, the bow is off, the pieces lay scrambled about the floor and are incoherent and rambling, and unnecessary or forced.

This basically sums up the book as a whole. And if you know Ryan Holiday, it perfectly sums things up in general. Here’s Bloppity-Blop out of context, I’ll tangentially connect it to Stoicism even though it doesn’t really correlate, and I’ll post YouTube videos, and write half assed books about it, and will collect and collect and collect. None of this book was helpful by the end of it, I didn’t feel like I had a better grasp of courage, or fearlessness, or stoicism, or anything else identifiable or intelligent. If anything I feel like the end of Billy Madison’s ramble – I feel like everyone has become stupider for having listened to it.

My GoodReads Rating: *
My LibraryThing Rating: 1/2*
GoodReads Universal Rating: 4.05 (as of 12.20.23)

(Its shocking to me that it has a universal rating of 4.05, but I know his demographic and audience, and there are numerous, and they are relentless ‘reviewers’. To each their own. Different strokes for different folks.)

Some More Book Reviews

Some more book reviews for you to check out:

Thank You For Reading

If you like this article, please check out our other many articles, including news, beer reviews, travelogues, maps, and much much more. We greatly appreciate everyone visiting the site!


Thanks again for reading everyone. Take some time to check out the site, we greatly appreciate it. We have affiliates and sponsors with and Beer, which can save you money on their products if you are interested. Check out our articles on them. Make sure to check out our beer reviews, brewery reviews, Amy’s weekly column, book reviews, hike reviews, and so much more.

As always, thank you everyone for reading! Leave your likes, comments, suggestions, questions, etc, in the comments section. Or use the Feedback – Contact Us – page, and we’ll get right back to you! You can also reach out to us at our direct e-mail address:

Thank you for visiting our blog. Please make sure to follow, bookmark, subscribe, and make sure to comment and leave feedback and like the blog posts you read. It will help us to better tailor the blog to you, the readers, likes and make this a better blog for everyone.

We are working on a massive project here at The Beer Thrillers. We are creating a map of all of the breweries across the United States. State by state we are adding maps of all of the different states with every brewery in each state. (We will eventually get to the US Territories, as well as the Canadian Provinces, and possibly more countries; as well as doing some fun maps like a map of all the breweries we’ve been to, and other fun maps.) You can find the brewery maps here:

We are also working on a project of creating printable and downloadable PDFs and resources to be able to check and keep track of all of the breweries you’ve been to. So stay tuned for that project once we are finished with the Brewery Maps of the US States.

You can check out our different directories here: Beer ReviewsHike ReviewsBook ReviewsBrewery News, Brewery OpeningsBrewer Interviews, and Travelogues.

Please be sure to follow us on our social media accounts – FacebookFacebook GroupTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Influence. As well as our brand new Tumblr page. Please be sure to also follow, like, subscribe to the blog here itself to keep updated. We love to hear from you guys, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!

You can now find us on our Discord Server here: The Beer Thrillers (Discord Server). We’ve also joined LinkTree to keep track of all of our social media pages, as well as hot new articles we’ve written.

The Beer Thrillers on LinkTree can be found here: The Beer Thrillers LinkTree.

We have partnered with an affiliateship with Beer You can check out that partnership and receive great discounts, coupons, and more here: Beer Drop. Going here and logging in and ordering will help you receive your discounts and coupons as well as help support our page. Thank you for helping to support The Beer Thrillers and to help us maintain the site and blog and to keep it running.

The Beer Thrillers are a blog that prides itself on writing beer reviews, brewery reviews, travelogues, news (especially local to the Central PA brewery scene), as well as covering other topics of our interests – such as hiking, literature and books, board games, and video games which we sometimes stream with our friends over at Knights of Nostalgia. We are currently listed as #7 on FeedSpot’s “Top 100 Beer Blogs” and #8 on FeedSpot’s “Top 40 Pennsylvania Blogs”. (As of January 2023.) Thank you for reading our site today, please subscribe, follow, and bookmark. Please reach out to us if you are interested in working together. If you would like to donate to the blog you can here: Donate to The Beer Thrillers. Thank you!

You can also check out our partnership and affiliation with, where ordering pretzels and using our affiliate code – AFFILIATE CODE IS THEBEERTHRILLERS20 – will help you get wonderful pretzels and help us maintain and keep this blog running. Thank you!

If you would like to reach out to us for product reviews, beer reviews, press release writing, and other media – please contact us at Thank you.

(Thank you for reading. The opinions, thoughts, and expressions of each article posted on The Beer Thrillers represents the author of the content and only themselves. It does not express the opinions, beliefs, or ideas held by The Beer Thrillers or any company in which the author themselves work for. Each piece of written content is written by the creator(s) listed in the authorial section on each article unless otherwise noted. Their opinions, comments, and words on screen do not represent any company in which they work for and / or are affiliated with or any non – profits that they contribute to. Thank you.)



recent posts

Go to Top