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How To Be Unlucky: Reflections on the Pursuit of Virtue

Joshua Gibbs

Once upon a time, Joshua Gibbs was a disinterested slacker who, despite attending a classical Christian school, learned little and cared even less for his studies. He was more interested in pop culture than Great Books and performed only the bare minimum to pass. By age 27, however, he began work at a different classical institution, teaching the same literature he merely skimmed as a student. Ten years later, Gibbs has become a popular blogger and frequent speaker at education conferences. In this series of frank reflections on an unlikely career, Gibbs contemplates what it means to be a good teacher, how Great Books can change lives (and how one particular book, The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, changed his), and why effective education is primarily concerned with the acquisition of virtue. One part literary guidebook, one part personal memoir, and one part teacher’s manual, How to Be Unlucky presents a one-of-a-kind case for ancient ways of thinking about teaching in our contemporary world.

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Joshua Gibbs teaches great books at Veritas School in Richmond, VA. His wife is generous and his children are funny.   

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Karen Swallow Prior
author of On Reading Well
"With poetic, honest, and compelling prose, How to Be Unlucky calls readers to reject the siren songs of material success and worldly pleasures, and to pursue instead the only things that matter: wisdom, virtue, and godliness. The world needs more books like this and more of the virtues Joshua Gibbs teaches and models in these pages."

David Hicks
author of Norms and Nobility
"Reading Joshua Gibbs is thought-provoking, challenging, inspiring, and withal, practical. It made me want to go back to high school and sit in his class. Finally! -- a teacher who understands that teaching great books, big ideas, critical thinking, writing techniques, and all that are simply means to the end of practicing virtue and laying up treasure in heaven. Had I read this book when I started teaching, I would have been a much better--and more honest and brave--teacher."

Senator Ben Sasse
author of The Vanishing American Adult
How To Be Unlucky is a much needed book, a book which will prove spiritually and intellectually valuable to teachers, students, and parents alike. This book stands to significantly change the way you think of education. Look away from the glitzy shallows of your smartphone and dive into the deep end with Joshua Gibbs. As a professor, I'd love for all of my colleagues -- and as a dad, I want all of my kids' teachers -- to be drinking deeply of the ideas Joshua Gibbs is tackling in How to Be Unlucky. Our rising generation obviously needs to be wrestling more regularly with both the theory and practice of virtue, but how can we get them to want to? Mere moralistic lecturing probably makes the outcome we seek less rather than more likely, so what is to be done? Well, here's some good news: Both wit and wise counsel -- and an introductory guide to the ancients, and some self-deprecation about Gibbs's own failures, and even meaningful reflection on '90s rock -- all await you in these important pages."