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Ludwig Wittgenstein once told his students that “philosophy begins when language goes on holiday.” Whether or not you agree, it’s certainly true that holidays—those precious periods away from work pressures in unfamiliar surroundings—may be just the time to pick up a philosophy book. But which one?

You could do worse than take to the deck chair with Lucius Annaeus Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life. This self-help treatise by the great Roman stoic explains why so many people make so little of their lives. It’s not that time is short, but rather that most of us squander it, chasing after…

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