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How Suitable is Verissimus for Children?

What’s in the book and how to decide if it’s appropriate reading

Our graphic novel, Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, was written for adults but an increasing number of people have told me their children have been reading it. They told me that their kids saw the cover, were intrigued by the artwork, and “stole” their copy. Some teachers have also approached me, interested in purchasing copies for their classes. They think it would make a useful teaching aid.

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With Christmas approaching, I’ve been asked about its suitability as a gift for young people. In this post, I’ll try to give a comprehensive answer, inspired by the review site Common Sense Media, which I think does a great job of helping adults decide for themselves what’s appropriate for their children. The short answer is that I would rate this book PG-13 but I’ll explain below the aspects of which parents and teachers should be aware, in order to decide for themselves.

Read the rest of this article on Substack…

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Books Marcus Aurelius Stoicism Verissimus

Marcus Aurelius: Spoiler Alert!

How we created a graphic novel about Stoicism

He dies at the end. Actually, he dies at the beginning. We borrowed that idea from How to Think Like a Roman Emperor when writing the script for Verissimus, because it made it much easier to structure the story of Marcus Aurelius’ life by embedding it within a framing story about his death. So this is how the book begins…

Verissimus was a labor of love. Our 260-page full-color graphic novel about the life and philosophy of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, was published in July 2022. It took a small team of us about two and a half years to create — normally you’re given about one year to write a conventional prose book. The project began when I was contacted by an award-winning illustrator, from Portugal, called Zé Nuno Fraga, who had recently published the graphic novel Assemblywomen, the ancient Greek satire by Aristophanes. A couple of major publishing houses were interested and before long we had a book deal with St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan.

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I’d never worked on a graphic novel before so I immediately plunged into reading books on the art of writing scripts for them, and illustrating them. The best is Scott Macleod’s fantastic Making Comics, which I read cover to cover 2-3 times — it became my Bible. I also sought advice from comic book enthusiasts who read the script and reviewed the draft illustrations. Before long I’d added Kasey Pierce, a freelance comic editor, to our team — a couple of years later we got married!

Click here to read the rest of this article on Substack!

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Books Stoicism

Announcing: 365 Ways to be More Stoic

Happiness, serenity, and fulfillment, according to Stoicism, are all within your control.

We’re delighted to announce the new book written by Tim LeBon, with editor Kasey Pierce, 365 WAYS TO BE MORE STOIC, published by John Murray Press, is now available for preorder from all good bookstores! Check out the listing on Amazon or visit the publisher’s website for other online retailers.

Read the rest of this post on Substack…

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Marcus Aurelius Stoicism Verissimus

Verissimus: Top-Rated on Amazon

We’re delighted to announce that our new graphic novel Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius is currently among Amazon’s top-rated books in the Ancient Roman History category, with an average rating of 4.8 stars from nearly 100 reviewers.

On its release, Verissimus was chosen as an Amazon Editor’s Pick for Best History Book.

See our publisher, MacMillan’s website for more information and links to other booksellers. Verissimus is available in both hardback and ebook format from all good bookstores.

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Marcus Aurelius Stoicism Verissimus

Stoicism Graphic Novel: Goodreads Giveaway

Verissimus Front Cover

Enter our Goodreads Giveaway today for a chance to win one of three signed copies of Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, our stunning new graphic novel. Terms and conditions apply; see the website for details.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Verissimus by Donald J. Robertson

Verissimus

by Donald J. Robertson

Giveaway ends September 30, 2022.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway
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Marcus Aurelius Stoicism Verissimus Videos

Facebook Live on Marcus Aurelius

Watch the video of my live session on Marcus Aurelius, showcasing some of the artwork and behind the scenes secrets of our graphic novel, Verissimus.

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Books Stoicism Verissimus

Verissimus Sweepstake Alert

We’re delighted to announce that my publisher St. Martin’s Press has generously agreed to give away three signed copies of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor.

Just share your favourite images from the book on social media and use #Verissimus!

How to Enter

  • Share a photo of the cover of Verissimus, or of the artwork inside, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, using the hashtag #Verissimus.
  • We will pick three winners at random after 7th September, the closing date for entries.
  • This sweepstake is open to residents of the US and Canada only.
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Stoicism Verissimus

Stoic Graphic Novel on Instagram

🎨 You can check out samples of artwork from Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius shared by accounts on Instagram. Please share your own photos using #Verissimus.


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Books Philosophy Philosophy of CBT Psychotherapy Stoicism

The Books I’ve Written on Stoicism

I’ve published about seven books so far on philosophy and psychotherapy. People often ask about one book but aren’t aware of the others so I’ve put together a short article explaining what they’re about. If you’re interested, you can see more info on my publications, including journal articles, some foreign translations, and books on psychotherapy not mentioned below, on my Google Scholar, Goodreads, and Amazon profile pages.

1. Ancient Lives: Marcus Aurelius (in press)

This is a prose biography of Marcus Aurelius, which will be part of the new Yale University Press Ancient Lives series, edited by James Romm. This book is finished and should (I think) be published around Spring 2023. This was the third book that I wrote in a row about Marcus Aurelius. It focuses on how Stoic philosophy influenced his life, and his rule as emperor, and how his personal relationships shaped and reveal aspects of his character. For instance, the first chapter focuses on Marcus’ relationship with his mother. I’ll publish more details on social media as they become available.

2. Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

Verissimus Cover

Verissimus is a graphic novel, published in July 2022, by St, Martin’s Press. It tells the story of Marcus Aurelius’ life in comic-book panels, with a lot of emphasis on his study and application of Stoic philosophy, particularly how it helped him to conquer his anger.

This was the second of three books that I wrote about the life of Marcus Aurelius, and how it connected with his philosophy. The graphic novel format meant that it’s a very different experience, though, from reading a prose biography or a self-help book. I wrote this book for adults – it’s a graphic novel not a comic – but I have to admit that a lot of readers have said their kids were attracted to the cover design and artwork, and stole their copy!

3. How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor (2019) is a self-help book. Most of the chapters begin with an anecdote from the life of Marcus Aurelius, closely based on the surviving historical sources. This is followed by a discussion of how Stoic philosophy can be applied in daily life, and then a comparison with techniques from modern cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), which draw on my clinical background as a psychotherapist.

When I first proposed this book the title and the idea of combining three genres (history, philosophy, and psychology) seemed controversial – like a bit of a gamble – but it worked. Roman Emperor is my most popular book. It was the number one bestselling philosophy book in the US in the weeks following its release and was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal. It’s since been translated into eighteen different languages.

4. Teach Yourself: Stoicism and the Art of Happiness

Stoicism and the Art of Happiness (2013) is part of Hodder’s popular Teach Yourself series. It was so popular that a revised second edition was published in 2018, which added an extra chapter on death contemplation. This is a self-help book, which provides careful instructions on how to apply Stoic practices in daily life. It also includes many comparisons with cognitive-behavioural therapy and other evidence-based psychological strategies.

The Teach Yourself series follows a strict and well-established format. Chapters begin with relevant quotes, and short quizzes, and include practical exercises, guides to terminology, key points to remember, examples, recommended reading, etc. It’s designed to make it easy to put the advice into practice in daily life.

5. Teach Yourself: Build your Resilience

build your resilience book cover

Build your Resilience (2012) was my first book for Hodder’s Teach Yourself series. It’s a self-help book about what psychologists call “emotional resilience training”, which is basically training in preventative strategies designed to reduce the risk of mental health problems in the future by making you more able to cope with stressful situations. Like Stoicism and the Art of Happiness, it follows a strict self-help guide format, with lots of info boxes, and practical steps described.

Resilience building draws heavily on cognitive-behavioural therapy but I mainly focused on recent “third-wave” approaches, particularly Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). There are also chapters discussing research on resilience and vulnerability, and evidence-based approaches to relaxation techniques, worry management, and problem-solving. This book contains a lot of practical psychological advice – I wrote it partly to be used by my own CBT clients and trainee therapists. However, it also contains a chapter on Stoicism and references to Stoicism are interspersed throughout, comparing Stoic concepts and techniques to the evidence-based psychological approaches employed in modern resilience training.

6. The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy: Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy

Philosophy of CBT Cover 2nd Edition

The Philosophy of CBT (2010) was my first book on Stoicism. I’d already been researching the subject, writing about it, speaking about it at conferences, etc., for over a decade before I decided to publish a book. So it contains a wealth of research on the history of philosophy and psychotherapy. My first degree is in philosophy (Aberdeen) and my masters was in philosophy and psychotherapy, at an interdisciplinary centre in Sheffield University. I then trained in counselling and psychotherapy, which became my profession. I wanted to do a PhD about Stoic philosophy and cognitive-behavioural therapy but couldn’t find a university department with a suitably qualified supervisor. So, to cut a long story short, I ended up just writing a book, instead of a dissertation, which was published in the UK by Karnac.

Karnac were later bought by Routledge, who commissioned me to produce a revised second edition in 2020, as the book had become so popular. The new edition contains an additional chapter focusing on more recent “third-wave” approaches to cognitive-behavioural therapy, and how they compare to Stoicism. I was surprised at its reception because it was intended as an academic publication, aimed at philosophers and psychologists – but very few of them read it! Instead, by accident, it somehow reached a “lay” audience, who embraced it as a sort of self-help guide to Stoicism. So I accidentally found myself making the transition from academic researcher and writer, to self-help author.

Other Books

I’ve also contributed chapters to several books on Stoicism.

  1. “The Stoic Influence on Modern Psychotherapy” in The Routledge Handbook of the Stoic Tradition (2016), edited by John Sellars
  2. Introduction to Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations: The Philosophy Classic (Capstone Classics, 2020), which I also helped edit
  3. Introduction to Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic: The Ancient Classic (Capstone, 2021)
  4. “Marcus Aurelius and Psychotherapy” in The Cambridge Companion to Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (in press).
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Books Marcus Aurelius Stoicism Verissimus

Reviews of Verissimus

Our graphic novel, Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, was published by St. Martin’s on 12th July. There are lots of early reviews of Verissimus already on Goodreads. This post contains a video review by Greg Sadler and links to various other reviews by bloggers. (If I’ve missed one, post it in the comments section below please!)

  • Casey Douglas: “The imagery brings the life of Marcus, and various elements of Stoic philosophy, into a rich and vibrant level of clarity, and it does this in a way that’s as enjoyable as it is educational.”
  • What is Stoicism?: “The great thing about Verissimus is that it’s accessible to people of all levels of expertise. Not only will it introduce Stoicism to a new audience, but it will also help reinforce key details and concepts for those already familiar.”
  • Enda Harte: “Donald and his small team have crafted a well thought out, thoroughly researched, and cleverly illustrated piece of work for anyone to pick up on any given weekend, and digest to their heart’s content.”
  • Bob Cymber, the Stoic Coach: “I would come to appreciate the Stoic philosophy of Marcus Aurelius even more than I thought possible.”
  • Nancy Famolari: “It is also a delight to read. If you’re interested in Roman history, or Stoic philosophy, I highly recommend this book.”
  • Jamie Ryder at Stoic Athenaeum: “Donald Robertson’s Verissimus is an ideal story for making Stoicism fun for a new generation.”
  • Chuck Chakrapani in the Stoic Gym: “Donald Robertson and Ze Nuno Fraga have done a masterful job of bringing the dead Emperor to life. By interweaving Marcus’s philosophy with his life, they have made Stoicism come alive.”

There was also a more critical review in Publisher’s Weekly: the reviewer thought the story packed in too much history and philosophy.

You may also be interested in this Medium article on How I wrote Verissimus, or the interview I did for The Comic Vault. You can preview a sample 30 pages including artwork from Verissimus on Google Books.

Endorsements from Other Authors

  • “Donald Robertson is one of my favorite writers about Stoicism.” – Ryan Holiday, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of The Daily Stoic
  • “A superb graphic novel that provides stunning insights into one of the most interesting figures of antiquity, as well as into the philosophy that guided him throughout his life.” — Massimo Pigliucci, author of How to Be a Stoic
  • “Whether you’re new to Marcus Aurelius or already know him as a friend and guide, this graphic novel will open your eyes… Author and artist have found… a brilliant combination of entertainment and education.” – Robin Waterfield, translator of Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus
  • “Verissimus represents the vanguard of the next phase of the ongoing Stoic renaissance.” – William B. Irvine, author of A Guide to the Good Life
  • “A remarkable work that is awesome in its conception and execution.” – Karen Duffy, author of Backbone: Living with Chronic Pain without Turning into One and Wise Up
  • “This is a wonderful and engaging introduction to the life and thought of Marcus Aurelius… It’s the perfect book for anyone who wants to learn more about the man behind the Meditations.” – John Sellars, author of Lessons in Stoicism
  • “Donald Robertson continues to be my teacher when it comes to the depth of Stoicism… Invaluable!” – Mo Gawdat, author of Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy.
Verissimus Cover