An interesting mix between Philosophy, Self Help, and an (auto) biography. 

Be Water My Friend Cover
Be Water My Friend


The book, written by Shannon Lee, the daughter of Bruce Lee, takes you on different journeys. First of all, it introduces you to the philosophy of Bruce Lee. His daughter uses Bruce Lee’s life as a vehicle to explain the different parts of his thoughts on how to live. Besides that, she adds many of her own experiences to show how these ideas helped her. Her father’s philosophy has given her support to get through difficult times. Be Water My Friend hopes to do the same for you. Or at least allow you to learn about Bruce Lee’s view on the world.

“We are not meant to be perfect.”

bruce lee, be water my friend


It’s Bruce Lee. That immediately adds weight to the entire book and the philosophy that is being discussed. Such an iconic figure who achieved so much in so little time provides a sense of authority. The interesting thing about this book was the changing insights. While finding out these different aspects of Bruce Lee, you were also confronted with yourself. That constant shift gave an extra dimension to the reading experience. But if you want to read about his martial art, then Be Water My Friend is not the book for you. Although I did find it in the sports section, the book deals with his philosophy on life. It does mention the martial arts side, but this is not the main focus point.

The writing itself was very easy to follow and not dense like other philosophy books. I felt it was more of a mix between philosophy and self-help. This worked fine for me because the practical side made it easier to digest. Some parts of the book were good to read and others were impressive. The anecdotes kept me going at a steady pace, while the parts that required some thinking made me slow down. 

Bruce Lee Image
Photo by Yaopey Yong on Unsplash

The philosophical side shows a connection with many different streams of thinking. Its main driver is Taoism, but it is also possible to recognize Stoicism, and Buddhism, to name a few.

“The usefulness of a cup is in its emptiness.”

Bruce lee, Be water my friend


Depending on what reader you are, there is a different view on whether I would recommend this book. 

In general, Be Water My Friend is an easy and interesting read. You can’t go wrong with this book. Especially if you are a Bruce Lee fan, then this is a must-read. I was never a massive fan, but I found his life fascinating. 

If you are looking for ways to improve yourself, searching for books in the self-help section, then this is also a good one. It gives you plenty of practical ways to apply these ideas to your life.

It is also a nice introduction to philosophy and thinking about life. Because it is such an easy and interesting read, it will probably get you fired up to explore more. Especially how he applied it all to his life is inspiring.

Bruce Lee Painting
Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash

This is a great addition for someone who has read plenty of philosophical works. It gives nuance to some other ideas and reminds you to apply it all in your life and take action. 

“In life, what can you ask for but to fulfill your potential and be real!”

Bruce lee, be water my friend

Final thoughts


The reason why I wouldn’t want to give it higher than this is that it has parts where it lost me a little. While others pulled me back in, it did make me wonder if there had been some missed opportunities. Although I did like the biographical information about Bruce Lee’s life, it caused some confusion about the purpose of the book. Perhaps that is because I was expecting a more philosophical work, but it edged towards the self-help genre. 

With that being said, I had a great experience reading this book. It is light and easy to read, with many eye-opening moments that make you think and question yourself. As a reader, the multi-layers of the book made it a dynamic read. And let’s face it, it’s Bruce Lee.

Do you want some inspiration for books to read? Check out my books list.

Be Water My Friend, Bruce Lee – By Shannon Lee
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4 thoughts on “Be Water My Friend, Bruce Lee – By Shannon Lee

  • 7 May 2022 at 14:16

    This has been mentioned so many times in the Stoic space that I’ve been curious to read it. I’ve watched Ip Man movies that feature Bruce Lee’s teacher and that’s where my view on Bruce Lee started to change. I will definitely give this book a go sometime, thank you for the excellent review and introduction to what we might expect from it.

    • 7 May 2022 at 17:48

      Thank you Vanessa for reviewing my review. Always a good view and motivation boost to keep going.
      Glad it has given you a better insight and made you add it to your list.

  • 7 June 2022 at 18:35

    That’s the first time I heard about this book and even if not a massive fan of his, it sounds like an interesting way to learn about his life philosophy! Thanks for sharing!

    • 11 June 2022 at 11:25

      I completely agree with you, Cristina. I was never a massive fan, I always thought Bruce Lee was cool and all, but never really watched any of his movies. This book however showed his unique and interesting view on life and the world.
      Thank you for your comment.


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