Tag: Books

Eating my tsundoku

How’s your tsundoku? In our present time of limited distraction, I’m hoping to eat my way through mine.

For tsundoku is the Japanese word for books piling up, unread.

Learned readers will of course appreciate that this is a positive thing.

It’s another of those valuable concepts ( Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, wabi-sabi) that the Japanese have a word for.

More here (Open Culture), here (Wikipedia) and here (BBC).

Part of my personal tsundoku. Currently, Thomas Cromwell has me in thrall.

Main image, photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

Recommended reading: The Madness of Crowds – @DouglasKMurray

I’ve just finished The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray. It opens…

We are going through a great crowd derangement. In public and in private, both online and off, people are behaving in ways that are increasingly irrational, feverish, herd-like and simply unpleasant.”

If you struggle to find a logic to follow in identity politics, if you’re somewhat mystified by the raging debates about gender versus sex, or the rights of actors or writers to present a perspective other than that of their own race-gender-sexuality, then this is the book for you.

As a result, I too found myself googling “European art” and “straight white couple”. I’ve so far resisted the temptation to google Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda video … but, the days are longer in self-isolation.

A valuable, insightful book.

The book is here.

There’s a taster in this interview from Uncommon Knowledge:

Photo by Rob Curran on Unsplash

The classics and “challenging language” – in praise of friction – @AndrewGregory

Classic works of literature by William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and other great writers can boost your brain and relieve depression, chronic pain and dementia.

Andrew Gregory, The Sunday Times, The Pick-me-up Papers: Dickens better for mental health than self-help books

Here’s a thought-provoking piece from last week’s Sunday Times. Mental health is improved by reading classic works of literature because…

Unusual phrases and unfamiliar words in great works of literature command the undivided attention of readers, provoking moments of self-reflection and helping shift brains into a higher gear.

And, the approach seems to be having a positive impact in clinical scenarios…

There is no evidence bibliotherapy, or reading therapy, can cure mental health disorders, but medics have reported dramatic results in those with poor mental health. Dr Helen Willows, a GP, said she had seen reading “transform the lives of the people that we see day after day at our surgery — those that are stuck, perhaps with low mood or who are socially isolated.”

Dr David Fearnley, executive medical director of the Betsi Cadwaladr University health board and one of the longest- serving medical directors in the NHS, goes further. Reading aloud with others in particular, he says, is “the most significant development in mental healthcare in the past 10 years”.

It’s interesting that, in all areas of life, we pursue ease and a reduction in friction, whether that’s making writing simpler, our background music less intrusive or our daily lives less exercised. But, like resistance work in the gym, or fibre in food, it’s the push-back, the friction that has greatest effect.

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Downtime: Happy by @DerrenBrown

Stoicism for the modern world, death to the self-help book industry, and a healthy scepticism towards social media.

Happy: Why more or less everything is absolutely fine by Derren Brown is superb. It’s beautifully written, wonderfully observed, both philosophical and practical (which once upon a time were one and the same thing). Very thought-provoking.

I think I first heard of Happy from a Donald Robertson interview and it treads similar ground to How to Think Like A Roman Emperor. However, it does so in a completely different way.

I particularly enjoyed Chapter 5, A (Very) Brief History of Happiness.

Thoroughly recommended.

George Orwell and the Left – @ASI

Madsen Pirie, at the Adam Smith Institute, has a piece on George Orwell, his writing and his impact.

He is still highly relevant, rewarding us not only with his fluent prose, but with his honesty. He self-identified as a socialist and a man of the Left, yet he saw and wrote about what people actually did in the name of socialism. His refusal to excuse the cynical brutality of those who claimed to carry its banner but betrayed all of its ideals, made him many enemies on the Left.

Worth a quick read, here.

Charisma and the power of great fiction writing

Some people “never read fiction”. Life, it seems, is too short for its frivolity when there remain Great Books to be read.

Yet, well-written fiction has the power to bring emotion and experience to life, accelerating (vicariously) the individual experience. And, as psychologists know, a deeply imagined experience has the same effect as one directly experienced. Hence, the power of visualisation in sport (and life) coaching.

Here’s a fantastic, case study, example from the Art of Manliness’s Brett McKay.

Continue reading “Charisma and the power of great fiction writing”

Small but important thoughts…

…from Patrick Rhone.

Mostly here: Rhoneisms at PatrickRhone.net.

But also here: TheCramped.com – Celebrating The Unique Pleasures of Analog(ue) Writing.

And his books, here: PatrickRhone.com. Looking back, I see I read Patrick’s Some Thoughts About Writing back in 2014, so I’ve been following him since before then.

Continue reading “Small but important thoughts…”

Now thinking like a Roman emperor – @DonJRobertson

Highly recommended!

This week, I finished Donald Robertson’s new book How To Think Like a Roman Emperor. And, what a remarkable book it is.

It succeeds in being a practical introduction to Stoicism whilst combining biography, history, psychotherapy and philosophy. Each chapter uses a period in Marcus’s life to illustrate an issue, for example, conquering desire or relinquishing fear. It describes Marcus’s situation, then demonstrates Stoic exercises that deal with the topic in question.

Continue reading “Now thinking like a Roman emperor – @DonJRobertson”