Nicholas Bate offers essential advice on finding time to read:
1.Always read for 30 minutes before any Netflix viewing.
3.Read for 20 minutes before settling to sleep.
5.Take a couple of real books on the business trip. Read in line, on the transfer bus, in Starbucks, while waiting for buddies in the lobby to get the uber to the conference.
Read the full list in Basics 7: Finding More Time for Reading, here.
I’m interested that so many of the blogs I follow have also re-blogged this. Either we have a common love of reading, or face a common challenge of insufficient time.
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I’m currently enjoying a new, mini-book collection, Jagged Thoughts for Jagged Times 101, from the irrepressible Nicholas Bate.
Snagging my eye are the following:
6. What is the purpose of work? Purpose.
21. Changing your language will change how you think; changing your posture will change how you feel.
30. Long read more by short reading less.
33. This day deliberately left blank.
44. No doughnut is ever free.
76. Procrastination is so tomorrow.
Nicholas is always thought-provoking and inspiring (though I fret for those poor, indentured doughnuts). Catch his live and jagged thoughts, here.
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The Hammock Papers shares an evocative poem from Bill Holm, The Icelandic Language:
In this language, no industrial revolution;
no pasteurized milk; no oxygen, no telephone;
only sheep, fish, horses, water falling.
The middle class can hardly speak it.
In this language, no flush toilet; you stumble
through dark and rain with a handful of rags.
The door groans; the old smell comes
up from under the earth to meet you.
Read the rest, here.
More on Holm, here and here.
This poem, apparently, comes from a collection, The Dead Get By With Everything.
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The Economist has a review of a new book: The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. By Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.
It looks fascinating though, sadly, my Must Read shelf is currently creaking at its limit.
Yet, in a week when Manchester University Student Union bans clapping and cheering (to reduce anxiety), the book offers a crumb of comfort:
In reality, only a minority of students take part in the more egregious sorts of disorder that “The Coddling” documents. In the spectrum of threats to Western democracy, cock-eyed campus politics may not entirely deserve the attention it attracts.
Maybe, I can still find a little space …
These are really good: two (different) lectures by Jordan Peterson in Iceland. As I recall, the second lecture starts with some background on how he came to write 12 Rules for Life.
The book made its way to the top of the Must-Read pile and I’m currently half-way through. Exceptionally lucid.
And, as Stoic Week nears its end, I see a lot of commonality between Peterson’s responsibility-over-rights perspective and the Stoic perspective.
Set aside a few (well, five) hours to feed the mind…
A Man In Full was my first Tom Wolfe novel. It had been on my Must Read list for a few years and, when Tom Wolfe died, I finally ordered a copy.
It’s a beautifully observed, beautifully written book that shows you its worlds through the eyes of each character, immersing you in their perceptions and prejudices.
It is often referenced because of its use of Stoic philosophy and that seems to come on two levels.
There’s the slap-in-the-face-obvious storyline of a man in his hour of darkest need, who comes across a Magic Book. The constant references thereafter to Zeus play to this surface reading, so I guess that may have been Wolfe’s intent.
However, at a more interesting and subtle level, all of the main characters go through something of a Stoic revelation. In each arc, we see and experience their own version of “being a man”, from former football hero and real-estate mogul Charlie Croker’s trophy-wifed, quail-hunting, plantation-owning, machismo, through Roger White’s educated, elegant, professional career, to young Conrad’s desperation to provide for his family. As the story progresses, each evolves a different – and perhaps more Stoic – view of what it means to be a “man in full”.
I enjoyed it enormously, yet I came away feeling slightly let down by the final 100 pages or so (of 740). They felt rushed and, I suppose, I wanted a slightly different ending.
That said, it’s well worth a read over the summer.
We talk a lot about Marcus Aurelius, but often know nothing beyond the 100-odd pages of Meditations, the published collection of his private notebooks.
Frank McLynn corrects this with a comprehensive biography of the famed philosopher-king. It’s a weighty read, but fascinating. I came away a much richer understanding of Roman history, economy, geography and military as well as some insight into the man and his beliefs.
I think it’s fair to say that McLynn is no Stoic himself, but it is interesting to understand the history of Stoicism and how it was understood in Marcus’ own time.
If I’m not too late, this would make a fantastic holiday read.
The Economist draws bleak parallels for the independently-minded between today and the 1930s of George Orwell’s Keep The Aspidistra Flying.
“Keep the Aspidistra Flying” foreshadows the dilemma that befalls today’s millennials. With so little room for manoeuvre and such high penalties for non-compliance, their quiet conformity belies a devastating loss of freedom, a crushing of the spirit that only their great-grandparents could relate to.
A reminder, or call to arms, from Seth:
They (whoever ‘they’ is) made it easy for you to raise your hand. They made it easy for you to put your words online, your song in the cloud, your building designs, business plans and videos out in the world. They made it easy for you to be generous, to connect, and to lead.
Read the ever pithy and relevant Seth, here.
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2075 viewed from 1966. The moon is a penal colony upon which the earth depends for food supplies, and its central supercomputer has developed consciousness.
Regularly topping lists of the best libertarian fiction, 50 years after it was written, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress wears its age well. I read it last Christmas, it was my first Heinlein book and I loved it.
The best science-fiction tackles big themes, using its blank canvas to paint familiar things in a new light. Done well, the result is anything but ponderous. You can see it in some of Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is like that. It’s an engaging story that addresses libertarianism, self-determination, freedom and the mechanics of running a revolution. It has a tangy layer of cynicism, too, that leaves me pondering the real meaning of the book’s famous motif of the brass cannon (Heinlein’s original title for the book).
Widely viewed as Robert Heinlein’s crowning glory, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is perfectly considered escapism for the summer holidays.