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I read 4000 weeks just before my diagnosis reduced my 4000 to 3000. It certainly makes you think! All this time we are preparing for the future, we're missing out on the present. What if the future is not coming?

> Inevitably, we become obsessed with ‘using it well’, whereupon we discover an unfortunate truth: the more each day begins to feel like something you have to get through, en route to some calmer, better, more fulfilling point in the future, which never actually arrives.

Great book!

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Great recommendations. To add the the list:

Dana Gioia (poet and brother of Ted Gioia) has two excellent books out on Seneca. One is a riveting translation of the tragic play Hercules Furens, and the other is a collection of his sayings and a short bio and overview of his legacy.

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Dec 18, 2023Liked by Paul Bloom

Would love to know a little more about what/why made them good, even just a sentence. Zach Weinersmith does brief summaries for books by living authors and brief reviews for those by dead authors, if you’re considering giving offense. Obviously that’s less relevant for recent books.

Also curious about the Russo trilogy. I loved Straight Man and Empire Falls but the ever expanding bulk of the North Bath series puts me off a bit. I have a Michener backlog if I’m that ambitious!

I generally prefer older books, but exploiting the “or so”: 2020’s Piranesi by Susanna Clarke was a life-changing work of fiction for me and I’ve listened to it twice and read it once. There is a character whose lens on the world and way of interacting with challenges inspires me daily. It also led me down a Borges -> Kafka rabbit hole I’ve found value in.

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I have just about finished the super biography of Terry Pratchett (Terry Pratchett: A Life In Footnotes) published in 2022. Normally not a big fan of bio’s but am a fan of his writing. Great that he contributed a lot to the book alongside his last few years living with dementia. It’s funny and insightful, doesn’t hide that he could be quite grumpy as well as very supportive to friends. I also found James Kirby’s “Choose Compassion” a good read and well presented overview of research on compassion, published in 2022.

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I really enjoyed The Writing School by Miranda France (NF). Full disclosure: Miranda is a friend but I would’ve liked it even if she weren’t.

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Dec 18, 2023Liked by Paul Bloom

Cheers for the recs! I also enjoyed reading Russ Roberts' and Oliver Burkeman's. And Psych was great too but we're not here to blow smoke 👻. My reading list for the past year is surprisingly dated (there's a lot to catch up on) but a few fresher ones I'd recommend ~

The Experience Machine: How Our Minds Predict and Shape Reality by Andy Clark (Non-Fiction)

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Fiction)

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Dec 18, 2023Liked by Paul Bloom

I have a non-fiction book for you to read: YONG, E. D. (2023). Immense World: How Animal Senses reveal the hidden realms around us.

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I greatly enjoyed Drunk and, as it's almost always the case, being aware of the effects and why people drink alcohol has helped make better decisions on whether and how to drink.

Combining it with Andrew Huberman's podcast episode on alcohol is very powerful

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Dec 18, 2023Liked by Paul Bloom

My recent fave is Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins by Aidan Levy. It is thoroughly researched and also extremely readable. It is a history of jazz, NYC, civil rights and a very interesting portrait of a constantly evolving artist. Do you need to be a jazz fan to appreciate the book? Maybe.

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Dec 18, 2023Liked by Paul Bloom

Resonance (Hartmut Rosa) could be a follow-up to 4000 weeks.

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Dec 18, 2023Liked by Paul Bloom

Thank you for your suggestions!

I enjoyed Kate Atkinson’s Normal Rules Don’t Apply.

I was going to ask if you’d read Iain McGilchrist’s The Matter with Things, which I long to read once I find enough time and money, but it’s not new this year. Apparently I’ve been putting off purchasing and reading this amazing work for two years now.

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Great list. Health Communism by Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant was probably the most memorable book I read this year. Discussed it on my Substack: https://www.psychiatrymargins.com/p/health-communism-all-care-for-all

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Dec 18, 2023Liked by Paul Bloom

Some of my highlights of the past year that I can imagine you perhaps finding worthwhile:

Religion as Make-Believe (Neil Van Leeuwen)

Why Delusions Matter (Lisa Bortolotti)

Real Forgiveness (Luke Russell)

Why It's OK to Mind Your Own Business (Warmke & Tosi)

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Dec 18, 2023Liked by Paul Bloom

You might enjoy Eleanor Catton’s “Birnam Wood.” Catton is a bit like Sally Rooney in that you find yourself wondering about her: “How could someone so young write so well, and so knowingly?” (I guess Catton is sneaking up on 40, so arguably no longer that young. But she did win the Booker Prize in her late twenties.)

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Inspired by this post, I read Kat Rosenfield’s “No One Will Miss Her.” It is indeed very good. Thanks for the recommendation.

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