Reading Log February 2021

Experimenting with keeping an active reading log in an effort to be more mindful about my general media consumption. Not committed to a specific format, but want to note interplay of ideas between texts.

For March, I hope to include salient articles podcasts, movies, other media as well. That will require a bit more intentional documentation. Trying to figure out what of my consumption is actually valuable, lindy. Also in March, I hope to do at least one summary and review of a notable text.

Read/Finished

  • [The tail end of] The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb
  • Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Taleb
  • The Bed of the Procrustes, Nassim Taleb
  • Skin in the Game, Nassim Taleb
  • Notes From the Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • The Prophet, Khalil Gibran

Started this month with a few days at a quasi-silent retreat at a Benedictine Monastery, where I ripped thru the remainder of the Incerto (Nassim Taleb’s five volume philosophical essay on uncertainty). I read the Incerto kind of backwards (4,3,2,1,5) which I do not regret at all, as the whole thing is a Mandelbrotian Fractal of its own. While I’d feel confident explaining the fundamental values and mental models of the Incerto off-the-dome, I will probably be revisiting these books for months and years to come. Recognizing Extremistan + the role of randomness is an ontological shock of sorts.

Pursuant to a newfound sense of classicism (cemented by Taleb) and Taleb’s Levantine cultural fawning, I picked up a copy of The Prophet which, for God knows what reason, was left out of my high school and college curriculum. (This is an act of criminal neglect). I’m embarrassed and kinda pissed I didn’t read it earlier.

Wanted to supplement all the nonfiction with something light and I actually found Notes From the Underground (Kindle Unlimited Translation) to be quite digestible. And fun. Can’t say I read too heavily into the existential implications and I’m okay with that because literature ought to be implicit. I’m contented, unashamed to say I found it highly entertaining, if nothing else.

Reread

  • Atomic Habits, James Clear
  • [Selections from] Strength to Love, Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Smile at Fear, Chogyam Trungpa

Atomic Habits is one of those pop psychology books that is either right on the money or maybe just pure candy, and I can’t tell. The first time I read it in 2018, I remember feeling super inspired. This time around I was again impressed with the actionab-ility (ew) of all the tips in it, though I can’t say I’ll be actively applying the methodology at scale. Biggest takeaway is Lewin’s Formula; behavior is a function of the person and his or her environment. Another really good reason to clean your room.

Smile at Fear is part of my chronic Buddhist and New Age consumption. Practical meditation advice, especially for dealing with chronic ambient fear or (c)PTSD.

Started

  • Swan’s Way, Marcel Proust
  • The Iliad, Homer
  • The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist

Not sure if I’m going to make it thru Swan’s Way. Picked up a $1.99 Kindle Edition of In Search of Lost Time hoping to be swept away. Despite some moments of badass prose, I’m feeling sluggish. Not sure if it’s the translation, my lack of cultural knowledge w/r/t the 19th century French leisure class, or my attention span. Probably all three. Homer hasn’t been particularly engrossing either but I’m inclined to white knuckle it as a primer for a future reading. Brothers Karamazov, Infinite Jest, and The Magic Mountain, to name a few, each required a handful of false starts before the “breakthrough experience.”

Listened to Iain McGilchrist on Making Sense with Sam Harris and I decided to give Master another shot. Been taking a break from the dense science/psychology readings lately but I’m optimistic this one will grab me.

Starting in March

  • Beyond Order, Jordan Peterson
  • Homesick For Another World, Ottessa Moshfegh
  • Death in Her Hands, Ottessa Moshfegh
  • [Reread] Models, Mark Manson (lol)

While I fundamentally disagree with the framing of Peterson’s life philosophy, I will watch/read/consume just about anything he puts out. Stoked for the new release and the return of secular? humanist prophet.

Amazon recently brought to my attention a newish Moshfegh Novel, which oughta grease the skids, get the right brain purring, before I resume Proust and Homer again.

As for Models, a psychiatrist of all people recommended it as “good for your 20’s.” I was totally into seddit (r/seduction) and the Models philosophy back in high school. Frankly it did me a lotta good. I’m sure it will be fun a second time around.

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