Jul 8, 2022Liked by Nat Eliason

Hi Nat, two suggestions for Asian books:

1. Lin Yutang (1935) My Country and My People.

"Lin Yutang wrote extensively on Chinese social, cultural traditions and introduced them to the West. His witty, sharp analysis was a result of not only his literary talent but also his rigorous scholarly studies on the linguistic, religious, and spiritual roots of social, cultural traditions." He is described as "a rare individual who had a profound understanding of Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism, which added a spiritual depth to his analysis. Lin Yutang is remembered as one of the few individuals who bridged the intellectual environments of the East and West."


2. Pearl S. Buck (1931) The Good Earth

"which was the best-selling novel in the United States in 1931 and 1932 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. In 1938, Buck won the Nobel Prize in Literature "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China" and for her "masterpieces”, two memoir-biographies of her missionary parents. She was the first American woman to win that prize."


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It's a very ambitious goal to read one a week, but I'm sure you'll find a way to do it. These are books I'd love to digest like a good meal, so I doubt I'll see all of them. But just a handful can really expand your thinking.

Good luck!

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This is a great list and I’m sure will be an exciting journey! As a heads up on that list, unless you’re purposely planning on reading a physical copy, a lot of these books can also be found free to the public on places like gutenburg.org — super pumped to follow along!

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Good tip! I always get physical copies though, hardly ever read on a kindle or phone / computer.

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My girlfriend (now wife) gave me a copy of "The 4 Hour Body" 12 years ago, which completely changed our life trajectory. Like you, Tim's way of thinking made me question what I thought was predestined. I don't think I could ever eat egg whites and lentils again (IYKYK).

Unfortunately, I was late to the Taleb party, so I read Skin in the Game before reading Antifragile, but darn it if those weren't exciting times.

It's been several years since I've picked up a book and come out a different person, so I'm excited to read along, albeit at a more relaxed pace.

Here's to finding the next "life-changing book."

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Nat Eliason

I, too, recently felt like I'd hit a reading wall once I consumed many of the books you listed, until...

I discovered two books when I hit a rough patch, really two sides of the same coin, which were so comprehensive (for me at least) in their modeling of our existence that I actually felt like I'd finished a mental marathon when I was done.

1) A Theory of Everything by Ken Wilber

2) Spiral Dynamics by Dr. Don Beck

The first is more of a philosophy book, the second a clinical hand book to everything you experience in life. I would recommend reading them in that order although the first is longer and denser (feel free to skim rabbit holes). I've used these in everything I do now professionally, personally, socially, relationally, etc

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Jul 7, 2022·edited Jul 7, 2022Liked by Nat Eliason

Sophie's World by Gardner is a powerful bundling of philosophical evolution over time in a narrative that a teenager can engage. Far less literary and note worthy than your other entries but a life changer on first read for me.

Sapiens by Harari the last impactful book I read. Account of human evolution biologically, technologically and culturally and very readable.

Both published inside 100 years so subject to a high bar, feel free to disregard but I think there is gold in here.

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I definitely enjoyed Sapines too, have read it twice now. I thought Homo Deus was just okay. Haven't read his third.

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I read Sophie's World many years ago. Some books you forget about over the course of time, even if you enjoyed and internalized then. Sophie's World is one that fondly remains present.

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Hey Nat, this one may be a candidate: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_of_the_Three_Kingdoms

Written in the 14th century, this has been suggested to me by multiple both Chinese and non-Chinese friends. Haven't read it yet, but was also recommended this podcast dedicated to explaining it: http://www.3kingdomspodcast.com/subscribe-podcast/list-of-all-episodes/

From Wikipedia:

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is acclaimed as one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature; it has a total of 800,000 words and nearly a thousand dramatic characters (mostly historical) in 120 chapters. The novel is among the most beloved works of literature in East Asia, and its literary influence in the region has been compared to that of the works of Shakespeare on English literature. It is arguably the most widely read historical novel in late imperial and modern China. Herbert Giles stated that among the Chinese themselves, this is regarded as the greatest of all their novels.

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I love this idea so much and going the chronological route is smart. Since there's quite a bit of philosophy in there, here's a few of my favourites that I read this year:

1. Thus Spoke Zarathustra - Nietzsche

2. Ecce Homo - Nietzsche

3. The Art of Loving - Erich Fromm

4. Faust (Part One + Part Two) - Goethe

5. The Stranger - Albert Camus

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I'll be fascinated to see your commentary on books you'd previously read. I think it's eye-opening how much our perception of what we've already interacted with in years past influences new opinions.

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Very much resonate with what you say about finding fewer and fewer impactful books in the modern era. There are two very notable exceptions I came across. It took me quite some time to finish both because they are so richly filled with mind food!

Modern Masculinity for the Conscious Man, by Michael Ronin

The Heroic and Exceptional Minority, by Gregory Daihl

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Have you considered using audiobooks to help reach that one-a-week goal? I've been an avid podcast listener for almost a decade now but am in the process of transitioning to books, simply because I can't find the time to read proper books like I used to, but walking/gymming/etc gives me ample time to listen to podcasts and books. Good luck either way!

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I personally don't like audiobooks, because especially for challenging books like these, they make reading too easy. If I get distracted or lost in thought the audiobook keeps going without me, so I can trick yourself into thinking I'm "reading" without actually reading.

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Yea, the lack of an easy rewind/replay function in many of these apps always bugged me. It's too bad there isn't a sort of auto-CC function to see what our brains skimmed over. My only two solutions were to immediately take notes in my phone or to just replay it, but the latter always wastes a bunch of time trying to find the exact moment (and hoping I don't get lost in thought again haha). Cheers Nat

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