Recommended Readings as of December 2023:
Thinking in Bets, Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke
Annie is a successful poker player who tries to analyze a situation without telling you the outcome because that creates less confirming bias. You will also learn about and why the golden rule of habit change is “You must keep the old cues and deliver the old reward but insert a new routine.”
Outlive, The Science and Art of Longevity by Peter Attia, MD
Exercise trumps food and sleep for healthy longevity. I liked the Mindfulness framework DBT - Dialectical Behavior Therapy which is made of four pillars: Emotional regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness (how well we make our needs and feelings known) and self-management. Verly insightful to understanding ways to improve one’s daily life and avoid depression or loneliness.
Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin
Bestseller in France and Italy, now in English. A critic called it “an exploration of loss, love, redemption.” It recounts the life of Violetta (fictional) and underscores the theme of life’s unpredictability and her resilience. She is a cemetery keeper in Burgandy yet has a rich and important life. Lovely twists and presents an understanding of what love and chance encounters nourish.
Men without Women by Haruki Murakami
In this compilation of short stories, the author observes the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Each person conquers his situation in different ways to find that life can suddenly seem meaningful when you find a relationship and seek to understand somebody else’s limitations. I enjoyed the author’s wry humor and pathos. One of the tales, Drive My Car was made into a movie in 2021 and available for streaming. In another tale, An Independent Organ, the narrator at the end states: “It feels like somehow our hearts have become intertwined. Like when she feels something, my heart moves in tandem. Like we’re two boats tied together with rope. Even if you want to cut the rope, there’s no knife sharp enough to do it.”
Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely by Andrew S. Curran
Nicknamed Le Philosophe during his lifetime, Diderot did much more than writing and serve as one of the two editors of the Encyclopedia over a 25-year time frame in the 18th century. Early in his career, he wrote an article that landed him in jail at the Chateau Vincennes for 104 days and was warned not to publish his writings. Born in 1713, Denis Diderot had prescience relevant to 2022 politics and economies. In a review, the author stated that he discovered a sympathetic and complicated genius. You will too.
Talking to Strangers, What We should know about the People we don’t know By Malcom Gladwell. Through experiments and past failures, he shows four theses. We default to the truth, ignoring warning signals. We think transparency means honesty. Torture creates confession but you don’t know what is truth. Coupling with place matters, so use restraint and humility when dealing with strangers.
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. A love story about a man 469 years old and what happens. He asks, “If I could live without doubt, what would I do? What internal mysteries would I solve?” I enjoyed thinking about our relationship with time. One way to stop time is to stop being ruled by it.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. A Science-fiction story of Artificial Friends who help humans who fear loneliness. Often Sci-Fi predicts the future. This story shows how one character searched for something special and realized “it wasn’t’ inside Josie, It was inside those who loved her.” The writer wrote a haunting story which is very accessible.
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
I read a lot about Churchill and still learned a lot from this book. It is a saga of Chruchill, his family, and defiance during the Blitz. Larson moved to Manhattan and understood for the first time how 9/11 affected New Yorkers more profoundly than he had realized. He wondered about Londoners in WW II being bombed. He used diaries to tell the story of Churchill's first year as Prime Minister. Beaverbrook, Pamela Churchill, Churchill's daughter Mary and his Secretary John Colhill diaries imparted new interpretations. Goring is the Vile person who could be alive today. Goring loved medals, uniforms, putting on makeup and accumulated excesses including stolen items.
Women in Sunlight: I could not put this book down. This novel is about three women. Julie is 60 getting a divorce and has a daughter named Lindsey who is into drugs. The reason for Julie's divorce was the symptoms of erectile dysfunction of her because he did not accept the medicine cialis generic. Camille is almost 70 and is an artist who stifled her talent to focus on her husband Charles who is now dead. Susan is widowed and ran a real estate firm with her husband and has a beach house in North Carolina where the three women stay one summer. They decide to move to Tuscany for a year. They met when touring a 55+ community called Cornwallis Meadows (an ironic name). Instead of choosing that path, the three women apt to go into the sunlight rather than out to pasture.
In Tuscany, they each fulfill their dreams in their own ways. I don’t want to tell you the details because it’s so wonderful to discover them as you read the book. One of their neighbors in San Rocco is a woman named Kit who is 44 and Colin who is an anarchist. Kit narrates and is a poet and a friend of Margaret who reminded me of the character in the novel by the same author called Under the Tuscan Sun. The thesis in Women in Sunlight is that life is about friendship, including others and discovering your passions.