This is a website for indie authors–by indie authors, supporting indie authors. But at the heart of it, it’s a website about books. The term indie, in my opinion, is merely a construct created by what has been accepted by the mainstream versus what has not been. While we’re here, this construct and the anti-mainstream backlash that created much of the indie book world is why the term sellout also came to be, (at least one of the reasons).
Non-mainstream books are garbage because they’re not good enough to be picked up by a Big 5 Publisher. Mainstream books are junk because they’re cliché and passé. Do we have that out of our system? Good, we can all agree. Ok, let’s move on.
Regardless of whether a book is indie or mainstream, all of us–authors and readers alike–look for a book to move us, inspire us, shape us. This is why I was so captivated when I found Mark Mason’s 7 Books That Will Change How You See the World. I recommend each of you read his original article. It is thoughtful and funny. It will manage to keep your attention in our ever-so-short attention economy, which is a subtle art he excels at.
Each of the books recommended are related to philosophy or psychologically, (or loosely related to similar fields). This may not be your cup of tea, but I think at least one of these books will be within you reading interests. While I enjoy philosophical books (I was one measly class short of a philosophy minor back in undergrad over a decade ago) and psychology literature (I’m the son of a psych professor after all), I must confess that I have only read parts of some of these books. I have yet to read any of these all the way through.
So while Mr. Manson’s overview is far more thorough and any of you that have beyond a passing interest in these titles should consider his article, I want to bring you a taste of each of these. I have added at least two of these to my TBR and it is likely I will read the majority of them.
STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS
BY DANIEL GILBERT
I have a longheld belief that happiness is given far too much import in our world today. We only have a vague idea of what it means to be happy. We seek out happiness at every turn, all at the expense of curiosity, wonderment, joy, contentment, peace, and a whole host of other emotions and states of being. The search for happiness has created more people unhappy than Twitter has created authors pimping out their books. This book has my attention to be read in short order.
Notable Gilbert Quote (provided by Mr. Manson):
“We treat our future selves as though they were our children, spending most of the hours of most of our days constructing tomorrows that we hope will make them happy… But our temporal progeny are often thankless. We toil and sweat to give them just what we think they will like, and they quit their jobs, grow their hair, move to or from San Francisco, and wonder how we could ever have been stupid enough to think they’d like that. We fail to achieve the accolades and rewards that we consider crucial to their well-being, and they end up thanking God that things didn’t work out according to our shortsighted, misguided plan.”
ON THE GENEALOGY OF MORALS
BY FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE
Nietzche is not for everyone. He takes not only a very philosophically-bent mind to appreciate him, but also a particular no nonsense, everything is rational, Type A personality to enjoy his writing. But it is undoubtedly true that he is one of the greatest thinkers we have seen in written history. His consideration here is that morals are merely a societal construct of the Strong to justify their position of strength against the Weak. What interests me just as much as Nietzsche’s reasoning that there are Strong and Weak in every society, but also (or maybe even more so) how the rules of what makes someone Strong or Weak in a society change with time, location, beliefs, lineage, and a seemingly infinite number of other variables.
Notable Nietzsche Quote (provided by Mr. Manson):
“Above all, there is no exception to this rule: that the idea of political superiority always resolves itself into the idea of psychological superiority.”
ANTIFRAGILE: THINGS THAT GAIN FROM DISORDER
BY NASSIM TALEB
I have yet to read this or any of Nassim Taleb’s works at length. Mark Manson’s description of Taleb being a pompous dick and possibly trolling the entire world with his writing style, despite how clever and intelligent his writing style may be, leaves me unable to get particularly excited to pick this book up. That is, until I read the quotes provided, which save the day and get me back on board with putting this book on my TBR.
Notable Taleb Quotes (provided by Mr. Manson):
“Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”
“The irony of the process of thought control: the more energy you put into trying to control your ideas and what you think about, the more your ideas end up controlling you.”
THE TRUE BELIEVER
BY ERIC HOFFER
Hoffer was trying to explain broad trends in accessible ways long before Malcolm Gladwell adopted the art to sells millions of books. He was connecting seemingly unconnected ideas and data points decades before the Ste(ph)vens (Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt) were using it to create “freaky” economic theory. Hoffer argues here that all mass movements are related and, simplistically, interchangeable. If only Hoffer were alive to update his theories for social media and going viral.
Notable Hoffer Quote (provided by Mr. Manson):
“The game of history is usually played by the best and the worst over the heads of the majority in the middle.”
CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS
BY SIGMUND FREUD
Before you roll your eyes or skip over this book, it’s not what you think. Here, listen to Mr. Manson himself: “The book makes one simple argument: that humans have deep, animalistic instincts to eat, kill or fuck everything. Freud argued that civilization could only arise when enough humans learned to repress these deeper and baser urges, to push them into the unconscious where (according to his model) they would fester and ultimately generate all sorts of neuroses.”
Ok, yea, it’s exactly what you think.
Notable Freud Quote (provided by Mr. Manson):
“A love that does not discriminate seems to me to forfeit a part of its own value, by doing an injustice to its object.”
THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR: WHEN HUMANS TRANSCEND BIOLOGY
BY RAY KURZWEIL
This is one that I must confess I have not read any part of, not even snippets. Given the fact that the singularity for Kurzweil is the fact that by 2045 the rapid development of technology will progress beyond the point of human’s abilities to comprehend it, I am somewhat surprised to see it listed as a NYT Bestseller. It sounds sci-fi, but I am assured that it is entirely non-fiction. I’m going to have to take their word for it.
Notable Kurzweil Quote (provided by Mr. Manson):
“Can the pace of technological progress continue to speed up indefinitely? Isn’t there a point at which humans are unable to think fast enough to keep up? For unenhanced humans, clearly so. But what would 1,000 scientists, each 1,000 times more intelligent than human scientists today, and each operating 1,000 times faster than contemporary humans (because the information processing in their primarily non-biological brains is faster) accomplish? One chronological year would be like a millennium for them. What would they come up with?”
THE DENIAL OF DEATH
BY ERNEST BECKER
Having only read snippets of Becker before, I will attempt to summarize Manson’s summary of Becker, with three word incomplete sentences.
Man knows existence.
Understands he dies.
Death terrifies man.
Wants heroic life.
Creates lasting acts.
Heroic acts conflict (between each man).
War, violence, hatred.
I was close on this. I almost succeeded. Right? Right guys? Hey guys, wait up! Guys, don’t leave!
Notable Becker Quote (provided by Mr. Manson):
“The irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.”
I guess I should have warned you upfront that this is deep, but the title of the post should have accurately warned you. I encourage anyone interested (again) to read Mark Manson’s full article. And if you’ve read any of these, let us know and share your thoughts.
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