Review: Faust by Goethe

The book is written by one of the most prominent western writers and thinkers, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. A work that he spent almost all his life iterating on and he wasn’t done until he was in his 80:s. It’s a blueprint for how to life, one could say, but also the original “making a deal with the devil” story.

Why I’m I reading this old thing?

One of the life goals I have is to “read all the great works of literature”, and each year i try to chip 4 classics off my list. This year it has been:
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🔸 Thus Spoke Zarathustra
🔹Notes from the Underground
🔸The Gulag Archipelago
🔹and, yes, Faust!
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Our main protagonist, Faust, is an aged academic and scholar. He spent all his life accumulating knowledge but have very little to show for himself. No real power. No real achievements to show for himself. No love. He’s feels like a loser. What’s the point of it all?
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One day runs into a dog, a poodle, who follows him home. But lo and behold, the poodle turns into a devil—-Mephistopheles, who offers to grant his every wish. He gives Faust the energy of youth and the ability to do what the wants.
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First Faust thinks that he could become an elite bookworm and get his hands in the most rare and finest manuscripts. He also tries out the path hedonism and worldly pleasure. He dabbles in this and that, but in end Faust thirst for a purpose beyond himself:
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“…A Faustian idea that in order to flourish we need to flirt with things that are quite dangerous. But hold on to a sense of higher purpose.” – The School of Life, YouTube
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📝 I started a “Faust reference counter” a while back because i kept hearing about it everywhere and in very different kinds of books: The Denial of Death, a Nixon biography, and Steppenwolf to name a few.
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⚖️ VERDICT:
I listened to it as an audiobook with proper acting and it was a joy to listen to. Beautiful verse, existential angst, and unexpectedly humorous. The book has two distinct parts, and while the first part fits the description above, the 2nd part was incomprehensible to me. This review is only concerned with part 1.
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4/5
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⁉️What book do you see referenced everywhere but you haven’t read it yet?!⁉️

Review: Fire In the Belly: On Being A Man by Sam Keen

3 Key takeaways from Fire In The Belly: On Being a Man.

The book is meant to uncover a new route to authentic manhood. Sam Keen takes modern society’s often contradictory expectations of what it means to be a man and contrasts it with traditional cultures.

  • What kind of impact does the absence of initiation rites have on the maturation process of an individual?
  • Why does modern jobs leave people depressed?
  • How do we reclaim our Selfs in a financially driven world, where so many of us has adopted “a market orientation towards ourselves”.

This book challenges an outdated definition of masculinity that leaves men impoverish and alienated, and tries to replace it with of purpose and fulfillment.

Video version of the Fire in the Belly Review

3 ideas from the book.

———1. Traditional vs. Modern roles ———

The good and the bad news about the traditional rites of passage:

  • Traditional people knew who they were. (At least they had clear expectations.)
  • These traditional rites prevented the development of individuality.

‍🦱🧑‍🦱 Traditionally you were a child, and then a man or a woman. This eliminated any time where freedom could develop. This was a great way to ensure conformity in the tribe. Carefree years of adolescence is a modern invention.

——— 2. Stress & Dragons———

If I would rank key events that triggered spiritual growth for me, then being close to burnout would rank as nr.1.

“On the path to authentic selfhood we must remain for a time in the dark side of the soul until we reach the very bottom of despair.”

Philosophers and theologians and pilgrims talks about this part of the journey as being crucified, losing the ego, descending into hell, or battle dragons. Now we call it by clinical names like stress, depression, burnout.

Tricks like stress & time management, mindfulness techniques, and learning to cope w. stress, might actually destroy the significance these experiences of despair ones had on people’s lives—or at least delay the growth that needs to happen.

—— 3. The Corporate Hearth ——

Companies are trying to turn the workplace into the new  home and hearth. I can relate to this a lot since I’m in the tech industry where this trend is quite intense. A Company “culture” is invented, with it’s own “myth and rituals” and we are expected to view the workplace as a “family”.

But “under those velvet gloves is the iron fist of warfare.”. I think I know what Sam means by that. I have seen what happens when striving companies hits a rut: No more bean bags and office dogs!

It’s easy to forget the real purpose of a business when it’s so well hidden.

⚖️ VERDICT:

It’s a short and sweet read, but feels a bit dated (91’). The time of “It’s the cost of the toys that separate the men from the boys” mindset among men seems to have past. But I think some of the alienation around masculinity is still around! It would be interesting to read a more recent book in the topic.

What is the closest thing you have to initiation rites in your culture?

Book Review: Top 5 Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware

Bronnie worked as a caretaker of the dying. Someone who gets hired to tend for people during their final months or weeks in life. Through her work she was able to identify the most common and deepest regrets people had during those final days—what they wished they had done differently, what they wished they had the courage to be, and to say.
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The list of common regrets probably won’t surprise you. But hearing the stories about the lives of the people who carry these regrets make them connect on a very deep level—deep enough for them to really sink in.


🔸 I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
The most common regret of them all.

🔹 I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.“

🔸 I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.“

🔹 I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
When you are dying you realize the full value of real friends, and by then you might have lost contact with them.

🔸 I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Many doesn’t realize that happiness is a choice until their dying days.
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⭐️ TAKEAWAYS:
Reading through this list, I realize that reading books can protect us from many of these regrets. To live a life true to myself, express my feeling and choose my attitude is something I’ve learned about through books, and which I have been put into practice (still Work in Progress) . I can’t put a price on those insights!
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⚖️ VERDICT:
This book is not just a list of dying people’s regrets and life stories, but also a the story of Bronnie’s own journey, and how working with dying people and learning from their regrets gave her courage to fight her own demons and a build a life true to herself. It’s a powerful read that will snap you out of the matrix for a moment and have you check your priorities. It might even trigger some real change.

5/5

Find more great reads on my book reviews page and the Great Books List

Thoughts on Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran

The idea of me “reviewing” spiritual scriptures is bizarre. Who I’m I to judge the some of the most sacred scriptures known to man? Hehe, fuck it, why not,right!? Let’s go!



“Bhagavad Gita” is an old Hindu scripture. The narrative framework is a dialogue between Arjuna and his counsel Lord Krishna on the battlefield on the dawn of war.

The dialogue soon takes a dive in the deep end and dwells into ethics, karma, meditation, the good life and other juicy topics. Gandhi had “the Gita” as his spiritual dictionary for a reason.

This version of the book is probably preferable to the “raw” Gita. Mainly because you get explanations of the key concepts between chapters and it really helps you to understand the message fully. In the end of the book you get to hear the Gita again at full length without the commentary (about 2 hours long). I loved this book. I initially thought it would be tough to get through such an old book from a culture I’m not to familiar with. But it was the other way around. I was bingeing it and found it both profound and accessible.

My biggest takeaway was the concept of detachment from outcome. Many times we do thing we don’t want to because it might lead to future rewards. Krishna says: “You have the right to work but not to the fruit of work.”

Here are some of my notes:
– Only the one who is utterly engaged and utterly detached is able to live life fully.

– You have the right to work, but not to the fruit of work. Never engage in action in sake for reward.

“When you keep thinking about “sense objects”, attachment comes. Attachment breeds desire. The lust of possession which burns to anger. Anger clouds the judgement.”

“Pleasure from the senses seems like nectar at first but is bitter as poison in the end. That which seems like poison at first but taste like nectar in the end, this is the joy of satwa, born of a mind at peace.”

A truly Excellent book!
5/5

Find more great reads on my book reviews page and the Great Books List

Thoughts on Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

Thus Spake Zarathustra Review

“Man is a rope stretched between animal and the Übermensch—a rope over an abyss.”

The death of God concerns Nietzsche because he has the foresight to see the chaos that might follow—a value system collapsing and a confused age where people no long can tell up from down. The solution he propose is the überman, the next step in human evolution, but he feared we might instead see a transformation of man into what he calls the Last Man.

🔑 THE UBERMENSCH
To become the Übermensch, one must transcend the established morals and prejudices of human society to define out own purpose and values in life. This is person who is willing to risk it all for the advancement of humanity.

🔑 THE LAST MAN
The Last Man is what Nietzsche feared would become of western man. Imagine a person laying on a couch with a bag of chips balanced on a potbelly, totally immersed in a game of Candy Crush after a long Pornhub session. Despite pleasures and comfort,the person is empty and miserable; There you have TheLast Man.

📚 THE BOOK
The book is written in a biblical style and is full of parables, analogies and mythical imagery. we get to follow a prophet-like character named Zarathustra who has isolated himself in a cave on a mountain top for 10 years. He grows weary of his wisdom he descents into humanity to tell the world what he had learned.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra Video Review

📝 “To give birth to a dancing star you need chaos in your soul.”

📝 Nietzsche wrote the book in a 10-day burst of creative madness, “, and it is clear that he didn’t revise his work very carefully”. And it took me 2 months to read it. 😬

💭 The hardest book I’ve read to date and a good preparation for tackling the Bible after summer.

⚖️ VERDICT: Just like a paralyzed person need stairlift to up to the top floor, I needed assistance to ascend to vicinity of Nietzsche’s ideas. Countless YouTube videos by professors and armchair philosophers where needed for me to gain a base level understanding of this book. And I cherished those lectures, more than I enjoyed reading the book.

It is not an easy read. But some parts of it are so powerful they’ll leave you awestruck.

⁉️What’s your relationship to Nietzsche?!⁉️

Thoughts on: The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

Book Review: The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

Social psychologist Erich Fromm explores the topic of love in all it’s aspects: not only the craziness and lofty expectations of romantic love, but also love of god, brotherly love, erotic love, the love of parents and self-love.
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Fromm sees love an art and suggest that mastery in the art of loving need the same knowledge and effort as mastery in any other art.
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The most interesting aspect of this book is Fromms theory that our feeling of separateness from the world is the main cause of human anxiety and love being on way of achieving a sense oneness.

Video Review – The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

The book has a quite harsh tone toward the modern western notion of love. Romantic love, that we are told to strive for in pop culture and mainstream media, he says, is a form of inmature love.

📝 ❤️
-Immature love: I love you because I need you.
-Mature love: I need you because I love you.

📝 ❤️ In fact we take the intensity of infatuation (being crazy about each other) “for proof of the intensity of our love, while it might only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness.” 💥

📝 ❤️ The object of love has become more important than the action of love.

📝 ❤️ Sexual rituals and orgies in tribes give a release from separateness. After it’s over people can go on with their life for a while until the anxiety of separateness builds up again. In a non-orgyastic culture people turn to drugs for release. 💉 🍻


📝 ❤️ Conformity to society is another way to protect oneself from separateness. If I’m like everyone else I’m safe from separateness.

📝 ❤️ “Love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.”

💭 THOUGHT: Isn’t it weird that we only have one word for love in English since romantic love and Love with a big “L” is so different?! It’s like “scarcity”and “abundance” used the same name.

⚖️ VERDICT: I really loved this book. It’s my first book on the topic—and hence, I might be easily impressed—but I love how serious the subject is treated! May I complain about the book being too short and having too much to note down?! 😆

4/5

What your views of mature vs. immature love?

Find more great reads on my book reviews page and the Great Books List

Review: Essentialism by Greg Mckeown

Prefer video? Here is the Video Review of Essentialism

“The wisdom of life lies in the elimination of non-essentials”- Lin Yutang
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Saying yes to everything and trying to please everyone won’t only result in you being stressed out but it will also diminish the quality of your work

You don’t want to “major in minor” things as the saying goes.
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If I would distill this books key values into 2 words it would be: impact and fulfillment.
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📝 Meeting-mindset for the office dweller:
“Just because I was invited is not  a good enough reason for me to attend.”
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📝 When you die, would you rather see a long list of accomplishments that doesn’t really matter, or just a few major accomplishments that have true meaning and significance?

📝 “If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness” – Dalai Lama

📝 The essence of Essentialism is the relentless search for less, but better.

📝 Live design and not by default.
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💥 ELIMINATE OBSTACLES 💥
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1️⃣“What are all the obstacles standing between me and getting things done?” Make a list!
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2️⃣“What is the obstacle that if removed would make the majority of other obstacles disappear.” Prioritize the list!
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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:
“Not only get rid of the obvious time wasters but also cutting out some really good opportunities as well.”
I think this is the new idea that I take way from this book. I’m new to having a lot of opportunities and I’ve been reacting as many people would; I jump on all of them. This has caused me to spread myself thin and I’ve gone from being always on point, to dropping balls left and right. The idea of asking myself: “will this activity make the highest possible contribution towards my goal? “— and turning down every that doesn’t get an undisputed “Hell yeah!” —has been a game changer for me.
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⚖️ VERDICT:
I can easily say that this book now has a place in my top 5 when it comes to productivity books. I really loved it, even though it pulls from a lot of sources that that you might have already read (Thinking fast and slow, The Power of habit etc..)
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4/5
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⁉️ Are you happy with how you are able to spend your time? ⁉️

Thoughts on: Grant by Ron Chernow

Grant by Ron Chernow review
Book review

I picked up this book in an attempt to educate myself on the American civil war. I had no idea who Ullyses S. Grant was, but halfway through the book I felt like I knew the man better than I knew myself. The detail this book goes into is remarkable and you almost feel like you are experiencing the war first hand.
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Grant came from simple beginnings and throughout his life his fortunes rose and fell with “incredible speed and frequency.”
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He was a failed businessman and he was even thrown out of the army ones during the Mexican war, only to quickly raise through the ranks during the civil war, ultimately reaching the absolute peak of military achievement.
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Looking only at his track record one would be lead to believe Grant was a man of ambition. Quite the opposite seems to be the case. He never sought fame or power— even his presidency was seen more as a burdensome duty for the man, rather than something he sought after.
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🍃 I don’t envy Grant. I actually feel a bit sad for him. He seems to have lead his life like leaf in the wind. Letting external forces throw him back and forth, without ever letting his own will speak.
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🎭 Grant was economic with words and, to be honest, he feels like a poster boy for repression. Maybe that’s why alcohol was his worst enemy?! His unattended to Inner Child would pop out and wreck havoc as soon as he let his guard down? And alcohol tend to do that.
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💭 I read this book while I heard news that protesters had toppled a statue of Grant in San Francisco, because he was “ a white slave owner”. This surprised me as I’ve learned that Grant not only despised the idea slavery, but personally lead the Union army to defeat the slave-owning Confederacy, and later as president of the United States, he cracked down on the Ku Clux Clan.
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⚖️ VERDICT:
This book is huge: 1000+ pages long. I love that I got to know this guy so intimately, and the history lesson will serve me well, but I can’t encourage everyone to get this book. We all have limited time and the opportunity cost of picking up this book might be too high—unless you have a very special reason for doing so! A masterful biography!

4/5

⁉️What’s the thickest book you’ve read⁉️

Thoughts on: The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone

Despite being a oversimplified and irrational book at times— full of contradictions— it makes one point very clear: you are probably not doing enough to get you where you want to go! Especially if you have ambitions goals for your finances & professional success.

💊 It’s a tough pill to swallow. 👆🏻

📝 10x Rule in a nutshell: Set targets for yourself that are 10X greater than what you believe you can achieve, and you should take actions that are 10X greater than what you believe are necessary to achieve them.

📝 The most common mistake people make is to not set high enough goals.

📝 “As long as you are alive you will either live to accomplish you own goals and dreams, or you will be used as a resource to accomplish someone else’s goals and dreams”. Build you own assets!

📝 It takes energy to do nothing, or to be average. You might as well take massive action and reach your true potential.

📝 It’s better to fail on a goal  that is set really high because you might reach further than you would if you set it were a normal person would.

📝 You are going to know that your start to enter the realm of massive action when:
1️⃣ When you create new problems for yourself.
2️⃣ You start to receive criticism and warnings and supposed help from others (including family!)

💥 You probably have a dream of some kind. Let’s say you want to make your living by talking about books: Do you really take enough action to get where you want to go? Do you really put in enough energy to be at the top of your field? Are you making calls?

Chances are you’re not! And that what this book is for; shaking you out of complacency and get you going for real!💪🏻

⚖️ VERDICT:
It’s is the energy behind, it rather than the words themselves, that gives this book power. The audiobook version is great because it’s Crazy Grant himself speaking (often off the cuffs) and with an enormous conviction and energy.

This book is great for anyone who wants to get their project to the next level and need a reminder of what it takes to get there! It got me to put the bar higher for myself.

The right book at the right time for me!

3/5

⁉️In what area of life do you want to 10x?!⁉️

Thoughts on: Behave by Robert Sapolsky

What is long and hard, and filled with baboon references? Robert Sapolskys book Behave. Here are some key takeaways and lesson from this fantastic book on human behavior.


📝 “The frontal cortex makes you do the harder thing, when it’s the right thing to do.” The frontal cortex consumes a lot of energy which makes your willpower limited. Have you noticed how quick you are to judge and how hard it is to be a good person you are when depleted after a hard day at work?

📝 Initially demanding frontal tasks, like controlling your bladder as a child, becomes easier with time. Understand: repeated good behaviors and they will become automatic!

📝 We Habituate..

Understand: Artificial pleasures (designer food, drugs, VR porn etc..) throws our systems of the scale making us unable to appreciate the natural.

📝 Humans delays gratification for an extremely long time. No other animal restricts calories now to look good on the beach next year! 😆

📝 “The opposite of love is not hate, its indifference”

📝 Win-Win solutions rewards more dopamine than Win – Lose ones. 👍🏻👍🏻

📝 Alcohol = more aggressive behavior? No, alcoholic only evokes aggression in people prone to aggression AND people that BELIEVE that alcohol makes you more aggressive. Like testosterone only increase aggression in people prone to it in the first place. Testosterone will enhance any behavior that helps us maintain status.

⭐️ TAKEAWAY: I was applying for days off at work. I was going to ask right before lunch, but caught myself and did it the proper way instead; Judges famously give harsher judgments when they are hungry. I upped my chances of getting an approved application quickly by waiting until after lunch.

This was not a matter of life or death situation, like the case with some trials, but I think this story points towards something worth thinking about.

What is the result of a lifetime of strategic moves based on the quirks of biology and human nature works compared to a life ignorant of these hidden influences?

⚖️ VERDICT: A detailed and nuanced summary of where we are at with the study of human behavior! 😍

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4/5

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Get the book right here or find other amazing reads in my reading lists!