Thoughts on: Educated by Tara Westover

A memoir. Likely one of the best I’ve read.

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Tara grew up in a pious Mormon family lead by a survivalist father with a fondness for conspiracy theories. His plan was to be fully self-reliant and “off the grid” before the End of Days, an event he was sure to be imminent.

Tara’s story about finding her independence is a powerful one; a narrative so well-crafted I had a hard time putting it down even for my most basic maslowian needs.


📝 Her mother was trained to be a midwife. The idea was that she would deliver the grandchildren ones the family was “off the grid”.

📝 The Protocols on the Elders of Zion: A fabricated document, from 1903, of a secret meeting of powerful Jews planing world domination. Discredited, but it still spread anti-semitism and fueled conspiracy theorists for decades to come.

📝 She read Mormon doctrine in mimicry of a brother that left her for school. “In retrospect I can see that this was my education. The one that would matter.” “The skill I was learning was a crucial one; the patience to read things I could not yet understand.”

📝 Mother was a herbalist and energy worker: “Mother was marketing her product as a spiritual alternative to Obama Care.” Made bank! 💰


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

It is fascinating how the object of concern for the conspiracy theorist change over time as each prophecy fail to deliver the end of days. When Y2K didn’t happened Taras father lost hope for a while, then the events of 9/11 filled that vacuum.


⚖️ VERDICT:

Now we run into trouble. What are we scoring here?! Our goal is to educate ourself about the human condition and learn how to live well in spite of it. The rating system gives and indication on how well a book meets that goal.

For our learning purposes it’s a good book (3). As a “beach book” it’s excellent! (4 or a 5). Pick it up during summer break (if you have the privilege to have one) then get back to your studies! 😉👨‍🎓👩‍🎓


3/5


⁉️ QUESTON:

Are there any books on the psychology of conspiracy theorists? AND What’s your thoughts on vaccines, Illuminati, Rothchilds, Aliens and government brainwashing? 🤔

Photo credit: @thebookunicorns

For more mind boggling read check out my Reading Lists.

Thoughts on: “The Better Angels of Our Nature” by Steven Pinker

It’s an odyssey through the history of human violence. Pinkers thesis is that we have seen a great decline in violence both in the long term , as well as short term history of mankind and he sets out to find out why this is.

This is a dense book.

I listened to the audiobook which clocked in at 36 hours. But don’t be discouraged! It’s such a deep topic and you will have an expanded view on humanity after turning the last page.

One of my many takeaways from this book is not to base my world on images, but on facts. One can easily be fooled by the availability bias when the 24-hour news cycle portraits rare accidents, catastrophes and act of violence appear as common events by giving the disproportionate airtime.

This is essential reading if you’re in a quest for worldly knowledge.

5/5

Find other fascinating reads in my reading lists!

Thoughts on: ”Influence” by Robert Cialdini

Cialdinis book is a must read for everyone. Whether you try to influence someone or want to avoid being influenced by others. To know the weaknesses of the the brains reasoning abilities is the best way to protect ourself against making bad decisions. This book is jam packed with amazing facts, science and stories that will change the way you see the world. My main takeaway is that I need to continue be on my guard for influence workers that try to exploit the brains cognitive biases. The fact that this book isn’t obligatory reading in schools is beyond my comprehension.

5/5

Find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 2) – The Near East

The second part of this tome (1200+ pages) is focused on the Ancient civilizations of the Near East; Egypt, Persia, Babylonia, Judea etc..

📝 “It is in the nature of an empire to disintegrate soon, for the energy that created it disappears from those who inherits it.”

📝 Persia was founded by a stoic people, but within a century it was destroyed by people binge-drinking and eating all day; “spending their geniuses on sauces and deserts” 🍰. What state is our current civilization in? 🤔

📝 Egypt: “Machinery was rare because muscle was cheap.”

📝 The hanging gardens of Babylon was considered considered one of the Wonders of the World. Legend has it that Nebuchadnezzar II had it build for his wife who was not used to the desert and longed for her lush homeland.

📝 There where thousands of Gods. With time minor deities merged and became mere aspects of major ones.

📝 In Judean prophets talked about the need to be moral rebirth. Jeremaya asked for circumcision of spirit as well as the flesh in his strange phrase: “Circumstance yourself to the lord, take away the foreskins of your heart.” 😂😂

⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

One theme that stood out to me is how civilizations raise from hard labour and sacrifice, just so that future generation can have it go down the toilet by forgetting these hardships and fall victim to hedonism. 💩 🚽

⭐️ TAKEAWAY 2:

The accounts of the religious believes in the different civilizations fascinates me to no end. How similar their stories are to ours and how much we still can find intact or reshaped in today’s religions.

⚖️ VERDICT:

Now we get into the meat of the book and it has taken on another rhythm. I have mixed feelings about this second part of book. It’s is still brilliant but it’s getting hard to retain the information. The problem might lie in the way the book is structured, using the same template to describe each civilization, one after the other, making it overwhelming.

Check out Part 1 for more in this review series.

What are you reading these days? 🤔

Instagram Photo credit: @cinefile_25 , @eruchdah

Find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

Favorite Books of the Year 2018: “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” – Gabor Maté

💉 An excellent introduction to the complex problem of addiction. Dr. Gabors is specialized in its study and treatment. His book offers powerful portraits of his patient lives, the story of his own addictive behaviors and the path to recovery.

📝 “As a rule, whatever we don’t deal with in our lives we pass on to our children.”

⭐️ TAKEAWAY: Regardless of your degree of addiction or whether your drug of choice is heroin, TV, food or shopping – reading the stories and research presented in this book will help to shine a light on your own addictive tendencies.

This year I got rid of two addictions: Nicotine (snus) and caffeine. 🚬☕️

Read the full list of favorites or check out previous lists right here!

Favorite Books of the Year 2018: 21 Lessons for the 21 century

What Harari has done here is quite a feat. He has squeezed what could easily been a series of books into one volume, covering topics like:

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▪️The resurrection of nationalism.

▫️What to do in a post-jobs world.

▪️The opportunity cost of fighting terrorism.

▫️Why we need a deep understanding of suffering and how to attain it.

▪️What should we teach our kids in school to prepare the for the future?

▫️How to live in the age of biotech, algorithms and AI.

▪️Is religion still relevant?

▫️Do we need a whole new ideology to deal with the problems of the 21st century when liberalism just wont cut it anymore?

▪️Culturism vs. Rasism.

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The book is relevant, nuanced and sometimes frightening.

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How do I plan do dig deeper into the themes covered in this book in 2019?

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I will read ‘Future Presence’ early next year. It’s about human connection in a future of virtual reality.

Read the full list of favorites or check out previous lists right here!

My Year in Books with @danjmartinwa

“I listen to nearly one book per day, plus very many podcasts. I learn something I never knew from each book. Books,like people, know many stories and facts I don’t. Every day the parameter of my ignorance expands just like the universe.

Here are some books that really stood out to me this year!

– Dan Martin

📖 The Age of Eisenhower– William I Hitchcock

📖 Guns, Germs, and Steel – Jared Diamond

📖 Accessory to War– Neil deGrasse Tyson & Avis Lang

📖 Walt Disney – Neal Gabler

📖 Slavery by Another Name – Douglas A. Blackmon

– Dan Martin (@danjmartinwa on Instagram


When someone who reads one book a day gives you his 5 most outstanding books of the year then you better pay attention! I don’t know you Dan but you are a cool dude! 😎

– Poor Bjorn

 

Check out my reading lists for more great books!

Thoughts on: “How to Live: or a Life of Montaigne” by Sarah Bakewell

Ah Montaigne! I’m glad I got to know you. You are now officially added to my list of peculiar historical men that fascinate me to no end – alongside Ben Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt.


He wrote 107 essays with simple titles like “of Friendship”, “of Cannibals”, “of Names” and “of Cripples”. He was an observer of the world but most of all he observed and wrote about himself.


📝 He was send out by his parents to be nursed by peasants as an infant in a weird attempt to create a bond with “the commoners” that he would one day need to help.


📝 His parents educational experiment continued; Montaigne was brought up as a native Latin speaker! A tough plan to put in practice since the were almost no native latin speakers around. The rest of the household spoke minimal or no Latin.


📝 “A man… should touch his wife prudently and soberly, lest if he caresses her too lasciviously the pleasure should transport her outside the bound of reason” Montaigne quoted Aristotle. Saying, basically, the conventional notion in those days that being a passionate husband would turn the wife into a nymphomaniac. 😂


📝 Pay attention!

As Montaigne learned, one of the best techniques for paying attention is to write about everything. Just to describe simple things in the world opens your eyes to how marvelous they are.


📝 “Still French was his language of choice”. His essays gives a weird reason for this: French could not be expected to last in the same way as the classical languages (I.e. Latin). This was freeing. If his writing was flawed, there was less pressure on him since the where doomed anyway.


📝 He was a big fan of Hellenistic philosophy; Stoicism and Skepticism in particular. Stoicism encourages wise detachment and skeptics held themselves back on principle. His motto was “What do I know?”.


📝 In “on cripples” Montaigne writes about a rumor that lame women are more enjoyable in bed, and as Aristotle before him, he speculates that it must be that “their vaginas are more muscular because they receive the nourishment of which the legs are deprived.”


It’s a fascinating biography even for the uninitiated! Now I just need to read his actual essays!


4/5

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Thoughts on: “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan B. Peterson

Life is suffering. How do we deal with that?! We face it, we bare it. Hell is a bottomless pit and even how fucked up and unfair things are, we still can make it even worse. Let’s not do that! What if We get our act together and instead are prepared to face suffering when it comes knocking? That’s the better path. And we all know where we fall short.

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Peterson puts the responibility of all the world and all of it’s suffering on the individual. “If we all lived properly, we will collectively flurish.” If we put ourselves in order, maybe we will do the same to the world?

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📝 Render the people you care about competent – not protected.

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📝 The poor and stressed always die first. “When the aristocracy catches a cold the working class dies in pneumonia.”

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📝 Routine is necessary, the stuff we do everyday needs to be automatized into stable and reliable habits so that they gain reliability and lose complexity.

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📝 Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

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📝 “What you aim at determines what you see”. Choose your aim carefully!

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📝 “Why does it so often seem to be the very people standing so visibly against prejudice who so often feel obligated to denounce humanity itself?”

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📝 “As hard as it is to believe, a patient adult can defeat a two year old.”

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📝 Don’t blame your enemies, capitalism or the leftists. Don’t reorganize the state until you have ordered your own experience! Set your house in perfect order before criticizing the world.

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⭐️ Takeaway:

When I started reading this book we lay next to our son at bedtime until he had fallen asleep. This was not good. Now he goes to sleep alone after his bedtime story. He is now a more competent and independent being. Me and my wife has more time together in the evening. We are a stronger family now. This is good.

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Don’t let the title fool you, this is not a cheap self-help book. Not even close. This comes from a man that has been thinking thoroughly. I might not agree with all his conclusions but the least I can do is to follow Rule 9 and “assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”. Loved it!

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5/5

 

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Thoughts on: “Turning Pro” by Steven Pressfield

This book is about the struggle against Resistance that keeps us from pursuing our creative endeavors.

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It is this Resistance that makes us hate ourselves, and that breeds undirected discontent.

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The world is made up of amateurs and professionals. They are both dealing with the same material (the pain of being human and struggle of self-sabotage), but they have fundamentally different approaches on how to deal with it.

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The amateur dreads becoming who she really is because she fear that this new person will be judged and rejected by the tribe.

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The amateur replaces ambition with addiction. Drugs, alcohol and other distractions; like drama, social media, porn, the news, food keeps the amateur from doing the actual work required.

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When we turn pro people will attempt to make us feel guilty for the change we are undergoing. Sacrifices will have to be made and habits will shift.

When we turn pro we face our fear.

When we turn pro, everything becomes simple. Turning pro is a commitment to do the work.

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📝 “Our work is a practice. One bad day is nothing for us. Ten bad days are nothing.” Because we are pros.

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📝 The amateur identifies with his ego. That’s why he is terrified. He competes with others and rates himself in relation to others.”

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📝 “Krishna said we have the right to our labor, but not the fruits of our labor. He meant that the piano is its own reward, as is the canvas, the barre and the movieola”

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY: The amateur dreads becoming who she really is because she fear that this new person will be judged and rejected by the tribe. But the fact is that nobody gives a shit and there is no tribe. People are to caught up in their own bullshit to care. Realize this and you’re free to do what the fuck you want.

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Fantastic book! Your will save yourself time and effort by underlining what you find unimportant, rather than the other way around! 😀👌🏻

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5/5

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Check out my reading lists for more great books!