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The Book Basement Bulletin #18
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, The Surprising History of Bread, a Practical Approach to Stoicism and Why You Should Stop Reading Self-Help - On this week's issue.
Hello! I hope you’re having a good day. Last week I read David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, and I’m currently reading Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday and The House Across The Lake by Riley Sager. (Bolded text is a link)
Three Things I Wanted To Share
As mentioned, I finished David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. This book was everything and more. Gladwell seeks to demonstrate why throughout history, underdogs win more times than they should. He asks tough questions and gives much needed perspective on topics that aren’t talked about enough. Does having a traumatic event or life experience benefit you? Can there be such a thing as too much money? What boundaries are we willing to push to enact change? Through vivid retelling, statistics and evidence, you’ll learn about the psychological components of warfare, the big-fish small pond effect, and the principle of legitimacy.
Have you ever thought deeply about bread? Me neither, until I saw this video detailing the history and unnecessary industrialization of the bread industry in America. Johnny Harris does a spectacular job at detailing the ways we’ve strayed further and further from what bread is, and how countries such as France provide an example we should follow after. Bread, surprisingly, can be used as an example of the constant need to refine, perfect and alter the innate characteristics of naturally sourced goods, and the health sacrifices we’re willing to make in order to prolong such traits.
I found a new stoicism podcast. Practical Stoicism is a show that gives you well…practical stoicism. By practical, I’m referring to actionable. Philosophy can often seem abstract and distant. If you listen to some of these episodes, you’ll get small, digestible chunks of Stoic principles that are broken down by the podcast’s host. I listened to the episode on how deep work is a 2300-year-old Stoic principle; how Marcus Aurelius practiced and told himself regularly to partake in it. I like how the host of this show prefaces some perhaps antiquated or misunderstood language used by Aurelius, and clarifies that its teachings still remain universal.
BONUS: This video on the issues surrounding self-help books was amazing! Its bottom line is: we focus too much on reading self-help and see the act of reading as progress when in reality we should be applying not just consuming. Watching this made me a little uneasy, as some of what he says has applied to how I approach reading. Watching this video reminded me not to get lost in the act of reading and confusing it for progress, but to absorb teachings instead of throwing them onto a wall and hoping something sticks.
Quote of the Week
“If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation”
Epictetus has a famous analogy where he says that there’s always two levers you can pull in any given situation. Pull the first, and you succumb; allow the situation to fuel your emotions, or pull the second and resist. Stoicism likes to say that situations and how they affect us are due to interpretation. “Do not judge things as he interprets them or would like you to interpret them. Just see them as they are in plain truth”. Although Marcus Aurelius is being a little idealistic, as it is not possible to always see objective truth (as the concept of truth itself is varying), we can still understand that there’s a choice. How you interpret is the choice. Pull the right lever.
To Close Off
There was no newsletter last week, so I tried making this one a little better. I hope you enjoyed it! Check out this week’s Monday episode on the worst book I have ever read, and if you haven’t already, give us a review on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Have a lovely week!