Here is my new gauge for whether a book is worth the paper it’s been printed on, regardless of genre. Does reading it make me feel more loved, understood, awe-filled, and most importantly, more relaxed about trusting life?
No matter how trendy, popular, best-selling, no matter how hyped up its promises, if the answer is no, I will X it out of my life.
I’ve been meditating generally on the futility of striving, technique-ing, Follow-These-Steps-ing, anxiously aspiring. I have little use for books or ideas that tell me I need to be different, more -er, in order to be more worthy of comfort, pleasure and satisfaction. Or those that tell me that my particular sets of pains and dysfunctions are Big Bad Problems that I need to be vexed by.
As my college best friend says, “I think my flaws are really cute.”
I recommended Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Workweek to my mother only because she has always been firmly of the “need to do everything perfectly myself” camp. Of the “delegation is a Satanic trap” camp. I thought it would be salubrious to introduce to her this idea that more ass-in-chair is not always a virtue. That it may be worthwhile to consider how to make decisions in the direction of more freedom, spaciousness and joy, away from more work, more industry, more productivity, more earned virtue.
(If you don’t have children to seduce you to the ways of lethargy and leisure, I am sorry.)
She got the message 3 pages in, because she is smart and most nonfiction books in the genre are bloated. All that persisting through the rest of the book did for her was exhaust her and make her feel yelled at.
I’ve long said about Tim Ferriss that I consider his existence a net positive for the world. I think he’s fundamentally a good egg who tries really hard and delivers some kicks-in-the-pants for those hungering for that.
But on my shelf? No más espacio.
Right now I am reading my new friend Neil Hughes’ book, Walking on Custard. It is a positively delightful meditation on anxiety and the human condition, if you can imagine such a thing. Neil’s writing, to me, has a blend of beauty, warmth and humor that feels to me like the literary baby of Alain de Botton, C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. I’m only partway through, but every page feels like a hug.
I want more books like this!
Recommendations in comments are most welcome.