📚 The Reading Journal #057

The Archer, Better Than Before, Scarcity Brain

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Neil Gaiman, an esteemed author known for masterpieces such as "American Gods," "Coraline," and "The Sandman" graphic novel series, has an unexpected side passion that veers away from the literary world - he's an ardent beekeeper.

Neil Gaiman's love for beekeeping isn't just a whimsical pastime. He's intensely devoted to it, regularly keeping his fans updated with the latest news about his bees via his blog and social media platforms. The acclaimed author believes that his unusual hobby provides a necessary link to the natural world, countering the often solitary and introspective life of a writer.

In fact, Gaiman's fascination with bees does not stop at just beekeeping; it seeps into his literary world as well. A notable example is his novel "The Ocean at the End of the Lane," where bees have a significant role.

Gaiman's commitment to beekeeping does not just feed his personal curiosity; it has a broader ecological impact, given the vital role bees play in our ecosystem, particularly in the realm of pollination. This shows how even acclaimed authors can have offbeat hobbies that not only feed their creativity but also positively impact the environment.

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📚️ Staff Pick of the Week

The Archer by Paulo Coelho

In The Archer we meet Tetsuya, a man once famous for his prodigious gift with a bow and arrow but who has since retired from public life, and the boy who comes searching for him. The boy has many questions, and in answering them Tetsuya illustrates the way of the bow and the tenets of a meaningful life. Paulo Coelho's story suggests that living without a connection between action and soul cannot fulfill, that a life constricted by fear of rejection or failure is not a life worth living. Instead one must take risks, build courage, and embrace the unexpected journey fate has to offer.

With the wisdom, generosity, simplicity, and grace that have made him an international best seller, Paulo Coelho provides the framework for a rewarding life: hard work, passion, purpose, thoughtfulness, the willingness to fail, and the urge to make a difference.

🎥 Reading Talk's

📈 Rising Quickly - Week of July 31, 2023

God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning

For most of human history the world was a magical and enchanted place ruled by forces beyond our understanding. The rise of science and Descartes's division of mind from world made materialism our ruling paradigm, in the process asking whether our own consciousness—i.e., souls—might be illusions. Now the inexorable rise of technology, with artificial intelligences that surpass our comprehension and control, and the spread of digital metaphors for self-understanding, the core questions of existence—identity, knowledge, the very nature and purpose of life itself—urgently require rethinking.

Meghan O'Gieblyn tackles this challenge with philosophical rigor, intellectual reach, essayistic verve, refreshing originality, and an ironic sense of contradiction. She draws deeply and sometimes humorously from her own personal experience as a formerly religious believer still haunted by questions of faith, and she serves as the best possible guide to navigating the territory we are all entering.

🪄Most Talked About Fiction - Week of July 31, 2023

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the New York Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner – The bridesmaid – The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

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📚️ Most Talked About Non-Fiction - Week of July 31, 2023

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

In "Better Than Before," Gretchen Rubin explores the complex nature of habits and how they can be changed to improve our lives. Through rigorous research and vivid storytelling, she presents a concrete framework for understanding habits and the principles of habit formation, tackling questions about why certain habits are hard to form and how to maintain them amid temptations. Rubin emphasizes that the key to successful habit change lies in understanding oneself, and when we tailor our habits to our individual needs and preferences, we can find success. Whether one is seeking to eat healthier, reduce device usage, or complete a project, the insights in "Better Than Before" provide practical guidance for transformation.

🆕 New and Noteworthy

Scarcity Brain: Fix Your Craving Mindset and Rewire Your Habits to Thrive with enough

Michael Easter, author of The Comfort Crisis and one of the world’s leading experts on behavior change, shows that the problem isn’t you. The problem is your scarcity mindset, left over from our ancient ancestors. They had to constantly seek and consume to survive because vital survival tools like food, material goods, information, and power were scarce and hard to find. But with our modern ability to easily fulfill our ancient desire for more, our hardwired “scarcity brain” is now backfiring. And new technology and institutions—from dating and entertainment apps to our food and economic systems—are exploiting our scarcitybrain. They’re bombarding us with subversive “scarcitycues,” subtle triggers that lead us into low-reward cravings that hurt us in the long run. Scarcity cues can be direct and all-encompassing, like a sagging economy. Or they can be subtle and slight, like our neighbor buying a shiny new car.

Easter traveled the world to consult with remarkable innovators and leading scientists who are finding surprising solutions for our scarcity brain. He discovered simple tactics that can move us towards an abundance mindset, cement healthy habits, and allow us to live our lives to the fullest and appreciate what we have, including how to:

• Detect hidden scarcity cues to stop cravings before they start, from a brilliant slot machine designer in a Las Vegas casino laboratory

• Turn alone time into the ultimate happiness hack, from artisanal coffee-making Benedictine monks

• Reignite your exploration gene for a more exciting and fulfilling life, from an astronaut onboard the International Space Station

• Reframe how we think about and fix addiction and bad habits, from Iraq’s chief psychiatrist

• Recognize when you have enough, from a woman who left a million-dollar career path to adventure the world

Our world is overloaded with everything we’re built to crave. The fix for scarcity brain isn’t to blindly aim for less. It’s to understand why we crave more in the first place, shake our worst habits, and use what we already have better. Then we can experience life in a new way—a more satisfying way.

✍️ Quote of the Week

Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else ... Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

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