📚 The Reading Journal #058

Elon Musk, Hidden Potential, The Power of Regret

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Murakami, a prolific Japanese author known for his works like "Kafka on the Shore," "Norwegian Wood," and "1Q84," is famous for blending magical realism with deep existential themes. But did you know that a significant part of his unique style of storytelling is derived from his love for music?

Murakami doesn't just enjoy music; he is an avid record collector, with an impressive collection of more than 10,000 vinyl records. Before becoming a full-time author, he used to run a jazz club in Tokyo called "Peter Cat." The influence of music on his work is so profound that almost all of his novels and short stories reference music in one way or another. For example, "Norwegian Wood" is named after a Beatles song.

He has also written two books on music: "Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa" and "Portrait in Jazz." His deep connection to music, particularly jazz and classical, adds a unique layer to his narrative style, often infusing his stories with a rhythm and cadence that mirror a musical composition. This interesting intersection of literature and music makes Murakami's works particularly unique.

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📚️ Staff Pick of the Week

The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward

In "The Power of Regret," Daniel H. Pink explores the universal nature of regret and how understanding it can enhance our decision-making abilities, improve performance, and give more meaning to our lives. Drawing on extensive research from various scientific fields and his own World Regret Survey - which includes regrets from over 15,000 people in 105 countries - Pink debunks the notion of a "no regrets" lifestyle and identifies four core regrets everyone experiences. He leverages these insights to suggest a new approach towards viewing regret as a constructive force. The book, like Pink's previous bestsellers, combines practical advice, real-life regret stories, and a clear, accessible presentation of ideas, promoting the concept of using regret as a catalyst to live more fulfilling and engaged lives.

🎥 Reading Talk's

📈 Rising Quickly - Week of August 7, 2023

Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson

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 August 7, 2023

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store: A Novel

In 1972, when workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows. Chicken Hill was where Moshe and Chona Ludlow lived when Moshe integrated his theater and where Chona ran the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. When the state came looking for a deaf boy to institutionalize him, it was Chona and Nate Timblin, the Black janitor at Moshe’s theater and the unofficial leader of the Black community on Chicken Hill, who worked together to keep the boy safe.

As these characters’ stories overlap and deepen, it becomes clear how much the people who live on the margins of white, Christian America struggle and what they must do to survive. When the truth is finally revealed about what happened on Chicken Hill and the part the town’s white establishment played in it, McBride shows us that even in dark times, it is love and community—heaven and earth—that sustain us.

Bringing his masterly storytelling skills and his deep faith in humanity to The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, James McBride has written a novel as compassionate as Deacon King Kong and as inventive as The Good Lord Bird.

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📚️ Most Talked About Non-Fiction - Week of August 7, 2023

Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things

In "Hidden Potential," Adam Grant challenges society's infatuation with innate talent, emphasizing instead the value of continuous learning and character development. Contrasting our admiration for natural prodigies with the vast scope for personal growth, Grant presents a fresh perspective on realizing our capabilities. Through compelling evidence and stories spanning classrooms to space, he posits that success hinges more on our learning aptitude than sheer hard work. The book underscores the significance of nurturing character and motivation, while advocating for systems that recognize and uplift the undervalued. Unlike narratives focused solely on the elite, "Hidden Potential" celebrates the journey of growth, suggesting that true potential is gauged not by the pinnacle attained, but by the ascent undertaken.

🆕 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

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

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