Over the last few years, after reading 300 plus articles/blog posts/columns online, here are my current favourite 20. Don’t waste time reading and consuming low value low insight info-junkfood in books and newspapers that skims a issue, usually of marginal importance. That is bad for you in every way. What you want to do is consume just enough to stay very well informed. Nothing over the needed daily mental TDEE infocalories.
All the 20 are better as quality reads than a majority of the books I have read in the same period. Some 50x so.
Below each one of the recommend article I have written a brief synopsis on why you should read it and what it is about. You could read them all in one long bank holiday weekend. They are filled with terrific insights and/or great narratives and will likely may you re-think some of your cherished mental models and theories about people, institutions and the zeitgeist. And it’st that what reading is supposed to do at its core?
All articles have embedded hyperlinks that will take you straight to the cigar.
‘A Generation In Japan Faces A Lonely Death’
This one opened my uninformed eyes to what mass aging in a developed country like Japan looks like. A tad depressing and morbidly riveting. The Japanese author does a fantastic job unpacking the long lived lives.
Cocaine Incorporated : Fantastic Primer On The Drug Business In Mexico
After seeing the brilliant movie Sicario, this is the article to read about what really happens across the US border.
Farnam Street’S The Knowledge Project Interviews Naval Ravikant
Naval is the New Age Tech Guru to follow if you want to understand how very smart people approach the big questions of life and work. This interview is densely packed with gems like this:
Find Your Beach – Zadie Smith On Life In Manhattan As An Artist
Here we all are, on edge and frayed. 2018 and living in big soulless cities. Zadie captures the zeitgeist in this article.
Free Speech And The Necessity Of Discomfort
A Fantastic Speech By writer Bret Stephens Of NYT making a superb case for the defence of free speech and why it needs defending.
Heavy : The Short Life Of Robert Earl Hughes Of Tiny Fishhook, Illinois
This heartbreaking article on a nice big guy from back in the day was the closest I came to tears while reading something online. A deep profile of a deeply nice person who happened to be fat.
How ‘Broadcast News’ Predicted Journalism As We Know It
A superb deconstruction of a movie, a profession and the news zeitgeist. Until I read this piece I thought movie criticism could never be made penetrating or profound by anyone other than Roger Ebert. this article proved me wrong.
How Do Families Around The World Spend Their Vacations?
This stunning photo-essay forced me to realise just how much the vacations my friends, my family and my wife and I take are definitely not how most of the world does theirs.
How Tiger Woods Imploded
The downward spiral of Tiger Woods captured in a way that makes you realize how excess money and fame without a wise mentor are double edged swords.
Interview Of Merlin Mann, Productivity Guru
Mann’s 43folders blog was a favourite productivity related pitstop of mine back in the day and this deep interview lays bare his sharp insights on life and work.
Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping The Poor By Garrett Hardin, 1974
This is the example of a dated article that seems more relevant as we all head towards sure Ecocide by 2050. Is Hardin right ? Maybe, but his point of view needs a solemn hearing.
On The Amazing Rise And Fall Of A Rodent Utopia
One of those bizarre essays about an experiment that you know is telling you something important about human society, although you frustratingly realize you are unable to grasp the full scary implications of what it is telling you oh so subtly.
Quitting The Paint Factory By Mark Slouka
A searing take on faux busyness and why we need to take a breather.
Ray Kurzweil On The Law Of Accelerating Returns (March 2001)
17 years ago a legit genius predicted where we would be heading in the next few decades and this essay that he wrote is prescient. I hope he is right.
The Beggar CEO And Sucker Culture
Aimed at those of us reluctantly running the corporate rat race, trained for it since kindergarten, this article starkly tells us why we are deluded and what we should do instead.
This is the scariest article I have read in a while and it made me question if planning for retirement was even worth it.
The Yankee Comandante
A superb yarn about how a man got caught up in the promise of a socialist utopia and saw Orwell’s Animal Farm play out in front of his own eyes.
What Really Happened Aboard Air France 447
What a nail biting read this was, on a tragic crash that was caused by humans being human and doing human things under extreme stress.
What You’ll Wish You’d Known – By Paul Graham, Unsaid Speech To Students
The speech was so good, so eye opening, so necessary that I forced my mostly young team to read it, if only because it was packed to the brim with gems on how to start and navigate the work world. A great primer.
Why The Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming From Inside The White House
The formidable, awe-inspiring Micheal Lewis on how good leaders can improve institutions but only slowly but bad leaders can destroy institutions rapidly.
Meditations On Moloch
I saved the best for the last. This read is perhaps one of the most profound writings I have stumbled across. A life altering essay that helped me understand why humanity has ended up in the current terrible status quo. It argues that, rather than by malice and greed, the problems our world faces are mostly driven by powerful evolutionary forces, (poetically personified as Ginsberg’s poem “Moloch“), that no one controls, and which wants us, and everything we value destroyed.
So there it is. Read them all and you will soon see the map in your head is not the territory in front of your eyes. It’s a bit like seeing this ad below for the Budapest Zoo and then really really seeing it.
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