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10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)

Make sense of the world and its people


10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)
Pexel Photo by Pixabay

Time to see the world from a wide-angle lens!


When you read the following books, you will learn of the connections that you never knew about. They will make you think deeply about this world and life.


Let’s go through a brief summary of all of these books, so you can pick your next read.



10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)

The internet has reshaped the political landscape.


Martin Gurri is a former CIA analyst. He writes about the relationship between media and politics.


This book analyzes the effect of the internet on the political realities of the world.


“An iron triangle of government, the universities, and the corporate world controls the careers of individual scientists.”

The theory put forward in the book is that the internet has empowered the masses and this in turn has changed politics.


Before social media swept across our lives, the methods of news dispersion were hierarchical. Information and power were concentrated.


After the advent of social media, people got access to more information. They were able to challenge the status quo.


“The revolt of the public, as I envision the thing, is a technology-driven churning of new people and classes, a proliferation and confusion of message and noise, utopian hopes and nihilistic rage, globalization and disintegration, taking place in the unbearable personal proximity of the web and at a fatal distance from political power.”

The author gives the example of the Arab Spring, Brexit, and more.


He also touches on the negative behavior of the public i.e. nihilism in the backdrop of the internet.


This book presents a rather plausible explanation for the many changes occurring globally.




10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)

The need for myths and illusions.


We know that death is real. But in order to live, we deny it.


This book discusses it all.


“The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse and often detours or ends there.”

Becker tells us how human cultures have developed various ways to cope with man’s ultimate mortality. Through ‘myths’ and ‘heroism’, cultures allow us to transcend our mortality.


By becoming a part of something big, we feel that our symbolic sense will live on. This can be in the form of a legacy or afterlife as in the case of religion.


“Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order blindly and dumbly to rot and disappear forever.”

The author tells us that in the modern age, religion is no longer convincing. Whereas, science cannot provide answers to life’s meaning.


What can we do then?


We need new ‘illusions’ in order to help us cope with our ultimate demise.




10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)

What is happiness exactly?


This book discusses the ins and outs of ‘happiness’.


We all want it, but do we really know what is it? According to Gilbert, people use different languages for the same experiences. Sometimes, they describe the same words to describe two different experiences.


Because of high subjectivity, it is hard to measure and explain happiness.


“Our inability to recall how we really felt is why our wealth of experiences turns out to be poverty of riches.”

Not only this, even the same person cannot describe past events accurately.


The author tells us that despite all this, happiness can be measured. It is tough but possible. Verbal testimony can be cross-referenced with muscle movements and blood flow to measure it.


“We treat our future selves as though they were our children, spending most of the hours of most of our days constructing tomorrows that we hope will make them happy… But our temporal progeny are often thankless.”

The book also talks about prefeeling. We imagine future events, and how they will make us feel. And interestingly, prefeeling is a good indicator of how we will feel. It’s a better indicator than listing the pros and cons.


The author tells us that we overestimate our own uniqueness and don’t take advice from others.


This book is sure to teach you a lot about your emotions and feelings.




10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)

We are not comfortable with our immortality.


Man is evil because he knows he will die, the author says.


“Even if man hurts others, it is because he is weak and afraid, not because he is confident and cruel.”

All of the people are involved in ‘immortality projects’, something that allows them to transcend their physical end. It can be collecting as much money as you can. Or it can be dedicating yourself to a religion or a cause.


Where does evil come from?


The author tells us that man usually labels something ‘evil’ and spends his life trying to fight it. All in pursuit of fulfilling that ‘immorality project’.


We all want to do something heroic. We all want to make a difference. And in our pursuit, we end up doing more harm than good.


“Rousseau summed up this point of view with the idea that only the strong person can be ethical, not the weak one.”

This book was written when the author was himself ailing and nearing death. It is an insightful exploration of many ideas such as evil, death, society, and more.




10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)

Good or bad, who decides?


Hailing from Germany, Nietzsche is one of the great philosophers of the late 19th century.


I ponder on the concept of morality a lot. If you are like me, you will enjoy reading Nietzsche’s thoughts.


“Man will desire oblivion rather than not desire at all.”

In this book, he analyzes the source of the words ‘good’ and ‘bad’. How some things were understood to be good and others bad.


According to him, these words developed on the basis of their association with the rich and the poor. Power had a hand in all this.


He also touches on the role of the church in perpetuating the power held by aristocrats.


“Dreams. ― We have no dreams at all or interesting ones. We should learn to be awake the same way ― not at all or in an interesting manner.”

Instead of following the already-established values, Nietzsche suggests becoming a sovereign individual. This means one has to develop his or her own set of values.


For deep thinkers and philosophy lovers, this book is a must-read.




10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)

Books make the world go round.


The author tells us about the Roman downfall. He also tells us how Christianity became the official religion.


Any ideas of literature opposing it were not seen in a favorable light.


“Art always penetrates the particular fissures in one’s psychic life.”

In those times, Poggio Bracciolini set out to recover lost Roman books. He was able to recover many. One of them was De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things) by Lucretius.


Lucretius was a follower of the philosopher Epicurus. His ideas were dangerous for the church’s monopoly.


“Stability itself is nothing but a more languid motion.”

The discovery of these books is part of the reason that Epicurean views were spread.


“The greatest obstacle to pleasure is not pain; it is delusion.”

According to the author, these ideas played their part in ushering in the modern world.




10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)

What lies ahead?


We are yet to evolve more, says Harari.


“In pursuit of health, happiness and power, humans will gradually change first one of their features and then another, and another, until they will no longer be human.”

This book discusses humankind’s history and future from a variety of lenses. It also has many reflections from the author such as on religion and happiness.


Happiness rests on psychological and biological pillars. Humans attempt to recreate the feeling of pleasure again and again but it doesn’t lead to long-term happiness.


“Religion is a deal, whereas spirituality is a journey.”

The author sees religion and spirituality as odds with each other. He says that spirituality is a threat to religion.


Regarding the future, the author recounts human reliance on data processing. One day we will become algorithms. Nothing that makes us human will be left.




10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)

We need to accept the chaos.


This book might be a bit dense but it is necessary for all to read it.


Why?


Because we are increasingly against chaos and randomness. We want to tame the jagged edges of society, as the author calls them.


“This is the central illusion in life: that randomness is risky, that it is a bad thing — and that eliminating randomness is done by eliminating randomness.”

That is not the right way to live. The right way of living requires certain stressors in order for optimal well-being. And the way of handling those stressors is to be antifragile.


For example, when we exercise, our muscles endure stress. They become stronger.


When small forest fires occur, they get rid of inflammable material. When small fires are prevented artificially, an even bigger fire forms, which hurts more people than ever.


“Complex systems are full of interdependencies — hard to detect — and nonlinear responses.”

To me, this book is like back to the basics. It argues for natural and simple instead of overcomplicated.




10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)

Why do mass movements happen?


This book discusses mass movements.


History has seen many movements that have risen to challenge the status quo. How do they form and who joins them?


“Scratch an intellectual, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the sound and the smell of common folk.”

Hoffer says that an external locus of control and a desire for change is behind these movements. Mass movements might be different. But they are all interchangeable.


Minorities that are only partly assimilated with the main culture also join these movements. They don’t identify with traditional practices, or the main culture, hence they feel alienated from both.


Another rather interesting group in mass movements are the ‘misfits’, those who feel their lives are worthless.


“Every extreme attitude is a flight from the self.”

The author explains the life cycle of these movements and the type of people who lead them during various phases.


This book will make you see ideological movements in a new light.




10 Eye-Opening Books That Smashed My Worldview (But I’m Glad I Read Them)

To live in a society, you must pay a price.


If you have any passing interest in psychology, you must have heard of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis.


This book of his explores a rather interesting topic.


The author talks about the mismatch that exists in an individual’s desire and the society’s expectation of him/her.


“Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.”

For example, society prohibits murdering, raping, etc. Because these deeds are harmful to the collective good.


However, an individual only desires what will enhance his pleasure. And it can be at odds with social customs and laws. This gives rise to ‘discontent’.


The author acknowledges the aggressive instinct that exists inside each human. Society aims to tame it and help people live peacefully together.


“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”

Freud’s book is a very deep discussion of religion, humans, and societies.




 

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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog- https://www.thenovelnest.com/blog


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