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These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!

A variety of topics to keep you company

These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!
Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash

Good books engulf you.

You spend hours inside them learning, exploring, and growing.

When you emerge, it is as though you have been bathed in holy water. Now you possess what many don’t. A profound new awareness of the world and its people.

Today, we are presenting you with ten books that’ll hit the mark.

Let’s go!

These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!

An in-depth discussion of death and funeral rituals.

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician and owns a funeral home.

She explores the rituals for the dead in various societies and cultures. And then she contrasts them with American funerals.

“The average American funeral costs $8,000 to $10,000…”

I personally find this cost appalling.

Doughty does too. She explains that funerals in America have moved from being ‘family- and community-run affairs’ to ‘more expensive, more corporate, and more bureaucratic’.

Where I live, there is no booming industry for funeral homes. No expensive coffins or anything too.

The family bathes the body with the help of a religious leader. The body is wrapped in white, and buried. Some opt for a coffin.

“…we consider death rituals savage only when they don’t match our own.”

Seems like Doughty has developed a family-centric view of a funeral.

She is in favor of families being involved in the cleaning process of the body. She explains that spending time with the deceased is important for the grieving process.

These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!

Human progress has always been part of the equation.

Seb Falk, a historian, sets out to reform our view of the so-called ‘Dark Ages’, the nickname for the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages is the time from 500 AD to 1500 AD approximately.

According to him, they were anything but dark. They were a time of significant scientific progress. And that formed the basis of our knowledge today.

“As long as science is a human activity, it will have human flaws.”

To back up his claim, the author discusses the old manuscripts. He also talks about a monk named John Westwyk.

The author tells us that humans have always been inquisitive. They have always been looking for answers. And to appreciate the current advancements in our society, we don’t have to look down on the past.

This book is a profound exploration of human knowledge in medieval times.

These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!

History of psychedelic drugs.

Are drugs beneficial?

I say no.

But the author of this book has other thoughts.

“Huston Smith, the scholar of religion, once described a spiritually ‘realized being’ as simply a person with ‘an acute sense of the astonishing mystery of everything.’

He explores the history of psychedelic drugs, how people used them, and what was their aim.

Building on that, Pollan brings us to the current view on drugs. He believes that certain drugs when taken correctly can help psychologically and spiritually.

“Compared with other drugs, psychedelics seldom affect people the same way twice, because they tend to magnify whatever’s already going on both inside and outside one’s head.”

I have a hard time believing they can.

I like my spiritual experiences without tripping. To me, it sounds like the hallucinations are being renamed as spiritual stuff.

These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!

The good, the bad, and the wondrous…

I remember being plagued with the question of evil. Why does it exist? Why are children raped? Why are the innocent murdered?

I would stay awake, tossing and turning in my bed, doing countless Google searches in search of an answer.

There is no answer.

“To fall in love with the world isn’t to ignore or overlook suffering, both human or otherwise.”

But I got out of that spiral. I know there is a lot of good in the world. The laughter of a child, the love of parents and siblings, the kindness of strangers, and more. Looking at that gives me hope and keeps me balanced.

John Green has the same aim. To make us look with hope, wonder, and positivity at the many mysteries of this world.

This book is a collection of essays on a wide variety of topics, from penguins to soda machines. The author explores the human condition, science, and more with each topic.

“For me, finding hope is not some philosophical exercise or sentimental notion; it is a prerequisite for my survival.”

This book is a melting pot of themes but it will make you think deeply for sure.

These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!

We are all in debt, in one form or another.

We have a very limited view of debt. We take a loan, we have to return it.

“…human existence is itself a form of debt.”

In reality, most of the human interactions deploy the concept of debt. It includes borrowing, lending, barter trade, social responsibilities, expectations, etc.

Be it a gift, or any kind of help, when someone does a favor for us we know we are indebted.

The author traces debt throughout history and up to the current world economy. The gold standard has been abandoned and the US dollar is the primary world currency.

“…money has no essence. It’s not “really” anything; therefore, its nature has always been and presumably always will be a matter of political conten­tion.”

This book will give you a refreshed perspective of not only human interactions but also of institutions like government and banks.

These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!

Understanding trauma.

Bessel van der Kolk is a psychiatrist. He has researched and worked in

the field of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder for most of his career.

“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies…”

This book discusses trauma, its origins, symptoms, and treatments.

Trauma symptoms are not only psychological, they also manifest themselves in the form of physical ailments.

The author tells us that whatever event caused trauma, whether it is war, rape, or abuse, cannot be undone. What can be done though is the healing of the trauma caused by that event.

“Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going inside ourselves.”

The author informs us that trauma victims don’t feel safe. They are stuck in the past. In order to heal, they need to befriend what is going on inside their bodies.

These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!

The shortcomings of big data processing.

The author is a mathematician and a data scientist. She holds a PhD in mathematics.

Using her experience and knowledge, O’Neil brings us uncomfortable truths about mathematical models and algorithms.

“The math-powered applications powering the data economy were based on choices made by fallible human beings.”

From college rankings to the internet, big data is affecting our lives in a variety of ways.

Data is processed, results are drawn, and decisions are made. It is our job to understand this process more.

Sure, there are benefits to data processing. But there are downsides. O’Neil makes us see the shortcomings in these programs that can perpetuate inequality and hurt people.

“A model’s blind spots reflect the judgments and priorities of its creators.”

The author says mathematical models can help us identify vulnerable people. And whether we help them or push them even further down is up to us.

These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!

Are people bad or are they just different?

We think our moral ideologies are based on logical reasoning. But Haidt makes us see the truth.

In reality, we use our intuition to guide us. We identify with the political team that shares our moral narrative. And that makes us tunnel-visioned.

“Our moral thinking is much more like a politician searching for votes than a scientist searching for truth.”

The author tells us that empathy is hard to exercise across a moral divide. We are not ready to open up to people who have ideologies or narratives different than ours.

But if we truly give them a chance as Haidt encourages us to do so, we might be surprised.

“If you really want to change someone’s mind on a moral or political matter, you’ll need to see things from that person’s angle as well as your own.”

Haidt also makes us realize how the same virtue is interpreted differently by different people. Fairness is a virtue. Most people claim to have the value of fairness.

However, the left and the right view it differently. The Left takes it as equality. Right takes it as ‘proportionality’.

The world would be a better place if everyone read this book and applied its lessons.

These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!

Accepting the limits to our understanding.

For the last few days, I could hear a child crying inconsolably in my neighbors. It happened every day.

My first thought was maybe the parents were being harsh to him. Or maybe the parents were outright abusive. No child cares THAT much for THAT long unless something is very very wrong.

Today, I found out that the child suffers from behavioral issues and is receiving treatment. The family was evicted by the previous landlord due to the crying of the child.

“We jump at the chance to judge strangers. We would never do that to ourselves, of course.”

That is one way I recently judged strangers. I am not alone. We all do. And that is what Malcolm Gladwell makes us realize.

We have excuses for our behavior. We think we are complex. But we are quick to ‘jump to conclusions’ when it comes to strangers.

Transparency is the idea that people’s behavior and demeanor — the way they represent themselves on the outside — provides an authentic and reliable window into the way they feel on the inside.”

Humans are known to ‘default to truth’. We are bad at detecting lies in strangers. We believe in what we see unless significant incidents convince us otherwise.

The author uses known cases to explain this phenomenon.

These Books are So Good — You’ll Be Lost in Them for Hours!

Are we counting our centuries wrong?

We can’t do math without zero.

You’ll be surprised to learn that this wasn’t always the case. Zero wasn’t always a part of math. It was invented and added later on.

Seife takes us through the journey of the number zero. How it was adopted or shunned in different regions. But ultimately it became invaluable.

“Zero and infinity are eternally locked in a struggle to engulf all the numbers.”

Perhaps the most interesting thing in the book is regarding the Georgian Calendar. It starts from 1 BC. Since there was no year zero or century 0, here is a little twister for your brain:

The current century changed on December 31, 1999. It didn’t change on December 31, 2000, as we all believe.

“Since the Western calendar was created at a time when there was no zero, we never see a day zero, or a year zero.”

I’d say this book is the perfect pick for someone who appreciates the beauty of mathematics.


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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog-

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