On a recent CBC podcast episode about Leibniz and Voltaire’s thoughts about evil and God, one of the interviewees referred to Leibniz as “the last man to know everything.” I find this notion utterly fascinating. Upon hearing that title, I jumped online to search for the “best biography on Leibniz” and found a highly acclaimed book detailing an intellectual biography of the 17th-century thinker. Once I clear some books on my current reading list, I’ll dive into this hefty book.
This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered the moniker of “the last person who knew everything.” In fact, that was the title of a biography I read back in late 2018 on Enrico Fermi.
I’ve been drawn to this idea for a long time, probably originating with the first time I saw the 1994 film Renaissance Man starring Danny DeVito. That was where I first learned of the term renaissance man, or more commonly known as a polymath – a person with considerable knowledge and expertise across a wide variety of domains. While I wouldn’t quite call it a goal, this is an aspiration of mine since I was a child.
I suppose as the sciences progress, it becomes increasingly difficult to lay claim to being “the last person who knew everything.” Each field grows increasingly complex as we push the boundaries of the known world, which raises the threshold higher of what counts as expertise.
It would seem we need to seriously consider the observation recently made by Professor Adam Grant on the differences between experience and expertise:
Instead of seeking to always have depth of knowledge, perhaps we should give equal consideration to wisdom and how we can apply our experiences and expertise to solve interesting problems. While more nebulous as a goal, I think it steers us in the right direction. At the very least, it’s a good vision to aspire towards.
PS – an unexhaustive list of the traits that distinguishes a “last person who knew everything:”
Interests spanning a variety of domains, both sciences and arts
A grasp of the methods and tools of science
Generating novel insights
The ability to see problems in terms of first principles
In the waning days of 2018, I gave a preview of the books I read for the year by listing my top five books. I doubt my current list of books will grow before the new year chimes in tomorrow night, but I will save the 2019 list for next week, and instead present you with my top books I read this year.
My overall volume of reading this year was less than half of what I read last year. Since 2016, I’ve intentionally set about to increase my reading and I was able to keep the pace for three years. However, for some reason my reading slowed down a bit. I’ll reflect on this over the coming week and share some thoughts with my 2019 reading list post. Given the relatively short list this year, I will instead highlight all of my favourite books since it seems that these were the books that stuck with me.
In chronological order of when I finished them, here are my top books I read in 2019.
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
A delightful fictional story about a boy who grows up in a graveyard among ghosts and other creatures of the night. Rather than a horror story as you might expect from the premise, instead this is a charming and whimsical coming of age story that gripped me from start to finish. Like all good stories, I was sad when the book was over and missed the characters dearly.
The story of the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos company. Not only is this book a journalistic account of the deceptive “science” and events surrounding the failed tech venture, but it also explores the toxic achievement culture at the company’s top and the lengths the journalists and ex-employees had to go to in order to bring the company down. It’s a riveting story to experience, and I was happy to hear of the Ethics in Entrepreneurship initiative founded by two of the whistle blowers.
This memoir took me to the highest highs and the lowest lows. While Straczynski is known for his ability to craft human stories in the most magical and alien of settings, none of his work of fiction can come close to matching his own personal story of growing up in an abusive home and how that shadow followed him throughout his life. Running in parallel with his own story, he also tells a mystery story about his family’s origins that spans three generations. I mostly started this book to learn about his craft and the origins of some of my favourite projects he’s worked on, but in the end I witnessed a masterclass in writing and reflection.
With the end of the show this year, I felt like it was time for me to crack into the books that kicked-off the phenomenon. I am grateful that I watched the series first as it really helped me keep track of all of the characters in this massive tale. Also, reading a large fictional story was a welcomed relief. Over the last three years, my primary genre to read is at the intersections of business, productivity, and personal development. I think one thing that has lead to me reading less is feeling burnt out of that kind of content, so it was great to read something for pleasure. I am still proud of going through 500-pages while up at the cottage; there is nothing quite like reading by the lake.
Thanks to the Libby app and the library, I was able to check out books I otherwise wouldn’t have encountered if I had to purchase them. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this memoir was fascinating. I’m drawn to books where people look over their life and career to draw lessons when connecting their experiences. Whatever the political climate we find ourselves in, I find it somewhat reassuring to know there are people in the deep state who work to put the mission above party, though as more evidence comes to light, that faith is beginning to crumble.
Despite the subject matter, there is no other word I can think of to describe this book than “awesome.” And I mean “awesome” in both senses of the word. The book inspires “awe” at the sheer scope of things, but also a riveting tale of Snowden’s life to date, full of creativity, ingenuity, and technological espionage. I marveled at the fact that he is only a few years older than me, but what he has gone through is likely to dwarf any contributions I’ll ever make. I hope he can come home one day, but for the present I hope he remains safe while the effects of his actions continue to simmer in the current political climate.
In looking over my top books for the year, we see three genres stand out – fantasy, current events journalism, and memoirs. I would have also included biography in this list, however one book is missing that I unfortunately couldn’t finish before it was checked back in to the library: Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It’ll get added to my 2020 list when the library finally releases it back to me.
As I said above, I think I’m starting to burn out of the business and productivity genres of books. When I reviewed the list for the year, I had almost no recollection of the content for nearly all of the books. It would seem I’ve hit a bit of a block, where I’ve consumed so much content in a short amount of time that I’m failing to hold on to it (or, as a corollary, the content is so superficial that it doesn’t stick…).
I still have a number of books on the go that I hope to finish early next year (such as the first Witcher book that the game and Netflix series was based on, Robert Greene’s Laws of Human Nature, and Working by Robert A. Caro, to name a few). Once I clear some of the current backlog, I plan to start selecting my reading a bit more intentionally so that I can reflect on the lessons the books have to offer. Overall, the main themes that stick out in the books that speak to me personally are good moral stories, cautionary tales, and the reflections of/about people over a long period of time to draw connections and lessons from their life and work.
Here it is, my yearly update on what I read over the last 12-months. Overall, I far exceeded my 2016 and 2017 lists in terms of the number of books (42 in 2016, 44 in 2017, and now 57 in 2018) and even the number of pages (4,600 pages more over 2017’s total).
Saga, Volume One
Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
12 Rules for Life
Skin in the Game
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Proust and the Squid
Lords and Ladies
Thinking in Bets
Yuval Noah Harari
This Is The Year I Put My Financial Life in Order
Men at Arms
The Achievement Habit
Discover Your Inner Economist
The Five Love Languages: Men’s Edition
David and Goliath
Feet of Clay
Own the Day, Own your Life
Tribe of Mentors
Better than Before
Books for Living
The Last Continent
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Daniel H. Pink
A Higher Loyalty
Why Buddhism is True
Elon Musk (Biography)
What the Dog Saw
The Daily Show: An Oral History
If You’re In My Office, It’s Already Too Late
James J. Sexton
A Life in Parts
5 Love Languages
The Last Man Who Knew Everything
David N. Schwartz
Hector Garcia and Francesc Mirales
The One Thing
Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
This Is Marketing
The Souls of Black Folk
W.E.B. Du Bois
The Artist’s Journey
Running Down a Dream
Zen to Done
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
As I mentioned last week, I have some thoughts and reflections while reviewing the list. First, when I was selecting my best 5 for the year, I noticed that the books in the latter part of the year were ones I felt resonate with me the most. I think this is for two, related reasons. First, this was a huge year for my wife and I. We renovated our old house, sold it, bought a new house, renovated the new one, moved cities, got married, and got me a new car. We had so much packed into one year on top of work and family, that the year seemed to have flown by without me realizing it. Someone pointed out to me that there was a Winter Olympics at the start of last year – I couldn’t believe it and had forgotten all about it.
The second, somewhat related reason is because of the sheer volume of books finished, I don’t think I gave the material time to properly settle in my mind. Fifty-seven books is a huge amount, and I think that by the end of the year, I couldn’t really remember what I had read during the first half of the year. Instead, most of the impact was felt in the readings from the latter half of the year. That’s not to say that the books from the start of the year are forgotten, because I feel that lessons taken from Skin in the Game and from Sapeins, for example, are prominent in my mind. It’s just that they didn’t really stick out in my mind at the end of the year when I was picking my top reads of the year.
Another reason why I think I have a hard time remembering what I read from the start of the year is because the vast majority of the books finished this year were audiobooks. Thanks to Audible and the Libby app, I was flushed with books to go through. And because I listen to books at a minimum of 1.5x speed, I can get through the books at a far faster rate than if I were carving out time to read physical books. This has its advantages, such as being exposed more rapidly to new ideas. However, this advantage comes at the cost of little overall integration of the information and general lowered retention of information over time. The speed at which I’m listening to books is more like skimming than true reading.
Nevertheless, I’m very satisfied with my accomplishment for the year. I’m not really interested in trying to top this list intentionally next year. I will keep reading/listening/consuming books at whatever rate I happen to finish them, but I will go with whatever pace I happen to settle in, rather than trying to hit weekly or monthly targets.
For the upcoming year, I’d like to try and move away from the self-help, business, and animated bibliography genres of books, and instead tackle more books on history, biographies, and fiction that’s not just Terry Pratchett (though I will still keep ploughing through the Discworld series – that’s not changing any time soon). If you have any book recommendations, feel free to let me know! I’ve already got “Educated” by Tara Westover and “When They Call You A Terrorist” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele on my bookshelf as recommended by friends. I’m always on the lookout for the next book to read.
Post-secondary education has never been more accessible to the average person. We may have a long ways to go in terms of making courses more accessible for learners and reducing the financial barriers that keep students from being successful in school, but it is nevertheless an undeniable fact that there are more people who have been to post-secondary schooling than the entire history of people attending higher learning.
One issue with the proliferation of access is that it’s getting harder to stand-out in the workforce. With so many people carrying credentials, the golden ticket that a diploma or degree used to confer has lost some of its value. Your choices are to either go to industries where they are starving for workers (if you are looking for a solid career with good prospects, you should become a welder NOW), or figure out a way to become a better problem-solver to stand out amongst the crowd.
Another issue that complicates matters is that industry and technology is changing at such a rapid rate that you can no longer rest on your laurels that your program of study will adequately prepare you for work in your industry. The techniques, technologies, and skills you learn in your first year may be obsolete by the end of your final year.
Therefore, it’s important to develop your ability to self-educate. Knowing where you can find free or cheap resources can be a huge advantage when developing yourself in your career. Here are some of the resources I use to teach myself.
Top Spot: your Public Library
In my humble opinion, the public library is one of the greatest inventions of all time. Whether you are taking classes they offer, using resources in their catalog, or availing yourself of the free access to materials like online journals and portals, there is almost no limit to the access your library card can provide. When my HVAC system went on the fritz, I was able to check out an HVAC manual to help me learn just what the heck an HVAC system does so that I could understand what repairs were needed, and how to better care for the system in the future.
YouTube changed the game when it comes to sharing knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, books are great (the necessary precursor to the greatest invention of all time; see: public library entry), but unless your book has incredibly detailed diagrams, the video format will always be the superior resource for teaching hands-on skills. When I had to fix my roof, I turned to videos to learn how to remove individual shingles and replace them myself.
Coursera is all the benefits of attending lectures without the associated costs. Granted, if you want formal recognition of completing Coursera courses, you’ll need to pay for the access. However, nearly every Coursera course has the option for you to audit the course for free, which gives you access to the lecture content and some of the supplementary material.
Reddit (and other specialty discussion forums)
I suppose I should have used “Google” as the category here since I often will search for solutions through Google’s indexed results. However, dedicated online communities are some of the best resources to learn from. They often post comprehensive resources and how-to manuals, and are usually great about providing solutions when you are stuck on specific problems. If you can find a good community that isn’t locked behind a paywall, you can lose yourself for hours in it’s wealth of information.
While not a free resource, this is something that my employer has provided to its employees at no cost. You should check to see if your employer offers any services for employees to self-develop because you might be missing out on a ton of non-financial benefits. Lynda is a great resource for comprehensive courses on a wide variety of tech and business topics. It’s a bit restrictive if you are looking for non-business courses, but it’s worth checking out for learning the basics you’ll need to navigate your early career development.
Another paid service, I find Udemy great for high tech courses where I want to develop specific skills, such as in Python or in using Adobe software. I wait for courses to go on sale, and I snap up courses up to 90% off their full price.
My final suggestion is to tap your friends to see if anyone can help you learn new skills. Obviously, you don’t want to exploit your friends – you should pay for their services where appropriate. However, in some cases your friends can be great resources to tackle projects. Not only do you get to leverage their unique skills or experience, but you also get quality time together. My entire podcast and music run for Woot Suit Riot has been some of the most formative experiences I’ve had, all because I was making stuff with friends.
All of this is framed as advice to help you in your career, however the truth is that you should be seeking to educate yourself for any project your’re interested in, regardless of whether you can get paid for the skills or not. I took painting classes earlier this year at my local art store because I wanted to learn how to paint. This isn’t a skillset that directly will get me promoted, but it rounds me out and allows me to explore my creative side.
The point of self-education or self-development is for you to become more of the person you want to be. It’s often hard work, but the experiences are well-worth the effort.
In my first post on principles, I had an entry regarding problem solving – specifically, guidance on defining problems. That entry is actually a condensed version of something I have hanging in my cubicle at work:
I printed the post from a Lifehacker article, and have since annotated it with a few extra ideas. On the left, I stole a line from Tim Ferriss’s Tribe of Mentors to supplement the step for generating possible solutions to your problem. The simplicity of the question, “what would this look like if it were easy?” allows me to limit the choice pool by excluding unlikely scenarios while thinking about the positive outcomes.
When it comes to evaluation consequences and narrowing down the options, I have added three additional tools. First, I borrow again from Tim Ferriss where he uses “Fear Setting” to determine the worst case scenarios possible, and then he goes through each outcome and asks himself whether the cost is something that he could live with. By doing so, he reframes his concerns away from merely worrying about negative outcomes to only focus on the things that matter to him.
I also added a note to myself to ensure I’m capturing my assumptions. A lot of the time I start with my conclusions and assume they are transparent in their reasoning. However, if I ask a series of clarifying questions (usually the 5-why technique), I often end up drilling down to hidden assumptions or emotions that motivate the conclusion (rather than pure reason).
The final note I scribbled is in reference to Enrico Fermi who had an uncanny knack making stunningly accurate “guesses” off the top of his head. Fermi used probabilities and statistics to make educated guesses to solve problems, which could then be further refined. It’s a tool for quick and dirty estimates, and it helps to narrow down the choice pool.
My annotations aim at four tools I can use to supplement Kranz’s method: what is the best/easiest solution, what’s the absolute worst case, how easily can we figure this out, and what motivations are driving my decisions. I try to keep those considerations in mind, though I’m not nearly as rational as I pretend to be.
Since my last post on principles, I’ve jotted down a few more ideas in my notebook. I’ve transcribed my thoughts under the photo below.
6. Where appropriate, seek to reduce or limit choice pools.
a.) Too many choices is paralyzing.
b.) Extraneous choices impacts rank(ing) orders.
c.) Choice + paralysis will cause decision friction –> procrastination, and inertia will grind things to a halt.
d.) Time and resources get wasted in the decision process –> you trade off value.
e.) Most decisions can be whittled down by routine and quick preference (gut reaction) –> use 80/20.
f.) Invest time in deliberation for high stakes outcomes or decisions that interest you.
i.) Also invest when decision process is educative for you.
This entry largely captures what my behaviours are like when it comes to making decisions versus where I want them to be. By nature, I’m a risk averse and indecisive person. I tend to sit on decisions far too long, to the point where they can cause anxiety when it’s finally time for me to make the call.
I also tend to lack preferences in a lot of things. For instance, I usually don’t have a strong preference when it comes to picking a place to eat, so I’m terrible at deciding where to go but I’m perfectly happy to go along with choices made by others. There are many things I’m starkly black-and-white about (which is really annoying to my wife), but most of the time I sit in a middle state like Buridan’s ass.
Therefore, this set of principled notes captures where I want to be – to quickly narrow down extraneous choices (because too many options usually leads to diminished outcomes), and to automate where I can. Then, I can focus on the really important decisions or use the deliberation process as a teaching tool for myself.
There seems to be a publishing cycle, where every year a new slew of articles are released to damn personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs. Lifehacker published one recently, and a book was released at the end of summer about the mother-daughter duo who created the assessment tool, which can be paired with a book released a decade ago discussing personality tests more broadly.
A few years back, I was thinking about my career, and I happened to take the test. According to it, I’m a INTP, the Logician, an introverted big-thinker who is logical but adaptive. A year later, I took the test again and I drifted into ENTJ territory; apparently in that time I became more extroverted and more rigid in my planning.
This, of course, is the biggest issue with these personality tests. They tend to overly rely on generalizations of fluid behaviours and attitudes. People rarely have stable traits over time, and the test tends to loosely clump these together in attempt to create a meaningful picture. In this, the Myers-Briggs is nether reliable nor valid from a scientific point of view. As the Lifehacker article points out, along with many others, it’s dangerous when you base decisions on the conclusions drawn from these tests for things like dealing with others or hiring employees. The best thing you can do, the article claims, is to use it as a fun conversation starter and nothing more.
But I find value in the tests for another reason.
Humans are drawn to stories. We like crafting narratives to explain events and give meaning to our lives. While we would want our stories to align with true accounts of history or phenomena (a book I recently bought argues that it’s not possible), we can still find value in stories that are not, strictly speaking, true (I’m appealing to a coherence-model of truth, rather than a correspondence-model of truth; I never thought I’d drag that grad course back up in conversation again…). We can find value in a story even if we are agnostic towards it being literally true or corresponding to a fact “out there” in the world.
When it comes to my career, one problem I have is that I have a hard time knowing how to sell myself. When you are crafting your resume or CV, or when you are interviewing for a position, you are trying to create an appealing story of yourself. You are painting a picture of the kind of person you are that aligns with the demands of the job or the needs of the employer. Sometimes, it’s hard to create a compelling story for yourself. You don’t know what to include, what to leave out, and what needs some mild spin. You have to decide how to play-up key points and downplay unsavory details. How you choose to connect the dots can make a large impact on what others will think of you as a candidate. You don’t want to be dishonest, but sometimes the “truth” is very compelling.
One critical area that the Myers-Briggs can offer value is providing inspiration for how to tell that story. It creates neat little packages that arranges details in interesting ways. It allows you to take the generalizations and apply them to your own experiences. It’s the same trick astrology uses – if you make a statement sufficiently ambiguous, you can find confirming evidence to support it. Using this to your advantage, you can create a compelling backstory for yourself while also prompting you to fill in the details with good stories.
And if something does fit? Leave it out and move on.
As long as you don’t pigeonhole yourself, you can tell a story about you that shows how valuable, interesting, and desirable you are to others. The Myers-Briggs can offer some themes and typologies to help sell the best version of you. Just don’t believe everything you read.
Post-Script: After I drafted this post last week, Seth Godin posted some thoughts about changing your story. If I’m randomly coming up with ideas that coheres with advice from Seth, I count myself in good company.
Last week, a group of friends and I attended a hot yoga session. We, as a group, meet once per month to do an activity, and the October leader chose to have us join him for hot yoga. I had some prior experience attending yoga classes, but this was my first time in a “hot yoga” session. By the end of the hour, I looked like I had jumped in a lake. My Fitbit tracked my heart rate and it had looked like I was running sprints.
It was challenging, uncomfortable, and brutal. In other words, it was awesome!
I’m not saying that I’m going to sign-up with my local studio or start buying into the lifestyle; I’m still paying for a gym membership that I don’t use, so I don’t need another cost to my monthly budget. However, I found the experience interesting and invigorating, and I’d gladly go again in the future.
Cultural appropriation concerns aside, I’m fully on-board with the physical practice of yoga for health and fitness. Western yoga tends to have a lot of stereotypes and negative perceptions attached to it, but the act itself can be a legitimately hard, physical activity that raises your heart rate, requires a lot of strength for the body-weight movements, and provides the same calming effect you get when you focus on process movements.
I’ve attended a handful of classes and tried routines at home a few times, so I’m not qualified to offer any opinions on yoga. However, I’ll offer a few observations and thoughts on my experiences as a beginner:
While I’ve never had a bad instructor, I was incredibly thankful that the two people I’ve had leading classes were super friendly, approachable, and accessible. You feel incredibly awkward walking into your first class, and you assume that everyone is silently judging how bad you are at it. Having a good instructor in front of you really helps you get into things, and their ability to break down the poses and movements with verbal cues really aids in immersing yourself in the experience.
At the recommendation of a friend, I’ve attempted doing yoga at home by following along with an instructor’s video on YouTube (my go-to channel is Sarah Beth Yoga). While doing yoga at home is more convenient, cheaper, and less awkward, I still find value in doing yoga in a group setting. It feels more rewarding in the end to share the experience with others, and having a dedicated time to show up makes you more accountable.
If you are going to buy anything, I recommend buying your own mat. I’ve used it for yoga as well as doing tabatas at home. I also recommend buying a thicker mat (the standard mat is really thin) because being a heavy guy, it helps cushion my wrists and knees in the various poses. Bring a towel because the thicker mat doesn’t appear to have the same grip when you’re sweaty.
BRING WATER! STAY HYDRATED! This applies to non-hot yoga as well.
I found the act of yoga to help clear my mind. Again, cultural appropriation questions aside, going through the motions intentionally and being mindful of what your body is doing or “saying” to you helps with the mind-body connection. There is something about focusing on your breathing and your movements that creates a singular focus that pushes extraneous thoughts out of your mind. The added layer of music and sanskrit words pulls your attention away from the past or future considerations and instead into the present.
Speaking of sanskrit, I don’t get too bogged down in the culture. When in the yoga studio space, I try to be mindful of others and the practice, but because I don’t know too much about the history or origins of yoga, I remain agnostic but open towards the cultural or spiritual side. It’s not my place to judge, and smarter people than I can weigh-in on the validity of different kinds of yoga practices. I find value in the physical movement and the slower pace of the activity.
Having said that, I know that as a white dude participating in an appropriated practice from Hinduism, India, and the Desi people, it is loaded with problems (see the link above). My participation adds to the watering down of a rich culture from which the original practitioners were forced to suppress their ways at the hands of their colonial occupiers. I can’t square that circle and have to acknowledge it for what it is.
No, I didn’t get this book because my relationship is in trouble. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. My relationship with my wife is great, and I want to keep it that way. I first came across Sexton in a Lifehacker podcast along side Esther Perel and I thought he had some interesting perspectives on relationships as a divorce lawyer. This book distills his 20-years of law experience and covers a gamut of reasons why relationships fail. The thinking is that while he doesn’t know what makes a good relationship, he knows all sorts of reasons why they don’t work, and the reader of his book can learn from the mistakes of his clients.
I pre-ordered this a few weeks back and it just came in the mail, so I haven’t had a chance to get very far into it. I first encountered Greene through a book recommendation from a friend of mine for his book, Mastery. I was intrigued with the material in Mastery, so I’ve kept an eye on Greene since. I listened to a the audiobook for the 48 Laws of Power, and I listened to a bit of his Art of Seduction (though I never finished it). Greene, like his protege Ryan Holiday, is a master of research synthesis. While his books are a bit of an animated bibliography, I think it’s the best representation of the genre. He digs into history to learn lessons from key figures to articulate his thesis. Instead of reporting on the achievements of others, Greene feels like a chronicler of insights. I’m looking forward to what this book has to offer.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read this one until now. I’m familiar with the well-known courtroom scenes from the movie, but I was never assigned this while I was in school. Since I’ve been reading a steady diet of non-fiction, I thought I should dig into some quality fiction. I’m less than an hour into the audiobook, but already I find Scout to be an intriguing character (narrated by Sissy Spacek).
While my wife and I were heading off on our mini-honeymoon after the wedding last month, we found it difficult to talk about anything that wasn’t about the wedding. The planning and lead-up to our nuptials was over a year in the making, so in the afterglow of the party, we didn’t have much to talk about. Instead of riding in complete silence, we bought a copy of the Deathly Hallows on audiobook for the drive. I’ve only read the book once, and that was way back in 2007 when it was released (I bought it during a layover in Heathrow Airport on my way home from Kenya). We only listen to the book while together in the car during long(ish) drives between cities, and it’s funny how often we shut it off to talk about the story, or how stupid Harry (the character) is when you really think about it. It’s honestly among my favourite times spent with my wife.
I bought this book with high hopes, but sadly I’m finding it a bit of a let down. The Ikigai concept has floated around the interwebs and on my radar for a little over a year now. It got picked up in the blogosphere (mostly on Medium for me), so when I saw the book I thought I should check it out. This particular book is a hard animated bibliography. I think its greatest sin is that it talks about Ikigai by first covering other well-known philosophical ideas, such as Frankl’s work in Man’s Search for Meaning. I had hoped the concepts would stand on their own, or at least be situated with the original Japanese contexts that they were born out of. Instead, it cobbles together a bunch of summaries of other publications and presents them in digest format. Because the book is short with big font, I’ll slog through it, but it’s not what I had hoped it would be.