December 29, 2018 • ☕️ 5 min read
A year ago I promised to myself that I would have spent my free time reading books instead of wasting it browsing the internet and reading online news.
If you are looking for a book to read for next year or you just like giving or receiving gifts that do not require batteries, in this list you will find a large category of books and my favorite quotes from each of them.
“We spend too much time trying to be “good” when good is often merely average. To be great we must be different. And that doesn’t come from trying to follow society’s vision of what is best, because society doesn’t always know what it needs. More often being the best means just being the best version of you.”
"I can't reconcile the way that the world is jolted by events that are wonderful and terrible, the gorgeous and the tragic. Except that I am beginning to believe that these opposites do not cancel each other out. I see a middle aged woman in the waiting room of the cancer clinic, her arms wrapped around the frail frame of her son. She squeezes him tightly, oblivious to the way he looks down at her sheepishly. He laughs after a minute, a hostage to her impervious love. Joy persists somehow and I soak it in. The horror of cancer has made everything seem like it is painted in bright colors. I think the same thoughts again and again. Life is so beautiful. Life is so hard."
"Like the origin stories of Confucianism or early Buddhism, the modern story is about a universe that just is. Any sense of meaning comes not from the universe, but from us humans. “What’s the meaning of the universe?” asked Joseph Campbell, a scholar of myth and religion. “What’s the meaning of a flea? It’s just there, that’s it, and your own meaning is that you’re there."
"It is said that man is wolf to man. I find this very unfair to wolves."
"And thus, the actions of life often not allowing any delay, it is a truth very certain that, when it is not in our power to determine the most true opinions we ought to follow the most probable."
"The genetic distance (1.6 percent) separating us from pygmy or common chimps is barely double that separating pygmy from common chimps (0.7 percent). It's less than that between two species of gibbons (2.2 percent), or between such closely related North American bird species as red-eyed vireos and white-eyed vireos (2.9 percent). The remaining 98.4 percent of our DNA is just normal chimp DNA."
"We often think the Internet enables you to do new things … But people just want to do the same things they’ve always done."
"... people, even good people, will unknowingly abuse your time to the extent that you let them. Set good rules for all involved to minimize back-and-forth and meaningless communication."
"We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We're a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don't really have an explanation for."
"Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push—in just the right place—it can be tipped."
"We never really talked much or even looked at each other, but it didn't matter because we were looking at the same sky together, which is maybe even more intimate than eye contact anyway. I mean, anybody can look at you. It's quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see."
"In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power."
"What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one's life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment."
"Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It's time for that to end."
"It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice."
"You are a confabulatory creature by nature. You are always explaining to yourself the motivations for your actions and the causes to the effects in your life, and you make them up without realizing it when you don't know the answers. Over time, these explanations become your idea of who you are and your place in the world. They are your self."
"The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else."
"People often call me an optimist, because I show them the enormous progress they didn't know about. That makes me angry. I'm not an optimist. That makes me sound naive. I'm a very serious “possibilist”. That’s something I made up. It means someone who neither hopes without reason, nor fears without reason, someone who constantly resists the overdramatic worldview. As a possibilist, I see all this progress, and it fills me with conviction and hope that further progress is possible. This is not optimistic. It is having a clear and reasonable idea about how things are. It is having a worldview that is constructive and useful."
"We crave for new sensations but soon become indifferent to them. The wonders of yesterday are today common occurrences."
"Tolstoy opens Anna Karenina by observing: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Business is the opposite. All happy companies are different: each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition."
"We’re searching for intelligent, conscious, tool-making beings that have developed a language we’re capable of understanding. We’re searching for intelligent conscious, tool-making, communicative beings that live in social groups (so they can reap the benefits of civilization) and that develop the tools of science and mathematics. We’re searching for ourselves ..."