Six Books We Could and Should All Write

Six books anybody could write. You wouldn?t need any talent to produce these. All you?d have to do is stick with it.

1. Samuel Pepys [A book about oneself]

Dude doesn’t have an idea in his skull. He never philosophizes. His whole trick is he just gets everything down, ideally within hours of its happening, and he doesn’t do anything to doctor the picture to improve his self-image. That’s key.

2. John Aubrey [A book about others]

Treat every single person like they might be of interest one day to scholars. Record every drop of gossip you hear about people. You don’t have to think anything; you barely have to comment at all. Just the facts, ma’am. Keep it brief and lean, and it’ll be great stuff. Leave yourself out.

3. Palgrave’s Golden Treasury [A book of favourites]

Poems one returns to over and over, like one returns to favorite songs. In selecting the contents, there has to be absolutely no concession to fairness. If three quarters of the book is one poet, so be it. If one of the poems is seventy pages long and none of the others are anything like that, so be it. If it’s all men or all women or all gay or all straight—so be it. There has to be one operating principle behind the book: the poems you go back to. Nothing more, nothing less.

4. Flaubert’s Dictionary of Received Ideas [A book of words]

And it’s a dictionary all right, but instead of definitions, it tells you what to say about any given topic, if you want to come off like a conventional French twit of the 1880s. So look up “moon,” and it says, “Induces melancholy. May be inhabited.”

5. The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon [A book of lists]

The Pillow Book is not all lists, but it’s the lists that always make the biggest impression. “Things that give you a funny feeling in your stomach.” “Things that make you feel dirty.” “Subtle things that your lovers do when they’re taking their leave and it’s just so offensive.”

6. Li Zhi’s A Book to Burn [A book you dare not publish]

The story is that Li Zhi, the late Ming philosopher and gadfly, wrote this book thinking to enclose therein all his completely unacceptable views. … My philosophy professor at Penn State told us that Sade’s idea was to write a book one glance into which would entail eternal damnation for the reader. Open to any page, you’re going to hell. See, to me, that’s the spirit.

Flight Instructions for Guided Trips

“The following is a copy of instructions provided by Bill Richardson in connection with his psychedelic experiments.”

“Meeting the Divine Within Part One of a Manual for Voyagers and Guides by The Guild of Guides”

William A. Richards Private Practice, Baltimore, Maryland”

How We Wrote Classic Simpsons Episodes – Bill Oakley

Bill Oakley was a writer at The Simpsons from seasons 4-6 and an executive producer/showrunner with his writing partner Josh Weinstein from seasons 7-8.

This was the long process of writing one episode:

1. Work on story ideas. 2 months. Beginning, middle and an end: three acts, ideally including act breaks but doesn’t have to be complete.
2. Present story ideas to everyone. 15-20 minutes to present the story. Everyone else throws in their thoughts and jokes.
3. Writers room. 10-12 people. Go through scene by scene fixing any story problems. 1h – 3 days.
4. Write an outline. Way, way too long – up to an hour of television. ~40 single spaced pages.
5. Show runner gives notes and suggests cuts.
6. Two weeks to write the script. First draft ~62 pages.
7. Rewriters room. A few hours to a few weeks. Go through line by line under direction of show runner. To ~47 pages.
8. Table read.
9. Rewrite. 1-2 days. To ~42 pages.
10. Record!

[Running] What The World’s Most Famous Amateur Can Teach Pro Runners

At just 30 years old, Yuki Kawauchi is in a distance running category of his own. As of January 1, he has run the most sub-2:20 marathons of anyone, ever?76. He?s also run the most sub-2:12 marathons of anyone, ever?25. Kawauchi?one guy?has run more sub-2:10 marathons since 2011 than the whole United States put together. Kawauchi?s best time for 2017?2:09:18?was two seconds faster than the fastest marathon of the year by any U.S. man, which would be Galen Rupp, who ran a career best of 2:09:20 in Chicago. Rupp, like most athletes at that level, ran two marathons in 2017. Kawauchi ran 12.

At just 30 years old, Yuki Kawauchi is in a distance running category of his own. As of January 1, he has run the most sub-2:20 marathons of anyone, ever—76. He’s also run the most sub-2:12 marathons of anyone, ever—25. Kawauchi—one guy—has run more sub-2:10 marathons since 2011 than the whole United States put together. … Rupp, like most athletes at that level, ran two marathons in 2017. Kawauchi ran 12.

The confidence that is built by doing ultra long-distance jogging, the knowledge in the second half when things are getting tough that I’ve run 50 km and 100 km so I know for sure that my stamina isn’t going to break in the second half. The internationals running next to me haven’t done 100 km so I know that my legs are the ones that are still going to keep moving when things get down and dirty

For someone who only trains once a day like I have ever since I was at Gakushuin University, I feel that adding ultra long-distance jogging trail runs on my days off has been effective in improving my physical and mental ability to hold it together in the second half of the marathon. … in my case I’m typically averaging about 600 km a month.

[Relationships] The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling

Being able to identify the Four Horsemen in your conflict discussions is a necessary first step to eliminating them and replacing them with healthy, productive communication patterns.


Criticizing your partner is different than offering a critique or voicing a complaint. The latter two are about specific issues, whereas the former is an ad hominem attack. It is an attack on your partner at the core of their character. In effect, you are dismantling their whole being when you criticize.

Not necessarily terminal, but paves the way for the other horsemen.


When we communicate in this state, we are truly mean—we treat others with disrespect, mock them with sarcasm, ridicule, call them names, and mimic or use body language such as eye-rolling or scoffing. The target of contempt is made to feel despised and worthless.

Research even shows that couples that are contemptuous of each other are more likely to suffer from infectious illness (colds, the flu, etc.) than others due to weakened immune systems! Contempt is fueled by long-simmering negative thoughts about the partner—which come to a head when the perpetrator attacks the accused from a position of relative superiority.

The single greatest predictor of divorce.


Typical response to criticism.

When we feel unjustly accused, we fish for excuses and play the innocent victim so that our partner will back off. Unfortunately, this strategy is almost never successful. Our excuses just tell our partner that we don’t take their concerns seriously and that we won’t take responsibility for our mistakes


Typical response to contempt.

Rather than confronting the issues with their partner, people who stonewall can make evasive maneuvers such as tuning out, turning away, acting busy, or engaging in obsessive or distracting behaviors. … And unfortunately, stonewalling isn’t easy to stop. It is a result of feeling physiologically flooded, and when we stonewall, we may not even be in a physiological state where we can discuss things rationally.

Headlines making you anxious? Delay reading them – Oliver Burkeman

There?s a trick to staying calm but well-informed: take your time catching up with the news

In the Guardian, Oliver Burkeman discusses how he digests the news and the similarities with the way he manages his personal worries.

[O]ne excellent way to stay calm but well-informed, I’ve found, is to consume the news a day or three later than everyone else…

After I’d done this for a while, it struck me that it’s essentially what I’d been doing for years with especially persistent personal worries: I’d make an entry in my calendar two or three weeks from today, and resolve not to fret about the matter till then. In almost every case, by the time the date rolled around, the issue seemed absurd.

Everyone tells you to live in the moment – but there’s much to be said for putting the moment off for a few days.

I’ve been doing something similar with the news for over a year now, mostly using friends and family as a filter for urgency. It’s an idea I first picked up from Tim Ferriss in 2009: he calls it the low information diet, a technique predicated on selective ignorance.

And Jason Kottke comments:

A new car loses about 10% of its value as soon as you drive it off the lot; most news depreciates a lot faster than that. Humans are curious, hard-wired to seek out new information on a continuous basis. But not everything we haven’t seen before is worth our attention.

And what a great technique to manage worry as well!