Get notified of Words&Dirt updates

Tag: time

Working It Out: Reflections on a Five-Year Experiment

Introduction: How I Got Here Five years ago, in October 2013, I committed myself to an experiment that felt both comfortably secure and quite risky. After teaching abroad in Japan for a year, I returned to my hometown in Humboldt County, CA, moved in with my mother and girlfriend, and actively eschewed all forms of [...]

Review: Yuval Noah Harari’s “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”

Last week, I was one of the lucky audience members who witnessed a live discussion between Yuval Noah Harari and Sam Harris in San Francisco. Harris opened the conversation by saying, “So, Yuval, you have these books that just steamroll over all other books.” That’s pretty much how I felt about Harari’s two previous works, [...]

Review: Elena Ferrante’s “The Story of a New Name”

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels deserve every bit of the intense praise heaped on them by critics and readers. Even though I have only finished two of the four novels, it seems undeniable to me that this series occupies a superior position in 21st-century literature. The second book picks up right where My Brilliant Friend left off, with all the [...]

Review: Andrew Yang’s “The War on Normal People”

Like many others, I discovered Andrew Yang by way of his excellent interview with Sam Harris last month. Yang, who is running for President in 2020, immediately struck me as honest, intelligent, well-informed, and profoundly reasonable––a heroic foil for the repugnant personalities that dominate today’s national politics. Yang’s central campaign issue is the institution of [...]

Review: Peter Watts’s “The Freeze-Frame Revolution”

I’ll be the first to admit that Peter Watts’s The Freeze-Frame Revolution might be a better book than I’m willing to give it credit for. It was nice to take another trip into the mind-bending ideas and dark humor for which Watts is rightly loved, but I found myself unable to sink into this novella in a [...]

Review: Cixin Liu’s “Remembrance of Earth’s Past”

Cixin’s Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past is a perfect and peerless narrative achievement. Not only is it the best piece of science fiction I’ve ever read, but it would also be a strong contender for my favorite story of all time. I think that giving away any major plot points or world-building features would do a disservice [...]

Review: Steven Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now”

Steven Pinker was one of the first writers to kindle my passion for scientific thinking. When I read The Blank Slate in 2011, it exposed me to a host of intellectual disciplines that my undergraduate training in philosophy had neglected––most notably evolutionary psychology, skepticism, and the empirical foundations of human nature. Nearly a decade later, I am [...]

Review: Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World has long been one of my very favorite works of speculative fiction, so when I heard this exceptional debate from Intelligence Squared toward the end of last year, I couldn’t resist returning once again to the land of soma orgies, hypnopaedic conditioning, and Centrifugal Bumble-puppy. Almost a century after its original publication, this captivating novel still [...]

My Year of Bookish Wisdom: 2017

Introduction: A Portent of Chaos Those who know me well understand that my vision of humanity’s possible futures runs the gamut from wildly optimistic to oppressively grim. My cynical tendencies are received from my father, a man many have called “Eeyore“ after the droopy donkey that doled out gloomy auguries to the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre [...]

Review: George Orwell’s “1984″

George Orwell’s 1984 is one of those books about which it is probably impossible to say anything new or interesting. Much like its protagonist’s tortured mind and body, Orwell’s masterpiece has been prodded, cut open, and drained of its juices by many minds that surpass my own. My intention for this review, then, is just to leave [...]