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Astral Codex Ten Podcast

Jul 18, 2022

Finalist #10 in the Book Review Contest

[This is one of the finalists in the 2022 book review contest. It’s not by me - it’s by an ACX reader who will remain anonymous until after voting is done, to prevent their identity from influencing your decisions. I’ll be posting about one of these a week for several months. When you’ve read them all, I’ll ask you to vote for a favorite, so remember which ones you liked - SA]


I didn’t read The Righteous Mind for a long time after I knew about it. This was partly because I don’t get through much in the way of new reading material. A friend of mine told me yesterday that he’d read something like 130 new books this year. That was on February 20th. I’ve read one, and it was The Righteous Mind. Another friend releases Spotify playlists every Friday of the greatest hits from the many new albums he’s listened to that week. I’ve listened to one new album this year. It was Selling England by the Pound, which he recommended. It was my first foray into Genesis and I loved it. I now have to keep telling him that, no, I haven’t listened to any more Genesis or Peter Gabriel since then, but I’m sure I’ll get round to it within the year.

This is to make the point that I’m starting from a low base rate of reading things. I still think I put off reading The Righteous Mind for unusually long, though, given how interesting I find the subject matter. The reason, I think, is that I sort of felt like it wouldn’t be very interesting, because I’d kind of know and agree with all of it already. Given how slowly I absorb new books, I like them to either be challenging, or a new and informative look at things I just don’t know very much about yet. I don’t mean to come across as some sort of sage of intellectual piety and good habits of mind who scorns the comforting embrace of being validated. I read plenty of political bloggers that I mostly agree with! I just don’t tend to use books for that.