The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve
A clever and engrossing account of the story of Adam and Eve from its origins in early Judaism (and perhaps other long gone near east traditions) through its codification in the Torah, to its centrality in the thinking of Augustine and John Milton through to the modern developments of evolution and prehistoric paleontology.
This was a fun read with scores of digressions into Babylonian mythology, early church theocratic disputes, the English civil war and more. Greenblatt does a great job of popularizing some heady material while not dumbing it down too far. Really fascinating and fun from page one to the finish.
Stillness Is The Key
Ryan Holiday is loved by tech bro culture, and largely responsible for the resurgence of interest in Stoicism by a certain type of middle age white dude (one of whom is me). His books follow a formula – take basic life advice and illustrate it with life lessons from various successful figures in history. You can hate on this formula, but you’d be missing out on some practical, enjoyable works.
His new one – Stillness Is Key, investigates the importance of not just meditation, but also quiet, downtime, full on zoning out. It supports what I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, that to be good, we need to be quiet, and time spent staring out the window is often time spent. That he back up his basic thesis with a series of anecdotes about famous figures from history doesn’t make this book science, but it does make it an enjoyable, and I think, helpful, read.