BOOKS AND OTHER LONG THINGS
Endure by Alex Hutchinson: I still actively (and obsessively) participate in online cycling races and was looking for an edge, so I bought this book after two endurance athletes highly recommended it. As the title alludes, it focuses on optimizing performance in endurance sports.
Despite being written for those immersed in endurance endeavours, I was surprised by how many of the insights are transferable beyond that realm. My big takeaway was gaining a better understanding of the control our minds maintain over our bodies, in both expected and unexpected ways. From placebos to replacing limiting beliefs (ie: breaking the four-minute mile barrier) to downright fooling the brain, study after study illustrated how our minds affect performance - both positively and negatively. It’s not that I doubted the power of our minds, but seeing it repeatedly demonstrated has a way of crystallizing this fact.
While this is a great book if you partake in any endurance sports, it will likely also resonate with you even if you aren’t an endurance athlete. And insights aside, it’s well-written and has an intriguing through line story.
Map and Territory by Eliezer Shlomo Yudkowsky: Last month, I shared an article called “Do the Right Thing.” As mentioned, it led me down a rabbit hole, which included Map and Territory, a book of essays on rationalism posted on Eliezer Shlomo Yudkowsky’s blog Less Wrong.
For those not familiar with rationalism, the author describes rationality as:
- Epistemic rationality: systematically improving the accuracy of your beliefs.
- Instrumental rationality: systematically achieving your values.
As to be expected, the essays range in quality, but I’m glad I read it. It not only progressed my understanding of rationalism beyond the common Star Trek tropes, but it also made me think. Which for me, is one of the great rewards of engaging with ideas.
For those interested, below are some links to my favourite chapters:
The Latticework: (Mental Models - 1 Pager) by Blas Moros: Having mostly settled into our new home, I’m revisiting topics that have been simmering on the back burner - one such being mental models. This 152-page PDF (though not yet complete) is one of the best places to become acquainted, or, in my case, re-acquainted with the world of mental models.
For those not familiar, mental models are basically models of how the world works. Some are ubiquitous, while others work in more specified realms. The beauty of keeping them top of mind is that they can be used to effectively improve your ability to analyze information and make better decisions. And when used together, they can lead to exponential results.
If I’ve piqued your curiosity, take a look at the first section on “Worldly Wisdom” (pages 7-22). In just the past few weeks, I’ve more effectively been able to focus on the things that are important to Tanya and me. And I’ve barely scratched the surface.