The Curious Letter — Issue #13

Welcome to the thirteenth issue of The Curious Letter – an occasional collection of fascinating things worth your time – books, podcasts, articles, videos, and more.

If you missed the previous issue, you can find it here.

Today I have for you a wise memoir, a history podcast episode, 13 life-learnings, a cure from an existential crisis, and a few curious links.

Enjoy!


📖 A book I’ve enjoyed

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

I admit that I was skeptical when I first saw a new episode of the Tim Ferris Show with Matthew McConaughey. I definitely didn’t expect to immediately buy and listen to his book on Audible after that episode and then read a Kindle version. Not only it surprised me that the book was good, but it surprised me just how good it was.

Wildly entertaining, remarkably wise, and candid, this memoir brings you on a philosophical and inspiring journey of McConaughey’s life.

Throughout the book, he illustrates that he was never content to merely let life happen to him and that life is a state of being that he works at, continuously, daily, and breaks a sweat to get it.

As McConaughey says at the end of the book, “I hope it can be useful and lend a hand if you need it, that it might teach you something, inspire you, make you laugh, remind you, help you forget, and arm you with some life tools to better march forward as more of yourself.” – and I can confirm that it does all that and more.

📻 A podcast episode worth a listen

Lex Fridman Podcast #136 – Dan Carlin: Hardcore History  (Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube)

I love it when my favorite podcasters appear as guests on some of my other favorite shows.

Dan Carlin (@HardcoreHistory) is a historian and political thinker, and I’ve enjoyed listening to his “Harcore History” podcast for years (the “Supernova in the East” series has even made it my top 3 list last year).

Lex Fridman (@lexfridman) is an AI researcher at MIT, a great thinker, and the previous guest of his podcast (formerly called the Artificial Intelligence (AI) podcast) included Elon Musk, Stephen Wolfram, Jack Dorsey, Ray Dalio, Eric Schmidt, and many more incredible human beings.

📰 An article worth reading

13 Life-Learnings from 13 Years of Brain Pickings

One of my favorite newsletters, Brain Pickings by Maria Popova, turned thirteen years old last month.
In this beautiful article, Maria is sharing what running what started as a plain-text email to seven friends for 13 years has taught her about writing and living.

When people tell you who they are, believe them. Just as important, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. You are the only custodian of your own integrity and the assumptions made by those that misunderstand who you are and what you stand for reveal a great deal about them and absolutely nothing about you.” – my favorite learning.

📺 A video worth watching

You Will Never Do Anything Remarkable by exurb1a

I don’t watch many YouTube videos and can rarely watch more than one in a row. (No, I don’t know why.)

The exurb1a’s channel is one notable exception. When my friend recommended me Sleep is Just Death Being Shy earlier this year, I’ve binge-watched almost the entire channel that day.

His videos are short stories, often exploring time travel, artificial intelligence, humanity’s future, physics, and biology in relation to human consciousness.
All that with a pinch of dry humor and existentialism makes it one of my favorite YouTube channels.

✨ Random Curious Stuff

  • I’ve signed up for “Part-Time Youtuber Academy” by Ali Abdaal. It’s both exciting and terrifying – I’ve never spoken to the camera before, so this course is a huge personal challenge. Expect a few cringe-worthy videos soon.
  • Speaking of courses. “Decision by Design” by Farnam Street is one of the most useful courses I’ve ever taken. I published a Twitter thread with a few of my favorite takeaways, and I highly recommend that you sign up for their next cohort.
  • Here’s a great Twitter thread to help you with your Christmas shopping – people recommending the best purchases in a $100-1000 range.
  • The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix is the best thing I’ve seen this year. Highly recommend.
  • If you have any back or neck pain, I have two health silver bullets for you. First, buy a good chair – it’s worth it. Second, buy a pullup bar and do a hanging challenge for a month. My constant lower back pain is gone for the first time in years, and these two things are to thank for that.

That’s all for today! As always, feel free to reply with your questions and feedback, and if you liked this issue, please share “The Curious Letter” with a friend or two.
You can send them here to sign up, and if you stumble upon anything interesting this week, let me know on Twitter!

Stay curious,
Max

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