B1 Intermediate US 372 Folder Collection
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A good book is a tool that operates on your

It reshapes it by updating, adding, and removing

You see the world through your concepts, and
when they change, the way you see the world

Recommending a book is like recommending a
tool: it's impossible to do without knowing

the job a person is trying to accomplish.
Here are some principles that I use for selecting
a book to read.

(1) Find a gripping question.
What's a mystery that you wish you could

Really dig deep, and develop this question.
Write it all out if you need to.
What keeps you up at night?
Pose a hypothesis to the question; predict
an answer.

Let the question be your guide.
Find books that grapple with it or ones that
explore your hypothesis.

The writer's journey becomes your journey.
The book will give you new concepts and words
to navigate towards an answer, a better question,

or a more refined hypothesis.
You'll find the book interesting and rewarding
because you're the one that posed the question.

(2) A good book should teeter on the edge
of what you do and don't know.

Science shows us that we learn most effectively
when we build on top of what we already know.

A book on calculus will be meaningless if
you've never studied the lower levels of

A book is a tool: it needs something to work

By building new knowledge onto old, a good
book allows you to expand beyond what you

once were.
It serves as a bridge between two versions
of yourself.

(3) A good book should subject you to evolution.
A good book is like a hammer or a screwdriver:
it has the capacity to destroy and dismantle,

but it also has the capacity to build, reconstruct,
and augment.

It will destroy the weakest parts of you,
retain the truest parts, and build stronger

parts on top of that.
How do you find a book that can destroy you
and rebuild you in this way?

The easiest method is to find books that have
survived the process of evolution themselves.

Books that have been around and praised by
culture for a long time are often worth paying

attention to.
Culture has repeatedly decided that these
concepts were worth preserving, so they must

be very adaptive or useful.
Another method is to find writers who subject
their own ideas to evolution before putting

them into books.
They let time and experience kill off parts
of the idea and allow for new parts to grow.

They make the idea adaptive and mold it into
the shape of truth.

Isn't truth that which survives in any space
and at any time?

Scientists are really good at this.
They take their theories and run them through
empirical tests that allow them to be reshaped

by reality.
Ideally, their theories die and are reborn
stronger and stronger every-time.

The works of a good scientist, philosopher,
or artist are worth reading for this reason:

they've already been refined and subjected
to evolution.

The final method would be to find books that
can give you new experiences.

Experience a point of view that you never
have before.

Step into someone else's shoes and subject
yourself to their environment.

Examine the parts of you that hold up and
the parts which crumble.

You may be surprised to find that ideas you
believed to be true fall apart in a different

I think that following these principles will
help you find books that will change your

(1) Find a question that grips you.

(2) Find a book that explores the question
and teeters on the edge of what you do and

don't know.
(3) Find a book that has undergone a rigorous
evolutionary process, so you can familiarize

yourself with ideas and concepts that won't

You guys have asked me for some book recommendations,
but that's hard to do without knowing your

Instead, I'll put forward some questions
that have been interesting to me and the corresponding

books that have helped me progress towards
a clearer answer.

(1) What would happen if we had no emotions?
— Descartes' Error by Antonio Damasio
(2) How do emotions work?

— How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman

(3) What are the limits of the scientific

— Black Swan by Nassim Taleb
(4) Why is behaviour so hard to change?

— Behave by Robert Sapolsky
(5) Why are politics and religion so divisive?

— The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt
(6) Is there more to life than pleasure or

— Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
(7) What might a world in which pleasure is

the highest good look like?
— Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
(8) What is man?

— Homo Prospectus by Martin Seligman et

(9) What is personality?
How can I think about the self?
— Who Are You, Really? by Brian R. Little
(10) What is the nature of the culture that

I am surrounded in?
— Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
(11) What truly matters at the end of life?

— When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Now, I'm not saying any of these books contain
the answers to these questions, but if you're

interested in these questions, you might like
these books.

I believe it's better to chart your own
path than to follow my own anyways.

As always, thanks for watching and I'll
see you next time!

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One Book That Will Change Your Life

372 Folder Collection
Yifan Liu published on April 16, 2019
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