Everything is better and worse than ever before

(#279)

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Let’s start a book club 📚✨

Think of the last book that had a lasting impression on you – do you remember how you discovered it? In my case, a very clear pattern has emerged. The books that were more than just good reads, those that changed something in me, in the way I feel or think about certain issues, those books have almost always been recommended to me by one person. This might be a close friend, someone I work with, sometimes a person on Twitter I barely know – but always someone to whom this book has been very special.

With this in mind – and knowing what a diverse group of smart and interesting people you subscribers are – I'd be a fool not to make a book club a permament element of the Weekly Filet. Starting in January, we'll have one book recommendation each week. If you're an avid reader, this will allow you to follow along and read every book as it's recommended. If not, you have one book at a time to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

I can't wait to see what books you'll be sharing. Ready?

Add your book recommendation here

And now for the usual part: this week’s recommendations.


1. The great paradox of our time: everything is both better and worse than ever before

To me, one of the best pieces on climate change in recent months, written by The Correspondent’s founding editor. I like how Wijnberg is both realistic («In the past two centuries, fossil capitalism has made us wealthier, healthier, safer and more informed than ever.»), optimistic («we can take heart from this fundamental truth about human nature: together we can.») and radical («The engine that drives our civilisation must be completely disassembled and replaced with a new model.»). Read it now

2. Peter Singer on the lives you can save

A very interesting conversation between Ezra Klein and philosopher Peter Singer. The largest part is about his famous thought experiment and the moral imperative to give away most of what one earns. However, one side aspect towards the end of the podcast got me thinking in particular, where Singer makes the case against open borders. His argument: Immigration brings right wing leaders to power who then obstruct effective climate action – which is more urgent than open borders. I’m not sure yet whether I agree, but it’s a perspective that’s new to me. Listen to it now

3. In the 2010s, White America Was Finally Shown Itself

A sobering look back on the past ten years, by writer Ta-Nehisi Coates in New York Magazine. Key sentence: «The force of a black president was such a historic and seismic event that everything just was touched by it.» Read the interview now

4. 52 things I learned in 2019

«Humanity produces 1,000 times more transistors than grains of rice and wheat combined.» It starts out strong and gets better from there. Just like in the years before (2014-2018), Tom Whitwell has collected noteworthy facts, most of which tell us something about the world we live in. Start exploring now

5. New York’s Subway Map Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

A fascinating ride (like, literally) along the evolution of NYC’s subway map. Lots of interesting factoids, my favourite: The initial designer rode the length of every train line with his eyes closed, feeling the curve of each track and then drawing the path he perceived in his sketchbook. Start your ride (sea sickness trigger warning, I suppose)


What else?

  • I have recently rediscovered I Like Trains, a band from Leeds, known for such uplifting song titles as Death is the End or Sea of Sorrows (their Twitter bio aptly states: «Miserable since 2004»). I think you will like them. Their songs are so sad that they console again. You can pour any and all sadness into their music and let it dissolve itself.
  • Of more than 1000 articles I’ve recommended in the Weekly Filet over the years, this one has been one of the most moving: Bringing home Bosnia’s dead. Worth re-reading before next week’s Nobel Prize ceremony.
  • Safest indicator that you’re getting old: You love the same bands as ten years ago. In totally unrelated news: If you get the chance, go watch The National live.

That’s it for this week. Have a nice weekend and see you next Friday.

– David

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