September recommendations

Friends, welcome to the inaugural edition of _consider - your one-stop destination for perspective-expanding content.

Thank you for being part of our focus group. Our goal is to get as much feedback as possible from you guys - we picked each of you specifically because you’ve given us great recommendations in the past.  Our primary ask here is that you offer honest and constructive feedback after you read this email. Feel free to call us out on the email’s structure, design and content. Don’t be shy. Specifically, we’re interested in the following:

  • Was the structure of this e-mail easy to follow?
  • Do you plan to follow up on any of the recommendations in the next month? If so, which ones? If not, why not?
  • What was missing from this e-mail that you would like to see on the next one?

So what exactly is the game plan here?

Every month we’ll roll out a new list of selected books, documentaries, podcasts and articles that we have found to not only be excellent, but also under-appreciated against the mainstream wave of content you’re used to seeing.

The goal of this list is to shine a light on the lesser known gems that are out there. We want our recommendations to cut through the noise of what’s popular by prioritizing what’s well-done, challenging, and exciting.

Content discovery should be easy. It should be a choice that embraces your tastes, your friends' tastes and an element of randomness that brings you out of your comfort zone. It should create those moments where you say to yourself, "I had no idea that existed! I now think about X differently".

These moments are important because, in our eyes, the real joy of life is not having static opinions on anything. The fact that one book can change your world view is a tribute to how flexible our perspectives are; that human knowledge is made up of a bunch of different people with a bunch of different experiences, all who have decided to contribute.

This is the crux of what we believe - that ideas have the power to dramatically influence a system of beliefs; that in pushing the boundaries of our own intellectual comfort zones, we will be able to understand each other better than we had before. That’s why we’re doing this.

Let’s dive in!

Tribe, by Sebastian Junger (Book, 192 pages)

Tribe is a broad exploration of humans at war. Its unique thesis argues humans find meaning in suffering and lack of meaning in peacetime. Junger - who lost one of his best friends to war - discusses the subject with a candor that makes this a deeply moving read. Graffiti in Bosnia to this day reads "Things were better when they were bad"; Tribe is the necessary explanation of how we got here and where we're going.

The Joe Rogan Experience  #975 – Sebastian Junger podcast (1 hr, 24 minutes) is a nice companion to Tribe. In their conversation, Junger breaks down the thesis of the book and draws correlations between the current state of mental health, perverse views of nationalism and how our political differences are pre-wired into our DNA to give us our best chance of national survival.

The Upstarts, by Brad Stone (Book, 384 pages)

Upstarts tells the story of the rise of Airbnb and Uber beginning at the January 2008 presidential inauguration. These were two companies no one cared about for a few years after their founding. Uber was given a cease and desist letter in San Francisco shortly after its founding, and Airbnb was personally visiting all of their hosts because their situation was so dire. Each company now owns a separate verb in our national lexicon. Both have changed the way we think and live; this book describes how and why.

The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young (Documentary, 1 hr, 29 minutes)

Barkley Marathons on the surface is about a 100 mile race through the Tennessee woods, but a couple minutes with this documentary reveal it’s an intense look at what gives people purpose. Barkley offers a glimpse at men and women who derive meaning from the very act of trying to complete a seemingly impossible task. Disturbingly inspirational may be the best way to sum it up.

Greetings, E.T. (Please Don’t Murder Us.) - New York Times (Article, ~15 minutes)

From the NYT synopsis: A new initiative to beam messages into space maybe our best shot yet at learning whether we’re alone in the universe. There’s just one problem: What if we’re not? Curious existentialism at its most enjoyable.

Kurzgesagt - 12,017 (Video, 8 minutes)

This is maybe the most impactful < 10 minute video we’ve ever seen. 12,017 warps your perspective on how we measure time, leading with the idea that human civilization was robust and thriving 10,000 years before the year 0. Kurzgesagt as a YouTube channel is all about shifting your perspective - this one forces you to reconsider how inaccurate 2017 is in terms of measuring quantity. We’ve been around as a species much longer than our calendar recognizes.

Thanks for being a part of our project. We're looking forward to many great recommendations in the months to come.

Your friends,

Nick, Max and Ben

Ben Brostoff