Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Nonfiction I've Been Reading Lately

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (Goodreads) - This book gave me a mental concept that I've been using all the time since: All the conflict resolution skills in the world won't help you if you don't like someone. And if you like them, then conflict resolutions suddenly becomes tremendously easier. See also: Simple Affection and Deep Truth.

I recommend this book to anyone trying to build and maintain close long-term relationships with other people, romantic or not.

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids (Goodreads) - A short read, and remarkably convincing. The author makes a ton of effort to emphasize that he is NOT saying that you should have kids if you don't want them. It's restricted to a very narrow claim, which is: if you already know you want kids, and you like kids, and you're not having more because of what a huge cost they would be, maybe you should consider having more, because they're probably not as costly as you think.

Eating Animals (Goodreads) - This book makes a credible attempt to be a discussion of the practice of eating animals without saying "... and so you should obviously be a vegetarian." I found the discussion of small, humanely-minded farms and slaughterhouses particularly interesting.

Your Money Or Your Life (Goodreads) - A great perspective on how to treat money not as a measure of worth, not as a natural phenomenon that rises and falls like the tide, but as a resource which can be both accumulated and wielded to do what you want. I especially like the framing that money is "something you trade your life energy for."

Even as someone who's already drunk the Kool-Aid on frugality and financial independence, I found it helpful. I haven't tried the specific techniques of tallying up actual net worth and income and expenses, but I've been feeling unsure about my level of impulse spending lately, and this seems like a great way to handle that.

I also really liked the start of the book, which is about changing your relationship with money while you're still working for wages. While working towards early retirement, it's often easy to lose sight of the fact you're living your life now (as seen in this Reddit post, and the commenters there). You can't wait until you have "enough money" to start living it well.

The Commitment (Goodreads) - I was expecting this book to be about commitment and the experience of deciding to commit to someone. It wasn't that at all. It was about having decided to spend the rest of your life with someone already, and then deciding whether to go through the social motions of having a ""wedding"", with all the baggage entailed in that.

Lots of funny anecdotes, though Dan Savage's humor is sometimes cruel (nominative determinism strikes again!).

This book might be very moving to someone who is struggling with the question of what the social institution of "marriage" means beyond the commitment to another person. For me, it was an interesting reflection on a problem I don't have.


  1. Which version on Your Money Or Your Life, the original or the updated edition?

    1. Updated edition, which I definitely recommend over the older one.