Merchants of Doubt

As I’m writing this in 2022, misinformation is everywhere, and it’s not subtle. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, there are a lot of facts that certain groups of people want to hide or cause confusion with falsehoods. But misinformation is not new. It’s been going on for decades, but when did it start and how did its strategies shift over time? Who were the first merchants of doubt?

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant is a simple yet appropriate name for this compilation of quotes. Naval is a venture capitalist and angel investor, probably most well-known for founding AngelList. He has amassed a huge amount of wealth and become a sort of modern day philosopher. He has a lot to say about wealth, health, and happiness.

Make It Stick

A book on how to learn, and really make it stick, using itself as a model. Make It Stick teaches you using the techniques covered in the book. There is no better way to understand a concept quickly than to see it applied.

Make It Stick is a collaboration between Peter C. Brown, a professional writer, and Henry L. Roediger III and Mark A. McDaniel, professors of psychology. The result is a well-researched, easy-to-digest primer for any skill level. While it targets mainly students, parents, and teachers, there is useful advice for lifelong learners as well.

There are many lessons to learn, and to truly make them stick you should read the book yourself, taking notes and quizzing yourself using the given techniques. But since I know you’re busy, here are my main takeaways.

The Psychology of Money

Money, along with health, is a universal experience that every human has to deal with. Most people see money as a scary, hard thing. There are so many numbers and rules, how could we possibly keep up? In reality, however, money doesn’t have to be complicated. There are a few simple principles to follow that will make your experiences with money much easier and less stressful.


Amanda Montell examines cult success and reveals the cultish language in our everyday lives. Who isn’t fascinated by the power of cults?

How Stella Learned To Talk

Christina Hunger tells the story of Stella, the world’s first talking dog— how her training as a speech pathologist helped her to see Stella’s existing communication and advance it to human words through recordable buttons on the floor.
As Stella’s fur parent, Christina poured all the love, happiness, and pride from that relationship onto the page. That is Stella’s journey of learning to speak: one of love and support.

A Mind for Numbers

Whether you’re a college student or a lifelong learner, this book is chock full of tips and tricks for learning new things, memorizing, productivity, self-improvement, and just life in general. It is geared towards people trying to improve their science and math skills (especially if you get anxious when you see numbers), but there’s something in here for everyone.

Dr. Oakley is a self-described language and art person. When she joined the military, she noticed that her most competent colleagues always had some technical skills, no matter what their primary responsibilities were. Their technical inclinations served them well in that environment. So she decided that she was going to go against her inclinations and learn more numerical skills. She never looked back.

This book represents the most useful lessons she has learned in how to use your brain to its full abilities. Anyone can do math when they put their mind to it. Dr. Oakley provides hacks to get you there a little more quickly and easily, illustrated by whimsical examples.

Atomic Habits

James Clear’s habit strategies work. The evidence is in your hands (or on your screen)— he built this book through many years of work on his blog.

He makes a compelling case for the power of habit with regards to success in life. Whether it be in your career, a hobby, or with your family, making good habits and breaking bad ones will get you where you want to be.

This is one that I would recommend you read in its entirety. It is full of gems, and different examples will speak to different people. What follows is a summary of what spoke to me.

Unwinding Anxiety

Judson Brewer, a practicing psychiatrist and researcher, shares some of the best ways you can change your mindset towards anxiety. I’ve summarized them here so you can get the gist and start unwinding anxiety in your own life. While much of this book was fluff (self promotion, repetition, stories from patients and clients of the author), there are some very useful tips hidden inside.

The basis of the strategies given here is that anxiety thrives on bad habits. In fact, anxiety itself can become a habit if you let yourself get comfortable in it.

The Courage to Be Disliked

The Courage to be Disliked takes the form of a socratic dialogue between a philosopher and a young learner about Adlerian psychology. While Alfred Adler was not a widely-known philosopher, he influenced several celebrity thinkers and their writings, such as Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People) and Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).

Parts of this book really hit home for me. I am shy at heart, love to be alone, and try to please everyone. To step out of this comfort zone takes a lot of internal effort. This book was a good reminder that doing so is important.