Whether your resolutions for 2019 involve tackling your most persistent demons or simply finishing all the books you’ve started, the new year is a good time to turn over a new leaf. John Kaag finds an antidote to both modern ennui and self-improvement platitudes in the epigraph of Friedrich Nietzsche’s graduate dissertation, while Karen Swallow Prior writes that the very process of thoughtful reading can build skills for living a better life—as many of the characters in Jane Austen’s novels learn.
Michelle Obama’s memoir about the punishing tasks of political life also includes her heartfelt reflections on personal struggles. The Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy reckons with the implications of large- and small-scale suffering in life and music. And the novelist Scott Spencer explains how Rudyard Kipling found a way to transform grief and guilt into art.
Each week in the Books Briefing, we thread together Atlantic stories on books that share similar ideas, and ask you for recommendations of what our list left out.
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What We’re Reading
How to live better, according to Friedrich Nietzsche
“Nietzsche knew that if philosophy can serve as therapy, it’s by delivering an electric jolt to the soul.”