Great Books: 7 Days’ Worth of Wisdom and Life Advice From Simone Weil, Robert Greene, Henry David Thoreau, and More…

The following “Life Advice” is taken from my FREE email course on books and literature, which you can enroll in by clicking here.

Essentially, it’s a single email per day, 1–5 times a week, with references to some of the best books I’ve ever come across in all my reading life. Enjoy!

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I love nothing more than to push books into people’s hands, and running the email course benefits me too, because I’ve realized that the best way to learn this stuff is to teach it to others.

Below, there are 7 days’ worth of course material, free as always, on the books we covered that week in the email course.

If you like what you read here, please don’t hesitate to sign up for the REAL email course and get individual lessons sent DIRECTLY TO YOU dealing with the “Great Books” of human civilization.

With just a few “books worth mentioning” thrown in for good measure.

And while I have your attention, I will say that ALL of my book notes from every single book that I’ve ever read are available on my Patreon page.

My study-notes include thousands of pages of quotes, insights, lessons, etc and I’ve also distilled the BEST notes from each book into one “master” document that is now over 700 pages long! You can get all of that on my Patreon, and I update my notes monthly as I read more and more books.

Anyways, enough of all that. Let’s get to the books!

DAY #1: “The 48 Laws of Power” By Robert Greene

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From My Notes:

“What they cannot see they cannot fight.”

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“Get other people to talk about themselves.”

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“If you think someone is lying to you, act like you believe it. They will go in, deeper and deeper until they betray themselves.”

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“If someone is trying to conceal something, then act like you don’t believe what they’ve said so far. This will make them bring out more of the truth.”

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“Give someone a false confession and they’ll give you a real one.”

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“Stir up emotions in conversation and they will reveal more truth.”

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I’ve been working in bars and nightclubs for the last eight years, and I’ve come to notice a few things about how people behave, and how they interact with each other.

I think you CAN trust most people, in most situations, but from painful experience, I know what to look for when it comes to probing someone’s trustworthiness. There are psychological tricks that you can use that will trip people up, and give you an idea of whether you can trust them or not.

Trust me…I’ve confiscated enough fake IDs to know when someone is lying to me!

I think it’s generally a good to idea to talk less anyway, just because it’s all part of being a good conversationalist. People love to talk about themselves, and, paradoxically, if you let them talk about themselves, they will end up liking YOU more!

It’s also good for drawing out the truth. You want to gather more “evidence” by forcing people to reveal more about themselves and their story.

That way, you have more material to sift through in order to look for inconsistencies in their story.

Sort of like how a detective will ask the same questions over and over again in different ways and in a different order, so that it gets harder and harder for the “suspect” to keep the lie straight.

It’s Saturday night as I write this, and I’m about to go into work. Since I’ve prepared myself by reviewing my notes, let’s see these underagers with their atrociously bad fake IDs try and get past ME!

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I’ve ever read. Organized so that you can find what you’re looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the “Great Books”. It’s basically in this format that you’re reading now, except sent directly to your email.

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DAY #2: “Good to Great” By Jim Collins

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From My Notes:

“Stiff competition forces a company to either become great or perish.”

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“Building your opportunities is greater than managing your problems.”

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“Simplify your publicity and direction behind a single unifying concept.”

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“Under-promise and over-deliver.”

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“The flywheel effects builds up momentum until you start seeing the signs of compound interest and greater outside support.”

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“In order to get people on board and motivated, simply start gathering momentum and show visible results.”

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“Being great is no more difficult than being good.”

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How do you get people motivated to help you and commit to your vision?

Show them progress! Show them that you are MOVING towards something. That’s what the “flywheel effect” is all about.

It’s slow going at first, but then you have your first breakthrough. You don’t stop there; you keep going, you keep driving, and then the people around you start to feel as though this ship that they’re on just might make it.

If you’re humble, reward others and praise others before you praise yourself, then you get additional buy-in.

Importantly, you don’t try and operate 15 different flywheels at once; people need to unify behind a single vision for where your (their) effort is going to go. Identify an area where you can separate yourself from your competition, an area where there is demand for what you are producing, and ideally, something that you are passionate about as well.

The “flywheel” will eventually do all the work. It just takes some time to get going. But when it does, your upward trajectory can be no less than remarkable. Anyone who has ever toiled diligently at something important for years and years and YEARS knows what I’m talking about.

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I’ve ever read. Organized so that you can find what you’re looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the “Great Books”. It’s basically in this format that you’re reading now, except sent directly to your email.

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DAY #3: “Where Good Ideas Come From” By Steven Johnson

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From My Notes:

“Evolution is an exploration of adjacent possibles, like exploring rooms in a mansion where each door opens to 3 other possible rooms that couldn’t have been accessed before.”

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“The adjacent possible”.

That’s one of my favorite concepts now.

Steven Johnson is talking about evolutionary processes, which he does beautifully of course, but I brought it back to…reading!

Johnson describes how evolution advances by fits and starts, nature discarding what doesn’t work, keeping what does, and inexorably moving forward all the time. Well it’s the same idea with reading…

Alright, so you open a book.

That’s the first room in the mansion. It could be whatever you are reading now, it could be anything. But as soon as you open that book, you “risk” being exposed to any number of radical new ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.

That first book was a “door” into all the other books that that first book leads to, all the other “adjacent possibles”. The books you weren’t reading, the ideas you weren’t being exposed to, until you cracked open that first book.

Which would be cool enough, except all those new rooms that you discovered ALSO open up into various new rooms as well. Rooms that you didn’t even know EXISTED before. How EXCITING is that?!?!

All it takes is one book, and you’re off! One idea in one book leads to 3 more ideas you never could have had if you hadn’t read that first book.

And then if those new ideas inspire you to read another 3 or 4 books on a related (or unrelated) topic, then THOSE books will all branch off into adjacent possibles as well.

I can tell you what it feels like…

It’s like a fireworks display inside my own mind.

And it all started by opening a book.

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I’ve ever read. Organized so that you can find what you’re looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the “Great Books”. It’s basically in this format that you’re reading now, except sent directly to your email.

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DAY #4: “Status Anxiety” By Alain de Botton

From My Notes:

“Rather than a tale of greed, the history of luxury could more accurately be read as a record of emotional trauma. It is the legacy of those who have felt pressured by the disdain of others to add an extraordinary amount to their bare selves in order to signal that they too may lay a claim to love.”

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“The wages of the meanest laborer can supply the necessities of nature.”

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“Those without status are all but invisible: they are treated brusquely by others, their complexities trampled on, and their singularities ignored.”

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“The attentions of others matter to us because we are afflicted with a congenital uncertainty as to our own value.”

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“The price we have paid for expecting to be so much more than our ancestors is a perpetual anxiety that we are far from being all we might be.”

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“What others think of us doesn’t have to determine what we think of ourselves.”

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“I usually wake up screaming by 6:30. And then I’m in the office by 9.”

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One of my favorite stand-up comics, Lewis Black, once asked, “How much SHIT do ya NEED?”

Jon Stewart also commented that Lewis is the only person he knows that can actually yell in print form, but that’s neither here nor there.

Black was talking about some of the astronomical bonuses that certain corporate execs were taking in the US just before their eventual downfalls due to insider trading and other underhanded schemes.

The reasons for the huge bonuses of course were greed and status anxiety, and it’s not just the C-levels that are affected.

I said in the introduction that I wasn’t going to make any value judgments, and I won’t, but we’re talking about SERIOUS lack of self-respect here.

Self-respect is the only kind of respect that really means anything in this too-big world, and when you have it, your sense of self worth comes from within.

You are able to fall back upon your own resources, and decide for yourself what you are worth.

Stress is a HUGE killer in North America, and in many other places that endorse similar ideals. Of course, healthy ambition is one of the greatest sources of power and joy in human life, but it’s a balance.

You have to do it for the right reasons.

Acquiring emotional stability at the price of your health and your sanity is just NOT worth it.

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I’ve ever read. Organized so that you can find what you’re looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the “Great Books”. It’s basically in this format that you’re reading now, except sent directly to your email.

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DAY #5: “Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters” By Alan Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa

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From My Notes:

“People often become obese because our brains cannot comprehend supermarkets. Fatty foods are readily available in the aisles, when they simply weren’t thousands of years ago. In this way, it is a maladaptive adaptation because the problem it once solved no longer exists in industrialized societies.”

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“Seeing realistic images of other humans on TV etc that did not or do not try to harm or kill us makes us feel closer to them, just like they were our real friends. It explains why many people feel closer to the celebrities they’ve never met.”

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“Our brains haven’t changed for 10,000 years, so we have difficulty adapting to any changes that came about within that time-frame.”

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“Men become jealous over sexual infidelity while women become jealous over emotional infidelity.”

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“Humans who preferred fats in their diets overcame starvation so that’s why people today like fatty foods.”

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“Any developmentally normal child can grow up to learn any human language.”

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“Advertisements are the consequences of our desires to look a certain way or to want something, and not necessarily the causes.”

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“The Savanna Principle is the idea that the human brain has difficulty dealing with entities that didn’t exist in the ancestral environment.”

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“There is very little benefit for women to seek a large number of sexual partners compared to men.”

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“The cost of thinking a woman is interested when she is not, is much less than thinking she is not interested when she IS interested. Therefore, many men believe women are into them who actually have no feelings for them whatsoever.”

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“Biological parents very seldom kill their genetic children.”

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“We are all descended from people who have had at least some reproductive success.”

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“Ethnocentrism is an evolved tendency that all humans have.”

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“There is natural tension among races because they did not often encounter each other in the ancestral environment.”

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“There is no evolutionary psychological reason why children should love their parents.”

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If you’re impatient and want the answer to why beautiful people have more daughters, it’s in the second paragraph of this article from Psychology Today.

But the basic idea here is that everyone who is alive today is the ancestor of someone who was re-productively successful.

Now, why is that?

It’s because they adapted behaviors that were rewarded in the search for suitable mates and for methods of survival. Some behaviors are maladaptive, such as trusting someone who has shown ZERO trustworthiness in the past, and finding a spouse who isn’t able to support your children.

What’s interesting is that many of these things don’t work any more. Supermarkets mean that we aren’t likely to starve to death (if you live in the “right” parts of the world), and today, racism is pointless.

Where I’m particularly encouraged is when it comes to race relations. I’m not surprised that racism exists, because, in the ancestral environment, if you were to come across someone radically different in appearance from you, you were probably stricken with fear.

That’s not the case any more.

Sure, there’s some residual effects of this tendency (obviously, we see it every day), but we can use our evolved, rational minds, to direct evolution and, well…get over it already!

People are different. We have different skin tones, hair texture, facial features, etc…but we’re all basically the same.

“Racism” in a certain sense may have been adaptive in a culture ruled by fear of the unknown, but we don’t have to be controlled by it any more.

Evolutionary psychology is a field prone to “easy answers” and dubious research methods, but when done right, it’s nothing short of astounding.

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I’ve ever read. Organized so that you can find what you’re looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the “Great Books”. It’s basically in this format that you’re reading now, except sent directly to your email.

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DAY #6: “Civil Disobedience” By Henry David Thoreau

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From My Notes:

“Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward attaining it.”

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“It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.”

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“The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.”

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“I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave’s government also.”

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“It is not so important that many be as good as you, but that there be some absolute goodness somewhere.”

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“If it’s required that you be the agent of injustice towards another, then I say, break the law.”

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“Prison is the only place in a slave state where a free man can abide with honor.”

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I’m in such complete respect and awe of Thoreau and this is why. His moral courage might seem alien to us simply because so few today seem to possess it.

And I’m not excluding myself from that number.

I honestly don’t know whether I would be willing to go to prison for what I believe in, not even if I were protesting an unjust war, or mass slavery, such as Thoreau was.

He says that if it’s required of you by law to commit an act of injustice towards another, then it is your duty to break the law. If the powers that be sanction the extermination of the Native Americans (as they did in Thoreau’s time), we are obligated, as freethinkers, to break the law and to disobey.

It’s not an easy stance to take, and many of our friends wouldn’t understand our choice, if we were to make it.

They’d just say, “What does it matter to you? You’re not killing them PERSONALLY!” and your answer would be that you could not respect the government who does not respect all peoples under its influence as well.

I just think that we can learn a lot from what Thoreau went to prison for, and his quotes above are worth pondering until we “get it”.

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I’ve ever read. Organized so that you can find what you’re looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the “Great Books”. It’s basically in this format that you’re reading now, except sent directly to your email.

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DAY #7: “Simone Weil: Late Philosophical Writings” Edited by Eric O. Springsted

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From My Notes:

“Even when it puts things well, a mind enclosed in language is in prison. Its limit is the number of relations that words can render present to it at the same time.

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It remains in ignorance of thoughts implying a greater number of relations; these thoughts are beyond language, unformulatable, no matter how perfectly rigorous and clear they may be and no matter how the relations that went into them were expressible in perfectly clear terms.

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Thus the mind moves in a closed space of partial truth, which can be more or less big, without ever being able to cast a glance on what is beyond it.

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The difference between people more or less intelligent is like the difference between prisoners condemned to life in prison whose cells are more or less large. An intelligent man who is proud of his intelligence is like a prisoner who is proud of having a big cell.”

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I have ZERO tolerance for “social justice warrior” types who insist that everyone include a female author whenever someone talks about books.

Which is part of the reason why I am PROUD to say that Simone Weil remains one of the most powerful influences on my thinking to this day, and I admire her more than almost anyone else that I’ve ever heard of or met in my entire life.

I don’t care whether she’s a woman or not (she is, haha); all I care about are her IDEAS and her STUNNING commitment to the dignity and rights of human beings all over the world.

Technically, she died of malnutrition, but in actual fact, she STARVED HERSELF TO DEATH after pledging to only eat as much food as French citizens were currently allowed to eat in Nazi-controlled France.

She possessed this strength of character that I can only stand back and observe in awe and gratitude. She was a spectacular woman, and I URGE you to get your hands on a copy of one (or all) of her books.

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

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AUTHOR BIO: Matt Karamazov is a nightclub bouncer in Halifax, Canada. But he’s really very nice once you get to know him! He writes mostly for High Existence, as well as MattKaramazov.com. When you read 200+ books per year, you need to get up and move every once in a while, so you’ll find him at the gym 400 times per year too. He also runs a nonprofit, and ardently believes that unconditional love is the highest power in the universe. He wishes you well.

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Top Writer in Books and Reading. Physique Competitor. Nonprofit Leader. Best Books: https://cutt.ly/hhmTASC

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