Book notes: Anxious People

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman was one of the most beautiful books I have read in a while. I know Sally Rooney gets the crown for being the whisperer of Millennial Women but it was this book that kept causing me extreme highs and lows as I deeply resonated with its text and resented its accuracy as a parent of young children in a world I can’t slow down long enough to fully understand.

The book captures the subtle melancholy of being a human, flaws and all, in a digital, distracted, fragmented world. I especially loved the author’s perspective on love and parenting.

Read it–and if you do, let me know. Because I really want to talk about it with people.

Book review

Favorite quotes: 

“The truth of course is that if people really were as happy as they look on the Internet, they wouldn’t spend so much damn time on the Internet, because no one who’s having a really good day spends half of it taking pictures of themselves. Anyone can nurture a myth about their life if they have enough manure, so if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that’s probably because it’s full of shit.”

“Expensive restaurants have bigger gaps between the tables. First class on airplanes has no middle seats. Exclusive hotels have separate entrances for guests staying in suites. The most expensive thing you can buy in the most densely populated places on the planet is distance.”

“God doesn’t protect people from knives, sweetheart. That’s why God gave us other people, so we can protect each other.”

“Because that was a parent’s job: to provide shoulders. Shoulders for your children to sit on when they’re little so they can see the world, then stand on when they get older so they can reach the clouds, and sometimes lean against whenever they stumble and feel unsure.”

I love a good story-behind-the-story thread

Here’s a great example from Figma:

The Anxiety of Influencers

Via Harpers

So the truth is that the influencer economy is just a garish accentuation of the economy writ large. As our culture continues to conflate the private and public realms—as the pandemic has transformed our homes into offices and our bedrooms into backdrops, as public institutions increasingly fall prey to the mandates of the market—we’ve become cheerfully indentured to the idea that our worth as individuals isn’t our personal integrity or sense of virtue, but our ability to advertise our relevance on the platforms of multinational tech corporations.

Portals to Beautiful Futures

I’ve recently been introduced to Omidyar, an organization working to bring about structural change at a system level. Their recent report is a provocative rallying call for co-creation and collaborative solutions to some of our most complex problems.