What We Are Reading Today: Midlife: A Philosophical Guide by Kieran Setiya

Updated 31 August 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Midlife: A Philosophical Guide by Kieran Setiya

  • Midlife combines imaginative ideas, surprising insights, and practical advice

How can you reconcile yourself with the lives you will never lead, with possibilities foreclosed, and with nostalgia for lost youth? How can you accept the failings of the past, the sense of futility in the tasks that consume the present, and the prospect of death that blights the future? In this self-help book with a difference, Kieran Setiya confronts the inevitable challenges of adulthood and middle age, showing how philosophy can help you thrive.

You will learn why missing out might be a good thing, how options are overrated, and when you should be glad you made a mistake. You will be introduced to philosophical consolations for mortality. And you will learn what it would mean to live in the present, how it could solve your midlife crisis, and why meditation helps.

Ranging from Aristotle, Schopenhauer, and John Stuart Mill to Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as drawing on Setiya’s own experience, Midlife combines imaginative ideas, surprising insights, and practical advice. Writing with wisdom and wit, Setiya makes a wry but passionate case for philosophy as a guide to life. Kieran Setiya is professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

He is the author of Reasons without Rationalism (Princeton) and Knowing Right from Wrong. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and son.


What We Are Reading Today: Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart

Updated 20 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart

  • Lake Success flies through a lot of topics: Wealth, status, parenthood, lost relationships, autism, America, etc.
  • I think it’s ultimately a book about time, and how it only moves in one direction, forward, says on a reviewer

Lake Success is the story of a clueless hedge fund multi-millionaire who self-destructs his family and hits the road on a Greyhound bus to see America and try to recover his college days. 

Lake Success flies through a lot of topics: Wealth, status, parenthood, lost relationships, autism, America, etc. 

It tracks the mid-life crisis of Barry Cohen, a “struggling” hedge fund manager with a crumbling marriage and a severely autistic three-year-old son. 

“I think it’s ultimately a book about time, and how it only moves in one direction, forward. Once the main characters accept the forward motion of their lives, they are truly able to live,” a reviewer commented in goodreads.com. 

The author, Gary Shteyngart, is an American writer born in Leningrad. Much of his work is satirical and relies on the invention of elaborately fictitious yet somehow familiar places and times.

Shteyngart’s first three novels — The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (2002), Absurdistan (2006) and Super Sad True Love Story (2010) — were fundamentally immigrant stories. 

The Russian Debutante’s Handbook received the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award.

Lake Success takes place over the final months of the 2016 campaign, and in the early months of Donald Trump’s presidency.