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7 Essential Books on Optimism

7 Essential Books on Optimism
by Maria Popova What the love of honey has to do with ancient wisdom, our capacity for hope, and the future of technology. Every once in a while, we all get burned out. Sometimes, charred. And while a healthy dose of cynicism and skepticism may help us get by, it’s in those times that we need nothing more than to embrace life’s promise of positivity with open arms. Here are seven wonderful books that help do just that with an arsenal ranging from the light visceral stimulation of optimistic design to the serious neuroscience findings about our proclivity for the positive. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, one of our must-read children’s books with philosophy for grown-ups, is among the most poetic and hopeful reflections on human existence ever penned. Here is my secret. Published in 1943, translated into 180 languages since and adapted to just about every medium, Exupéry’s famous novella is one of the best-selling books of all time. Reviewed in full, with more images, here.

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Jazz: A Rare Record of a Cultural Revolution by Maria Popova Last winter, The Jazz Loft Project was one of readers’ favorites — a rare and fascinating look at the secret life of a New York loft, where some of the most iconic jazz musicians of the 1950s came to play at night. This season brings us a greater treasure still: Jazz — a humbly titled yet absolutely amazing retrospective of the work of legendary photographer Herman Leonard, who passed away a few weeks before the book was published. Leonard had been photographing jazz musicians since the 1950s and developed close friendships with greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, which gave him unique access to these innovators and their larger worlds beyond the stage.

7 Must-Read Books on the Art & Science of Happiness by Maria Popova From Plato to Buddha, or what imperfection has to do with the neuroscience of the good life. If you, like me, are fascinated by the human quest to understand the underpinnings of happiness but break out in hives at the mere mention of self-help books, you’re in luck: I’ve sifted through my personal library, a decade’s worth of obsessive reading, to surface seven essential books on the art and science of happiness, rooted in solid science, contemporary philosophy and cross-disciplinary insight. From psychology and neuroscience to sociology and cultural anthropology to behavioral economics, these essential reads illuminate the most fundamental aspiration of all human existence: How to avoid suffering and foster lasting well-being. The question of what makes us happy is likely as old as human cognition itself and has occupied the minds of philosophers, prophets and scientists for millennia.

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