This Week’s Selected Media, Jun 9, 2024: When Breath Becomes Air and Scientific Advertising

June 9, 2024 by Joshua
in Tips

This week I finished:

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi: This book sold huge and I’ve seen it for years. I kept comparing it to Ikiru the movie by Kurasawa and Death of Ivan Illyich the novella by Tolstoy. They’re all works on evaluating and reevaluating life, how to live it, and what we value when confronted with mortality. Man’s Search for Meaning by Frankl too.

People may look down on me for it, but I felt spoiled by those other three works. When Breath Becomes Air was compelling to read and I’m glad I finished it, but I didn’t feel it delivered more than what they did, combined with my own seeing mortality ever closer in my 50s, working in an area that risks hundreds of millions of early deaths in my lifetime. I don’t think many people think seriously of such outcomes, but I have, at least more than before.


Scientific Advertising, by Claude Hopkins: At least one online marketer recommended this book to me. I wouldn’t have expected an advertising book to remain relevant over a century after publication, but it came out in 1923 and it seemed relevant to me.

David Ogilvy wrote that “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.”

I read it to help prepare for launching Sustainability Simplified and the movement to follow.

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