A teaser line from my new book (and a psychology reading)
It's story time, magical overthinkers!
One thing I’m especially eager to do in this newsletter is to give you readers a peek into my book research process. Reading others’ work is a critically important, foundational element of my writing that I never get to talk about because it’s so quiet and private and maybe not as exciting as crafting big arguments or interviewing sources about their wacky lives. But before I can do my favorite part of the book writing process—spinning tales and playing with language—I have to do a ton of reading… dozens of studies and books… to learn everything I can about the topic at hand, whether it’s feminist sociolinguistics or cult psychology or (in the case of this book) a huge range of subjects from the history of celebrity worship to how the nervous systems of our hunter-gatherer compared to ours.
Without the background, I can’t hope to draw unexpected connections or dream up a unique thesis. The big trick then is to make it seem like I already knew all this stuff and can talk about it in a way that’s entertaining and digestible without even trying. Rest assured, there’s a lot of trying involved, ha. And it starts with reading.
The best part about writing The Age of Magical Overthinking is that it’s such a genre-blending book that I had the freedom to reference, say, a Harvard behavioral economics study, a Sylvia Plath essay, a Carl Sagan aphorism, and a pop song I love all within the same chapter.
I want to let you in on some of my favorite sources and textual inspirations for the book. So, every few weeks here, I’m going to video-record myself reading a passage from a book I read and/or cited during my writing of The Age of Magical Overthinking. Then, I’ll tease a line or two from the book that connects to the passage of the week. To start, here’s an excerpt from a psychology book and a couple lines from the intro of The Age of Magical Overthinking. I hope you enjoy.