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Welcome to The Age of Magical Overthinking, by Amanda Montell
Your inbox is about to get sparkly... and cerebral.
Hi, Amanda Montell. I’m an overthinker, thought spiraller, dreamer, and author of the new book, THE AGE OF MAGICAL OVERTHINKING: Notes on Modern Irrationality. It comes out April 9 and is officially available for preorder :) I’ve never been more in love with a project. It’s what inspired this newsletter, launching today! I’m enchanted that you’re here.
This newsletter was born out of my obsession with the subjects I’ve been writing about for the past two years: cognitive biases, self-delusion, the dizzying swing between head and heart. Already, this is the only place on the internet that keeps the buzz in my head at a decibel I can stand. Magical Overthinkers is a space for book lovers, language nerds, psychology/sociology stans, and “culties.” Oh goodie, there’s so much fun stuff coming your way. Here’s what you can expect…
Mondays are for all subscribers and will bring a delicious mishmash of writing prompts and authorly Q&As, live tour news, book giveaways, and a list of my weekly “cult faves” (books, podcasts, activities, etc.).
But the REALLY good stuff comes when you sign up for the paid subscription. For example, I’m releasing serialized audiobook commentary for my second book Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism. Each Wednesday, like a podcast, paid subs will hear me read excerpts from the book along with backstory and analyses from the cutting room floor.
And of course, some days will be for MAGICAL OVERTHINKERS. Paid subs can expect sneak previews of the new book, essays, interviews, and video readings. You’ll also receive behind-the-scenes insights into my book process, cut chapters, early access to tour events, and more!
MAGICAL OVERTHINKERS is a reader-supported newsletter about delusion, cults, thought-spirals, books, mental health, and more. To best support my work, become a paid subscriber!
I’d also love this newsletter to feel like a community space for word nerds and book nerds, cult lovers, and overthinkers. I will often pose questions and prompts—do feel free to engage in the comments!
If you’re an overthinker, this newsletter is for you. It’s a space for people who want to think less about the things that don’t matter and more about the things that do <3
My new book!
I began THE AGE OF MAGICAL OVERTHINKING: Notes on Modern Irrationality the summer of 2021, and I am bursting to announce it finally has a cover and a pub date: APRIL 9, 2024. The book is blend of social science, cultural criticism, and deeply personal stories, exploring cognitive biases and magical thinking in the modern age. Chapters include “Are You My Mother, Taylor Swift? A note on the halo effect,” “I Swear I Manifested This: A note on proportionality bias,” “A Toxic Relationship Is Just a Cult of One: A note on sunk cost fallacy,” and more. I am so excited about the world of this book. If you preorder now from any retailer (and I humbly beg that you do! It makes all the difference for an author), upload your proof of purchase here, and your book will arrive with a special surprise from me :)
Today’s episode of Sounds Like A Cult…
It just dropped! I am sooooOOOoooo jazzed for you to hear my first solo-hosted episode of Sounds Like A Cult. It’s about the “cult” of purity rings, featuring extra special guest, Kelsey McKinney of the Normal Gossip pod (any Kelsey stans here?). Here’s the episode description: Anyone who grew up evangelical Christian and/or plugged into teen celebrity news circa 2008 will be familiar with today's cult: Purity Rings. You know, the dainty piece of jewelry placed ritualistically on a teen girl's wedding finger to signify her vow of chastity until marriage, or else?? Purity rings are not just an accessory—they're a bonafide industry, complete with rules, ceremonies, secrets, veiled threats, and religious trauma up the wazoo... but, are they a cult? This week, Normal Gossip's Kelsey McKinney, is joining Amanda to unpack just that. Listen now wherever you get your podcasts.
Gen Z queen Emma Chamberlain had me as a guest on her pod!
She’s my partner Casey’s celebrity crush, a first-of-her-kind internet icon, and by far the coolest, savviest, most thoughtful and charismatic 22-year-old I’ve ever met. Casey and I have been watching Emma’s videos and following her career since she was knee-high to a grasshopper and then… out of the blue… an invitation materialized that she wanted ME to come guest on her podcast Anything Goes?? It was such a joy talking “cultish” with someone so curious, self-aware, and also fully cult-worshipped (by me lol). The episode dropped September 28 and you can listen to it on Spotify, or watch it on YouTube!
I’m co-hosting two writing career workshops…
Writing is hard (duh). Becoming a working writer is even harder… but for totally different reasons. Enter this two-punch series sharing actionable tips for how to DIY your writing career, from first byline to successful book launch! A couple times a year, my friend Alisson Wood, author of the stunning memoir Being Lolita, and I host these dueling online workshops, which I only WISH existed earlier in my career. In these sessions, we’ll share concrete info and strategies (from pitching to self-marketing) to help you become the very best and most successful writer you can be. Join us on Sundays, November 5th & 12th for 90 minute crash courses. More info here!
Come write & travel with me in Italy…
Earlier this year, I hosted two “write and travel with me” experiences in Italy, and they were so smashing, I decided to do one more! The next trip will be October 13-19, 2024 and will take place in Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Join me and 16+ fellow adventurers who also love books, food, and coastline so beautiful it actually makes you cry a lil bit. Here’s how it works: Once you arrive, everything will be planned out for you. We’ll sail to the island of Capri, eat our weight in pizza (in the birthplace of pizza!), engage in inspiring all-level writing exercises inspired by our travels, and more.
Click here for more info about the trip (itinerary, pricing, etc.). There are 8 spots left!
A weekly roundup of books, podcasts, TV shows, tchotchkes, and anything else I’m currently “cult following.” This week, I thought I’d start off with my canon of all-time faves—stuff I’ve always worshipped and always will.
No author has influenced my voice more than this impossibly clever, often voyeuristic, and always knee-slappingly hilarious science writer, whose bibliography of bangers includes Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. I owe the humor-laced curiosity I hope to portray in my work (as well as my habit of including silly footnotes) to Ms. Roach, with whom I once enjoyed a brief but invigorating email correspondence—I can attest, even her emails are deliciously voicey!
TV: Six Feet Under
Typing up a one-paragraph blurb to recommend this show feels impossible and almost offensive. It’d be like writing a two-sentence summary of your mother, or of the house where you grew up. All I can say is that it’s an acclaimed, early 2000s HBO dramedy chronicling a family-run funeral home—and it is my religion. I quote this show like a Baptist citing Bible verses; I named my cats after its best characters. I’m basically a Trekky for Six Feet Under, so… please watch it so I finally have someone to talk about it with. Thanks!
Of course my favorite movie is about a linguist! This 2016 film adaptation of the book Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chian tells of a brilliant translation scholar, who saves humanity from self-destructing in the face of a mysterious extraterrestrial visit with nothing but the power of language. Everytime I watch the movie, I appreciate it more. From the iconic score to the layered storytelling to the themes of familial love and time… gah! A perfect film.
Are you sensing a theme yet? All my favorite media can be found at the intersection of head and heart. This whimsically sound-designed, beautifully reported science show is the first podcast I ever listened to—I discovered it in 2012 on a 14-hour drive from Gold Beach, Oregon to Los Angeles, and I swore I’d never be bored again. It has remained my ride-or-die ever since. Episode highlights include Galapagos, 23 Weeks 6 Days, Colors, Rodney vs. Death, and Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl.
MUSIC: Sylvan Esso
I always liked this quirky electropop duo… then, in the fall of 2021, I saw them live at The Greek in Los Angeles, a transcendent outdoor amphitheater, while enjoying a garnish of mushrooms… and holy shit, not only did I fall in love with them, I bow to them. Their album Free Love is nothing short of a masterpiece. Don’t even talk to me about the last track, “Make It Easy,” or I’ll weep!
Welcome to the magical overthinkers club! Leave a comment below with your name, where you’re based, and something you can’t stop overthinking about lately…