“One of my own favorite Substacks is the Common Reader, a nerdy literature newsletter.” Helen Lewis, in the Atlantic.

What The Common Reader is about

The Common Reader is a weekly essay about literature, biography, history, or whatever I want to know about that I can't find somewhere else.

I have written essays that have been read by thousands of people and promoted on Marginal Revolution, HackerNews, The Browser, and The Atlantic. You can find my personal website here.

Being a common reader

I read whatever's interesting, whenever it was written, and then write about it. I write biographical sketches or essays, and I review what I read (or watch, occasionally). I don’t do plot summaries.

Sometimes I review new books; mostly I review old books. There’s no agenda.

Here’s a book review you might enjoy.

The Fitzgerald Rule

The biographical essays are usually about opsimaths: people who develop slowly, succeed late in life, and never stop learning.

The Fitzgerald Rules says, ‘you spot talent by looking at what people persist at, not what persistently happens to them.’

If you’re interested, start here.

Wisdom is personal

The long and the short of it is that the only way out is through. ‘You can never be wise unless you learn to love reading,’ said Samuel Johnson.

For these essays, start with this one about reading.

Everything is interesting

They don’t come up very often, but sometimes I blog about whatever I want to know (or alraady know) that I can’t get somewhere else. For example: