Five years later I won’t say all that has changed. But things look slightly different. We spend more time than ever on our devices, but it seems fair to say we like them less, especially when it comes to reading. E-book sales have plateaued. Bookstores have staged a modest resurgence. Turning off your phone has become a prized luxury. Over these last few years all of us, readers and writers alike, have developed a growing appreciation for what the Internet wants to take away: our time alone with the written word.
Agatha Christie read 200 books every year, while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gets through a book a fortnight. President Theodore Roosevelt read a book a day, and increased this to two or three when he had a quiet night. But how can mere mortals get through more?
Perhaps, though, this also the apex of its wisdom: Knowing that, in retrospect, the stupidest mistakes you’ve made are also often the very ingredients that give a long life its piquancy.
Undeterred by such realities, Eric Weiner has embarked on a hunt for the underlying recipe behind some of the world’s most productive and influential cities. In “The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places From Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley,” he takes the reader on a historical travelogue, examining Athens and Silicon Valley along with Hangzhou, Florence, Edinburgh, Calcutta and Vienna. In each case, Weiner attempts to explain the unique circumstances that led to one spot’s rise as a superpower of ideas and then to find the common ground linking them together.
The long-misunderstood philosopher, a hater of nationalism but supporter of independent thought, disliked trends in higher education that are very evident today
Not so long ago, eating well was a challenge outside America’s major cities, but the farm-to-table movement, craft breweries and Instagram have changed that.