Chapter 75: George Saunders offers lessons on living a luminous life

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By Neil Pasricha and Neil Pasricha: Bestselling Author. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

3 Books is a completely insane and totally epic 15-year-long quest to uncover and discuss the 1000 most formative books in the world. Each chapter discusses the 3 most formative books of one of the world's most inspiring people. Sample guests include: Brené Brown, David Sedaris, Malcolm Gladwell, Angie Thomas, Cheryl Strayed, Rich Roll, Soyoung the Variety Store Owner, Derek the Hype Man, Kevin the Bookseller, Vishwas the Uber Driver, Roxane Gay, David Mitchell, Vivek Murthy, Mark Manson, Seth Godin, and Judy Blume. 3 Books is published on the lunar calendar with each of the 333 chapters dropped on the exact minute of every single new moon and every single full moon all the way up to 5:21 am on September 1, 2031. 3 Books is an Apple "Best Of" award-winning show and is 100% non-profit with no ads, no sponsors, no commercials, and no interruptions. 3 Books has 3 clubs including the End of the Podcast Club, the Cover to Cover Club, and the Secret Club, which operates entirely through the mail and is only accessible by calling 1-833-READ-A-LOT. Each chapter is hosted live and in-person at the guest's preferred location by Neil Pasricha, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Awesome, The Happiness Equation, Two-Minute Mornings, etc. For more info check out: https://www.3books.co

“An astoundingly tuned voice, telling just the kind of stories we need to get us through these times.” Thomas Pynchon

“Not since Mark Twain has America produced a satirist this funny.” Zadie Smith

“George Saunders makes you feel as if you are reading fiction for the first time.” Khaled Hosseini

I could keep going and going with other literary all-stars lining up to praise George Saunders but my favorite quote about George’s writing comes from Ben Marcus in The Believer back in 2004:

“The Suits call his writing ‘stories,’ but they are really soft bodies to wear for a larger experience of life, hollowcore person-shapes that one can slip on in order to attain amazement. Saunders writes bodies, and his readers wear them.”

Yes! That’s how I feel, too. Which is what made it such an immense pleasure to sit down with the humble genius that is George Saunders. Don’t take the genius label from me! He’s won a MacArthur Genius Grant, Guggenheim Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Prize and been named to Time’s 100 Most Influential People.

He won the Man Booker for the mesmerizing otherworldly masterpiece Lincoln in the Bardo, and every time I read his short story collections Pastoralia and Tenth of December they just crack my heart wide open. And, just to extend the literary resume here, his most recent book A Swim in the Pond in the Rain is simply the best book on writing I have ever read. I highly recommend it to all writers.

George Saunders has also been a Professor in Creative Writing at Syracuse University since 1997. Cheryl Strayed, our guest in Chapter 69, is one of hundreds who had George as a teacher and calls him a mentor today.

Please enjoy this wide-ranging conversation discussing the computer we are all trapped inside, reading as a life project, how we process reality, practicing Buddhism, the world as a corrective force, delivering payoff, staying grounded, cultivating a love of literature in children, harnessing our shadow selves, quieting mental rumination, aiming our spigots, and much, much more … .

The wisdom of George Saunders offers a true masterclass on writing, on living, on life.

Let’s flip the page into Chapter 75 …

What You'll Learn:

  • How does our brain process reality?
  • How do writers justify the non normative and guarantee pay off?
  • What is a reading project?
  • How does death amplify life?
  • What is the self?
  • What is efficiency in writing?
  • How should we stay grounded despite success?
  • When should writers compare themselves to the masters?
  • How should we think about kindness?
  • What can we learn from Buddhism?
  • What is an innate tendency of mind?
  • How can parents cultivate a love of literature in their kids?
  • How can we channel our different mental states to be creative?
  • How does exploring one’s dark side or subconscious impact one’s writing?
  • How can the minutiae of editing save a writer?
  • How can we learn to live more freely?

You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/75

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