On Books

On Books is a podcast about books. Think of it as a two-person book club — or a series of thirty-minute audiobooks. Each week on the show host Chris Castiglione brings you a new book. Highlights include: Mating in Captivity, Sapiens, Sex at Dawn, Letters to a Young Poet, Educated, How Not to Die, Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit, Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, as well as exclusive interviews with Neil Strauss, Haruki Murakami, Kevin Kelly, Peter Singer and more.
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Oct 31, 2021

In this episode I talk with Zander Rose (Director of the Long Now Foundation) on long-term thinking, and building something that lasts longer than ourselves. This is the fourth episode in the series, but feel free to listen to them in any order you like. Books notes available at:

Oct 25, 2021
Buddhism has a lot to say about suffering—and there are likely few times we suffer more intensely than when we break up with a romantic partner. It feels like you may never recover sometimes. But Lodro Rinzler has wonderfully good news for those suffering heartbreak: the 2,500-year-old teachings of the Buddha are the ultimate antidote for emotional pain. And you don’t need to be a Buddhist for them to apply to you. In this short and compact first-aid kit for a broken heart, he walks you through the cause and cure of suffering, with much practical advice for self-care as you work to survive a breakup. The wisdom he presents applies to any kind of emotional suffering.
Oct 18, 2021

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

In this episode Chris brings you his top highlights from Sapiens. 

Learn more at


Oct 11, 2021

Buy the Change You Want to See is a new book that just came out, by Jane Mosbacher Morris. It's promoting the idea to “Vote with your dollar,” a concept that I love, and to the best of my extent, try to live by everyday.

Vote with your dollar is more or less the idea that you, as the consumer, you have the power to change the world by influencing it with your buying decisions. If you use your money to support Patagonia or Whole Foods (they will benefit and survive longer). On the other hand, if you refuse to give money to companies that clash with your values (in my case, let’s say McDonalds and Taco Bell) hopefully over time the power of these companies will diminish.

The book Buy the Change You Want to See came on my radar because I saw Jane give a talk about the book, and thought, the mission of this book is exactly the types of books we try to support on the On Books Podcast: People thinking about the future, and passionate about improving the planet.

More notes and the transcript are available at

If you like the On Books Podcast — can you please leave a rating on iTunes?


Oct 4, 2021

Educated is the memoir about a girl who went from being homeschooled in rural Idaho, to receive her Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Along the way she confronts poverty, ignorance, violence, and a host of other challenges. It's the remarkable, true story of Westover's journey to find an education. Educated was on the top of Bill Gate's Book list of 2018, as well as Barak Obama, Oprah, and the New York Times. And now it's on the top of my list! This week I chat with Allison Goldberg (Blogologues) in this very special 2-person bookclub episode of the On Books podcast.

For more information and to see the links please visit:

This episode is sponsored by One Month where you can Learn to Code in 30 days. Learn HTML, JavaScript, Python and more. 

Sep 27, 2021
In How Not to Die, Dr. Michael Greger, the internationally-renowned nutrition expert, physician, and founder of, examines the fifteen top causes of premature death in America--heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Parkinson's, high blood pressure, and more--and explains how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can sometimes trump prescription pills and other pharmaceutical and surgical approaches to help prevent and reverse these diseases, freeing us to live healthier lives.
Sep 20, 2021

Conscious Capitalism is a way of thinking about capitalism and business that better reflects where we are in the human journey, the state of our world today, and the innate potential of business to make a positive impact on the world. Started by Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey and professor Raj Sisodia, "conscious businesses" are galvanized by higher purposes that serve, align, and integrate the interests of all their major stakeholders.

In this episode of On Books I discuss Conscious Capitalism, the book, the movement and the publishing company. 

Corey is the publisher of Conscious Capitalism Press, the founder and CEO of Round Table Companies (RTC), and a speaker, artist, and storyteller. He previously starred in one of the 50 greatest Superbowl commercials of all time (Mountain Dew, Bohemian Rhapsody), has won 15 independent publishing awards, and has been featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal and in the New York Times, USA Today, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, and Wired.

Learn more about Corey and the Conscious Capitalism movement at

All show notes and links for this episode are at:

Sep 13, 2021

I love this book because while the subject of is "buildings," it's really about time. What happens to the objects we create over time?

Buildings inevitably change with time, but what makes some get better, while others get worse? To answer that question, Stewart Brand has organized hundreds of photos, and written a poetic narrative linking together decades of lessons learned from I. M. Pei's Media Lab, George Washington's Mount Vernon home, Greenwich Village brownstones, and many more examples.

In the end, it turns out that buildings can learn a lot from humans, and that humans can learn a lot from buildings.

Subscribe to On Books on iTunes. Learn more @

Sep 13, 2021

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

In this episode Ta-Nehisi Coates reads from Between the World and me, and Chris offers some context and takeaways from the book hoping to inspire you to read the book for yourself.

Learn more at:

Sep 6, 2021

50 Ways to Get a Job is a career book with fifty proven exercises you can use to find meaningful work.

Last week I met with Dev Aujla to discuss his favorite takeaways from the book.

One thing I have concluded after my chat with Dev: Resumes alone don’t work.

How do most people apply for a job?

Most people make a resume, apply to job boards, and then wait around hoping that someone, somewhere, will call, all the while becoming the most depressing person in history to hang out with.Dev Aujla spent over three years reading every career book since the 1970s. In that time he tested his methods on over 400,000 people! What he learned is that this old “resume & wait” game is over. In his book, he has proposed 50 tested ways to land your dream job.

In our interview Dev answers the questions:

* If resumes don’t work, what works in 2018?

* What are your favorite takeaways from the book?

* What’s the best cover letter?

* How do you land a technical job or a job in a startup?

I hope you enjoy my interview with Dev Aujla, author of 50 Ways to Get a Job.

On Books is available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

**Please give On Books a 5 Star Rating on iTunes! It helps a lot. Thanks!**

Aug 30, 2021

New York Times bestselling author Chuck Klosterman asks questions that are profound in their simplicity: How certain are we about our understanding of gravity? How certain are we about our understanding of time? What will be the defining memory of rock music, five hundred years from today? How seriously should we view the content of our dreams? How seriously should we view the content of television? Are all sports destined for extinction? Is it possible that the greatest artist of our era is currently unknown (or—weirder still—widely known, but entirely disrespected)? Is it possible that we “overrate” democracy? And perhaps most disturbing, is it possible that we’ve reached the end of knowledge?

Klosterman visualizes the contemporary world as it will appear to those who'll perceive it as the distant past. Kinetically slingshotting through a broad spectrum of objective and subjective problems, But What If We’re Wrong? is built on interviews with a variety of creative thinkers—George Saunders, David Byrne, Jonathan Lethem, Kathryn Schulz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Junot Díaz, Amanda Petrusich, Ryan Adams, Nick Bostrom, Dan Carlin, and Richard Linklater, among others—interwoven with the type of high-wire humor and nontraditional analysis only Klosterman would dare to attempt. It’s a seemingly impossible achievement: a book about the things we cannot know, explained as if we did. It’s about how we live now, once “now” has become “then.”

Learn more @

Aug 23, 2021

Bird by Bird is one of my favorite books on writing, and life. In this episode I'll read from the book, and give you some key takeaways. For more info visit 


"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my  brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird.'" - Anne Lamott 


Aug 23, 2021

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. "F**k positivity," Mark Manson says. "Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it." In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

This week Chris reads and gives highlights from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. For more info visit 

Aug 16, 2021
While many books explain the how of bitcoin, The Internet of Money delves into the why of bitcoin. Acclaimed information-security expert and author of Mastering Bitcoin, Andreas M. Antonopoulos examines and contextualizes the significance of bitcoin through a series of essays spanning the exhilarating maturation of this technology.
In this episode Chris brings you his top highlights from The Internet of Money. 
Learn more at
Jul 26, 2021
Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within: our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.
In this episode of On Books, I'll read the introduction to Ego is the Enemy, as well as share my top 3 takeaways from the book. 
Jul 19, 2021

Facts change all the time. Smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly. We used to think the Earth was the center of the universe and that the brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. In short, what we know about the world is constantly changing.
Samuel Arbesman is on the show today to help us understand how this evolution of facts unfolds in a fascinating way that can have a powerful impact on our lives. In this interview Sam and Chris discuss The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date, as well as his latest book Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension.   

Jul 5, 2021

In Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson shares the story of how she simplified her life by reducing her waste. The book is a how-to guide for reducing as much waste as possible from your life. In this episode of On Books, I interview Bea and discuss about how to reduce waste. 

Jun 21, 2021
In Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson shares the story of how she simplified her life by reducing her waste. The book is a how-to guide for reducing as much waste as possible from your life. In this episode of On Books I share my favorite tips from Bea's book for reducing waste, as well as a reading from the chapter "The 5 Rs: Refuse" - which is the fundamental tenants of the Zero Waste movement. 
Next week, Bea will be on the show. So if you have any questions you'd like to ask Bea send them to me at and I'll make sure either she, or myself gets to them next week. 
Jun 14, 2021

Haruki Murakami’s books are a blend of modern culture, and fantasy. Arguably, Murakami is Japan’s most famous author, his writing resonates on a frequency that is distinctly “Murakami.”

Over the past 30 years, Murakami has written 13 novels including: Norwegian Wood (1987), Sputnik Sweetheart (1999), Kafka on the Shore (2002), 1Q84 (2009), and his most recent Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki (2013). In this episode I have a special guest!

Lee Matos ("Murakami superfan", and philosopher of life) is here to discuss the meta-question: What does it mean to follow an author’s canon of work? We examine that question through the work of Haruki Murakami.

In this episode you’ll takeaway: - Which Murakami book is the best? - A review of Murakami’s latest book: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki - Our discussion on reading non-fiction books vs. fiction books - The benefits of deep-reading - When should you read an author’s complete body of work? Read more at:, and email me with your thoughts:

May 24, 2021

Peter Singer is a well known Australian philosopher and author. In 2005 Time magazine named Singer one of the top 100 most influential people of the year. His latest two books The Life You Can Save (2009), and The Most Good You Can Do (2015) explore how you can be a vehicle for change in the world - right now, and without giving up much. Both of which we’ve covered in previous episodes of On Books!

In this episode we discuss:

* What does it mean to do “the most good"?
* Are startups improving the world?
* Why did you write The Life You Can Save?
* What was it like being one of the first people to petition for animal rights back in the 1970s?

My hope is that these three episodes of On Books will inspire you to unleash more good in the world - not only for others, but as you’ll see, for your own happiness and well being.

After spending time with Singer, he has opened my eyes to the idea that giving just a little money ($5.00) to the right causes ( can be enough to save a human life. Now that I know what’s possible - it feels like I’ve had superpowers all along and just didn’t know it.

Email the show: chris @ 

Apr 26, 2021

In this episode of On Books, I discuss The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, by Kevin Kelly. 

The Inevitable is driven by the idea that the technological trends of the next 30 years can be predicted. Over 336 pages the book breaks down the Top 12 technological forces at work such as: "Becoming, Cognifying, Flowing, Screening, Accessing, Sharing, Filtering, Remixing, Interacting, Tracking, Questioning, and Beginning."

The names themselves don't really tell you much about these trends, and so I'll break down in this shorter 25 minute episode of On Books the first three trends: Becoming, Cognifying and Flowing so that by the end of the podcast you'll have a pretty good sense of how to use these in your everyday work. And you'll have enough of the kernel of the concept of what "inevitable" means so that you can decide if this book is right for you!

Who better to speak on this subject than Kevin Kelly (co-founder of Wired Magazine, co-founder of The Quantified Self Movement, his accolades go on and on and on). Kelly's early writing in Out of Control (1994), and New Rules for the New Economy (1998) were highly influential in the shaping the past 20 years of the web, and his predictions here will no doubt be influential in shaping the next 20+ years.

I hope you enjoy this episode! If you'd like to learn more about the book and Kevin Kelly please check out the previous episode of On Books (Episode #39) to hear my conversation with Kevin Kelly on 60s counterculture, How to Read Better and of course The Inevitable.

Apr 12, 2021
This week I was lucky enough to interview one of my favorite people of all time: Kevin Kelly.
Tim Ferriss refers to Kevin as the real-life “Most Interesting Man In The World." 
He is one of the co-founders of Wired Magazine, co-founder of the Quantified Self Movement, and serves on the board of The Long Now foundation. He's a prescient writer, inspiring photographer, and prolific traveler. 
In this episode we talk about: 
* The Counterculture movement of the 60s
* Traveling as an act of rebellion
* Kevin’s latest book The Inevitable in which he writes that, "Much of what will happen in the next thirty years is inevitable, driven by technological trends that are already in motion.” He'll share some of those predictions with us. 
* Lessons on how to read better
* And... a book that Kevin wishes everyone in the world read at least one time. 


Mar 29, 2021

In this episode of On Books, we discuss The Life You Can Save, by Peter Singer. 

Books notes available at:

Mar 15, 2021

In this episode of On Books, we discuss The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically, by Peter Singer. 

Books notes available at:

Feb 8, 2021
Personally, I feel burdened by the daily overproduction of knowledge. My eyes are always bigger than my stomach: I consume countless articles and podcasts, but I can never fully digest it all. Can someone please just tell me what to pay attention to?
Enter Yuval Noah Harari's 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. I love the opening line of the book, “In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power.” Clarity, being able to think critically, and focus clearly on what's important vs. what's noise — is probably one of the most valuable skills you can have. According to Harari, it may save your life, and it may save humanity, 
"If the future of humanity is decided in your absence, because you are too busy feeding and clothing your kids — you and they will not be expect from the consequences. This is very unfair; but who said history was fair?" — Harari 
Yuval Noah Harari is best known for his first book Sapiens (2011) which is about humanity's past (check out the On Books Podcast episode on Sapiens to learn more). Homo Dues (2015), his second book, then came out with a look at how Harari thinks about humanity's future. And now, 21 Lessons, builds on those first two books to bring you a book about the present. Jobs, AI, Community, War, Nationalism, Religion. All of our past stories about reality are being stripped away, and replaced by what? What new stories are being created to give meaning to the human-animal? 

I really loved this book. 5 stars! All the way. I hope you enjoy it too. In this episode I read from the book, share some highlights and added context to make sure that you love 21 Lessons as much as I do. 

Learn more at

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