Lessons from a sex therapist, a great film, and spending money to buy time

Issue #60


I enjoyed a somewhat rare trip to the cinema on Monday night. A friend and I went to see the Oscar nominated Green Book. And what a magnificent film it is.

Set in the 1960s, it tells the story of a working class Italian-American bouncer, Tony Lip, becoming the driver for Dr. Don Shirley, an African-American classical and jazz pianist. They go on a road trip through the Deep South where Shirley is on tour playing to white, upper class audiences.

The film gets its name from a book called the Green Book. It was a 20th century guidebook to motels and restaurants that accepted African-Americans. Lip was responsible for getting Shirley both to all the venues he was performing, and the places he was allowed to stay.

The contrast between Shirley's acceptance as a pianist yet rejection as a black man is stark. Audiences applaud his talents while refusing to share their toilet, or eat with him. It’s painful viewing at times.

Inspired by a true story, this is an affecting and touching film. The relationship between Lip and Shirley is a delight to watch. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali deliver stunning performances. Their portrayal of Lip and Shirley’s relationship is mesmerising. And, considering the dark backdrop of racism, it is surprisingly funny at times.

Highly recommended.

Also in this issue…

  • 3 articles I learnt something new from

  • My book notes about Love Worth Making

Have a great weekend!


Articles I’ve been reading this week…

  1. Time for happiness
    More and more of use are feeling time poor. And this leaves us feeling less happy, less healthy, and more anxious and depressed. What can we do about it? Spending time to get money is killing us. It’s time to spend money to get time.

  2. The art of decision-making
    It turns out we’re not very good at making decisions. This may just help you get better at it.
    Joshua Rothman, New Yorker

  3. This is the most powerful way to make your life fantastic
    Ignore the clickbait-y title, this is a great interview with Cal Newport whose book Deep Work I’ve written about in recent newsletters. It’s related to his new book Digital Minimalism.
    Eric Barker

Book notes

Thoughts, observations and reflections on the books I’m reading…

Love Worth Making by Dr. Stephen Snyder

I linked to an article by Stephen Snyder in my newsletter last week. It was about ‘simmering’ and how to improve your sex life in a long-term relationship. At the end, the article pointed to a book by the author, further exploring the theme. So I picked up a copy and read it last weekend. I'm so glad I did.

First off, this isn't a book of tips and techniques. It's much deeper than that. And it made me realise that much of what I've read about sex over the years has been pretty superficial. Not that the books and articles I've read before haven’t been useful. They just haven't tapped into the deeper emotional aspects – or 'sex knots' as Snyder calls them – that affect sex within a relationship.

Snyder’s book was a breath of fresh air. I had several assumptions I’ve long held challenged. My understanding of gender differences was deepened. It got me thinking afresh about my attitudes to sex, desire, eroticism, and how that works in a life-long marriage.

It's easy when thinking about your sex life, and wondering how it could be better, to focus on what your partner needs to do. This got me far more focussed on me though. And that felt healthy.

Reading a book by a guy who has spent over 30 years as a sex therapist felt like soaking up wisdom from someone who truly understands. The fact there is a playfulness and lightness to the book itself, made it as enjoyable a read as it was insightful.