Reading Literature Makes Us Smarter and Nicer


Gregory Currie, a professor of philosophy at the University of Nottingham, recently argued in the New York Times that we ought not to claim that literature improves us as people, because there is no “compelling evidence that suggests that people are morally or socially better for reading Tolstoy” or other great books.

Actually, there is such evidence. Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, reported in studies published in 2006 and 2009 that individuals who often read fiction appear to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and view the world from their perspective. This link persisted even after the researchers factored in the possibility that more empathetic individuals might choose to read more novels. A 2010 study by Mar found a similar result in young children: the more stories…

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The 24-Minute Morning Routine That Will Rock Your Day


Time is one of your most coveted and scarce resources as an entrepreneur, so maximizing pockets of time in your day through a productive routine is crucial.

Probably the most important period of your day is when you first wake up. Your morning routine can set you up for massive success the whole day. You can chose to linger in bed, hitting snooze and dreading the alarm, or you can set yourself up for massive daily productivity and success with the introduction of a simple 24-minute routine.

Most of this routine you’re probably already doing in some form or another, but if you’ll follow this format and stick with it for a few weeks, you’ll find yourself hopping out of bed in the morning renewed and looking forward to what lies ahead.

Related: A 9-Step Framework for Creating a Morning Ritual

Here are the six steps to your ultra-productive 24-minute…

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On the responsibility of students

“The only certainty and constant is change”

Hummus For Thought

The following is an unfinished essay partly inspired by Noam Chomsky’s ‘The Responsibility of Intellectuals‘ (1967) and Dwight MacDonald’s ‘Responsibility of Peoples, and Other Essays in Political Criticism‘ (1957) as well as by the works of several journalists, intellectuals, activists and historians, namely Howard Zinn, Edward Said, Hannah Arendt, and Murray Bookchin.

Needless to say, focusing on Lebanon is a practical choice rather than a moral one. The essay is applicable regardless of your nationality and/or place of residence. It originally appeared in AUB’s Outlook in a slightly modified form, in print as well as online, for the week of October 28, 2014.

The year is 1980. Haitham Haddad is an architecture student and a musician at the American University of Beirut (AUB) when Nadia Tueni, Lebanon’s famed poetess, approaches him. She had been walking across our war-ridden country with film director Maroun Baghdadi when…

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Video: Beautiful Lebanese Woman Dancing (1980)


Hummus For Thought

The featured scene here is taken from Maroun Baghdadi‘s “Whispers” and features a beautiful young Lebanese woman in her early 20s dancing to the tune of a man’s oud at a gathering.

Whispers follows the Lebanese Poet Nadia Tueni (1935-1983) on a journey across different regions of war-torn Lebanon. The film depicts the fall of a country struggling to survive and find hope. At every station, between sites filled with poetry and nostalgia for a bygone era, the poet’s dashed dreams and idealized vision for her country coincide with the director’s own.

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