Molly Mielke

The Origins of WEIRD Psychology

An excellent explainer of the origins of the growing Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic class. “We propose that much of this variation arose as people psychologically adapted to differing kin-based institutions—the set of social norms governing descent, marriage, residence and related domains.” Also interesting: Family Ties and The Triumph of the Therapeutic by Philip Rief (who, fun fact, was married to Susan Sontag!)

What was California?

The best explainer of the historical roots of California’s culture that I’ve ever found. If you’re interested in the topic, reading anything by Joan Didion on California (like Slouching Towards Bethlehem) and The California Ideology is also recommended.

Ways of Seeing

This book + BBC series greatly impacted my understanding of media and gender dynamics. Susan Sontag and John Berger on storytelling is also great.

Surprised by Joy

C.S. Lewis on his (long) journey to religion by way of first attempting to understand joy. A great read for anyone searching to understand how to live well, even if you don’t come to the same conclusions as he does. Surrender to the Love Inside You and The Duty of Joy are also both great on the subject of joy.

Faces Places

This is one of the films that inspired me to want to make movies (which in turn led me to study film in college). It’s a touching tale of the adventures shared by Agnes Varda, one of the French New Wave’s finest filmmakers, and French photographer and street artist JR. It makes me think of the scene in The Godfather where Don Corleone asks “You do appreciate beauty, don’t you?”

Good conversations have lots of doorknobs

The craft of conversation and people dynamics more broadly are both topics I find endlessly interesting. What makes someone a good conversation partner? Why do some conversations die in the water despite plenty of subject overlap between those conversing? This piece answers those questions using many a metaphor. If you’re interested in this dynamic at a higher level, I recommend reading The Essence of Peopling.

It’s Great to Suck at Something

I haven’t been able to shut up about what I call “rejection exposure therapy” for the past year or so and this piece explains why it’s so critical to happiness and growth far better than I. Constantly humbling yourself is really good for the spirit.