Engaging Buddhism: Why It Matters by Jay Garfield.
In general, comparative philosophy is better when it shows why the ideas are interesting instead of comparing them to modern philosophers. This book does a bit of both. The distinction between conventional and ultimate reality remains elusive. Garfield persuasively argues that Buddhists shouldn't be thought of as consequentialists.
Ethical engagement, on this Buddhist view, has its foundation in perceptual engagement, and perceptual engagement on this view is far from passive, far from fixed. The project of leading a life that is a solution to, rather than a reinforcement of, the problem of universal suffering is at least in large part the project of reordering our perceptual engagement with the world.
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings by Ronald Nesse.
An introduction to evolutionary psychiatry, which is really evolutionary psychology but for mood disorders. Nesse does a good job accounting for why we may have negative emotions like anxiety and depression. He also highlights how often situational factors are responsible for mood disorders. A psychiatrist may feel like there's not much they can do for a single wheel chair bound unemployed woman in her late 40s. I'd be interested in work that gets more concrete on when specific emotions are useful and when they aren't.
I vividly recall a professional motorcycle racer who asked for my help. The night before a big race, he would vomit everything he ate, and he couldn’t sleep. This began shortly after a friend had been killed in a race. Each year, he said, two or three other riders on the circuit were killed or severely injured. He had been in several wrecks but had no permanent damage so far. He denied feeling fear but reported that in addition to vomiting the day before each race, his heart rate went up, he sweated, he felt short of breath, and his muscles tightened up. He wanted a drug that would stop his symptoms. As a pro with many advertising endorsements, his income depended on it. When I told him I thought his anxiety was protecting him, he listened politely. When I told him it would be dangerous for him to take a drug to reduce his anxiety, he got angry and left. I don’t know if he is still alive.
Optimism and Pessimism by Cyan Bannister.
I really liked this piece on optimism. She's writing a book. If you read any chapter, it should be this one.
When life is difficult, it is often challenging to be optimistic. However, I believe optimism is the key to escaping most hardships. Often, people turn to pessimism as a form of protection and it becomes an engrained habit. It is far easier to believe a narrative that is negative than one in which you can picture yourself or the world around you with boundless positivity.
Stoicism and Emotion by Margaret Graver.
This book is on exactly what you'd expect. Did you know that Chrysippus thought that the decision making faculty was located in the heart?
The localization of the directive faculty in the chest was a natural choice in view of the Greeks' limited understanding of human physiology. Chrysippus's notion of signals carried by tentacle-like extensions of the sensitive material is grounded in observations of the characteristics of people and animals, not in any particular study of anatomy; still, to the extent that he was interested in anatomical details, he could look to what was known of the vascular system, with its easily visible network of branching pathways leading outward from the heart to the extremities.
I've also been poking through several short stories in Invisible Planets.