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3 Books With Neil Pasricha

Dec 4, 2021

Were you one of the 500 million people who read Choose Your Own Adventure books?


When I was growing up in the 80s these books were at the front of every library in every elementary school. Or, at least, in mine! I know for sure the kids at Sunset Heights Public School in Oshawa, Canada all went gonzo for them.


If you don’t know Choose Your Own Adventure, the books are written in the second person. The protagonist is … you! Who are you? Well, you might be a private investigator, mountain climber, race car driver, doctor, or spy. The stories are gender and race neutral and written so that after a couple of pages, you face a couple of options: do you want to go deeper into the jungle or head back to shore? Do you want to follow the guide up the mountain or retreat to the village? You zig and you zag and each book features dozens of endings. With no clear pattern around number of pages per ending, ratio of good to bad endings, or the reader’s progression backwards and forwards, there is a vertiginous sense of unpredictability which leads to (yes) reading them again and again.


Cover to Cover Club members will have heard us talk about these books already. Do you remember back in Chapter 42 when Molly Bloom told us the books were hugely formative to how she views her life as an adventure? Or just a few moons ago in Chapter 87 when Jason Shiga picked Sugar Cane Island by Edward Packard — a precursor to CYOA — as one of his most formative books?


Well, it’s with that lead-up that I’m so excited to share our conversation with the creator of second-person fiction and co-creator of Choose Your Own Adventure today —- Mr. Edward Packard. Edward is 90 years old and writing, blogging, swimming, hiking, and continuing the adventure that is life from his home in Durango, Colorado.


Get comfy and let’s talk about what the word formative really means, whether our self stays constant throughout our life, how the advent of chronology affected human development, where the best place to get a lot of reading done is, how should we take in the news, how can we maintain a sense of contentment as we age, how do we transcend ourselves, what is an unhappy versus a happy brain, what is quality decision making, how do we process past success in our current state, and, of course, what are Edward Packard’s 3 most formative books.


Are you ready to dive in on today’s new moon?


Let’s flip the page into Chapter 92 now…


What You'll Learn:

  • How does 3 Books deal with guests picking the same formative book?

  • What does the word “formative” really mean?

  • What does it mean to live life in a narrative vs. non narrative fashion?

  • Does our self stay constant or change throughout our life?

  • How has the advent of chronology and the measure of time affected human development?

  • Where is the best place to get a lot of reading done?

  • How should we best take in the news?

  • How can we maintain a sense of contentment as we age?

  • How do we transcend ourselves?

  • What is an unhappy brain?

  • What is a happy brain?

  • What is quality decision making?

  • How do we process past success in our current state?


You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: 


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3 Books is a completely insane and totally epic 15-year-long quest to uncover and discuss the 1000 most formative books in the world. Each chapter discusses the 3 most formative books of one of the world's most inspiring people. Sample guests include: Brené Brown, David Sedaris, Malcolm Gladwell, Angie Thomas, Cheryl Strayed, Rich Roll, Soyoung the Variety Store Owner, Derek the Hype Man, Kevin the Bookseller, Vishwas the Uber Driver, Roxane Gay, David Mitchell, Vivek Murthy, Mark Manson, Seth Godin, Judy Blume and Quentin Tarantino. 3 Books is published on the lunar calendar with each of the 333 chapters dropped on the exact minute of every single new moon and every single full moon all the way up to 5:21 am on September 1, 2031. 3 Books is an Apple "Best Of" award-winning show and is 100% non-profit with no ads, no sponsors, no commercials, and no interruptions. 3 Books has 3 clubs including the End of the Podcast Club, the Cover to Cover Club, and the Secret Club, which operates entirely through the mail and is only accessible by calling 1-833-READ-A-LOT. Each chapter is hosted by Neil Pasricha, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Awesome, The Happiness Equation, Two-Minute Mornings, etc. For more info check out: