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A Child Prodigy, A Nervous Breakdown, and The Discovery of Romantic Poetry

John Stuart Mill (1806-73) British social reformer and philosopher. Wood engraving published at time of his death. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

In one of our favorite recurring segments, we ask our guest to tell us about something they read that changed the way they think about the world.

In this episode economist, polymath, and friend-of-the-show Tyler Cowen discusses The Autobiography of John Stuart Mill .In it, one of the foremost economists of the 19th century writes about discovering romantic poetry, finding love, and coping with a nervous breakdown. Cowen says it's a book that teaches you what to do when you start realizing that what you thought was true isn't so true.

A free online version of The Autobiography of John Stuart Millis available here. If you'd like to learn more about Mill, but don't feel like reading the book, may we recommend Adam Gopnick's article for The New Yorker or Adam Etinson's article in The New York Times.

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