NYT Columnist David Brooks Reveals What Motivates Him

David Brooks is best known for his op-ed columns in The New York Times. But he’s also an accomplished author and observer of social behavior. His books include “Bobos in Paradise,” “The Social Animal,” “The Road to Character,” and his latest book “The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life.”

In this candid and humorous interview for Writer’s Symposium by the Sea 2022, Brooks opens up about his lifelong work as a journalist and writer, how events in his life shaped who he is today and his spiritual journey.

Brooks says he wrote his first published piece – a crime thriller – when he was in the second grade. He says he writes 1,000 words first thing in the morning, every day, including while on vacation.

“If I don’t write, I get rusty,” he said.

One of Brooks’ biggest regrets was when he was 22. He said saying ‘I love you’ was not something he heard growing up. When his grandfather, who raised him, was dying of cancer in the hospital, he told Brooks he loved him very much as he was walking out the door.

“To my eternal regret, I did not say it back to him because no one in my family had ever said that to me. And so a lot of my career is trying to get to be the person who is comfortable saying that back.”

Brooks says an example of that effort is “The Social Animal,” a book about emotion.

“It’s written by a guy trying to figure out emotion.”

Watch An Evening with David Brooks – Writer’s Symposium by the Sea 2022.

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