"How do you speak words so well considered without SOUNDING like you thought of it all three days ago and wrote your dissertation and now you're telling everyone about it over tea?"
and talks about other deep stuff like humans' hankering for arrivals and gigantic cosmic cats. Go forth and read.
That's not the nerdy bit though. This is: background reading on The Coast of Utopia.
Books-wise, Isaiah Berlin's Russian Thinkers is surprisingly page-turny. Dr Manheim recommends E.H. Carr's The Romantic Exiles and Herzen's autobiography Out of My Past and Thoughts (translations of the title differ).