I did an audiobook for 'Rough Crossings,' which I thought was one of the best books I had published. But it was an absolute embarrassment to read it. All these horrible mucked-up bits of syntax, over-the-top adjectives. I found myself editing it while reading. Alert listeners will notice the difference.
You are not thinking hard enough if you are sleeping well. And you would have to be unhinged to take on a subject like the French Revolution, or Rembrandt, and not feel some trepidation. There is always the possibility that you will crash and burn, and the whole thing will be a horrible, vulgar, self-indulgent mess.
Growing up in Britain as a rather loose Jew, the two things that didn't belong together were freedom and religious intensity. In America, they do. The Founding Fathers made a bet that if you didn't force everyone to profess religion in their own particular way, you could protect intellectual freedom, and religion would flourish.