Something mysterious seems to happen every time I sit down and try to put order to my creative impulses. Two hours disappear, yet my word doc is blank. My recent browser history overflows with articles titled “Are MFA programs really worth it?” and “10 SEO Tips all Content Strategists Should Know” and “The 5 Secrets to Increasing Your Productivity.” I’m suddenly years-deep into the blog of a “designer and mother of 6″ who somehow blogs for a living and summers in France (is her husband rich? Does she have a rotation of nannies? I cannot sleep until I find out). In a flash of anxiety-induced impulse shopping, I purchase an annual subscription to AWP (not a bad idea, but by no means built into my budget and don’t I already have enough to read?), and several books that profess to unlock hidden paths to writerly wealth (they got published, so they must have something worthwhile to say, right?).
In an earlier post, I recommended Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, the story of a faltering marriage that is both hilarious and heartbreaking, and is based on Ephron’s marriage to Carl Bernstein. But the book is more than just a good read with a witty, brilliantly-crafted narrator; it’s chock-full of delicious-sounding recipes I am aching to try, ranging from the more traditional to ones I’ve never heard of, like this lima bean and pears dish.
With Thanksgiving coming up next week, it’s the perfect time to try out a new version of those classic holiday dishes. Why not impress your literary-minded friends and family with a recipe and words from a famous author?
If you’re an informal member of the 52-book challenge like me, you might be scrabbling to catch up to that week 46 mark. Even us voracious readers get distracted by the latest episode of Downton Abbey or holiday gift shopping on Etsy.
So you need a few quick reads but don’t want to sacrifice on quality? Add these novellas and bite-sized memoirs to your reading list. Better yet, go get them right now – several of these are completely free and kindle-ready!
Amy Poehler starts off her new book, Yes Please, with a typical tongue-in-cheek warning. She tells us “writing is hard” and that she “had no business agreeing to write this book.” She then admits this self-deprecating perspective, while genuine, might also be a ploy to lower our expectations before dazzling us with her “sneaky insights about life and work.”
It’s this spirit of playfulness and sincerity that Amy Poehler embodies for me. Ever since I became a Parks and Rec regular, and learned Poehler was the real-life (now ex) partner of the idiotic but lovable Gob Bluth, I’ve counted myself a fan. Who can resist this infectious cackle? How can anyone not love such a down-to earth star who spends her spare time empowering young women?
One of my absolute favorite subreddits is currently r/dataisbeautiful, a community of data lovers that brings you a daily stream of interesting research in digestible, visual bites. On any given day, you may find infographics on which news topics female writers are most likely to cover, attitudes towards Jewish and Muslim peoples in different countries, or even one couple’s dedicated logging of sexual activity over a year (a dream for Kinsey, or any modern day sexologist).
Most recently, r/dataisbeautiful brought me the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Survey, which asked respondents in 40 different countries to state their moral attitudes on eight issues. These eight topics, which are often the subject of moral debates, ranged from homosexuality to premarital sex to alcohol use. For each topic, participants answered whether they found it morally acceptable, morally unacceptable, or not a moral issue. The results give us a big picture view of how value systems differ by country and by cultural region.
About two months ago, I attended my baby nephew’s bris, the Jewish circumcision ceremony. A week later, in writing class, my professor assigned us the task of writing about a fad, a cultural phenomenon that had gained a puzzling amount of popularity. Her examples were pink flamingos and zombies. I settled on male circumcision.