This is a special annual edition of the Brain Pickings newsletter by Maria Popova. The regular Sunday edition will be with you predictably and reliably this weekend. In case you missed them, here are my annual selections of the year’s loveliest children’s books and overall favorite books. And if you find any value and joy in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation – this year, like every year for the past twelve, I have invested innumerable hours and tremendous resources in Brain Pickings, and every little bit of support helps keep it going. If you already donate: THANK YOU.
In this annual review, as usual, “best” is a composite measure of what I most enjoyed thinking and writing about, and what readers most enjoyed reading and sharing. Here is to the intellectual and spiritual electricity of the eclectic, and to a beautiful new orbit.
The Difficult Art of Giving Space in Love: Rilke on Freedom, Togetherness, and the Secret to a Good Marriage
A Brave and Startling Truth: Astrophysicist Janna Levin Reads Maya Angelou’s Stunning Humanist Poem That Flew to Space, Inspired by Carl Sagan
Singularity: Poet Marie Howe’s Beautiful Tribute to Stephen Hawking and Our Belonging to the Universe
A Velocity of Being: Illustrated Letters to Children about Why We Read by 121 of the Most Inspiring Humans in Our World
Nietzsche on Truth, Lies, the Power and Peril of Metaphor, and How We Use Language to Reveal and Conceal Reality
Against the Illusion of Separateness: Pablo Neruda’s Beautiful and Humanistic Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
The Hour of Land: Terry Tempest Williams on the Responsibility of Awe and the Wilderness as an Antidote to the War Within Ourselves
Literary Witches: An Illustrated Celebration of Trailblazing Women Writers Who Have Enchanted and Transformed the World
I hope 2019 turns out to be your best year yet. Happy New Year!
My five most popular articles
The best three books I read this year
1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The book tells the story of a black tobacco farmer named Henrietta Lacks, better known to scientists as HeLa. After she was diagnosed with cancer, her cells were taken without her permission. Once they were out of her body, something miraculous happened: They didn’t die. They became the first-ever line of cells that continued to replicate long after she passed away. Her cells went on to launch a medical revolution, leading to the development of the polio vaccine, DNA mapping, cloning, and a multimillion-dollar industry. To call this book a “medical biography” would be to vastly underestimate the punch it packs. There’s race. There’s medicine. There’s ethics. And in the middle of it all, there’s a riveting story about Henrietta Lacks, who’s finally lifted out of the petri dish and placed into our cultural consciousness.
2. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. Plenty has been written about Hitler’s ascension to power, but this book has a unique take. You’ll get a gripping look at Hitler’s rise from the perspective of outsiders: America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Berlin and his family. Larson is a master storyteller and this book is the closest thing that comes to traveling back in time to a horrific period when the beasts revealed their true nature as the world stood idly by.
3. Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson. Why do hits become hits? Why do some songs, movies, and books become bestsellers while others fizzle out? This beautifully written book tackles these questions. The central argument is simple: Hit makers are “architects of familiar surprises.” They put new costumes on old stories–think Romeo and Juliet on a sinking ship (Titanic), a dysfunctional marriage involving Russian spies (Americans), or the story of a young, scrappy, and hungry founding father rapping on the modern Broadway stage (Hamilton). The book is a riveting read, whether you’re in the business of creating hits or simply curious why Fifty Shades of Grey became a worldwide sensation.
The three most popular Famous Failures Interviews
On Famous Failures, I interview the world’s most interesting people about the failures they’ve had in their lives. Here are the three most popular interviews this year:
1. Caroline Webb on How to Build Resilience in the Face of Failure. Caroline is the CEO of Sevenshift, a firm that shows people how to use insights from behavioral science to improve their working life. Her book on that topic, How To Have A Good Day, was published in 16 languages and more than 60 countries. In the interview, Caroline shares her diverse career path and why the quality of her day-to-day experience didn’t necessarily improve as she moved up the career ladder; why focusing too narrowly on long-term career goals can backfire; and why she sings Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” before client workshops.
2. Erica Ariel Fox on Winning from Within. Erica is an advisor to CEOs and other senior executives on their leadership challenges. She is the New York Times best-selling author of Winning From Within: A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living, and Lasting Change, and she’s taught at Harvard Law School for most of the last 20 years. In the interview, Erica explains why the most important negotiations you can have in your life are the ones in your own mind, how the stories we tell ourselves get in the way of our full potential, and why you must stand in the truth of your failure to learn and grow.
3. Jordan Harbinger on Being Fired From The Art Of Charm & Viewing Failure as an Opportunity. Jordan, a lawyer turned talk show host, social dynamics expert, and entrepreneur, was laid off from his Wall street firm, fired from a top 50 iTunes podcast, and kidnapped twice while working for various governments and NGOs. In the interview, we discuss how Jordan uses first-principles thinking to do things differently and stand out from the crowd–in a good way. Jordan also explains how he was recently fired from the Art of Charm, the podcast that he hosted for over a decade, and the lessons he learned from that business breakup.
… that today is the Birthday of Motion Pictures? In 1895, a public audience paid to see a motion picture for the first time. The brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere demonstrated the movies filmed using their first mass-produced motion picture camera in the Grand Cafe in Paris, France. Watch your favorite movie today!
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“Learning to love yourself is like learning to walk — essential, life-changing, and the only way to stand tall.”
— Vironika Tugaleva
How are you ? You may be gearing up for the holiday season. I am spending time reading and enjoying wonderful blogs at a Bangalore GetAway Resort location.
There is a good news that I want to share with you all. I got nominated for a third this time but did not use it the first two as I did not understand what to do? 🙂 This time Rashu2015 the wonderful blogger, recommended and also agreed to give me some time to think and respond.. It feels so good to be able to start on such a wonderful note.
I would love to thank Rashmi for the nomination. I now understand that this kind gesture is to convey that people like my writings and it encourages me to keep going.
Do visit her blog. You will get to read some wonderful content I have also commented upon from time to time.
I understand that there are RULES:
1. Acknowledge the blogger that gave it to you and display the award.
2. Answer 11 questions that blogger gives you.
3. Give 11 random thoughts about yourself.
4. Nominate 11 blogs and notify them and share their nomination.
5. Give these blogs 11 questions to answer.
QUESTIONS ASKED BY Rashu2015
1. What do you think are the qualities of blogger that makes him unique?
->A good blogger is either a budding, amateur or mature communicator. At times, He/she is a passionate one whose ideas ooze out the poetic juices while others are Prose writers. Very few are Fiction writers. Many are management thoughts writers or the other extreme are philosophical. I have seen and followed some of the best articulator bloggers here and I love reading their posts regularly – whether it is Prose/ verse, articles, Haikus, Tankas, Free Verse poetry etc.
2. What one thing will you advice young generation ?
-> Set your own standards. Watch your own videos reading or Audios reading your own blogs first – review and revise if, and only if YOU are not satisfied. If you understand your audience, your tribe, your BFFFs well – you will always find them responding positively. A Blogger while may be in the old hat thinking of writing WebLogs – but even the most private blogs have readers and admirers. So it is not for Swantah Sukhay like Goswami Tulsidas – you are writing for the readers to read, remember and admire what you share.
3. What does friendship mean to you?
-> Friends are forever.
4. Best memory of your life
-> Many. Primarily Family related which I sometimes share. Mostly work related which I Mostly share. Generally – my mistakes which I transparently share as my EXPERIENCE 🙂
5. What do you think about country ‘India’ and Indians?
->I love my India. Can’t say the same about those who talk or work towards creating divisions among its people and geographic boundaries.
6. How do you judge a person (in general)?
-> Usually, I am not judgemental. I give sincere, cogent, frank feedforward to even a stranger which is perceived (quite wrongly) as my judgement. My judgement usually has a 99% success rate.
7. What are your views on gender equality?
-> I am a Womanist at heart. From Mother, Wife, Daughters to many relative women have played a major part in my life as have co-workers and friends. I hate pseudos of all kinds and hypocrites.
8. Your favourite person (the one you love or adore).
-> Not one. Many in my family.
9. Your passion in life is
-> Serving the Humanity. Giving back to Society. My belief is – “Give, give, the more you give, God keeps the count”. I pray to him to Give me more, make me able to Give more.
10. What is your concept of good and evil?
->I am a conscientious person. A Professor of Ethics and have a strong sense of Good and Bad.
11. Your favorite beach is _____.
-> Goa, Trivandrum.
- I love my Mentor who appeared whenever they found Pupil (me) ready.
- I love My Badly drawn paintings too.
- I realised my passion to Blog on 13th May – as I had a Deep emotional upsetting day.
- I learnt that self-talk is important if you wish to be successful.
- I know the importance of Love and Compassion.
- I am grateful to all those who positively helped me and those who showed me my negatives – at times cruelly.
- I have learnt Dignity of labour by doing menial jobs from the Age 12..
- I can control my urge to spend just I have stopped Alchohol, Non-Veg food and Smoking..
- To help C-Suite Aspirants, Start ups to become Better Still Better. .
- Family First..
- I am a Believer..
NOMINATING THESE BLOGGERS:
I like many bloggers. But going with the format, I would like to nominate the following 11.
My questions for the nominated bloggers:
The questions remain the same because they are wonderful questions and I am curious to read their answers.
Thank you for nominating me. It makes me want to continue writing.
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas.
DhananJay “Jay” Parkhe
“They might just need to vent about how difficult everything is, in which case, you just need to be the pillow into which your friend shall scream.”
Did you know…
… that today is Father of Aerodynamics Day? Sir George Cayley, English scientist and inventor, was born on December 27, 1773. As a designer of airplanes, helicopters, and gliders, he is considered the father of aerodynamics. He was also the pilot for the first manned glider flight.
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”
— C. JoyBell C.
“Do not evade the quest for LIFE ETERNAL.
Do not bury yourself in words that are empty sounds.
Do not stupefy yourself with the repetitions of rituals and ceremonies.
Arise and become fully awake in your own immortal and divine self.”
——-AVATAR MEHER BABA