Logo of the Brain Pickings blog by Maria Popova

Here is a newsletter and blog which I want to share with my friends and readers. Brain Pickings is, in Maria’s own words, a labor of love which she has continued weekly for over thirteen years. It pops up in my inbox once a week, and it is always filled with multiple essays on topics such as philosophy, art, literature, academic musings, intellectual history and more. They are always meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated. I have no recollection of how I first stumbled upon this, but I am glad I did – so glad that, although it is available for free I did respond to her gentle request for financial support by making a personal donation. In this crazy world of ours, this sort of work needs to be championed and distributed widely.

Here is an example of a recent newsletter, just to further whet your appetites. In an issue from a couple of weeks ago, Maria included essays on ‘inner wholeness, our greatest obstacle to happiness, and the body as the seedbed of a flourishing soul; the enchantment of cacti; the bilingual mind. Maria doesn’t state opinions other than to lead our thoughts from one generation’s thoughts to another. I found myself discovering the 19th century love letters between Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman. Then, I was thinking about William Godwin and his theories about the importance of multilingualism. I was astonished and thrilled to see how my own ideas about the changes your brain goes through when thinking in a language not your own somehow grew out of Godwin’s 19th century teachings, peppered with quotes from Toni Morrison and Susan Sontag. And then there was the idea of the outer strength of the cactus as underlined by the physicist Alan Lightman. You never know where the train of thought will lead you, but you can be sure that it all ties together in the end.

In a life which so often feels out of step with the majority of the world around me, it is a joy to discover a like-minded muser, and one who is clearly much more widely read than I am! Highly recommended.