If you don’t already subscribe to Maria Popova’s blog, my question to you is “Why not?” As one reader puts it, reading Brain Pickings is “like walking into the Museum of Modern Art and having somebody give you a customized, guided tour.”
The young (31) Bulgarian blogger, who has lived in New York since 2010, started Brain Pickings to inspire her advertising agency co-workers. Believing that the best way to spark creativity is to explore ideas and images from outside the realms we’re familiar with, Popova sent her co-workers weekly emails that each contained “five things that had nothing to do with advertising” but were interesting. When she discovered her colleagues were forwarding the emails to their friends, she signed up for a web design course and took Brain Pickings online. Today she has 548,000 followers.
Her approach is ingeniously simple:
If something interests me and is both timeless and timely, I write about it. Much of what is published online is content designed to be dead within hours, so I find most of my material offline. I gravitate more and more towards historical things that are somewhat obscure and yet timely in their sensibility and message.
The beautifully illustrated articles are littered with links that will take you on a magical mystery tour if you’re open to it. One thing you won’t see is ads—which is one more reason to love Brain Pickings, but Popova’s ad-free policy is not without controversy.
My own short mystery tour this morning (I could have tripped along merrily for hours, but I’m trying to be disciplined with my internet use these days) landed me on two pages perfectly timed for National Poetry Month: How to Enjoy Poetry and Popova’s review of Monica Brown’s book about Chilean poet Pablo Neruda that tantalizes the eye with samples of Julie Paschkis‘s amazing hand-lettered illustrations.
Happy Easter. Enjoy.