The Best of Brain Pickings 2013
By Maria Popova
As the year rolls to an end, what better way to reflect on its fruits than by looking back on those pieces that moved the greatest number of hearts and minds? Gathered below are the thirteen most read and shared articles published on Brain Pickings in 2013, spanning everything from psychology to art to the meaning of life. (Catch up on last year’s finest reads here.) Please enjoy, and thank you for joining me on yet another year’s intellectual and creative voyage.
- Happy Birthday, Brain Pickings: 7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living
Reflections on how to keep the center solid as you continue to evolve.
- Fail Safe: Debbie Millman’s Advice on Courage and the Creative Life
“Imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time.” A spectacular illustrated-essay-turned-commencement-address.
- What Is Love? Famous Definitions from 400 Years of Literary History
“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only with what you are expecting to give — which is everything.” From Shakespeare to Sontag, the most beautiful definitions of the highest human capacity.
- Advice to Little Girls: Young Mark Twain’s Little-Known, Lovely 1865 Children’s Book
The playful short story young Mark Twain had written in 1865 at age of 30, newly illustrated by celebrated Russian-born children’s book illustrator Vladimir Radunsky, mischievously encouraging girls to think independently rather than blindly obey rules and social mores.
- Why Time Slows Down When We’re Afraid, Speeds Up as We Age, and Gets Warped on Vacation
“Time perception matters because it is the experience of time that roots us in our mental reality.”
- May 20, 1990: Advice on Life and Creative Integrity from Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson
“The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive.”
- How to Be an Educated Consumer of Infographics: David Byrne on the Art-Science of Visual Storytelling
Cultivating the ability to experience the “geeky rapture” of metaphorical thinking and pattern recognition.
- 20-Year-Old Hunter S. Thompson’s Superb Advice on How to Find Your Purpose and Live a Meaningful Life
“It is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it.”
- How To Be a Nonconformist: 22 Irreverent Illustrated Steps to Counterculture Cred from 1968
“Avoid socks. They are a fatal giveaway of a phony nonconformist.” A delightful vintage piece of cultural satire, timelier than ever, written and illustrated by a sixteen-year-old girl.
- The Art of Ofey: Richard Feynman’s Little-Known Sketches and Drawings
“I wanted to convey an emotion I have about the beauty of the world… this feeling about the glories of the universe.”
- How to Worry Less About Money
What Goethe can teach us about cultivating a healthy relationship with our finances.
- Lost Cat: An Illustrated Meditation on Love, Loss, and What It Means To Be Human
“You can never know anyone as completely as you want. But that’s okay, love is better.”
- How to Find Fulfilling Work
Beautiful and necessary read on the art-science of “allowing the various petals of our identity to fully unfold.”
Published December 26, 2013