The Marginalian
The Marginalian


Photograph by Allan Amato.

Hello, kith. My name is Maria Popova — a reader and a wonderer who makes sense of the world and herself through the essential inner dialogue that is the act of writing. The Marginalian (which bore the unbearable name Brain Pickings for its first 15 years) is my one-woman labor of love, exploring what it means to live a decent, inspired, substantive life of purpose and gladness, wonder-smitten by reality. Founded in 2006 as a weekly email to seven friends, eventually brought online and now included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive, it remains a record of my ongoing becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually, poetically — drawn from my extended marginalia on the search for meaning across literature, science, art, philosophy, and the various other tendrils of human thought and feeling. A private inquiry irradiated by the ultimate question, the great quickening of wonderment that binds us all:

What is all this?

I am also the creator of The Universe in Verse, the author of a very long, very yellow book titled Figuring and a very slender, very colorful book titled The Snail with the Right Heart, the editor of an eight-year labor titled A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader, and a past-life contributor to The New York Times, Wired, The Atlantic, and other editorial exoplanets.

For more about the ethos and the human behind this labor of love, here are some reflections on my most important life-learnings from the first thirteen years of this experiment in living, some answers to The New York Times’ “By the Book” questionnaire, and an On Being conversation with the wonderful and generous Krista Tippett:

The Marginalian has remained free and ad-free and alive thanks to patronage from readers. I have no staff, no interns, no assistant — a thoroughly solitary labor of love that is also my life and my livelihood.

If you are new here, welcome. Here are some of my favorite pieces from the years, to give you a sense of scope and sensibility:



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