“Might as well enjoy it… . Greatest city the world has ever seen.” Kerouac’s tour of the beat night life of New York:
What a catalog of superficiality reveals about the complex inner worlds of young women.
Darwin’s life, adapted in poems by his great-grand-daughter, using his books, journals, autobiography, scientific papers, notebooks, drafts, and letters to summon an affectionate and imaginative memoir of rare poetic elegance.
“Thought is a kind of opium; it can intoxicate us, while still broad awake; it can make transparent the mountains and everything that exists. It is by love only that one keeps hold upon reality, that one recovers one’s proper self, that one becomes again will, force, and individuality. “
Swiss philosopher Henri-Frédéric Amiel’s timeless wisdom on love, culled from his lengthy journals:
Band battles, brass classics, Cotton Club etiquette, and how to do the “double roll” like a pro.
What Parisian boxing from the early 1900s has to do with contemporary technoparanoia about robots replacing us – a heartening underdog story illustrated by the inimitable Sophie Blackall
“Every man has a right over his own life and war destroys lives that were full of promise.”
Einstein and Freud’s little-known correspondence on violence, peace, and human nature
Three decades before the golden age of social media, feminist magazine Ms. allowed women to connect and raise their voices together, its remarkable archive of reader letters itself a powerful early form of “social media” – read the best here:
“Silence, if it does not equal death, equals the living equivalent.”
Excerpts from Andrew Sullivan’s seminal 1993 essay “The Politics of Homosexuality,” which changed the discourse on LGBT rights:
“In the form of a hot infusion of its ground, roasted seeds, coffee is consumed for its bittersweet bouquet, its mind-racing jump start, and social bonding.”
How coffee changed the world
“No female reporter before her had ever seemed quite so audacious, so willing to risk personal safety in pursuit of a story.”
The remarkable tale of pioneering Victorian journalist Nellie Bly, who set out to race around the world in 80 days, featuring wonderful illustrations of her packing list by Wendy MacNaughton:
“What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful it has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, turned tough guys to mush, consoled the enslaved, driven strong women mad, glorified the humble, fueled national scandals, bankrupted robber barons, and made mincemeat of kings. How can love’s spaciousness be conveyed in the narrow confines of one syllable? If we search for the source of the word, we find a history vague and confusing, stretching back to the Sanskrit lubhyati (“he desires”). I’m sure the etymology rambles back much farther than that, to a one-syllable word heavy as a heartbeat. Love is an ancient delirium, a desire older than civilization, with taproots stretching deep into dark and mysterious days.”
A natural history of love:
“It was Gertrude Stein who held my complete attention, as she did for all the many years I knew her. I knew her until her death, and all these empty ones since then. She was a golden brown presence, burned by the Tuscan sun and with a golden glint in her warm brown hair. She was dressed in a warm brown corduroy suit. She wore a large round coral brooch and when she talked, very little, or laughed, a good deal, I thought her voice came from this brooch. It was unlike anyone else’s voice — deep, full, velvety, like a great contralto’s, like two voices.”
How Alice B. Toklas met Gertrude Stein and one of literary history’s greatest loves began:
Hemingway wrote standing, Nabokov on index cards, Twain while puffing cigars, and Sitwell in an open coffin – a fascinating inside peek at the creative routines of famous writers:
Nabokov and Homeland Security – how Russia’s most revered literary émigré became an American