California Academy of Sciences
“If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you’, that would suffice.”
I have so much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
2013 has shaped up to be my Year Of The Novel. Historically preferring nonfiction books, I’ve found myself reading more novels this year than previous years and my to-read pile is decidedly fiction lately, meaning the trend doesn’t appear to be ending soon.
Near the end of last year, I read Robin Sloan’s excellent debut novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which set me on a search for more books like it. Since then, I’ve stumbled upon a few and I’ve loved each one in their own ways. These are decidedly modern stories—they are describing what it is like to live today, in 2013. They reference Google and Facebook and Apple. They are about working in technology but more importantly they are stories about the people behind that technology—they are people I relate to—people I know—working at start ups, living in New York and San Francisco, talking about typefaces, and growing up and falling in love.
These are four novels that have meant a lot to me in the last year. If we’ve talked in the last few months, there’s a good chance I’ve brought one of these up to you. They are stories that are familiar to me, that I can relate to in profound ways. I’m sharing them here because I think you’ll find them as engrossing and entertaining and thoughtful as I did.
“I feel suspicious about writers who claim to tell the whole truth about themselves, about life, or about the world. I prefer to stay with the truths I find in writers who present themselves as the most bold-faced liars. My goal in writing If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, a novel entirely based on fantasy, was to find in this way a truth that I would have not been able to find otherwise.”
“I think graphic design is an important profession because it’s part of what we put out into the world, and it’s what people see and perceive. It’s not just about doing design for the “public good.” The design community currently thinks that if you design something to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy, then that’s good, but if you design something for a bank, then that’s bad. I disagree. I think all design matters and all design deserves to be intelligent.”
“You have more traveling ahead, but remember your main reasons for going. Not to escape or cross things off lists but to learn to be more open, more okay with uncertainty. To feel to your core how big the world is, and how narrow your own empire. Remember that no matter where you go, you always end up alone with your thoughts. This is your true home and its landscape is vast and much uncharted. You can travel there at any time, and the flights aren’t nearly as expensive.”
“Collectively, the people I follow on Twitter — book nerds, science nerds, journalists, the uncategorizably interesting — come pretty close to my dream community. They also function as by far the best news source I’ve ever used: more panoptic, more in-depth, more likely to teach me something, much more timely, cumulatively more self-correcting and sophisticated. Additionally, they’re immensely generous with their time and knowledge; in contradistinction to most Internet agoras, the Twitter I know is helpful, polite, and friendly. It’s also a meritocracy; say enough interesting things, and other people will begin to engage with you. Surprisingly often, that engagement crosses the digital barrier into real life — and, without exception, the people I’ve befriended on Twitter have turned out to be terrific.”
—Kathryn Schulz, How Twitter Hijacked my Mind
So much I love about that.
“Be generous with your time and your resources and with giving credit and, especially, with your words. It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator. Always remember there is a human being on the other end of every exchange and behind every cultural artifact being critiqued. To understand and be understood, those are among life’s greatest gifts, and every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them.”
“Curating is not an autonomous discipline; it is a profoundly hybrid discipline. It is, by necessity, defined by its relationship to art. Without art there is no curating, and without dialogue there is no curating.”