In this week’s newsletter: disgust as a survival trait, beautiful books, and more...

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A newsletter from the desk of Austin Kleon
my notebooks from the previous administration
My notebooks from the past four years

Hey y’all,

Here are 10 things I thought were worth sharing: 

  1. This week I’m enjoying the win. I’m sure my disgust with civilization will return soon. (And when it does, I’ll turn it into compost.) I can count two good things that came out of the former administration: my diary habit and Warren Craghead’s amazing drawings.
  2. My kids love video games, so I’ve been reading more about them. Raph Koster’s A Theory of Fun for Game Design was a new experience: I don’t think I’ve ever been more turned off by the design of a book (crude drawings and pesky endnotes) while simultaneously devouring it.
  3. As for beautifully-designed books, I picked up Tamara Shopsin’s 5 Year Diary (I’m going to write one line in it a day) and her collaboration with Jason Fulford, Offline Activities
  4. Did you know Thomas Jefferson cut up the gospels? (You would if you’d read Newspaper Blackout!) I keep thinking about this essay about a new biography of The Jefferson Bible.
  5. I wrote a couple things about art and family this week: “Siblings with and Without Rivalry” and “The Girls.”
  6. Jennifer Daniel on designing emoticons.
  7. Ear candy: the algorithm served me this track recorded at home by the pianist Víkingur Ólafsson and now I’m a fan. (A few have raved to me about his Philip Glass album, but right now I’m enjoying the Bach and the Debussy/Rameau. If you’re into CDs, you can get them all in one set. He has a new one called Reflections coming in a few months.) Over at NPR Classical there’s a nice Tiny Desk Concert and an interview about how he’s weathering the pandemic.
  8. Eye candy: if you can’t get enough of Coconut The Owl, check out Coconut’s cousins, Merlin and Minerva, two screech owls who have a box and their own cam elsewhere in Austin, Texas. 
  9. On this week’s Bookshelf, I looked back at Mary Ruefle’s collected lectures, Madness, Rack, and Honey.
  10. Some solid advice from E.L. Doctorow: “Read deeply, steal what you can and always listen for the music.”
Thanks for reading. If you want a signed or personalized book, I’m signing a big batch on Monday at Bookpeople, so get your orders in this weekend!

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PS. Thanks to everyone for their kind words about the new audiobook!
the steal like an artist audio trilogy
Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon is the author of Steal Like An Artist and other books.

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