In this week’s newsletter: Mass Observation, how buildings learn, ear and eye candy, and more...

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A newsletter from the desk of Austin Kleon
are you curious

Hey y’all,

Here are 10 things I thought were worth sharing: 

  1. This week I got a bit obsessed with Mass Observation, an organization launched in Britain in 1937 that got hundreds of ordinary people to keep daily diaries of their everyday lives. (They didn’t only collect diaries, but also photography and even children’s drawings.) Here’s what I wrote two years ago about why I keep a diary: “You keep track of what’s happening, write your own history book, consult it when you feel like you’re going crazy.” (Related: “Why We Should All Be Keeping Coronavirus Journals.”)
  2. Daytime reading: We’ve had Stewart Brand’s How Buildings Learn on our bookshelf for over a decade now, and I figured since I was working on these house collages, now was the right time. It is so good! Like Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language, its lessons apply far beyond architecture. I think designers, in particular, would benefit greatly from reading it.
  3. Bedtime reading: Lydia Millet’s new novel, A Children’s Bible.
  4. Donna Tartt on Charles Portis, the only writer whose novels I’ve read twice. (Start with True Grit — Tartt herself reads the audiobook!)
  5. One of the things I wrote about in Keep Going: What do we do when an artist whose work we love disappoints us? Daniel Radcliffe has some thoughts
  6. Eye candy: David Hockney’s “Pearblossom Highway” and the prints of Amos Kennedy, Jr.
  7. Podcasts: I enjoyed all six episodes of Recording Artists, a podcast built around interviews from the 60s and 70s with radical women artists. I also enjoyed Rick Rubin’s interviews with The RZA and Richard Russell on Broken Record. (A theme they both touched on: What happens when you lose the original “naive energy” that births your early work?)
  8. Movie: I’d somehow never seen 24 Hour Party People, a funny, raunchy, fourth-wall-breaking biopic about Tony Wilson, Factory Records, and “Madchester” scene. (Here’s a Spotify playlist of the soundtrack.)
  9. A poem: Wendell Berry’s “How To Be A Poet.”
  10. New zine: Sleep Dirty
Thanks for reading. This newsletter is free, but not cheap. To show your support, forward it to someone who’d like it or buy some of my books.

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Austin Kleon

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

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