The Reconstructionists

Even though I somehow  managed to miss it for about three years, this gem is definitely worth the 2 weeks of TWIL that I skipped.

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The reconstructionists is a project by curator and Brain picking founder Maria Popova and illustrator Lisa Congdon, born to celebrate remarkable women across art and science,

“who have changed the way we define ourselves as a culture and live our lives as individuals of any gender”

Every Monday throughout 2013 they published an illustrated portrait+hand lettered quote of one of such brilliant women, followed by a short essay describing her life and work.

The combination of beautiful, colorful drawings with wise and thoughtful words make this entire website an inestimable source of pleasure and inspiration. I encourage you to get lost and marvel through it, maybe with a warm cup of coffee. One of the best ways to spend a cold autumn evening.

TWIL #3

15-21 November

Excerpts from Philosophers’ Love Letters, The New Yorker.  A wise, fun and tender collection of citations, exerted from love letters written by various philosophers, from Socrates to Nietszche. Here some of my favourites:

“I can no longer stand the cruel, indifferent silence of the universe. Like, just a response would be nice.” – Albert Camus 

“I must admit, your support for women’s rights is quite arousing. It’s that look in your eyes when you argue that women should be educated. It’s the way your arms tense up when you tell others that we should not be traded as property. It’s that smile. (It’s just nice that you have most of your teeth, honestly.)” – Mary Wollstonecraft

“I hardly know anything about you! Have you always been a midwife? Would you pursue virtue over material wealth? How many siblings do you have? I am ignorant of many things, but I do understand something about the art of love: it’s just asking a lot of questions until the other person is too tired to go on.” – Socrates

The quotes are illustrated by Hallie Bateman, and are part of the collection “Love Voltaire Us Apart: A Philosopher’s Guide to Relationships” by Julia Edeman, which I am definitely going to buy !!!


Post-race recovery yoga. A warm up + restorative poses sequence to help you with the post-race soreness and let you start training for the next race asap !


The Lenny interview to Zadie Smith. Zadie Smith is a British-Jamaican writer. She is the author of 5 novels – of which I read Withe Teeth, NW and the Autograph man. While I didn’t really like the latter, I loved the other two and I am now looking forward to read her new one Swing times, together with On beauty.  In the interview she talks about identity, creativity and the interconnection between relationships, motherhood and creativity.


What makes a magnet ? Visualizing the magnetic field. This short video enunciates some of the principles of magnetism and magnetic materials while showing a series of dancing magnets, allowing us to visualize how  a magnetic field actually looks like. Interesting and very entertaining 🙂

The Gutsy Caroline Paul

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I’ve never felt so good buying a book from the YA section.

I firstly discovered “The Gutsy Girl” thanks to a blog post by Maria Popova – whose blog is first and foremost a wonderful read per se and an infinite source of bright and thoughtful reading suggestions- that you can read  here (highly recommended).

The book is written by Caroline Paul (one of the first women becoming part of the San Francisco’s firefighting force, experimental plane pilot, adventurer and pioneer more in general) and illustrated by her partner Wendy MacNaughton. It is a sort of memoir where the author narrates some of her unusual and more or less dangerous adventures.

We can read of the milk-cartoons boat she built when she was thirteen, of her attempt to establish a new Guinness world records in crawling, of her Brazilian paragliding experience and of her Alaska’s mountaineering adventure. Each chapter leaves me in awe for how much creative, smart, brave and tenacious this woman is.

The common ground of all those episodes (which are just a tiny portion of the totality of the author’s experiences) is that they all:

“..ended in mishap and mayhem [..] because it is in these moments that I learned the most essential lessons: how to be brave, how to preserve, how to stay focused, how to laugh at myself, and more.”

Imperfection, error and failure, are thus not seen as a shameful and unworthy experiences, but rather as what really constitute the building blocks of our self-development and growth process.

The book is a funny, beautiful manifesto about fighting and overcoming our fears and living a life where we are the ones in charge of defining our own limits. I believe this being an extremely important and timely concept, in a world where failure is stigmatized and we are mostly encouraged to follow a safe and better-known road, and especially for girls, which are too often discouraged from taking risks, be brave and adventurous.

Related to the latter, here a beautiful Ted Talk that illustrates the importance of telling girls to be brave rather than perfect.