Laura Recommends

August Recommendations III

September 2, 2019

After what seemed like an endless holiday, I am back to uni and an internship, but I figured until I get neck-deep into work and books, I might as well share with you a massive list of recommendations from the past four weeks.

BTW, on the 1st of September I celebrated the 7th anniversary of my blogging adventure career debut, so it’s safe to say the transition from August to September is always a happy one for me 🙂


Libreria, London

This bookshop was on all lists I have found about beautiful bookish places in London. It is way smaller than I thought, but this is props to the optical illusion created by the mirror ceiling. It had by far one of the best selections of books in London and considering its size this is very impressive! Also, the reading nooks were perfect! Will definitely return there on my next London visit.

Pages Cheshire Street, London

This place was recommended to me by someone at Libreria and I have to say it’s one of the best ideas and executions I have seen in a long time. The purpose of this bookshop is to showcase only books and other literary products written and created by women, trans or gender diverse people. This does not mean this is a bookshop with just feminist books, as some people may think, but a place to find books of all kinds, from economics to science fiction. It made me more aware of the gender ratio of the books I was reading, so I highly recommend this place if you are in London!

John Sandoe Books, London

This is another fantastic bookshop. It’s lesser known, but again, the selection of books is fantastic, the staff is very kind and helping, and the atmosphere of book-crowded rooms is just my cup of tea!

Food – Bigger than the Plate, Victoria and Albert Museum London

This is perhaps, one of the most thought provoking and habit-changing exhibits I have been on the past years. I learned a lot and I got to watch and experience the results of so many innovative projects, so I have sent all my London friends there to see it. It’s a must if you the least bit interested in food, its origins, the sustainability of mass farming and cattle raising and more. On until October 20th.

God’s Own Junkyard, London

Yes, this may be an Instagram famous place. But unlike many places I have visited, it’s not an Instagram trap, but a place to marvel at a fantastic collection of neon signs. It is the closest I have felt to an American place in an European setting and it left me smiling for hours.

Saint Dunstan in the East Church Garden, London

This church, very close to Sky Garden, has been bombarded in the war and has now become a stone-walled garden with arched windows and doors. It’s absolutely fascinating and saddening at the same time, but I am surely happy it was not completely tore down and just left like this, so visitors can have tangible sights of war’s cultural destruction.

De Koffieschenkerij, Amsterdam

Visited this coffee place on the last day of summer and I have already posted about it on Instagram as well. This place truly ticks all boxes: it has a great location (the garden of the oldest church in Amsterdam), fabulous coffee and lemonade and plenty of character and history. Go there in the mornings, so it’s less crowded.


The Hidden Life of Trees – Peter Wohlleben

This has been one of the most surprising books I have read this year. I have learned so much and did even some 180 regarding certain things I didn’t question until now, such as older trees produce more oxygen than younger ones (which should worry us) or that…

A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles

This book was on the reading lists of Barack Obama and Bill and Melinda Gates, so I knew I had to read it. While it was not my usual read, I found it very pleasant and entertaining. It was well written, the characters were charming and peculiar in their own ways and it was one of the few reads I went through this year with no major eye roll moments. A true feat!

I also listened to two audio books: Wonder by R J Palacio and No One Is Too Small To Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg. Wonder was great, heartwarming and sweet, and Greta Thunberg’s book was a powerful and urgent manifesto about the climate crisis. I recommend both of them 😊

Of course, the books featured in my Recommendation articles are not all the books I read in a year, I simply want to spare you of mediocre books or books I would never recommend.


An Inconvenient Truth

Why, yes, I am recommending you to watch the world’s most famous documentary on climate change. I shamelessly only got to watch it this month (via YouTube’s movie selection, it cost me 4 euros) and I completely understand why it became such a sensation. It’s serving hard facts backed by science, emotional imagery and a strong and somehow contained plea to start making a difference. I don’t know how Al Gore would go on about making this documentary in 2020, but I am pretty sure the message would have to be even more urgent.


On the same note, this documentary was the final straw to convince me to ditch as many animal-based products from my diet. I already said goodbye to cow milk last year, but I have now started changing more things, such as limiting my meat intake to max. once per week. I found Cowspiracy more graphic and disturbing than An Inconvenient Truth, so prepare for some unpleasant, yet highly necessary visuals.

La Casa de Papel – Netflix ES

Everybody was talking about this Netflix series, so as always I had to watch it to understand why it was so praised. #FOMO. I have to agree this was a very good and entertaining series, with plenty twists and turns, memorable songs (anyone else also has Bella Ciao stuck in their head?!) and also incredibly funny moments. The script didn’t have solutions for all loose ends in season 2 and season 3 and I sometimes asked myself why the series showed the viewers something (eg. A character’s obsession) and then never brought it up again.

How Wildlife films warp time – VOX

This VOX video made me go back to my unfinished episodes of Our Planet with even way more respect and admiration for the production work that goes into creating those incredible images we gasp at and remain in awe.


The Dubious Business of Food Delivery –  Derek Thompson for The Atlantic

After discovering that Derek Thompson (author of one of my favourite books this year, Hit Makers) is an editor for The Atlantic, I started tracking everything he wrote. This piece is so well written and it has so many insightful thoughts that it’s hard not to quote here the one that struck me the most: “convenience maximalism”. Think about that for a second in relation to food delivery apps.

Why Online Dating Can Feel Like Such an Existential Nightmare – Derek Thompson for The Atlantic

Another fantastic article by Thompson. Let me offer you this quote as a taster:

If the journey toward coupling is more formidable than it used to be, it’s also more lonesome. With the declining influence of friends and family and most other social institutions, more single people today are on their own, having set up shop at a digital bazaar where one’s appearance, interestingness, quick humor, lighthearted banter, sex appeal, photo selection—one’s worth—is submitted for 24/7 evaluation before an audience of distracted or cruel strangers, whose distraction and cruelty might be related to the fact that they are also undergoing the same anxious appraisal.

A woman’s greatest enemy? A lack of time for herself – Brigid Schulte for the Guardian

The title of this article instantly hooked me on to read it. While it may appear the society at large is making historical strides towards gender equality, reality begs to differ. This article looks at how women are still clocking more housework time than their partners and how this may affect their passions and resources for creative and personal projects.

I hope you had a wonderful summer and that you are now feeling recharged and inspired to start new projects!


Laura Recommends

July Recommendations III

August 8, 2019

I was a ball of stress at the beginning of July. Worrying between where I would live in few months’ time, the decreasing social utility of jobs (might read Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs book soon) and a general restlessness, I spent most of July trying to calm down, take the decisions which felt the most practical, regroup and find new strength for the coming months.

Meanwhile, I did get to read a lot and I also caught up with most of the movies and series I had planned to, so below I am sharing with you my favourites.


How we got to now – Steven Johnson

This was such an amazing book – it was captivating, very well written and pretty entertaining. Johnson selected six modern innovations, starting from the triggering circumstances to the lesser known implications of these inventions. For example, in the chapter tackling the maritime innovations of detecting enemy ships, Johnson also discussed how an effect of this technology was the ultrasound. Nothing harmful until here, but when you come to think that ultrasounds can detect the gender of fetuses, then you realize it is incredibly dangerous in countries that discriminate girls from their birth. There’s more from where this came from, so trust me when I say that you have to add this book to your list.

Bucurestiul meu – ed. coord. Gabriela Tabacaru

This book was a lovely recommendation from my dear Irina Markovits (if you love fashion, art, styling and books – her Instagram and blog are amazing!) and it was an incredibly pleasant surprise. It was not romanticizing Bucharest as much as I thought it would and the writing of most contributing authors was very immersive, warm and clever.


Fashioned from nature – Victoria & Albert Museum exhibit in Copenhagen

I had no idea this exhibit was showing at Copenhagen’s Geological Museum and found it coincidentally while walking out of Rosenborg Castle. It’s an incredibly well done exhibit with lots of fascinating pieces on display and plenty interactive corners where you can touch various materials and find out more about the provenience of textiles. The exhibit also focused on sustainability, organic materials and less animal furs and leather, so no wonder it won awards in the UK for showcasing these themes!

I spent there 2 hours and a half and I absolutely loved it!


Fleabag – Amazon Prime

Yes, I became one of these people obsessed with Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I find her delightful in her quirkiness, humour and “controlled female rage”. I have to confess I only got into it after hearing so many people rave about how sexy good of an actor Andrew Scott is in his role as a priest in Season 2 of the show. They were not wrong.

Chernobyl – HBO

I know everyone was talking about this series in May, but back then my thesis was all I could think about. Now that the thesis is off my mind, I can focus on other depressing things such as the amazingly well executed HBO production presenting the Chernobyl disaster and the aftermath. Must watch. Beware you may want to curl up in a ball and shout minutes after you play start.

Good Omens – Amazon Prime

I was taken by surprise by this series. The world building is fantastic and it connects lots of real and imaginative events, myths and folklore. The acting of Michael Sheen (the Angel) and David Tennant (the Demon) was spotless. I have to admit I enjoyed the first part of the show more than the second half, but overall it is still a great, weird, quirky, funny and highly pleasant show to watch.

Russian Doll – Netflix

Okay, this is not the most recent release, but it’s still a show I truly enjoyed. The premise is a bit overused (protagonist finds himself/herself reliving the same day over and over again), but all the other ensuing events and twists feel refreshing.

Water Lilies of Monet – documentary

I went to the cinema to see this documentary and somehow I left being an even bigger Monet fan. My biggest takeaways were learning about his perseverance in painting, no matter how bad the times were, and being eloquently explained his later work and how it connects to the New School of New York and implicitly, Jackson Pollock’s work. It was truly fascinating to discover all these connections in one documentary.


Designing for trust – Dan Ariely

I have seen Dan Ariely during a live event in Amsterdam when he came to talk about one of his most recent books, Dollars and Sense, and I instantly knew I had to watch and read more of what he had researched throughout the years. This TED talk of his is very insightful and enjoyable, so I highly recommend it.

Why are there so many movie theatre formats? – Insider

If you ever wondered what are the differences between IMAX, Dolby or Digital, then I think you are going to enjoy this video a lot. Many of these things are quite useful when you get to pick the type of screening you want to see and some also explain the heftier prices.

Every detail of Grand Central Terminal explained – Architectural Digest

This may been one of the best videos I have seen the entire month! It’s a long take (I think) throughout the iconic New York train station, combined with wonderful explanations for the various building details, renovation stages and history. Probably the most surprising thing for me was the fact that the Grand Central Terminal was designed to be a stairless station in order to accommodate travelers’ needs.

Which is the real Girl with a pearl earring? – The Art Assignment

This video presents the work surrounding Vermeer’s most famous painting, currently on display at the Mauritshuis in the Hague. There is a fascinating discussion about the differences between a high quality print and the painting itself and the potential of a 3D product that would be virtually indistinguishable from the real one. The real highlight for me was Abbie Vandivere, the Mauritshuis’ Paintings Conservator and Head Researcher – I would love to go to any event she is speaking at!

Poverty isn’t a lack of character, it’s a lack of cash – Rutger Bregman

Bregman was applauded for many of his statements in this TED talk and rightly so. Although some may seem like common sense things to voice about poverty – his research and his insights are backing them up. He is always making me feel hopeful that we can still tackle some of the world’s largest issues.

Canada’s New Vertical Banknote – Half-Asleep Chris

Wonderfully executed video with lots of curious insights such as the details featured on the Canadian Dollar banknotes from the Frontier series, such as the fact that all these notes feature various elements of Parliament’s buildings, maple leaves and in one case, even the Northern Lights.

The Dolly Zoom: More Than a Cheap Trick – Now You See It

This may be one of the best videos on the dolly zoom, which explains why sometimes the spectacle of the technique is encapsulating more nuance and meaning. The video also presents wonderful illustrations for the use of the technique.

Hope you enjoyed all these recommendations and found something you like! If you did, please consider sharing this article with a friend 🙂

Have a great August!

Laura Recommends

June Recommendations III

July 9, 2019

I feel like I haven’t been writing in ages. It seems like it was in a different life that I was compiling all my favourite May Recommendations. This whole year time seems to have moved differently for me, so we’ll see how I will feel during the next installment in the Recommendations series.

Let me start by saying that June was oddly more about places than any other month. I did finish 6 books, but none made it to the Recommendation status. I also disconnected a bit from reading longer-form news/journalism pieces, although I currently have on my Blendle list 21 saved articles. I am only passing on 4 videos, so maybe this month’s article should be called “June’s Favourite Places + some other odd bits”. On this note, let’s get started:



If you are looking to explore the Amsterdam area and beat the crowds, Muiderslot castle should be high on your list if you want to learn more about life in medieval times in Noord Holland. I found the interior of the castle very well preserved and explained, having been particularly marked by seeing purposely curved wood from 500 years ago in the attic.

Ludo & Hedo

Perhaps my most recent ice cream parlour crush, Ludo & Hedo is THE place to go if you are into odd flavour combinations, from gin and bacon to parmesan or avocado and chocolate, their ice cream menu is absolutely amazing and suitable for everyone due to the four categories: Timeless, Curious, Gentle and Eccentric. Must try while in Amsterdam.

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Laura Recommends

May Recommendations II

May 7, 2019

Don’t ask me how I survived May, because frankly I have no idea. My May planner section reported back to me that I checked as done one exam, one final thesis deadline, one conference, three classical music concerts, multiple other events (one on future food and the other on coworking) and one museum exhibit.  So, I am beyond relieved (I genuinely feel lighter, no joke) this seemingly slow-cooker month is over.

A vacation has been shouting my name for months. Literally, since January 7th. That is when I started my final semester of my Bachelor. I had only a few days off, mostly spent in Bucharest (which were like a breath of fresh air, except the air in Bucharest is almost as bad to breathe as the one in industrial Chinese cities). Anyway, as you may have guessed by now, the Netherlands does not do spring breaks or any other breaks during the semesters, so I am beyond happy to finally enjoy some guilt-free free time.

Somehow, by what can only be described as magic, between all these events, I managed to read and watch some really GOOD STUFF. Here is what I liked so much I had to share with you:

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Laura Recommends

April Recommendations II

May 3, 2019

cover picture: me as Waldo in Wonderland. or Waldoland. @Voorlinden Museum. Tiny elevators by Maurizio Cattelan. Picture by my friend, Anna

First and foremost, welcome to!!! Why, yes, I have reached peak narcissism, thank you very much for noticing. And please do take extra time to ponder why it took me a total of 10 hours to do the new logo, which is basically a signature (visible on the top AND bottom of the pages fyi)! All jokes aside, transferring all the content from one domain to the other turned out to be a much bigger hassle than I thought (for reference, I bought the new domain name last July), but it’s already worth it. Both because I want my website to be the home of all my projects and articles, so from a professional pov, it’s better to be associated with my real name, and also because the website needed to level up a bit and keep up with my personal growth and image.

Alright, now that I finished humblebragging, let’s get to April Recommendations. You’d better have space to open lots of tabs, because this month is FULL OF GOOD STUFF.

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Where is HOME?

April 3, 2019

Although I am not a religious person, the last couple of years marked Easter and Christmas becoming very meaningful events for me because they now represent the only moments during which I get to see my whole family and from which I feel I cannot miss. Last year (2018) we decided to celebrate Easter one week earlier, not because we were so eager to smash red-painted eggs, but because there was no other way for me to come home. Since most people in the country I live celebrate Catholic Easter, that is when the national holidays are. Naturally, this is the only time during which I can score two days off uni, therefore squeezing a 4-day weekend out of my usually fully booked academic calendar. And I’m sure I’m one of the lucky ones – tens of thousands of Romanians cannot come home for Easter at all. In fact, many cannot visit their family and friends back home because they send all the extra money they make there to the remnants of families whose members have to endure a life with the minimum Romanian wage.

You have certainly heard about the statistics showing that between 2010 and 2017 Romania lost more than 3.4 million inhabitants due to emigration, representing 17% of the entire population. The only country that surpassed this figure is Syria. Syria, the country where there is a war and dozens of other humanitarian disasters. There is no conflict of such magnitude in Romania. However, why did millions of people run like it’s a war there?

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Laura Recommends

March Recommendations II

April 3, 2019

I was expecting more from March. It seems to have flown past me with speed light, unlike other months. However I am still content with everything I have read and watched.

March was a bit of an executive month for me (that month when you get lot of sh*t done, but the results only come out later), yet I am still stocked for April – it’s gonna be packed, and I need to make progress with lots of projects, but I am very much looking forward to it! Meanwhile this is what I loved during the past four weeks:



Free Solo

I remember that three days after the 2019 Oscars ceremony I made a note in my phone to go watch Free Solo after it topped its Documentary category. Fast forward one month, I finally went to the cinema to see. It’s safe to say it is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. You immediately get sucked in Alex Honnold’s life and ambitions as a free solo rock climber and you cannot stop yourself from rooting for him and wanting him not to kill himself while climbing Yosemite’s El Capitan. It’s full of suspense (I overheard other filmgoers say it made them more stressed than any exam, but it think it makes a good point highlight how big AND small humans feel in relation to nature.

The Good Place

If you know me, you can probably tell by now I am not a huge fan of series. I dislike the seemingly controlling power Netflix has over me when they display the next episode starting in 5…4… get it. So usually I stay away from series (unless I am in a holiday), even though it means missing out on good content. However, this was not the case for The Good Place. I saw it mentioned in a couple of places, but none of my friends were talking about it, so I was sceptical to try it out. Oh, how wrong I was. This series is absolutely amazing, terribly clever and very ingenious in the way writers play with the universe they made. Oh, it’s also incredibly funny. Did I mention each episode is only 22 minutes long, so perfectly bite-sized?

Queer Eye

I’m not going to write a lot about Queer Eye, because you have probably heard of it, but I had to mention it because the latest season (released this March) was so good and as per usual, incredibly uplifting and heart-warming!

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In Conversation With Măriuca Talpeş

March 8, 2019

A conversation with Măriuca Talpeş, Bitdefender co-founder, about business, women, education and Romania


Măriuca Talpeş is undoubtedly one of the most famous women in the tech industry in Romania. Both her and her husband, Florin Talpeş, have been very active entrepreneurs, speakers at many conferences and very inspiring characters for almost three decades. Together they embarked on the entrepreneurship path in 1990, shortly after the Revolution, creating in 2001 what came to be the most sold Romanian IT product on the international market: Bitdefender, a cyber security software with more than 500 million users. Besides being the co-founder of Softwin, the parent company of Bitdefender, Măriuca Talpeş currently leads Intuitext, a company that aims to solve educational problems by creating software and online communities such as, or

N.B. In this interview, originally published in ELLE Romania, March 2018 issue, I wanted to talk with Măriuca Talpeş less about the ascension of Bitdefender on the market, which is something more frequently discussed in the local media, but more about her perspective on women in tech, female empowerment, work-life balance and more. She makes time for both playing an instrument and dancing, while still working tirelessly and being a very prominent figure advocating for girls education, so read the whole piece to find out how she does all of this and also to find out her advice for women who want to pursue careers in STEM.


I know you’ve been playing the flute for some time and participating in dance competitions. How do you find the power to do new things?

Time exists. If you have a passion, it’s all about putting it in your schedule and making it happen.

I do not think it’s a power, I think each of us has more recent or older passions. In terms of movement and dance, I have always liked dancing ever since I was a child, and after I managed to persuade Florin into it, we started dancing together almost daily. It brings great joy to our lives and great balance in professional life too. Regarding music, I always wanted to play the piano, but in my childhood I had a jam because of a very severe teacher, so I rediscovered the piano once Florin received an organ as a gift from his colleagues which ended up sitting at home covered, so one day I wanted to see how it sounded and since then I have not stopped. After several years of piano, I asked my music teacher if there was a wind instrument that would fit a lady and she recommended me the flute, which I have been playing for five years now and which I really enjoy. Continue Reading…


Some issues with our unquestioned media use

March 4, 2019

Small practical guide – Three questions we don’t ask ourselves about our social media use, but should


On average, an Instagram user interested in fashion opens the app 32 times a day. (Yes, you’ve read that correctly!) If these stats are currently only available for this app, think about how many times we open Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn or other apps! How many minutes, in fact, do these platforms steal from us? And are all these hours on our phones well spent? How much of the information we receive brings us value? How much value do we add to those around us? How many pictures mark us positively on a daily basis? These questions, and beyond, are things that we need to address if we want to optimize what we get from the time we spend online, both for ourselves and for those who follow us. After all, if at the end of the day, after lots of screen time, we do not have more information or a better mood/energy than at the beginning of the day, that says something about the quality of the content for which we sacrifice moments with our families, minutes to read or moments of silence in the privacy of our own minds.

In the following paragraphs I have made a selection of themes to ponder on for those of you who want to use these social networks in a wiser way. Beware, this is an article with many (many!) questions whose answers may not be the most comfortable.


  1. What do we transmit through what we post online?

“Three more hours until take off, so ask me anything.” “Stuck in traffic again, awesome, what about you, reply to my Insta-sticker with your mood” “I’m bored so I am trying out all these new filters. Which one do you like best?”

Sounds familiar?

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