Laura Recommends

January Recommendations II

February 7, 2019

Happy New Year! (Is is still time-appropriate to say this?) Happy Lunar New Year! (I guess this is more appropriate to say now that I am publishing this article in the first week of February)


I hope you all got a wonderful start to the year. I know many people dreaded January (hence all these “January was a long year” jokes), but I personally loved it. I feel I have done a lot, grew some more and came across some truly interesting articles, videos and books I can’t wait to share with you. Let’s get started:



Two Dope Queens

I listened to their episode with Michelle Obama (I’ll start reading her book in February and I am super excited!) and I was surprised I haven’t listened to these two ladies before! They are so fun, energetic, refreshing and witty! Loved the episode and will certainly listen to more.

How I Built This

I must have listened to 5 HIBT episodes in two days because they were right up my alley: business women and men talking about the companies and the projects they started and the way they reached success. I loved learning more about companies I had no previous knowledge on (or very little info) such as Burton. Highly recommend that episode and the entire podcast series for those of you passionate about business.

Challenge Accepted – Celeste Barber

If you don’t follow Celeste Barber on Instagram, you are missing out. She is a brilliant Australian comedian who recently published a book. As the physical book was not available in the Netherlands, I opted to listen to it (she narrated it herself!) and it was such a nice way to de-stress. While the book doesn’t always seem to always have a red thread, it is certainly a fun, easy read.


Art You Can’t Get To – The Art Assignment

If you are curious why there is a plastic bust of Vladimir Lenin in Antarctica, this video is for you! This Art Assignment episode is run by guest John Green, but usually the show is hosted by Sarah Urist Green (his wife) and she does a fantastic job! The episode on The Kiss by Gustav Klimt is particularly one of my favourites! It’s really amazing to see Klimt’s evolution and tangible mark left on art history, so I definitely recommend watching this video. Also, if you have not seen the movie Woman in Gold, you might want to save it for a weekend watch – it might make you love and appreciate Klimt even more.

How Photography is Affecting Our Brains – WIRED

Another amazing video by WIRED, this time about photography and the way it changes our perception of ourselves and our surroundings. I particularly enjoyed the part about selfies and the perceived face distortions that selfies bring. The video also features Chris Burkhard, a photographer whose work I love, so you have now more reasons to watch this video!

How Shazam Works – Real Engineering

I hope you know by now how much I love nerdy videos. This video makes no exception. Brief, but to the point, it explains how Shazam uses base frequency and overtones to match the audio you are recording to its huge database in only a few seconds.

How Popcorn Went From Banned to Saving Movies – Cheddar Explains

Although I have to avoid popcorn in order to prevent dental issues, I still found this video very interesting. Despite the fact that it may seem an obvious business plan now for cinemas to rely on selling snacks, it wasn’t always like this. Watch the video if you want to find out how things have changed.

How The Sound Effects In ‘A Quiet Place’ Were Made – Insider

Albeit a slightly older video, this take on A Quiet Place made me appreciate the movie even more (if you still haven’t watched it, please do!). I loved the inclusivity – one of the main characters was played by a deaf actress, I adored Emily Blunt in it – I thought she was able to convey so much emotion, and the sounds and the lack of them were absolutely perfect and chilling at the same time.



Just My Type – Simon Garfield 

I spotted this book at a bookstore and I fell in love with it immediately. It was funny, insightful and really interesting and I never thought a book about fonts could captivate me so much. Following the same line of thoughts, if you are into fonts, calligraphy or graphic design or you may simply want to learn more about them, I highly recommend you to read this piece about a new font called Sans Forgetica, aimed at making students retain more information (via WIRED). Also, this article by the New York Times about Choc, a seemingly Chinese font taking over New York, is absolutely fascinating, and so is this VOX video about the versatile Trajan font, the reasons it appears on so many movie posters and how it can convey different movie moods. All these pieces about fonts also tie very neatly to the new fashion trend of updating heritage fashion house logos into sans serifs, more inconspicuous versions of the seemingly same logo. This phenomenon is very well explained by Business of Fashion, in one of their January opinion pieces about this graphic design trend.

Man’s search for Meaning – Dr. Viktor Frankl

In January I took a literature course and some of the readings were very deeply related to the Holocaust, so I decided that January would be the most appropriate month to do additional historical reading and finally go through Viktor Frankl’s world famous book. I was chilling, inspiring, deeply saddening and yet optimistic, and I could not recommend it more. It might probably make a habit out of reading it every year for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In January I also read Educated by Tara Westover, but I still feel conflicted about it (it’s a sort of traumatizing and frustrating book, yet it is incredibly written), and also two hilarious books in Romanian that I loved tremendously: Fericirea e un ac de siguranță (Răzvan Exarhu) & Orice om îi este teamă (Radu Paraschivescu). Could not recommend them more.



Fyre Festival – Netflix

You may have heard of this from multiple sources. I know I did. From nine different people. And you know what, it is worth seeing it because it leads to discussions about false advertising, influencer economy, digital fads, human stubbornness and the cult of the genius, not-always-understood entrepreneur (which I call BS, but that is my opinion). If you are also in the mood for Netflix, but you don’t want to commit to a series, the American Meme documentary was also interesting because it showed the evolution, downsides and shallowness of famous, (micro) celebrities and the materially mad American culture.



Fotomuseum, the Hague

I was there just before they closed the Lauren Greenfield exhibit (called Generation Wealth) and let me tell you, if was perhaps one of the best photo exhibits I have ever seen (next to the Peter Lindbergh one in Rotterdam, but their subjects and approaches are too different in order to properly compare them)! Even though her name may not ring a bell to you, the campaign she directed for Always, called “Like a Girl“, won a primetime commercial Emmy Award in 2015! The exhibit was moving, thought-provoking and very well done, and I have enjoyed reading all the additional texts and captions – I feel they really brought a lot of light to the photos.



Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work? – The New York Times

This is a fantastic story on (mostly) Millennials, their self-proclaimed love for work, the possible reasons behind it and the perhaps toxic workplace culture installing itself in most working environments. Gread read and fantastically paired with a longer essay from Buzzfeed‘s Anne Helen Petersen.

The Women Running for President Are Breaking the Rules of Branding – Hyperakt (via Medium)

If you are slightly interested in politics, the most recent congress election and branding, this article is perfect for you. It describes the way fresh congresswomen have presented themselves through more diverse color palettes than anytime in history. Absolutely inspiring read. If you like the topic, you might find this article (from the Washington Post) about the poster design of AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) absolutely brilliant.

The Last Iron Lungs – Gizmodo

This is a slightly different story (and a bit older than 2019) than what I usually read, but it was a fascinating read about the last people in the States who live only thanks to an iron machine-bed they have been confined to because of polio. Thankfully, nowadays polio can be prevented with the help of vaccines during early childhood, so these iron beds are the last surviving medical artefacts of a world without vaccines.


If this is not your first time reading one of the articles from my Recommendations series or if by the end of this article you have opened more than 5 tabs and you feel you have already learned something new, it would really help me if you could share this link via your favourite social networks ❤️

And as always, feel free to drop me a message with your own recommendations or ideas to improve this series.




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