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:


Hit Makers – Derek Thompson

I loved this book – it brought new theories, new stories and different takes on popularity in comparison to what I have read so far and it definitely gave me lots of ideas and inspiration. My only regret is that I didn’t read this in English – I think I would have loved the original text even more! The Romanian edition was not bad per se, but there were some iconic sentences I wish I had read in the original wording. Thompson talked about a world famous lullaby and its dissemination, the seemingly abrupt rise of Fifty Shades of Grey, the influence of one impressionist artist over the future success of others and plenty more interesting stories.

Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker

This book took me completely by surprise. I did not expect to like it so much, but after listening to the audiobook version of it, I am determined to buy it in print too and read it again soon. This is a first for me because I never had this urge to re-read anything. Walker did an amazing job at explaining the importance of sleep, the different types of sleep, its evolution throughout our life and more. It was absolutely fascinating and I am just a teeny tiny upset at myself for not getting to it sooner. It’s hands down my favourite read so far in 2019!

Utopia for Realists – Rutger Bregman

I read this book after a guest speaker at one of my lectures recommended it to the class. Then, I saw Bregman on The Daily Show. (Btw, you should really watch his interview with Trevor Noah, I personally loved it!). Then, I saw videos of him roasting people’s hypocrisy at Davos (Winnie Byanyima is also in the clip linked and she killed it as well!). And then, he was everywhere. So, naturally, I had to read his book. He talks about the possibility of basic income, a shorter working week, the feasibility of some currently utopic ideas and more, while still remaining grounded, both in reality and in science, statistics and history. I hope you’ll add his book on your reading list!



Killing Eve – BBC America

I am obsessed with this series! The acting is amazing, the premise is very promising, the soundtrack is perfect and the locations are incredible! Looking forward to see where they take season 3, which better be confirmed soon.

P.S. It also helped that both my hometown and my current city were featured during the first two seasons, I felt quite spoiled 🙂

Knock Down The House – Netflix

Let me start with the good part. The message of this documentary is so important and so necessary to be heard. Female representation and female empowerment should not be meaningless buzzwords. And the race to get elected as an US congressperson is the perfect case to illustrate these two concepts. While this is not the best documentary I have ever seen since it does not dedicate equal time to all four women presented, the documentary is for sure on its way to becoming increasingly more important as the four incredible ladies featured in it gain more momentum.

The Society – Netflix

I read The Lord of the Flies 3 summers ago and it definitely left me intrigued and wanting to discuss the ideas in the book. (If anyone is up for a bookclub about it, let me know!). The Society has a similar premise of wanting to test the limits of teenagers who suddenly have to govern themselves, so it intrigued me from the beginning. The series stays sometimes on a stereotypical path, but I loved the diversity of personal stories they presented. The Society also managed not to make me feel dizzy or confused while following the narrative arcs, so props for that! The first 10 episodes are now streaming on Netflix.

The Next Web Conference 2019

This year marked the 14th edition of The Next Web Conference, and after my overwhelmingly positive experience last year, I couldn’t miss it! They already started uploading some of the talks, so keep your eyes peeled on their YouTube page. The Opening Ceremony was definitely a highlight for me and for sure a memorable moment for thousands of other attendees.

You’re not getting enough sleep – Matthew Walker

After reading listening to Matthew Walker’s book, I got completely obsessed about understanding sleep better, so I had to find more resources by him. If you don’t have time to read/listen to his book or if you still need to be convinced sleep is more important than you think, his TED talk may be handy.



The AirBnB invasion of Barcelona – The New Yorker

This is an issue close to my heart because Barcelona is a city I love dearly, but which rapidly became an entertainment park for tourists only. I have written myself about this in ELLE, but I also learned a lot from this New Yorker deep dive. It hurts to see the dramatic change happening there knowing Amsterdam is on its way to becoming similarly suffocated with tourists 🙁

Why is everyone so obsessed with AOC – BuzzFeed News

Of course, after watching the Knock Down The House doc, I had to read more about it and the four women the documentary follows. So, naturally, I opened 15 tabs and combed my way through them. This is one amazing article I stumbled upon and the reason why I am saying this is because the author utilizes social media analysis methods in order to illustrate how a politician interacts with her audience and how the said politician is perceived by different groups of supporters or of opposition.

Everything was against left-handed knights – Bored Panda

One day before handing in my thesis, I was reading about medieval defense methods, the curious construction of circular staircases, and horses’ training for battles. Ah, the things I read to procrastinate! I am not that mad at myself for procrastinating another thesis spell check by reading this because at least I learned some incredibly interesting facts. This may be my favourite article read in May, but shhh, don’t tell this to The New Yorker one!

The shockingly simple way to make packaging more sustainable – Fast Company

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my own packaging waste and ways I can cut it down. While doing some research about it, I found this article which described how taking the water out of cleaning products may be the smartest thing producers do in order to reduce plastic packaging waste and carbon emission due to product transportation. It’s even more interesting than it sounds, so definitely give this article a go.

Is plastic-free flying the future?

On the same sustainability note, I read that Etihad Airways celebrated Earth Day by reducing as much as possible their single-use waste during a trip from Abu Dhabi to Brisbane. And while initiatives like this shouldn’t remain at the level of PR moves, it is still one step forward which we need to celebrate, as it may hopefully trickle down to other airlines in the very near future. I found another article which describes the event in more detail, but it is less critical. Still informative, if the topic interests you.



Bartolotti Huis

My most recent canal house crush. Bartolotti house has everything: amazing staircase, big garden, iconic façade (double lot and on a canal bend – double strike!), an amazing ballroom, a water fountain in the dining room in order to cool wine (yes, you read that correctly – I’m crying inside), new custom made wallpaper, secret doors and storage spaces – I could go on and on and on. It was opened as a museum house in June 2018 and it is an interactive place to learn more about the history of Amsterdam (you can set the kitchen table! You can play cards in the ballroom! And you can even sit on the furniture! CRA-ZY!). Regular tickets are 8 euros.


Instock has been on my list for ages, from another guest speaker lecture at my uni. It’s a restaurant concept which started from the idea that food waste (or food excess, as they call it) can be tackled and can eventually become a solvable problem. They take unwanted food from supermarkets (there are so many annoying reasons why food gets rejected from small bruises to less common shapes!) and they use as much as possible from it in order to reduce the impact of the respective food. So far, they saved over 700,000 kg of food thanks to their three locations. I think it’s safe to say it became an instant favourite.

Katten Kabinet

In case you love an old canal house, cats, and cat art, this museum is perfect for you. During one point in my thesis writing sessions when I needed to take a break, I went there for about an hour and looked at some cool cat-inspired art objects like small statues and delicate fans, and it felt like a breath of fresh air – mostly because this would not have been my first museum choice, but I am slowly running out of new museum options on my list.




I knew about Blendle for a while, but Alexander Klopping’s talk at TNW2019 made me create my Blendle account. They are currently beta-testing an English version for the website and app after previously developing a very successful Dutch version. The idea of the company is to facilitate users to pay per each article read, instead of trying to handle too many subscriptions or not contributing at all to the content pieces they read. Their current selection of articles comes from NYTimes, New Yorker, FT, the Economist, TIME, Bloomberg, WSJ, Fast Company and many more other well-established publications. It’s an absolutely thrilling idea and I am extremely happy to support journalism beyond likes and shares.


I have been using Storytel for audiobooks for few months now and I love it to bits. It’s currently available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Poland, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain and India and the way it works is that you pay 10 euros per month and you get unlimited access to audiobooks. HOW CRAZILY COOL IS THIS?! I listened to 5 audiobooks since February, so a bit over 1 per month, including Why we Sleep by Matthew Walker, also mentioned above. It’s one of the best monthly subscriptions out there if you love books and knowledge, but can’t always find the time to sit down and read.



Our almost Anonymous Animals – Our Planet + Google Docs

While writing my part for a group essay, I noticed that the regular anonymous animals used by Google Docs to signal who else has the doc opened were different. After hovering my mouse over them, I found a link leading to a campaign between Google – Our Planet – Netflix and WWF in order to raise awareness about endangered animals. I think the idea is brilliant, the campaign is well executed and it fits all companies involved. And most importantly, it may convince some people WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT OUR DYING PLANET AND ECOSYSTEM! Check the link above to learn more and to watch special clips about these animals.


These were all my recommendations for May – I hope you were all able to find something matching your own taste in the links above. I am off now to enjoy some much-needed days off and dinners with friends.

Enjoy your summer!


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