Laura Recommends

September Recommendations III

October 5, 2019

Through what can only be explained by the work of magic, in September I managed to change almost everything about my life.

I switched faculties by starting a pre-master in Business Administration that will hopefully prepare me well for a Master next fall. While it is stressful, it is intellectually challenging (it activates parts of my brain that have been dormant for the past 5 years), so I am happy with my choice so far. I started yet another internship, working 3 days per week in a position that allows me to learn a lot about sustainability, communications and various sorts of media. These two choices alone dictated a new rhythm – going to bed before a certain hour, meal prepping even more relentlessly than before, scheduling house chores for the evenings and the weekend and so on.

But hold your breath – I didn’t stop there.

I decided to cut my meat consumption by 80% and eliminate as many animal-based products as possible from my diet. Then I decided to do something about the anxiety I was feeling and the lack of physical mobility I was experiencing – so I got myself a Classpass subscription, meaning I am now going to a pilates or yoga class at least once a week. I am already feeling much better and each training leaves me wanting for more.

I made one more decision, but that will only start impacting my life towards the end of November/beginning of December, so I will tell you about it at the right time.

Meanwhile, let me walk you through my favourite places, books and documentaries from the past 4 weeks:


Hunger: A Memoir of my Body – Roxane Gay

This summer this book was everywhere on my Instagram feed. I have to admit, Roxane Gay’s name rang a bell, but I didn’t know much about her. This was obviously my loss because she is one of the most moving authors whose work I ever got the chance to read. Her biography shows so much depth, complexity and pain it’s impossible not to finish the book with a complete change of perspective on morbid obesity. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

The Reading Cure – Laura Freeman

I was not planning on reading this book in September, but after reading Hunger, this book was the most obvious choice from my nightstand pile. The Reading Cure is the autobiography of Laura Freeman, a woman diagnosticated during her teens as anorexic. Despite losing her appetite for food for years, she remained devoted to her books, hence her remedy for her mental and physical state. It is an incredibly painful book as well, but also knowledge-heavy since the author is referencing plenty of books and their connections to the world of food writing. You have to add this book to your list too!

No is not enough – Naomi Klein

I picked up this book from Libreria in London and realized only half a day later that it was not the book I wanted. In reality I wanted to read ASAP Naomi Klein’s ‘”This Changes Everything” , but my brain mixed them up. I was so convinced it was the right book I didn’t even check the back cover. However, once bought and started, I had to finish it. And I am happy I did. “No is not enough” tackles the ways in which we need to oppose the current fast-rising racist, overly-nationalistic and far right political movements, and what happened that lead us to these moments in US, Europe, South America and more. It’s not hard to read and I personally appreciated Naomi’s way of writing – her calling Trump a buffoon was one of the sentences I highlighted in the book.


Huis van Brienen

As part of my plan to visit as many canal houses as possible, I obviously had to pay Huis van Brienen a visit during Monument Weekend. The entrance was free and the place could have easily been a museum and not a privately-owned house. Their ballroom and garden views enchanted me for life and I can only suggest you go there next time they open it for the public.

Huize Frankendael

Another place I have seen during Monument Day – this is a beautiful restaurant, cafe and special events place with a magical garden. It’s crazy to think I biked on its street for a year and never stopped to see it on the inside, so I am happy I could remediate that. A true gem in Amsterdam East.

Pand Industria

Last place ticked off during Monument Weekend was this massive building in Dam square. I always thought it was the HQ of Ghassan diamonds, but apparently it is a hotel and a club, formally for gentlemen only, but now open to women as well. The tour was lovely and the history of the place is absolutely insane. You should definitely go inside if you ever get the chance.

Horta Museum, Brussels

While exploring Brussels on a weekend trip, I got a recommendation to go to this museum (thank you, Irina!), one of the most iconic buildings in the Art Nouveau style. It must have been one of the most magical experiences I ever had – the details, the light, the mirrors, the quirkiness – I loved absolutely everything in this house and it triggered my appetite for more art-deco museum visits.

Tropismes, Brussels

This bookshop is specialized in French books only, so I lingered there quite a lot because I was stumbling across so many titles and authors I did not know. The place in itself is absolutely stunning and jaw dropping, so you should definitely visit this place if you are ever in Brussels. It is part of the most popular and touristy gallery, however it is tucked in a sidecorridor, so it feels very intimate and cozy. It made me search for my French books in my bookcase, so now I am holding myself accountable to read at least one small book in French in October (around 180 pages).

Video Express, Brussels

While walking around Brussels, I stumbled across what I thought was a time machine shop: a video renting store! They claimed it was the right place for people who wanted to stop browsing streaming services mindlessly and instead switch to a curated list of videos recommended by cinephiles. If I would have lived in that neighbourhood, I would have probably been at the store at least once a week 🙂

Although you have to live in Brussels to fully enjoy this recommendation, I still wanted to add it here because I like the idea of a higher quality screen time, social connection based on advice and of course, supporting local businesses instead of soulless tech giants.

Waanders in de Broeren, Zwolle

This bookshop has been on my list for 3 years now and during a weekend trip I finally got to tick it off. It is hands on one of the most beautiful bookshops in the Netherlands due to the fact that it is housed inside an old church. I must have spent an hour there, going up and down the stairs, watching people and constantly adding new titles to my neverending TBR list. Definitely worth alone the trip to Zwolle.

P.S. If you do decide to visit Zwolle, please pay a visit to Lindeboom, one of the best small pastry shops I stepped foot in.


The Miniaturist (2017)

This two episode series was based on the eponymous book by Jessie Burton. I think I read the book 2 or 3 years ago in my fever to read all recent pop books about the Netherlands, but somehow the news it got turned into a micro-series did not reach me. It is nicely done and a very pleasant way to spend a weekend evening. Plus, the story has loads of potential. It is not a flawless production, but I still liked it enough to recommend it 🙂

Years and Years

WOW. I was looking forward to watching this series ever since reading about it in an article few months ago. It is a family drama with plenty Black Mirror-like tech inserts and twists and it skyrocketed my anxiety levels considering it takes a pessimistic approach over the next 10 years. There are only 6 episodes, which I guess it’s the threshold the producers decided people will hit before they get too physically sick to watch it anymore. I’m not selling it well, but it’s really good. Really good. And the cast is one of the best I have seen in a while – incredibly talented and playing truly diverse characters.

How Alexa Meade Makes People Look 2D with Body Paint – WIRED

I have been following Alexa Meade on Instagram for a while and I find her work to be very playful and dynamic. I never really knew how she got to be a visual artist, but this WIRED interview tells her story pretty well.

Why your brain thinks these strawberries are red – WIRED

Another pick from Wired, just because they really killed it this month – this video is about our weird and incorrect perceptions over colors. It’s a bit trippy and fascinating and it finally made it clear for me why people went crazy over The Dress image few years ago.

Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates – Netflix

One of the documentaries I truly enjoyed this month – this three episode series about Bill Gates is a brief insight into one of the most interesting public people in the world. The documentary tackles his childhood, his years at Microsoft, his relationship and marriage with Melinda and the many topics and world issues populating his mind. There were a lot of things discussed in only three episodes, so I never got bored. In fact, I probably could have watched 10 more episodes like these 3.


Mesmerizing photos of Vietnam from above – National Geographic

This slideshow is instantly uplifting and awe-inducing. These shots and their colourfulness and symmetry reminded me of Samsara, which is one of the most beautiful visual expressions of all time. Please look up Samsara and stream it on the biggest screen you have in your house.

Top 100 – the Guardian

In September the Guardian started recapping the best culture of the past two decades (can you believe it is going to be 2020 in less than 3 months?!) and all their lists are fascinating rabbit holes where you can discover plenty gems. Have a look at Top 100 movies, Top 100 books, Top 100 series, and also don’t neglect looking over their art, architecture and theatre shows rankings.

My father had a lifelong ticket to fly anywhere. Then they took it away – The Guardian

I binge read this article because it sounded like something out of movies. It is deeply captivating and quite divisive (who is right in this conflict? is there such thing as being right in such a case? where is the line between maximizing an investment and fraud in the case of this lifetime pass?). It is almost unbelievable that the events presented in this article are real, but they for sure make a very enjoyable read.

I Was Caroline Calloway – The Cut

This article made the rounds on social media and I have to say that even without knowing the people involved, it was still a fascinating read. All the drama ensuing later and the articles that followed it only made it juicier. This is not necessarily an intellectually stimulating piece, but sometimes we simply need something well written and with thrilling action.

Hello From the Year 2050. We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change — But Everything Is Different – TIME

This article wanted to be that triggering point to make us realize that if we want a happy future we must start taking action now. I don’t yet fully know how we individuals can make sure that companies and governments will implement carbon-neutral practices, but I do know that I am trying my best to reduce my own carbon footprint. If you want me to write more about this, let me know.

Climate Action Tracker

If you care about the climate and what countries around the world are doing to protect our planet, Climate Action Tracker is an independent organization tracking emission pledges and action. Even though they haven’t got yet accounts of all countries, their findings so far are mind boggling: only 2 countries are on their way to satisfying the 1.5 degree Celsius warming set as a target by the Paris agreement. Everything over this could be highly disastrous for the entire planet, so have a look at what Morocco and The Gambia are doing to set a climate example.

That’s all folks! Thanks for reading and see you in a month!


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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