The Brain –and Face– Behind “Brain Pickings”

(c) 2012 Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times
(c) 2012 Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times

An interview with Maria Popova, who’s job is “helping people become interested in things they didn’t know they were interested in, until they are.”

SHE is the mastermind of the one of the faster growing literary empires on the Internet, yet she is virtually unknown. She is the champion of old-fashioned ideas, yet she is only 28 years old. She is a fierce defender of books, yet she insists she will never write one herself.

At precisely 9:30 on a chilly Saturday morning, Maria Popova slips out of her apartment in Brooklyn, scurries down a few stairs and enters a small basement gym. A former recreational bodybuilder from Bulgaria, Ms. Popova is the unlikely founder of the exploding online emporium of ideas known as Brain Pickings.

Her exhaustively assembled grab bag of scientific curiosities, forgotten photographs, snippets of old love letters and mash notes to creativity — imagine the high-mindedness of a TED talk mixed with the pop sensibility of P. T. Barnum — spans a blog (500,000 visitors a month), a newsletter (150,000 subscribers) and a Twitter feed (263,000 followers).

There’s more…

Worth Repeating

Why does the writer write? The writer writes to serve – hopelessly he writes in the hope that he might serve – not himself and not others, but that great cold elemental grace which knows us.

Joy Williams, in her essay “Uncanny Singing That Comes from Certain Husks,” published in the 1991 anthology Why I Write: Thoughts on the Craft of Fiction (public library).

Via Brain Pickings.

(Please check out–and support–this wonderful site.)

Worth Repeating

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From Lapham’s Quarterly via the great Maria Popova:

Your mother and I have been a complete failure financially but if the boys turn out to be good and useful citizens nothing else matters and we know this is happening so why not be jubilant?

–LeRoy Pollock in a 1928 letter to his 16-year-old son Jackson.

The rest of the letter is here, and this is the book where it can be found: American Letters 1927-1947: Jackson Pollock & Family.

Please consider subscribing to Ms. Popova’s Brain Pickings, a very enjoyable and informative site. And “If you find any joy and value in it, please consider a modest donation. Brain Pickings remains ad-free and takes 450+ hours a month to curate and edit, between the site, the newsletter and Twitter.”