Laura Recommends

January Recommendations

February 4, 2018

January is not usually among my favourite months, simply because of the stay-cation-inducing weather, but this past month was probably one of the best starts I have ever had. I caught up on some films, books and series, I published and drafted lots of new articles, including this heartfelt one on vision, and I finally went to some museums I should have checked long before. I am having a good feeling about the coming months and about 2018 in general, so here’s to rocking the months ahead!

Until then, here is a wrap up of books, exhibitions, videos and lots of handy things I enjoyed this past January.

 

BOOKS

Book Depository

I recently did an online book haul and I decided to try out this website that I have heard so much before and it did not disappoint! I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical due to the heavily discounted prices and free shipping, but all my books arrived in pristine condition in 7 to 10 days, so I am more than happy and will definitely order again. One thing which bothered me a bit is that they don’t accept Maestro cards, so you should take that into account when placing an order (if it affects you).

Sapiens

I know, everybody raved about this book in the past months. Naturally, I am always curious when there is a hype this big around a book, so I read Sapiens over the second half of my winter break and I must say, I really enjoyed it. I think it is a great introductory book into the history of humankind, and I have to say the last chapter, “The End of Homo Sapiens”, was particularly good and really got my mind busy.

Start with Why

When flipping through one of my old notebooks, I realized I actually watched Simon Sinek’s wildly famous TED talk in early 2016, so it felt nice to finally read the book which became an “instant classic”, Start with Why. While Sinek may be a bit too pushy with the core idea and with his favourite vocab words, there is a lot to take away from the book, no matter if you want to start a business, if you are already leading a team/ company or if you just want to understand where to head next and how to present yourself and your purposes.

How To be Alone – Sara Maitland

“Yes, thank YOU!” and “Finally, someone said it!” are just two of the thoughts I had while reading this book. It’s full of messages I am sure lots of people think about, yet not so many say them aloud or act on them.

“Most of us have a dream of doing something in particular which we have never been able to find anyone to do with us. And the answer is simple: do it with yourself”. How elementary is this idea, yet challenging to apply in real life?

Another thing which stuck with me because it hit me only while I was reading, is this: Nowadays, we value autonomy, personal freedom, independence, self fulfillment and individualism more than ever, yet we still shame solitude. John Oliver would definitely say “How is this still a thing?”

 

MOVIES AND SERIES

Persepolis

If you have not watched Persepolis, do that right now. I got the graphic novels of Marjane Satrapi two years ago and I thought they were enough in order to understand her story, yet nothing prepared me for the harshness, the joy, the anger and the overall emotional roller coaster this animation is. So relatable at times, yet so hard to digest the reality that wars, power abuse and revolutions are still harming people and destroying homes.

Loving Vincent

To cheer you up a bit, this movie is on the list because I have never seen something so exquisite until now. To give you some context, this film is about the life and death of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh as told through his paintings. Yes, the entire (!!) movie was hand painted in his style based on the works he left from his nine (just 9!!) years as an artist. Dozens of artists gave their best to make this happen over multiple years, so you should definitely see it! What’s more is that it just got an Oscar nomination so act fast before you cannot engage with your friends in an post Oscars-worthiness discussion*.

– also, the final song was so beautiful and touching it left me in tears (you can listen to it here, if you need a good reason to shed some tears)

*haters will say the actors’ accents are not accurate and that the story is not complex or vivid enough, but we can never be pleased, can we?

The Crown

Only after watching this series have I realized how little I knew of the Royal British family. If you are interested in history, British culture and tremendous acting, you should start watching this as soon as possible. Try not to binge watch everything in one day, OK?

 

HANDY

Rescue Time

In January I promised myself I will be more attentive with the time spent on Internet (which is why I deleted Facebook from my phone!) and I found this browser ad-on very helpful in counting the hours I waste spend on certain sites. It also records your average daily number of productive hours, so that is also pretty helpful.

On Multitasking – The Cost of Continuously Checking Email (via Harvard Business Review)

This article, which takes you less than 10 minutes to read and fully digest, has such a powerful analogy in it that I had to share it:

“Suppose each time you ran low on an item in your kitchen—olive oil, bananas, napkins—your instinctive response was to drop everything and race to the store. How much time would you lose? How much money would you squander on gas? What would happen to your productivity?

We all recognize the inefficiency of this approach. And yet surprisingly, we often work in ways that are equally wasteful.” – Ron Friedman on multitasking

Optical Character Recognition (via Office One Note)

OK, this trick may sound fancy, but it is so so helpful! Recently I had to transcribe a lot of text from images (particularly print screens) and I dreaded doing it. However, thanks to this Office help page, I learned that if you insert an image in an Office One Note file, you can right-click on it and select “Copy Text from Picture”. How NEAT is this?!

Google Docs transcribing tip (via Quartz)

Another awesome trick I learned in January is that you can transcribe vocal files easier if you dictate them to Google Docs. Much easier than typing down everything!

 

VIDEOS

The world organized by incomeAnna Rosling Rönnlund

This recent TED talk shed so much light on how, on a global scale, we are not that different from one another. Turns out, it is not necessarily culture, but money that creates the boundaries between us. Please watch this to get a different perspective on your own life and wealth and on how similar we all are.

How Atomic Bombs can Uncover Forged Art

I just discover the “It’s Okay To Be Smart” YouTube channel and this video is a great example of how you can teach people something very cool about art and forgery while making it light and fun to watch along.

 

EXTRA

Legendary Trunks exhibition, Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam

Although I am cheating a bit because I saw this exhibition in February, it is on just until the 18th, so I figured, if you want to see it you should know about it. What is this about and why should you go if you’re in town? It’s the work of a Louis Vuitton trunks collector who managed to bring together the suitcases of Gustave Eiffel, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Judy Garland, Ernest Hemingway and so many more together with unique pieces of trunks for flower bouquets, casino nights and even caviar! It’s learning about history in some of the most pleasant ways ever!

 

Hope you got inspired and if you do test out some of the things listed in my Recommendation series, do let me know!

Have a fantastic February,

Laura

 

Photo by Cynthia de Luna on Unsplash

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