Let Maria Popova Pick Your Brain

Maria Popova, internet philosopher sensation and creator of the blog, “Brain Pickings,” on how to live a meaningful life in 2016.

Maria Popova. (Photograph by Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times)

Maria Popova. (Photograph by Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times)

We are heirs to such a great intellectual tradition. Great thinkers from the dawn of history and right now. And yet we tap it so lightly. All that insight, run over by the latest listicle and raft of cat pictures. But Maria Popova mines it every day. Points us to brilliance in her blog called “Brain Pickings.” She’s out right now with great ideas to light up 2016 from Baldwin, le Guin, Kurt Vonnegut, Grace Paley. This hour On Point, Maria Popova is with us to rev up our minds for a new year.

— Tom Ashbrook 


Maria Popova, writer, blogger and critic. Founder of MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow. (@brainpicker)

From Tom’s Reading List

Brain Pickings: 16 Elevating Resolutions for 2016 Inspired by Some of Humanity’s Greatest Minds — “What if we could augment the bucket-list of typical New Year’s resolutions, dominated by bodily habits and pragmatic daily practices, with higher-order aspirations — habits of mind and spiritual orientations borrowed from some of humanity’s most timelessly rewarding thinkers?”

The Atlantic: A Writer’s Journey: Lessons Learned From a Search for Purpose — “In 2006, Maria Popova began regularly sending her friends emails containing ‘five stimulating things to learn about each week.’ What started as an experiment among a small circle of friends became Brain Pickings, a widely read blog with millions of readers from around the globe. Seven years after sending that initial email, Popova paused to contemplate what she had learned over that period of time.

New York Times: She’s Got Some Big Ideas — “Unlike most blogger celebrities, however, Ms. Popova revels in remaining anonymous, which means her followers know almost nothing about her. In an age when many tweet what they put in their morning coffee, she rarely uses the word ‘I.’ Her personal history is almost completely absent. Her photograph is not on the site.”

Sign Up For The Brain Pickings Newsletter Here

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
May 26, 2016
This Jan. 26, 2016 file photo shows a "For Sale" sign hanging in front of an existing home in Atlanta.  Short of savings and burdened by debt, America's millennials are struggling to afford their first homes in the face of sharply higher prices in many of the most desirable cities. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

No more ’empty nest’. A third of millennials now live at home with their parents. We’ll look at what’s still pushing that trend.

May 26, 2016
This March 16, 2015 photo shows portraits of now-retired U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Marshall Powell, right, and his wife, Arasi, at their home in Crescent, Okla. Powell suffers from a psychological wound called "moral injury" after serving as an Army nurse in Iraq and Afghanistan. Arasi, also a soldier who served in Iraq, had received treatment for PTSD. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

In advance of Memorial Day, we’ll talk with Sebastian Junger about vets coming home and missing their “Tribe.” Plus, a WWII veteran remembers life on and off and the battlefield.

May 25, 2016
Police gather in a cordoned off area where a possible murder suspect fired shots at officers surrounding a South Side home where he is barricaded Thursday, May 12, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Predictive policing. With violence on the rise, Chicago has turned to big data to predict gun and gang violence.

May 25, 2016
This April 29, 2014, file photo, shows an Exxon sign at a Exxon gas station in Carnegie, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

How will the oil giants do business in the climate change future? Shareholders at Exxon, Chevron and more want to hear their plans. So do we.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
WWII Vet Larry Kirby Reflects On American Values
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Looking ahead to Memorial Day, a World War II veteran looks back at the relationships that mattered to him, both in and out of war.

More »
Gloria Steinem Explains Her ‘Bernie Boys’ Comment
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Feminist activist Gloria Steinem explains why her apparent diss of female supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders was anything but.

More »
‘Best Of’ 2016 Commencement Speeches
Monday, May 16, 2016

Excerpts from a few of the best commencement speeches delivered to the graduating class of 2016.

More »