How My Admiration for Maria Popova Turned into Jealousy (but Not for Long)

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If you don’t know who Maria Popova is … shame on you.

She’s the founder and curator of Brain Pickings … one of the few blogs catalogued into the Library of Congress.

That blog is a bottomless source of curiosities. And for any writer, a well of inspiration. Which made her interview with Kelton Reid hands down my favorite.

Let me put this in context.

Over the years Kelton has interviewed some great writers: Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Jeff Goins.

But HER interview had me hanging on every word. To say she is intelligent and creative is a gross understatement.

No wonder: her life is consumed by reading and writing. Devoted to books like a nun with a iron-clad pact to serve God. It’s an entirely enviable life.

And not just any kind of books. Old, non-digital books. [Read more…]

Want Your Copy to Sound Human? Have This Stupid Machine Read It


I got this idea from my daughter who was making us utterly crack up this weekend with her imagination. It wasn’t so much what she said. It was how she said it.

Rather how Ginger said it.

Ginger is the name we gave to the voice on Google Translate. My daughter was making Ginger say some of the most preposterous things.

For example:

Hello, I am a stupid machine. Do you still love me? It is good that you love me since I don’t care. I don’t have emotions. Tell me what I should say. How I should feel. See, I am stupid. What’s the weather like outside? How old is that cat? I have mental problems. Can you tell?”

If you read those lines … it just seems silly. Listening to Ginger say them, however, is a flipping riot.

Which got me thinking about that particular piece of writing advice that says we should read what we wrote out loud. This exercise is supposed to help you to hear if it makes sense.

So what if Ginger read your copy out loud? Give it a shot.

  1. Go to Google Translate.
  2. Drop your copy in first box.
  3. Translate in language of choice.
  4. Hit the speaker icon.

I experimented with a few posts … and it was funny. But very bumpy. She has zero emotion. Misses inflection. And stops halfway through on long posts.

Give it a shot with a short piece, and let me know what you think.

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Online Readers: Why You Should Use Readability

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Writers are hardcore readers…whether online or in books.

In fact, like a lot of professionals, the amount of time I spend online is ridiculous. All of it is for research–personal or professional.

And if I’ve learned anything about my time reading online is that I HATE clutter, wide margins and tiny font.

In addition, I also hate not having one location for all of my reading content.

I read a fraction of what I find on the spot. The remaining I bookmark to read later, favorite or simply archive…and all of that content is spread across Google Reader, Delicious and Spool.

What’s an online reader to do? [Read more…]

6 Ways to Becoming a Hardcore Reader

“My concern is not to make people read, but to make them think.” –Montesquieu

Books are dead.

Sure. Whatever. Especially if what we mean by that is the physical object–the paper, the cover, the spine. Because one thing is for sure: reading is not dead.

Kill off the printed book and we’ll figure out a way to read. [Read more…]

How to Absorb a Book into Your Bloodstream

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Just in case you were beginning to mistake me for a methamphetamine addict who blazes through books, I thought I’d write a post to correct that picture in your mind.

In fact, I want to convince you of one of the most important rules when it comes to reading.

I want to show you why absorbing a book into your bloodstream is a good thing.

And I want to show you that unless you do this, you’re likely missing out on the best kind of reading. Let me show you what I mean. [Read more…]