Leslie Berlin

Luminous Writing:

Jennifer Senior, “What Bobby McIlvaine Left Behind”

Probably the single best essay I’ve ever read.

Cynthia Zarin, “An Enlarged Heart”

An early-2000s sensibility for sure, but the immediacy and intimacy of the prose cannot be beat. I think the tone of my essay about my grandmother was an unconscious homage to Zarin’s piece.

Danusha Laméris, “Small Kindnesses” (introduction by Naomi Shihab Nye)

My current favorite poem.

Work and Management Tips:

Roger Martin, “A Plan is Not a Strategy” (Harvard Business Review)

Excellent. “Not knowing for sure isn’t bad management. It’s great leadership.”

Anil Dash on Making Better Documents

On the Craft of Writing:

David Grann on craft wisdom and breaking into narrative nonfiction.

The author of Killers of the Flower Moon and The Lost City of Z tells you how to find stories and write them really well.

Two very different podcasts featuring great writers talking about writing: 


Screenwriters Craig Mazin (Chernobyl, The Last of Us) and John August (The Nines, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) talk about “screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters”

Ursa Short Fiction Podcast

Authors Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies) and Dawnie Walton (The Final Revival of Opal & Nev) select a short story that is read aloud one week, and the next week, they talk to the author.

On Ways of Seeing:

Julia Skinner, “What it’s like to be a food writer when you can taste everything you see”

On synesthesia. 

Theresa Vargas, “The unexpected star of NASA’s Webb images: the alt text descriptions”

A great look into the language behind the images. 

Alexandra Eaton, Caroline Kim, Elliot deBruyn, Bron Moyi and Natalie Reneau, “How a Rare Portrait of an Enslaved Child Arrived at the Met”

This 10-minute video is a fascinating art detective story.

Yuliya Parshina-Kottas, Anjali Singhvi, Audra D.S. Burch, Troy Griggs, Mika Gröndahl, Lingdong Huang, Tim Wallace, Jeremy White and Josh Williams, “What the Tulsa Race Massacre Destroyed”

This interactive re-creation of the Greenwood district of Tulsa before the Race Massacre is emotionally powerful and also has great research chops. I am a native Tulsan but never learned about this horror in school.

Nice Quick Hits:

Mandy Brown, A Unified Theory of f\*\*ks

Silly and thought-provoking at the same time.

A Manifesto By

So many good thoughts in here by various activists and creatives, from Ai Wei Wei to Chez Panisse. I like Sir John Hegarty’s

Ram Dass on Self-Judgement

I return to the first paragraph on a regular basis.