A story about the small talk of two brilliant mathematicians reminds me that a curious and well-informed mind can find much of interest in the world. The taxi-cab’s number 1729 turns out to be a very interesting number.
The year 2021 has hit the midway point, so we review our one-word themes to evaluate how we’re doing. We also suggest a hack for dealing with hot summer nights, and talk about Michael Pollan about his fascinating new book, “This Is Your Mind on Plants.”
The poet Donald Hall wrote a beautiful memoir of the childhood summers he spent with his grandparents on their New Hampshire farm. In his account, he conveys the safety and orderliness of that country life.
In Stephan Lee’s terrific young-adult novel K-Pop Confidential, the character Candace’s performance illustrates the same lesson that I saw in my daughter Eleanor’s second-grade show on the monkey bars: Sometimes we should expect more from ourselves, and sometimes we should accept ourselves—our own gifts, our own limitations, and our own way to achieve an aim.
In her memoir The Bread and the Knife, Dawn Drzal explains that her grandmother’s habit of asking her grandfather, “Is the pasta done?” made no sense to her, until years later, when she realized she’d been seeing a declaration of love.