For thirty years, John Carey has been a professor of English literature at Oxford as well as a prolific reviewer of books. He is perhaps best known for his “literary activism”—or his emphatic insistence on the value of reading. In fact, the final chapter of his autobiography, released earlier this year, contains a final chapter titled “Why Read?,” which concludes, “Reading is freedom. Now read on.” Readers might be familiar with his argument in What Good Are the Arts, where he suggests that literature is the only art capable of reasoning, and the only art that can criticize. In Carey’s mind, Literature has the ability to inspire the mind and the heart towards practical ends far better than any work of conceptual art. I have been thinking quite a bit about Carey this week after having an impromptu conversation with an employee at my favorite clothing store. She told me how she was reading a classic work of literature each month as a self-improvement project and enthused about how much she was learning about the world and herself from this endeavor. I didn’t need any convincing about the benefits (and likely results) of such a project, but for those who do—or those who appreciate confirmation of their perspectives—John Carey is one to read.
Have you seen the movie Begin Again? If not, you should. Afterwards, you are going to want to run out and download the soundtrack featuring Keira Knightley and (yes), Adam Levine. It is a great summer soundtrack. Download it, pour yourself an ice-cold lemonade, and enjoy this perfect blend of indie-pop.
This simple meal—Shrimp with Orzo and Feta—has been a staple in my house since I discovered it in a Sunday Boston Globe feature on easy dinners back in 2009. Though the recipe calls for frozen shrimp and spinach, you can easily substitute fresh ingredients (I do). It is super-easy and SO delicious. Trust me! Serve with a leafy green salad and a glass of Vermentino and you will be in heaven.
Learn a new skill. Have you heard of Skillshare? It is an online learning community where you can acquire valuable real-world skills in tech, media, design, and the creative arts. Want to take an online screenwriting course with James Franco? Done. Want to learn how to do fashion watercolors? Try it (I did!) Learn the tools to take better photographs? There are many classes to choose from. Most courses are less than $20, or you can sign up for a monthly membership for unlimited courses.
What are your suggestions for things to read, hear, make, or do this weekend?