Brain Pickings

PICKED: Miracles – 20 Years of Pop in One Mashup


We’re lovers of art of remix as a creative medium, so we’re all over the latest gem by mashup master Peter Bull, better known as Norwegian Recycling.

Miracles draws on 16 iconic songs spanning nearly 20 years of pop music history, from Jacko to Gaga, blending them seamlessly into one catchy, head-bobbingly addictive track.

Here’s a list of the samples used:

  1. Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are
  2. B.O.B. feat. Bruno Mars – Nothing On You
  3. Gnarls Barkley – Crazy
  4. Britney Spears – Hit Me, Baby, One More Time
  5. Jason Derulo – In My Head
  6. Justin Timberlake – My Love
  7. Lady Gaga – Just Dance
  8. Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love
  9. Ne-Yo – So Sick
  10. Michael Jackson – Black Or White
  11. Snoop Dogg – Sexual Eruption
  12. Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger
  13. Taylor Swift – Fifteen
  14. Taylor Swift – Fearless
  15. Savage Garden – The Animal Song
  16. Snoop Dogg feat. Justin Timberlake – Signs

To support Bull’s work — all of which he makes available for free — consider making a donation — we can only imagine the epic time investment involved in his mashups. (Ahem, we aren’t turning those away either — though no epic feat of pop music, Brain Pickings is also a free labor of love and takes a good 400 hours a month across the site, newsletter and Twitter feed.)

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Junk Drawers: Portraits of People Through Their Trinkets


You can tell a lot about a person by their most invaluable possession — those quirky trinkets and sentimental keepsakes we all keep in a box or drawer somewhere, a timecapsule of all we’ve ever romanticized and treasured. Brittny Badger (whose deconstructed household appliances we swooned over a few months ago) calls these trinket timecapsules Junk Drawers and she photographs them, capturing indirect portraits of their owners though the tchotchkes they’ve accumulated over the years.

The goal of this series is to turn chaos into organization.” ~ Brittny Badger

'brittny' | Objects taken from the desk drawer in Badger's own room in her parents' house.

'kelly and brittny' | Objects taken from the desk drawer in the apartment Badger and her roommate currently live in.

'lori and vern' | Objects taken from Badgers' parents' desk drawer

The series reflects the same horror vacui folk-art-inspired technique you may recall from Polish photographer Andrzej Kramarz’s series Things.

We’d love to see the junk drawers of some of today’s cultural icons. We bet Paola Antonelli’s alone is a micro-museum of awesome.

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5 Cross-Disciplinary Cookbooks


What Dracula, liquid nitrogen and hackers have to do with IKEA furniture.

Cookbooks are no longer the fascination of foodies alone. After featuring the designerly The Geometry of Pasta, we began noticing the deluge of incredibly exciting and cross-disciplinary treats disguised as cookbooks being released this season, spanning domains as diverse as art, molecular science, travel photography, hisotry, classical literature, and geek culture. Here are 5 of our favorite new cookbooks inspired by more than just food.


From culinary journalist Estérelle Payany comes Recipe for Murder: Frightfully Good Food Inspired by Fiction — an absolutely delightful anthology of signature recipes delivered by 32 of literature’s greatest hero-villains.

The book features original artwork by illustrator Jean-François Martin, whose work has graced the pages of The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, The Los Angeles Times, and a slew of other beacons of modern journalism.

From caramel apples from Snow White’s stepmother to The Big Bad Wolf’s pig-in-the-blanket special to Brutus’ Caesar salad, this scrumptious gem of a book, fresh out of the Flammarion & Rizzoli publishing oven, delivers unexpected home-style recipes by way of your favorite fairy tales and literary classics.

Images © Jean-François Martin; courtesy of Flammarion & Rizzoli via Artslope

via @AmritRichmond


If curiosity is your favorite ingredient and you’re more interested in the science of what happens to food beyond the blind following of recipe instructions, then Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food is your new favorite pastime. Part science book, part playground for culinary experimentation, the book offers more than 400 pages of recipes, tips and — our favorite part — interviews with some of today’s most iconic geeks across all disciplines: Writers, hackers, food scientists, knife experts, chefs, researchers and more.

Not surprisingly, this treat comes from an author with a fittingly cross-disciplinary background and indiscriminate curiosity — Jeff Potter, who studied computer science and visual art at Brown University, has used cooking with friends as a sanity anchor throughout his prolific career as an entrepreneur.


Thai Street Food from scholar David Thompson takes us on an exciting journey into one of the Far East’s most widely adored cuisines with recipes that are both authentic and approachable.

It also doesn’t hurt that the book features some of the best food photography we’ve seen in years, making it as much a self-standing photography coffeetable book as it is a practical cookbook.


Legendary British writer and researcher Diana Kennedy may be best-known as the Julia Childs of Mexican cuisine and in her latest book offers an ambitious exploration of one of the world’s most colorful cuisines. Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy features over 300 rare recipes and exclusive photographs of Oxaca’s little-known yet outstanding foods and their preparation, often guarded for centuries in family recipe books.

Among the highlights is a special chapter devoted to the three pillars of the Oaxacan regional cuisines — chocolate, corn, and chiles.


Nathan Myhrvold may be better-known as Microsoft’s former Chief Technology Officer, who studied quantum science alongside legendary physicist Stephen Hawking, but his true passion lies at the intersection of science and food. Myhrvold trained as a chef at LaVarenne in Burgundy, France, and has spent the past three years in a laboratory in Bellevue, Washington, perfecting — with his seven full-time chefs — the elaborate cooking techniques of gastronomy’s recent mega-obsession: molecular cuisine.

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking is the pinnacle of his experimentation, a 2,400-page, six-volume behemoth with over 1,000 recipes that transform the kitchen into a lab. Needless to say, expectations for the ambitious undertaking have been gargantuan, which made gastronomers all the more unsettled by the recent announcement that due to packaging concerns, the book — which weighs over 48 pounds — won’t be available until March, nearly four months past the publication date originally promised.

Modernist Cuisine isn’t for everyone — besides the hardcore foray into ingredients like methylcellulose and agar approached with cooking techniques that involve liquid nitrogen and rotary evaporators, the book comes with a hefty $625 price tag. (Though Amazon is currently running a preorder discount of 20%, which clocks in at the non-negligible sum of $125 in savings.)


Granted, this book isn’t for sale yet, but it’s too cool for us not to mention — IKEA has recently partnered with legendary art photographer Carl Kleiner to produce Hembakat är Bäst (Homemade Is Best), a new baking book featuring absurdly beautiful, artful photographs of deconstructed ingredients accompanying the recipes. Arranged by color and touched with the magical art direction wand of brilliant minimalism, the ingredients are photographed before their preparation into pastries, presenting a peculiar retroappreciative approach to food as art.

No word yet on when and where the book will be available, but it’s now firmly planted on our to-hunt-down-and-devour list.

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Mapping European Stereotypes


Geopolitical cartography is all about an objective view of the world’s political conventions. But there’s nothing politically correct in Bulgarian-born, London-based designer Yanko Tsvetkov‘s Mapping Stereotypes project — a series of amusing, often tragicomically true maps of Europe based on various subjective perceptions and ideologies.

Europe According to USA

Europe According to France

Europe According to Germany

Europe According to Italy

Italy According to Posh Italians

Europe According to Bulgaria

Europe According to Britain

Where I Live

Europe According to Gay Men

Tsvetkov’s maps are available for purchase as prints, mousepads and t-shirts on Zazzle.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.