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Stay Woke: Five Reads to Break the News Cycle

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You've refreshed the NYT homepage how many times today? Thought so. Tell you what, instead of stressing out of the constantly-changing minutiae of the day, commit to reading a few thoughtful books this month.

You'll have a lot more interesting things to talk about at brunch, your blood pressure will thank you, and, paradoxically, you'll actually be a lot better informed than if you keep yourself on that newsfeed morphine drip.

Here are a few humble, mostly off-the-radar suggestions for mind-expanding books we've enjoyed reading lately.

1. CLOG x GUNS

Unfortunately, guns are always a timely topic in America, but perhaps at no time in recent memory as much as now. The horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida seems to have set off a willingness to discuss change in a way we haven't seen in at least a generation.

Whatever your politics, our friends at CLOG approach one artifact or question in design every issue through pragmatic, thoughtful, and wide-angle stories and infographics. Everything they've put out is worth reading, but this one really hits the cultural nail on the head.

2. Nothing Personal,
Richard Avedon and James Baldwin

On their own, Avedon and Baldwin are always worth some reflection, but put them together and you get a hi-fidelility picture of the American experience that is sometimes uncomfortable but always mind-expanding. This exacting reprint of their once hard-to-find 1964 collaboration is positively essential for any American library and just as timely today as it was when first published.

3. Domus: The 1970s, Charlotte & Peter Fiell

Domus: The 1970s by Charlotte & Peter Fiell

After all these years, Domus is still probably the most important avant-garde voice in architecture. The heavy, large format monthly was founded in the '20s by Gio Ponti and has long been known for being edited in finite tenures by highly influential architects and theorists. This compendium of groundbreaking essays and critique from the heady '70s is our favorite Domus era, and includes florid travel writing from Ettore Sottsass and mind-bending looks at some speculative futures we wish would've come to pass.

4. Eileen Gray, Francois Baudot

Eileen Gray by Assouline

In this #MeToo moment, we're always looking for inspiring women in places we haven't traditionally found them. This pictorial volume from Assouline is a nice repository of work from one of Modernism's most important architect-designers, Eileen Gray. She just so happens to be a woman.

On a side note, we were sad to read recently that New York City's gorgeous Union Carbide building was all but surely headed for demolition. While it wasn't Gray's work, it was designed by another pioneering woman architect, Natalie de Blois. It really is time we begin to look beyond Mies, Le Corb, and all the other household name dudes and consider the rich contribution a few break-the-mold women had in building the modern world.

5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo

Much, probably too much, has been said about this book so we won't go on and on about it. But hot damn, it really does turn out that tidy surroundings and mindfulness and a general sense of well-being really do go hand-in-hand-in-hand. It's an easy, pleasant read, and we promise if you haven't read it yet, it'll help get you in the healthy, open mindset you need to be in to start spring off right.

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