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“Wow, Josh Ritter, holy freaking wow.”

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week cheering for the singer-songwriter adored by English majors and the men and women who adore them. I love silent days crafting sentences alone, but if you put a gun to my head and told me I’d have to trade my maid’s room for the stages of music clubs and […]

Believing in your ability

Hello English Muse readers! Karen from A Simple Cup of Tea once again. This week I want to talk about mindset and how it can influence anything and everything. I have a preliminary audition for a competition tomorrow. I’m nervous and not really sure whether it is a good idea. I feel like my voice is in […]

She survived cancer. Endured a married lover. But when she lost her job, Dominique Browning had to reinvent her life.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week in awe of a woman in pajamas. “Slow love” is a good description of the way I’ve come to know Dominique Browning. After decades of a nodding acquaintance when we worked at glossy magazines, we started reading the other’s web sites. There was a chance meeting at a dinner, […]

Easy to say ‘Be patient.’ Much harder to do it when you’ve just jumped out of a crashed plane in Burma, drenched in fuel, and are on fire.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, thinking he really ought to meditate more often. “Peace can be found within, no matter the external circumstances,” Allan Lokos writes in “Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living.” “Forgive me, Allan,” I thought, when I read his book for the first time. ”You may be the founder and guiding teacher of […]

An attitude of gratitude

Hello English Muse readers! Karen from A Simple Cup of Tea once again. Where did those two first months of 2013 fly away to? I can barely believe it’s nearly March already. I’ve been studying at Royal Welsh College for nearly two months now and even though it keeps me ridiculously busy I’m mostly just grateful to […]

The best novel by the favorite writer of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is about a woman who lives off men.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, here to present a woman who feels much worse than you can in the dull bottom of February. The favorite writer of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is said to have been Jean Rhys (1890-1979). If so, that says a lot, for the main character in a novel by Rhys tends to be […]

The Fault in Our Stars

Illustration by Foxtales.

In Motion

The food of love

When you just can’t find the words, say it with food.

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie Star In The Best Western You’ve Never Seen

Jesse Kornbluth, of, checking in between winter storms. And thinking: It’s a lot colder in this classic movie. So why not suggest it? Readers will feel better about themselves as they watch a great film they may have missed. Robert Altman liked to say he hated Westerns. He didn’t much enjoy working with Warren […]

Susan Sontag: Nothing is Mysterious…Except Love

Illustration by the amazing Wendy MacNaughton.

Frida Kahlo, out of the closet

It was like discovering a hidden pirate’s treasure, for fashion lovers and art lovers alike. After more than half a century, museum curators have unlocked the doors to Frida Kahlo’s closet, at the same time unlocking many secrets of her life. When Frida died in 1954, her heartbroken husband, famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, locked […]

“Arsene Lupin, gentleman burglar, will return when the furniture is genuine.”

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week wearing le smoking and smirking. Arsene Lupin — you know him not, but to generations of European readers he was the French Sherlock Holmes. Well, better than the Brit detective. Holmes was on the side of the law, a stodgy enterprise. But Lupin was a burglar. A gentleman burglar. […]

‘Champagne for my sham friends, real pain for my real friends,’ Noel Coward said. Here is real pain. Because Claire Bidwell Smith is a real friend.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week bringing you down — and then up. “The Rules of Inheritance” is a memoir about a bummer. Two bummers, really. When Claire Bidwell Smith, an only child, was 14, both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer. When she was 18, her mother died. When she was 25, her […]

Design your own wallpaper

I am dreaming of a place that is my very own. A home that belongs to me, where I can paint walls and hang pictures and add windows and grow herbs, and nobody can tell me not to. I will dangle silly chandeliers and mobiles and plant hangers from the ceiling, if I want to. […]

‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is my favorite modern American novel. Buy it. Read it. Hate it? I’ll buy it from you.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week making you an offer you can’t refuse. It was the spring of 1983. On a long plane trip, I started reading “The Queen’s Gambit.” The author was Walter Tevis, who had also written “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and “The Hustler” (and who would later write “The Color […]

The Best Yarn Store in DC

When exploring a new city,  I’m constantly in search of a great book store, a trendy second-hand clothing store and — lately — a yarn store. When staying in Washington DC last week, my Dupont Circle neighborhood had all three — Kramerbooks, Secondi Consignment Clothing, and the lovely Looped Yarn Works, in a second floor […]

‘Downton Abbey’ has become an obsession for millions. Now there’s a book about the Carnarvons, of Highclere Castle, where it’s filmed.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week taking a butler’s look at The Swells. Four million Americans watched the premiere of the second season of “Downton Abbey” last year. A few weeks ago, 7.9 million Americans watched the premiere of season three. That’s a rather dramatic audience gain, wouldn’t you say? It’s also four times the […]

Eat, Sleep, Read Local

I was in Washington DC last week for work. The trip wouldn’t have been complete without time spent exploring at least one local bookstore… This sign was posted at Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle… I know it’s counterintuitive to shop for books and magazines while traveling…Definitely undermines the concept of traveling light… Like local grocery stores, […]

My Modern Vintage Decor Obsession

If given the chance, I would paint every wall and floor in our house white.  Of course my spouse objects, saying white floors aren’t  practical.  But I disagree. I painted a bathroom floor once with several thick coats of white deck paint and it was easy to clean with bleach.  I found the photos of […]

It was written for kids. It’s just right for you.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, with a book for all ages. What I love about great novels — maybe what I love best about them — is how much they make me feel. That’s become more and more important to me over the course of this last decade, because most of every day I — and […]

All alone by the telephone…..

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week contemplating that indoor sport: the affair. You wait for the phone to ring. That’s your life, waiting. You never know when he’ll call, so you leave your home as little as possible. Hair dryers and vacuum cleaners make noise that could drown out a ringing phone; you use them […]

In the holiday season, here’s my idea of the best possible news.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, with a gift of personal peace. Thich Nhat Hanh doesn’t use a telephone, so when I interviewed him for America Online, I had to pick him up and drive him to the office. TNH practices “walking meditation.” That is, he walks very slowly, breathing very consciously, so that every breath and […]

The language of kindness

Hello English Muse readers! Karen from A Simple Cup of Tea once again. I know that everyone is very busy with the holidays but I wanted to share this lovely Mark Twain quote with you all. The holiday season is always jam-packed with events and parties and obligations. I find myself rushing from one place to another, […]

Christmas in a Book

Some of my favorite books as a child were literal picture books – no words, just pictures. Every time you “read” the book you make up a different story to go with the pictures. This is kind of like that. Yusuke Oono created a cut paper book that captures a bit of Christmas. I love […]

Twenty-six names

Hello English Muse readers! Karen from A Simple Cup of Tea once again. There is not much I can say about what happened in Connecticut right now. I tried at my blog but don’t feel like I was very succesful. So instead of rambling on in my own words I wanted to share this beautifully moving tribute […]

23 Minutes of Holiday Magic For Children (and Adults Who Can Still Dream)

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week raving about an astonishingly great animated film. The best holiday stories are fables. “Believe,” they instruct us. “Love,” they dare us. “Trust,” they implore us. And the child in us — connecting with the child who inspired the holiday — responds. “Yes,” we say, eyes misting, because we so […]

Making snail mail pretty

Hi there, it’s Naomi Bulger from Messages in Bottles. Today I wanted to share with you some happy mail that I’ve been sending out to readers of my blog. I love to draw little pictures on the envelopes, and I try to make them as special as possible with string and wax seals and different […]

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