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Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Eugenides, and More Join Chipotle’s Cultivating Thought Series

Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Eugenides, and More Join Chipotle’s Cultivating Thought Series

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Starting January 27, Chipotle is launching its newest Cultivating Thought series, showcasing authors’ writings

Order up extra guac’ and a dose of literature the next time you’re at Chipotle.

After the success of the first installment of “Cultivating Thought,” in which Chipotle printed whimsical, thought-provoking and hilarious essays on their cups and bags, Chipotle has come back with a second round. Starting January 27, a brand-new crop of authors, comedians, and biographers will have their writing printed on Chipotle’s paper goods. A little bit of inspiration to go with your burrito makes the Chipotle experience somewhat classier.

The full list of participating writers includes Amy Tan (Joy Luck Club), Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation), Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Shadow of the Wind), Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex, The Virgin Suicides), Julia Alvarez (In the Time of the Butterflies), Neil Gaiman (Coraline, American Gods), Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist), and Walter Isaacson (Steve Jobs biographer).

After the last series, Chipotle received some negative backlash for not including any Hispanic writers. For this series, the writers are “American, Brazilian, British, Dominican, and Spanish writers, as well as writers whose families are of Chinese, Polish, and Indian ancestry.”

Swayed by Hitchcock

Coming home from the grocery store yesterday, we heard a throng of chirping unlike anything we’d heard before. We looked up to see a nearby tree filling with birds, all sounding the same message.

Turned out they were starlings flying in from three different directions in small flocks—all jockeying for a place on the oak’s topmost branches, though there was plenty of room in the lower two-thirds of the tree. We stood mesmerized for some time. Whenever we thought the birds were finished congregating, a new batch would land.

My husband ran home to get his camera. While he was gone, even more birds joined the group.

Though we’d seen our share of undulating flocks in the skies, we’d never witnessed the period beforehand when the birds assembled. We wondered how many were there, how many more would arrive, how long they’d stay in the tree before taking off, where they were headed, and if they’d head there in one magnificent murmuration.

After a bit, the chirping gave way to typical starling calls, which meant what? They were relaxing? The assemblage was complete?

As a neighborhood couple came up behind us, we stepped aside to give them right-of-way on the sidewalk. They noticed what captivated us and made some reference to Hitchcock’s avian film. That was my cue, I realized much too late, to SPEAK UP—to clue them in to the uniqueness of the moment and prevent them from doing what they did next.

As the couple neared the tree, the man raised his hands above his head and forcefully clapped, tidily dispersing the birds as he’d intended to do.

I saw red. Several un-neighborly actions came to mind. What compelled the guy to bully the birds? Was he a six-year-old?

More important, how did his behavior impact the starlings? Was their plan ruined? Would late arrivals to the tree know how to find the rest of their clan? Would this new development interrupt the starlings’ eat/sleep cycles?

Now, I didn’t go so far as to have expected the couple to join us in our amazement. I realize we can’t all focus on nature all the time. Someone has to noodle on closing the tech divide and providing clean-water access to the world. Yet surely the rest of us can take time out periodically from our other concerns to contemplate the beauty and mystery that the Universe bestows upon us. Or, at least, not spoil someone else’s contemplation.

If we don’t see—really see—the environment we live in, how can we responsibly care for it? May the Universe set something of beauty in your path this weekend…

Peeking Out from the Bracken

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Video Appeal by raven_aorla

Fandoms: Good Omens - Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett, Good Omens (TV), Buzzfeed Unsolved (Web Series), Buzzfeed: Worth It (Web Series)

"Back home they talk about you like you’re a cautionary tale, Mr. Crowley, but. I think I get it. Which scares me. Like, I really like popcorn and hot dogs. And movies. And cats, and, and jacuzzi tubs, and, like, the whole country of Iceland. I’ve even tried smooching consenting adult humans and stuff, to keep up appearances, and it’s pretty cool once you get past how weird it is. The biggest thing? Lately it’s not been as fun constantly gaslighting Ryan.” Madej looked at Ryan and folded his arms tightly against his chest. “He thinks I’m his best friend.”

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Advertising and publicity

In the past, Chipotle mainly relied on billboards, radio ads, and word-of-mouth to advertise. In 2012, Chipotle aired its first nationally televised commercial during the 54th Grammy Awards ceremony. In 2010, the company initiated an ad campaign that mocks advice given to Chipotle by advertising agencies. Chipotle has run many promotions giving out free food to potential customers, especially when opening a new store. Stores also give out free burritos on certain holidays for instance, on Halloween, some locations have had promotions in which free burritos are given to people who come dressed as a burrito. Chipotle gave away free burritos to reporters during the 1997 trial of Timothy McVeigh, which took place in Chipotle's hometown of Denver. In addition, stores offered free burritos to those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Chipotle received attention when Ozzy Osbourne's reality show The Osbournes featured the company's burritos heavily. Chipotle was also mentioned throughout the "Dead Celebrities" episode of the television series South Park. For Halloween 2010, Chipotle announced that customers dressed as a processed food product would receive a burrito for $2. The event was part of a $1 million fundraiser for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution called "Boorito 2010: The Horrors of Processed Food." For "Boorito 2011", customers dressed in costumes "inspired by family farms" will receive a menu item for $2, with proceeds from the promotion going to The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation and Farm Aid. The promotion is aimed to increase awareness of family farms. Also in support of family farms, Chipotle released music videos of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Willie Nelson. On September 12, 2013, Chipotle released an animated short called The Scarecrow with a companion mobile video game both feature a narrative heavily critical of industrial farming but little in the way of direct marketing for the chain. The short features a cover of "Pure Imagination," from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," sung by Fiona Apple. It was named one of the worst advertisements of 2013 by the Wall Street Journal.

In 2011, Chipotle created the "Farm Team", which is a rewards program available only by invitation from restaurant managers. The Farm Team members have access to a special Chipotle website, where members can earn rewards, i.e. free food and T-shirts. The site offers members to, "learn where Chipotle's food comes from, take quizzes and polls, play games and watch videos about the company." In April 2014, the Farm Team program was shut down.

Founder Steve Ells was a judge for the NBC reality television series, America's Next Great Restaurant Chipotle offered a buy one get one free deal in conjunction with the show. The show featured an episode where contestants worked in a Chipotle restaurant for a day.

Chipotle sponsors Team Garmin-Barracuda (formerly Team Garmin-Chipotle, Team Garmin-Slipstream, Team Garmin-Transitions and Team Garmin-Cervélo) of the International Cycling Union, and is an official team partner of the Boston Celtics, and the Boston Bruins. In June 2009, Chipotle sponsored free screenings of Food, Inc., a film that criticizes the corporate food industry. Founder Steve Ells stated that he hoped the film would make customers appreciate Chipotle's Food With Integrity policy. From May until September 2009, Chipotle ran a contest on, a microsite which had a competition for the best user-created audio and video presentations about different combinations of ingredients. In July 2010, Chipotle began a campaign to support healthier lunch alternatives for students, in which money will be donated to The Lunch Box program based on how many spam E-mails consumers forward to a company E-mail address. For Chipotle's 18 year anniversary, the company began wrapping its burritos in gold foil as part of a larger promotion to draw attention to its Food With Integrity mantra. Also as part of the gold foil campaign, Chipotle is offering prizes for customer-created pictures of items wrapped in gold foil. Chipotle hired comedian Amy Sedaris to create a comedic how-to video on wrapping with gold foil, and spread the video using Twitter. In March 2013, Chipotle pulled its sponsorship of a Boy Scouts of America event, citing that organization's ban on LGBT members.

On February 17, 2014, Chipotle released the first webisode of a four-part series titled Farmed and Dangerous on The comedy is a satire of "Big Ag" and "Big Food" practices, featuring the fictional megacorporation Animoil feeding cows petropellets, which are made directly from petroleum, instead of corn and soybeans, which rely on fertilizers produced through an energy-intensive industrial process. The process uses natural gas as a source of hydrogen.

In 2014, Chipotle debuted their "Cultivate: Food, Ideas & Music Festival" in several cities across the nation. 2015 festivals are scheduled for Phoenix, Kansas City, and Minneapolis. Cultivate headlines of-the-moment bands and draws huge crowds to the free festival. In between band performances, attendees can enjoy food, drinks, activities, free samples from partners (such as Ben and Jerry's), and informational and interactive programs displaying Chipotle's responsible farming methods.

Also in 2014, Chipotle introduced the "Cultivating Thought Author Series," in which notable contemporary writers and other personalities are invited to produce short pieces of work, designed to be read in two minutes, to be printed on Chipotle packaging, such as to-go bags and cups. The program was suggested and is curated by Jonathan Safran Foer. Foer has contributed work to the program other participating writers include Amy Tan, Paulo Coelho, Aziz Ansari, Walter Isaacson, Jeffrey Eugenides, Augusten Burroughs, Neil Gaiman, Julia Alvarez, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Barbara Kingsolver. Former participants include Toni Morrison, Malcolm Gladwell, Sarah Silverman, Michael Lewis, Bill Hader, Judd Apatow, George Saunders, Steven Pinker, and Sheri Fink.

A Christmas Trilogy

Berlioz’s intimate, inventive ‘L’Enfance du Christ’

From Handel’s “Messiah” to Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” most everyone has his favorite seasonal music. Mine is Hector Berlioz’s trilogy, “L’Enfance du Christ” (The Infancy of Christ), a surprisingly intimate score from a composer best known for such blockbusters as the “Symphonie Fantastique” and the towering Requiem. “L’Enfance du Christ” is probably the composer’s most gentle choral work, characterized by numerous dynamic markings instructing that passages be played piano (soft), pianissimo (very soft), and even pianississimo (extremely soft).

It originated in a surprisingly offhanded gesture. In 1850, while a bored guest at a Parisian party, Berlioz was asked to write in a friend’s autograph album. On the spur of the moment he began to jot down a few bars of music. “It seemed to have a rustic style,” Berlioz later recalled, “and also to suggest a naïve mystical feeling, so I immediately invented some appropriate words for it. It became a chorus of shepherds in Bethlehem, bidding farewell to the infant Jesus as the Holy Family departs for Egypt.”

Scholars have suggested that Berlioz may have previously visited the Louvre, viewing its many paintings of the Flight into Egypt. Whatever his inspiration, he soon followed this musical autograph with a movement called “The Repose of the Holy Family,” and then with an overture. In November of that year, needing a choral piece to fill out a concert program, he decided to link the overture and two movements together and present them as the work of a fictitious 17th-century French composer he called Pierre Ducré.

In 1853, a successful Leipzig performance of what had evolved into a slightly longer piece, “The Flight into Egypt,” prompted him to continue fleshing it out. The finished work, now entitled “The Infancy of Christ,” had its premiere in Paris in December 1854, and scored a triumph—a unique occurrence in Berlioz’s career.

Listen to clips from “L’Enfance Du Christ”

Arranged in three episodes, the trilogy offers a narrative of events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ and the Holy Family’s flight—from Bethlehem and Herod’s murderous edict—to Egypt. Feeling no constraint to follow the Bible strictly, the composer wrote his own French text in simple, eloquent language that provides part of the work’s charm. But its greatest appeal lies in the inventive quality of the music. On the one hand, it is charged with a nostalgic simplicity—even his styling it a trilogy rather than a cantata or oratorio suggests that Berlioz identified his work with a Renaissance triptych. On the other hand, his musical idiom flowed from the same 19th-century Romanticism that inspired the Gothic-revival in architecture of the time.

Berlioz deploys his musical forces on three levels to move his dramatic narrative along. The tenor provides the broad outlines of the story in recitative, setting up Herod’s troubled state of mind and later recounting the difficulties experienced by the Holy Family. The choir supplies mystical color—chorus basses and tenors as Herod’s lugubrious soothsayers, chorus women and boys as the glowing angelic host that warns Mary of danger. We don’t hear the whole mixed choir until part two, when they sing the music of the shepherds bidding farewell in part three, they supply much of the comforting hushed atmosphere of prayer and repose.

In most oratorios and cantatas, solo arias are often contemplative, commenting on the narrative. But here Berlioz treats the arias and duets operatically—not as showpieces but as passages revealing the psychological states of his protagonists.

For example, to emphasize the sleepless Herod’s mournful sense of loneliness, Berlioz constructs the king’s “Insomnia Aria” on a scale that the composer himself described as “in G-minor . . . outlined in a plainchant under some Greek name that I do not know.” He then explained that by following this scale, which contains several flattened intervals not found in conventional minor keys, he could produce “some very somber harmonies and cadences of a special character that seem to me to fit the situation.” Herod’s aria and scene with his soothsayers contrast wonderfully with the melodic tenderness of the ensuing lullaby of Mary and Joseph to the infant Jesus.

But even in an antiquarian mood, Berlioz is always inventive. At the start of the work, he sets the subdued scene of the military night watch in Roman-dominated Jerusalem with a “Nocturnal March” for strings with woodwind accents. Characteristically, Berlioz treats the primary march theme fugally. Later, the cabbalistic ritual of Herod’s soothsayers derives its strong color from its menacing spinning motif for cellos and bassoons, accented by the reedy oboe and the harsh brilliance of the piccolo. And to heighten the weird effect, he writes it in an asymmetrical 7/4 meter, simultaneously evoking primitive dances while anticipating Stravinsky’s modernism more than a half century in the future.

“The Shepherds’ Farewell”—the part written for his friend’s autograph album—has a genuinely pastoral lilt. Equally evocative of antique dance is the Mozartean trio for two harps and flute offered to the Holy Family by the Ishmaelite children. Both numbers must have been inspired by Berlioz’s memories of the Italian peasant music he heard during his youthful tenure at the Villa Medici in Rome.

Finally, the hushed epilogue offers the work’s most miraculous inspiration. After the narrator briefly recounts the Holy Family’s peaceful stay in Egypt before returning to their native land, a woodwind chord introduces the concluding passage, an adoration for unaccompanied tenor and choir. The music rises to a climax upon a gossamer fabric of vocal counterpoint tinged with deeply moving harmonic progressions—more romantic in style than the 16th-century counterpoint of Giovanni Palestrina, but less chromatically perfumed than the sacred style of Berlioz’s younger contemporary, Charles Gounod. Then, in a series of cadences on the word “Amen,” the music dies away. Whether or not Berlioz wrote this jewel-like conclusion with images of such early Italian painters as Giotto and Fra Angelico in mind, his music is full of their simple spiritual glory.

Mr. Scherer writes about music and the fine arts for the Journal.

Want to complete your reading goal for 2020?

These celebrity book club picks are the perfect compelling reads!

Stay with Me / by Ayobami AdebayoSecure in the love of her husband in spite of pressure for him to have a polygamous marriage, Yejide is overwhelmed by shock and pain when her inability to become pregnant compels her husband to take a second wife, sending her on a desperate quest to conceive a child. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

Leave the World Behind / by Rumaan Alam
Sheltering in a New York beach house with a couple that has taken refuge during a massive blackout, a family struggles for information about the power failure while wondering if the cut-off property is actually safe. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

The Whisper Network / by Chandler Baker
Follows four women who speak out when their ill-reputed boss is slated to become CEO, a decision that triggers catastrophic shifts throughout every department of their company. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Immortalists / by Chloe Benjamin
Sneaking out to get readings from a traveling psychic reputed to be able to tell customers when they will die, four adolescent siblings from New York City’s 1969 Lower East Side hide what they learn from each other before embarking on five decades of respective experiences shaped by their determination to control fate. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

The Vanishing Half / by Britt BennettSeparated by their embrace of different racial identities, two mixed-race identical twins reevaluate their choices as one raises a black daughter in their southern hometown while the other passes for white with a husband who is unaware of her heritage. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

Dead Girls / by Alice BolinA collection of sharp, poignant essays that expertly blends the personal and political in an exploration of American culture through the lens of our obsession with dead women. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

Braving the Wilderness / by Brene BrownThe influential TED speaker and best-selling author of The Gifts of Imperfection draws on new research to challenge conventional beliefs about fitting in to counsel readers on the skills required to achieve actual belonging while being true to oneself. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

I’m Still Here / by Austin Channing Brown
From a powerful new voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Marlena / by Julie Buntin
Struggling to adapt to a new home in rural Michigan, fifteen-year-old Cat bonds with a pill-popping, manic young neighbor with whom she renders their desolate community into a kind of playground until suffering a tragedy that she confronts decades later. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

The Night Tiger / by Yangsze ChooA vivacious dance-hall girl in 1930s colonial Malaysia is drawn into unexpected danger by the discovery of a severed finger that is being sought by a young houseboy in order to protect his late master’s soul. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Next Year in Havana / by Chanel Cleeton
A freelance writer returns to her grandmother’s homeland to fulfill her last wish to have her ashes scattered in Havana and discovers her family history amidst Cuba’s tropical beauty and dangerous political environment. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Water Dancer / by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A Virginia slave narrowly escapes a drowning death through the intervention of a mysterious force that compels his escape and personal underground war against slavery. An Oprah’s book club pick.

The Last Romantics / by Tara Conklin
When she is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, renowned poet Fiona Skinner recounts the summer her family spent in a middle-class Connecticut town. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

The Last Mrs. Parrish / by Liv Constantine
A coolly manipulative woman worms her way into the lives of a wealthy golden couple from Connecticut as part of her plot to achieve a privileged life, unveiling dark secrets along the way. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

American Dirt / by Jeanine CumminsSelling two favorite books to an unexpectedly erudite drug-cartel boss, a bookstore manager is forced to flee Mexico in the wake of her journalist husband’s tell-all profile and finds her family among thousands of migrants seeking hope in America. An Oprah’s book club pick.

Everything Inside / by Edwidge Danticat
A collection of short stories set in such locales as Miami, Port-au-Prince, and the Caribbean explores the forces that unite and divide. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Girl with the Louding Voice / by Abi DareAdunni, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl who longs for an education, must find a way for her voice to be heard loud and clear in a world where she and other girls like her are taught to believe, through words and deeds, that they are nothing. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

Patsy / by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Receiving her long-coveted visa to America, Patsy leaves behind her family in Jamaica only to discover that life as an undocumented immigrant is not what her best friend had described. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

South and West / by Joan Didion
Two excerpts from never-before-seen notebooks offer insights into the author’s literary mind and process and includes notes on her Sacramento upbringing, her life in the Gulf states, her views on prominent locals and her experiences during a formative “Rolling Stone” assignment. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

Untamed / by Glennon Doyle
An activist, speaker and philanthropist offers a memoir wrapped in a wake-up call that reveals how women can reclaim their true, untamed selves by breaking free of the restrictive expectations and cultural conditioning that leaves them feeling dissatisfied and lost. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

This Is How It Always Is / by Laurie FrankeA family reshapes their ideas about family, love and loyalty when youngest son Claude reveals increasingly determined preferences for girls’ clothing and accessories and refuses to stay silent. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Guest List / by Lucy Foley
An expertly planned celebrity wedding between a rising television star and an ambitious magazine publisher is thrown into turmoil by petty jealousies, a college drinking game, the bride’s ruined dress, and an untimely murder. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Laura & Emma / by Kate Greathead
Conceiving a child during a weekend fling, a 30-something product of progressive Manhattan old money raises her daughter in the same blue-blood world of her own upbringing before her daughter begins to question their environment in ways she never could herself. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

The Proposal / by Jasmine Guillory
After a handsome doctor helps Nikole escape a ridiculous, public proposal, she starts having a series of hookups with him, but when things begin to get out of hand, one of them has to put the brakes on things. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Transcendent Kingdom / by Yaa GyasiA novel about faith, science, religion, and family that tells the deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief, narrated by a sixth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford school of medicine studying the neural circuits of reward seeking behavior in mice. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

Happiness / by Heather HarphamA California girl with wanderlust whose opposites-attract relationship with a homebody writer was significantly compromised by an unplanned pregnancy describes how their baby’s serious health disorder prompted the couple to reevaluate their views of family and what they were willing to risk for their child’s health. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Rules of Magic / by Alice Hoffman
A prequel to the best-selling Practical Magic traces the story of the children of Susanna Owens, who, in spite of their mother’s fierce edicts against witchcraft, develop powerful abilities while struggling to escape the family curse that leads to tragedy if they fall in love. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Evvie Drake Stars Over/ by Linda HolmesYoung widow Evvie Drake and major league pitcher Dean Tenney, who has lost his game and needs a chance to reset his life, form an unlikely relationship when Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine / by Gail Honeyman
A socially awkward, routine-oriented loner teams up with a bumbling IT guy from her office to assist an elderly accident victim, forging a friendship that saves all three from lives of isolation and secret unhappiness. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Still Lives / by Maria HummelA young editor at a Los Angeles art museum is pulled into the disturbing and dangerous world of a famous artist who goes missing on the opening night of her exhibition. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The End We Start From / by Megan HunterIn an alternate-world modern London submerged below flood waters, a woman who has just given birth to her first child is forced to flee her home with her baby to seek refuge in a variety of locations while the baby thrives against all odds. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

The Other Woman / by Sandie JonesA blissful romance between Adam and Emily is challenged by Adam’s manipulative mother, who resorts to dire measures to keep all other women out of her son’s life. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

An American Marriage / by Tayari Jones
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy, the living embodiment of the New South, are settling into the routine of their life together when Roy is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. An insightful look into the lives of people who are bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) and Oprah’s book club pick.

Writers and Lovers / by Lily King
The story of a former child golf prodigy-turned-unemployed writer whose determination to live a creative life is complicated by her relationships with two very different men. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family / by Robert Kolker
The heartrending story of a midcentury American family with 12 children, 6 of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease. An Oprah’s book club pick.

The Incendiaries / by R.O. KwanA young Korean-American woman at an elite American university is drawn into acts of domestic terrorism by a cult tied to North Korea and then disappears, leading a fellow student into an obsessive search for her. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

Searching for Sylvie Lee / by Jean KwokA poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women — two sisters and their mother — in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears, and a series of family secrets emerge. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) and Read with Jenna book club pick.

The Answers / by Catherine Lacy
A formerly paralyzed woman applies for a job on Craigslist to be the “Emotional Girlfriend” of an eccentric and narcissistic actor desperate to find the perfect relationship. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

Godspeed / by Casey LeglerA coming-of-age memoir by a former Olympic swimmer describes the crippling loneliness that marked her athletic childhood and her struggles with addiction and self-destructiveness prior to her diagnosis with autism. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

Luster / by Raven LeilaniA young black artist falls into an affair with a man in an open marriage before gradually befriending his wife and adopted daughter against a backdrop of dynamic racial politics. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

The Rules Do Not Apply / by Ariel LevyA “New Yorker” staff writer shares a hopeful memoir of her own experiences with devastating loss to council fellow survivors about the healing aspects of accepting difficult life challenges that are beyond one’s control. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

From Scratch / by Tembi Locke
An African-American actress recounts her romance with a Sicilian chef whose traditional family disapproved of their marriage and how she sought solace in their close-knit community after his death. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Her Body and Other Stories / by Carmen Maria Machado
Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. She bends genres to shape startling stories that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

A Burning / by Megha Majumdar
An opportunistic gym teacher and a starry-eyed misfit find the realization of their ambitions tied to the downfall of an innocent Muslim girl who has been wrongly implicated in a terrorist attack. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

Touch / by Courtney Maum
A trend forecaster hired by a leading tech company suddenly finds herself in the position of wanting to overturn her own predictions when she senses the beginning of a movement against electronics in favor of compassion, empathy, and “in-personism.” An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

Behold the Dreamers / by Imbolo MbueIn the fall of 2007, Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Their situation only improves when Jende’s wife Neni is hired as household help. But in the course of their work, Jende and Neni begin to witness infidelities, skirmishes, and family secrets. Then, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, a tragedy changes all four lives forever, and the Jongas must decide whether to continue fighting to stay in a recession-ravaged America or give up and return home to Cameroon. An Oprah’s book club pick.

Deacon King Kong / by James McBrideIn the aftermath of a 1969 Brooklyn church deacon’s public shooting of a local drug dealer, the community’s African-American and Latinx witnesses find unexpected support from each other when they are targeted by violent mobsters. An Oprah’s book club pick.

His Only Wife / by Peace Adzo Medie
An intelligent and funny debut about a relatable, indomitable heroine: a young seamstress in Ghana who agrees to an arranged marriage, only to realize that some compromises are too extreme to accept, illuminating what it means to be a woman in a rapidly changing world. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Conviction / by Denise Mina
An upper-class Edinburgh housewife who enjoys listening to the sordid details of true-crime podcasts has her world turned upside down when a new podcast turns out to have connections to her own dark past. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Last House Guest / by Megan Miranda
When her longtime best friend is found murdered, Avery Greer combs through her idyllic Maine tourist community to uncover local secrets and clear her name of suspicion. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Giver of Stars / by Jojo Moyes
Volunteering for Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library in small-town Kentucky, an English bride joins a group of independent women whose commitment to their job transforms the community and their relationships. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Dear Edward / by Ann Napolitano
A 12-year-old lone survivor of a plane crash investigates the stories of his less-fortunate fellow passengers before making a profound discovery about his life purpose in the face of transcendent losses. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

Little Fires Everywhere / by Celeste Ng
Fighting an ugly custody battle with an artistic tenant who has little regard for the strict rules of their progressive Cleveland suburb, a straitlaced family woman who is seeking to adopt a baby becomes obsessed with exposing the tenant’s past, only to trigger devastating consequences for both of their families. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Becoming / by Michelle Obama
An intimate memoir by the former First Lady chronicles the experiences that have shaped her remarkable life, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago through her setbacks and achievements in the White House. An Oprah’s book club pick.

Welcome to Lagos / by Chibundu Onuzo
Resolving to abandon his post when he is ordered to kill innocent civilians, Nigerian army officer Chike Ameobi becomes the leader of a band of runaway rebels, each of whom imparts the difficult and remarkable experiences that drove them to seek better lives. An Emma Roberts (Belletrist) book club pick.

The Library Book / by Susan OrleanReopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire, while exploring the crucial role that libraries play in modern American culture. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Where the Crawdads Sing / by Delia OwensViewed with suspicion in the aftermath of a murder, Kya Clark, who has survived alone for years in a marsh near the North Carolina coast, becomes targeted by unthinkable forces. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Dutch House / by Ann Patchett
A tale set over the course of five decades traces a young man’s rise from poverty to wealth and back again as his prospects center around his family’s lavish Philadelphia estate. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage / by Ann Patchett
Inviting readers into her personal life, the New York Times bestselling author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto shares the stories of the people, places, ideals and art to which she has remained indelibly committed. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Secrets We Kept / by Lara Prescott
A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice–inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Alice Network / by Kate Quinn
When pregnant American student Charlie St. Clair is banished to Europe by her family to have her baby, she takes the opportunity to head for London to find her missing French cousin and teams up with Eve, a former spy from the Alice Network, to solve the mystery. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Such a Fun Age / by Kiley ReidSeeking justice for a young black babysitter who was wrongly accused of kidnapping by a racist security guard, a successful blogger finds her efforts complicated by a video that reveals unexpected connections. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Daisy Jones & the Six / by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Two rising 70s rock-and-roll artists are catapulted into stardom when a producer puts them together, a decision that is complicated by a pregnancy and the seductions of fame. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Fair Play / by Eve Rodsky
A first book by the founder of the Philanthropy Advisory Group and expert consultant for Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine project outlines revolutionary, real-world solutions to the equal distribution of unpaid and unrecognized domestic labor typically performed by women. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

A Woman is No Man / by Etaf Rum
Three generations of Palestinian-American women in contemporary Brooklyn are torn by individual desire, educational ambitions, a devastating tragedy, and the strict mores of traditional Arab culture. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

The Light We Lost / by Jill Santopolo
Lucy and Gabe, two Columbia University students who meet as seniors, decide they want their lives to mean something, launching a thirteen-year journey of dreams, betrayals, and love that brings Lucy to a point where she must make a life-altering choice. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

One Day in December / by Josie SilverLaurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

You Think It, I’ll Say It / by Curtis SittenfeldPresents a collection of ten short stories that feature both new and previously published pieces, including “The World Has Many Butterflies,” in which married acquaintances play an intimate game, with devastating consequences. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

Something in the Water / by Catherine SteadmanA successful banker and a rising filmmaker embark on a blissful paradise honeymoon in Bora Bora, where the discovery of a mysterious bag of riches triggers a sequence of events that indelibly marks their marriage and lives. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

All Adults Here / by Emma Straub
A matriarch confronts the legacy of her parenting mistakes while her adult children navigate respective challenges in high standards and immaturity, before a teen granddaughter makes a courageous decision to tell the truth. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

The Dearly Beloved / by Cara Wall
Set in the years 1950-1970 in a changing America and London, follow[s] two married couples – ministers and academics – whose intricate bonds of faith and friendship, jealousy and understanding, are tested by the birth of an autistic child. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

The Jetsetters / by Amanda Eyre Ward
Winning the grand prize in an essay contest, a single mother reunites her estranged adult children on a 10-day cruise while confronting long-buried secrets from their dysfunctional shared past. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Lying Game / by Ruth WareIn the wake of a woman’s discovery of human remains, the members of a once-inseparable clique from a boarding school reflect on their participation in a dangerous game of deception that contributed to the death of a teacher. A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick.

The Underground Railroad / by Colson WhiteheadAfter Cora, a slave in pre-Civil War Georgia, escapes with another slave, Caesar, they seek the help of the Underground Railroad as they flee from state to state and try to evade a slave catcher, Ridgeway, who is determined to return them to the South. An Oprah’s book club pick.

Caste / by Isabel WilkersonThe Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns identifies the qualifying characteristics of historical caste systems to reveal how a rigid hierarchy of human rankings, enforced by religious views, heritage and stigma, impact everyday American lives. An Oprah’s book club pick.

Nothing to See Here / by Kevin WilsonAgreeing to help her former college roommate care for two stepchildren who possess the ability to spontaneously combust when agitated, Lillian endeavors to keep her young charges cool in the face of an astonishing revelation. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

The Unwinding of the Miracle / by Julie Yip-Williams
An unconventional memoir by a young mother with Stage IV metastatic cancer describes her experiences as a blind Vietnamese political refugee-turned-Harvard-educated lawyer before terminal illness inspired her blog to share the real-world guidance she wished she had. A Read with Jenna book club pick.

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Cockpit Arts

Words & Illustrations Sophie Pelissier

“When you study your art or your craft you aren’t taught how to run a business…”

There is an air of quiet industriousness down the wooden hallways of Cockpit Arts. You could be forgiven for thinking the ghosts of the original 1920s furniture workshop were still working behind the studio doors were it not for glimpses of colourful textiles, bold typography, or polished ceramics. True to its legacy of craft manufacturing, this discreet white-brick warehouse in Holborn is home to 90 ‘makers’ of various craft professions: tailors, jewellers, potters and more. With the squeeze on central London studio spaces, the resident designer-makers have been handed a golden ticket by Cockpit Arts, an award-winning social enterprise and the UK’s only creative business incubator.

“What I’ve noticed is that people find their way here at different stages or with different intentions for their products, and this place allows you to get it together.” Ian Scott-Kettle, 49, sits on his work table with his hands in his lap, contemplating the role of Cockpit Arts in his varied trajectory through the fashion world. He was granted a studio space at Holborn five years ago in partnership with a textile artist, but they found that their initial product idea was floundering. “Cockpit very graciously gave us the space to try and figure it out. So, we both re-grouped and we’re both still here but doing very different businesses. Still very good friends.” And after three years on his own it would appear that Ian has indeed figured it out, having developed a scale-able business making and marketing bespoke men’s accessories made using traditional pattern cutting techniques. Now he sees a steadily growing stream of clients making their way to his studio. So how exactly does Cockpit Arts work to help designer-makers launch their businesses so successfully?

There have been ‘starter’ craft studios on the premises of Cockpit Yard since 1986, but it wasn’t until 1993 that Cockpit Arts was formally created as a social enterprise. It offers talented makers the means of growing their businesses, providing them with an affordable studio space at one of two sites in either Holborn or Deptford. Cockpit’s current CEO Vanessa Swann explains how having a hub of creatives under one roof delivers the first “informal layer” of support, “a cross-fertilization of skills and contacts”, which is then combined with a “formal layer” of business development advice. This is tailored to makers’ needs, no matter what stage they are at in their careers, and delivered via one-on-one mentoring from a small, full-time business incubation team. The Cockpit package provides further support from Associates, a network of external professionals in sales and marketing, accounting and intellectual property. Getting help with their business strategy is all the more invaluable since, as leatherworker Candice Lau says, “When you study your art or your craft you aren’t taught how to run a business”. It’s a sentiment I hear echoed in the experience of other makers I meet. Candice arrived at Cockpit in 2015 having won the Leatherseller’s award, one of many such schemes that sponsor studio spaces for around 20 applicants each year, providing them with access to equipment and industry contacts. “I wouldn’t be where I am without Cockpit. It’s helped me to become very professional, and there are other people around me who are designing and making products. We feed off each other so much creatively.”

This community spirit at Cockpit is enabled in an important way through shared studios, and not necessarily between makers who are cut from the same cloth, so to speak. Onome Otite came to Cockpit in 2016 through the Creative Careers Programme, which works in partnership with The Prince’s Trust to help young people between 18–30 establish a career in craft. Her figurative illustrations using textiles and printed materials started life in her living room, and she admits that pre-Cockpit she would never have considered a shared studio. “But actually… you get so much more out of it. You see more, you share more ideas… You learn a lot, whether that’s a new technical skill or about a show, stockist or supplier.” The transferral of knowledge has come full circle now in the large, airy studio she shares with three other jewellers and milliners from the new 2017 Creative Careers intake after her first year at Cockpit she can now pass on her own experiences and advice about business strategy.

Shared studio spaces are one of many ways in which Cockpit fosters an open dialogue about running a craft business. Makers are encouraged to be vocal and engage with each other through the social enterprise structure and using digital tools like Google Groups, which functions as a Cockpit instant messenger for makers to find out about shows and possible commissions, or even just to ask for a lift to a specific event. It all goes towards building a mind-set that encourages them to seek out opportunities for themselves. “You get into the habit of talking,” Onome tells me. “I’m constantly talking about myself and my work as everything is so shared, so you’re forced to. I’m not somebody that was comfortable with sharing my own personal experience… but luckily this is a safe environment.”

Building a business from your passion isn’t easy but neither is building a business and sustaining it. That is why Vanessa Swann is so keen to insist that Cockpit Arts is also about “acceleration… in case there’s any misunderstanding about incubation and it being solely for makers just starting out. We’ve always been about supporting makers at different stages and ages.” Theo Wang, for instance, has been at Cockpit for nine years but had to re-launch his letterpress business in 2017 in order to adapt to his business partner leaving London. “Being a maker and running your own business is all about evolving and developing, whether it’s your skills, your markets, the way you promote yourself. You need different kinds of support and advice at every stage.”

But every small business needs customers and local supporters, thousands of whom are welcomed to Cockpit Arts during the twice yearly Open Studios. Makers decorate their workspaces to introduce their products to customers and buyers, while the public have the opportunity to dodge the high-street and buy unique, tailor-made creations with their own narrative attached. One of many long-standing local residents and supporters is Anne Beresford, who has spent the last 20 years buying homewares, jewellery and clothes for herself and as gifts at Open Studios. “I was fortunate enough to win the raffle one year, so I put that towards a one-off sample jacket that I’d been coveting. I love the fact that things are made close by, and that I know at least some of the people involved in the making.” In the face of diminishing local businesses in Holborn and Bloomsbury, there is a sense of pride amongst residents to have witnessed and supported Cockpit’s development. Josie Firmin, owner of a china painting business nearby, has employed many freelance artists working at Cockpit Arts over the years. Jane King is another resident in John’s Mews and reiterates how much inner-city areas need cultural centres and independent businesses “in order to be a balanced community – I do not want to see my neighbourhood become just an investment and a dormitory for the very rich.”

Every maker, employee and resident I speak to comes back to the importance of community – one that encompasses the internal structure, the Associates, Trustees, Sponsors, then of course the enthusiastic buyers of beautifully designed, handmade products at Open Studios. “You get the feeling that everyone is on your side”, is the way Ian Scott-Kettle puts it.

It is a structure that exists not just to help makers create a viable business but also to realise their dreams, as Vanessa passionately affirms: “There is nothing more satisfying than thinking ‘could we help this person realise what it is that deep down they want to do, and have the capability to do, even though it appears to them to be very difficult’.” Under the guardianship of Vanessa and her team and with the support of their fellow makers, the future is bright for anyone honing their craft at Cockpit Arts.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Books in the Pacific Northwest

Hi, gang! So, I have been quite remiss in writing reviews, most especially because I went on a fun (and far too whirlwind!) trip to Seattle & Portland this past week and a half. You'll be pleased to hear, however, that while I was away I certainly wasn't far from books! We hit up several literary landmarks, including the Seattle Public Library (an architectural gem), the Portland (Multnomah County) library (a gorgeous old building), Powell's Books (an institution), and even the Whisky Library! (That last one was not quite so bookish, and was more for Troy than for me - but I stumbled across it when I was looking for directions to the real MCPL.) We even considered going to The Bookstore, a bar in Seattle, but were talked out of it because, despite its name, it wasn't apparently very bookish. (Looking at the website now, I think our friend was terribly wrong about this, and I so wish we'd gone!)

(NB: Since I am not great at ever remembering to take photos, I am gratefully borrowing some amazing work from others.)

(photo by Nicola @ Flickr )

The Seattle Public Library was incredible - it was the first real Seattle sightseeing we did, and well worth the visit. I was impressed by so much there - the organization of the place, the use of space, the unbelievably huge collection (even including beautiful old phone directories from the early 1900s!). We got to see the view from the highest point of the library, and also made sure to stop by the Chocolati stand, the Seattle-based coffee & chocolate shop located just inside the main entrance to the library. I got a peanut butter hot chocolate (there were so many yummy options!) and we tried several of the famous chocolates, including the chipotle truffle, the "fish & chips" (a fish-shaped mold with potato chips inside!), a Bailey's-filled truffle, and a vanilla & sea salt one. All incredible. And the woman who worked behind the counter was so friendly and welcoming! She gave us some great suggestions for our visit to her adopted city. I could have probably spent days in the SPL, but we had other places to see, so we reluctantly moved on.

Larry Kirkland, Garden Stair Detail, found here

Portland's library was a total gem of an entirely different variety. If Seattle's was the pinnacle of modern style, this was the epitome of a classic Vanderbilt-style library. My Portland-based friend who brought us there was worried it would not live up to the Seattle library, but it absolutely did - it just wasn't the shiny, high-tech marvel of Seattle. It had its own perfect charm, and I adored it just as much. The staircase pictured above was gorgeous etched black marble, encompassing a myriad of subjects. We first climbed it to see the temporary Cesar Chavez exhibit in the upstairs gallery, which was very well done. Then we explored a few of the many grand rooms, where we found gems like globes of various planets, their charming Friends bookstore, and the Beverly Clearly children's room:

Beverly Cleary was an Oregon local - I was thrilled to realize this when we drove through Yamhill, OR!
Photo by Amara D. @ Yelp

My friend also wisely took me to Powell's Books, which is another Portland institution and must-see! What a mecca - and a maze! We kept getting lost in the numerous rooms. But, a good lost, of course! I can't even describe the overwhelming awesomeness, but just think of a chain bookstore done INCREDIBLY WELL. It was filled with people, even on a Wednesday afternoon. I purchased the below design in t-shirt form:

Adorable, right? Apparently it was a design contest winner! In any case, both the library & bookstore should be added to any book-lover's visit to Portland.

And lastly, even though it wasn't a book library, we did visit the gorgous Whisky Library which I luckily stumbled across. This is a fairly new place in Portland, so on weekends it still has lines out the door, but we visited on a weekday afternoon and so luckily we were seated immediately. It felt like a place where Sherlock Holmes or Ernest Hemingway could be found. It had a beautiful speakeasy feel, with a dash of library thrown in (there were reading tables like you might find in the NYPL), and featured shelves upon shelves of whiskey and liquor of all sorts! I actually took some photos, for once:

Watch the video: Commonly Mispronounced Author Names: Part 2