Maria Popova started Brain Pickings in 2006 as a weekly email that went out to seven friends and which she eventually brought online. The site was added to the Library of Congress permanent web archives in 2012. She has written for the Atlantic, New York Times and Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab.
A highly original survey of life, love and creativity; an
intellectual odyssey that challenges easy categorisation . . .
Popova writes beautifully, translating abstractions into sensuous,
evocative subjects, turning history and science into symphonic
prose poetry . . . To read Figuring is to be immersed in a
gloriously ambitious symphony of ideas that segues effortlessly
* * Guardian * *
Ambitious, challenging and somewhat category-defying
* * New York Times * *
I can't pull myself away from Maria Popova's mesmerising new book Figuring . . . With glorious writing, storytelling, gems of insight and unique literary range, she tenderly brings to life celebrated scientists and artists we always thought we knew but really didn't, and illuminates the fine threads that connect us all. I'm diving back in!
These chapters on Dickinson are among the most compelling biographical pages I have ever read, rendering me incapable of closing the book . . . The final chapters on Rachel Carson were so moving that I cried for thirty-odd pages . . . When Popova quoted Carson on great books, "something that would raise you a little higher than you were yesterday, something that would make you willing and able for your part in the work of the world", I knew that I had one such book in my hands
* * Irish Times * *
The polymathic Popova, presiding genius behind brainpickings.org, looks at some of the forgotten heroes of science, art, and culture . . . she peppers thoughtful, lucid consideration of acts of the imagination with stories that, if ever aired before, are too little known . . . Throughout her complex, consistently stimulating narrative, the author blends biography, cultural criticism, and journalism to forge elegant connections: Dickinson feeds onto Carson, who looks back to Mitchell, who looks forward to Popova herself, and with plenty of milestones along the way . . . A lyrical work of intellectual history, one that Popova's many followers will await eagerly and that deserves to win her many more
* * Kirkus [starred] * *
Fascinating and compellingly written, bringing the reader into the lives of its subjects, ending with a long description of Rachel Carson's life that has only made me love her more
* * Arts Desk * *