Montessori Meets AI

    My mother talked a lot about Maria Montessori. She could not afford to send me to a Montessori school, so she read all about Dr. Montessori’s work and figured out ways to apply her method at home. Looking back, I suspect that even the way she put milk into little pitcher small enough […]

Acing Work-Life Balance

      I keep rereading what is now old news, those amazing stories about the French Open. Not the stories of grand slams and surprise victories, but the stories about sensible withdrawals. I want them to mean more than they do, on the surface. I want them to herald a widespread return of common […]

Are Goose Feathers a Prerogative?

          The dog inches closer, then leaps backward. Scared by a goose feather because its soft brownish gray tip moved in the breeze. Trying not to laugh, I tug him forward. Another goose feather lays on the lakeside path. Then another. They would be beautiful in that Art Nouveau vase, I […]

Explained, Explained

    We have a one-and-done attitude in our house with Netflix. We tend not to binge; we just want something to relax with for half an hour or so after dinner before going on with the night. That can be a challenge, both for brevity and for quality. Many of the nonfiction series on […]

With King Lear, We Are God’s Spies

  It has been said, scathingly, by dispirited critics, that Shakespeare’s King Lear is simply too big for the stage. It is impossible to do the play’s sweeping themes justice in a single production. Maybe so. But I just sat in the breeze at Forest Park and watched the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival mount a […]

Bo Burnham’s Inside: Anything and Everything, All of the Time

    “Welcome to whatever this is,” comedian Bo Burnham says, a few minutes into his new Netflix special. “It’s not gonna be a normal special, because there’s no audience and there’s no crew. It’s just me and my camera, and you and your screen, the way that Our Lord intended.” Burnham, who is only […]

The New Fluidity

    Looking around the restaurant table, I see us all as sixteen. My high school friends have a few wrinkles now, a few extra or fewer pounds, but they remain so essentially the same people I adored all those years ago that I am smiling when the waiter reaches me. He must think I […]

Master Photographers’ Advice for All Creative People

    I received a link last week to a 60-page PDF booklet called “Wear Good Shoes: Advice from Magnum Photographers.” It is worth a look. Magnum is the photographers cooperative founded in 1947 by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David “Chim” Seymour. Their identity as a group was meant to be the […]

Rejected by an Algorithm

      The Common Reader has a sliver of a budget, so to keep much of our content free, we spend that sliver on sporadic boosts that at least let a few more people find us on social media. Lately, though, many of those attempted boosts are being rejected for no apparent reason. They […]