Weekend reads: Goodbye Strunk & White, painting Michelle Obama's portrait, in defense of daydreaming

Kristin Tyndall's read

Is it time for writing instructors to give up on Strunk and White? The classic Elements of Style appears to be on its way out of fashion. Critics say it's too old, too prescriptive, or too inconsistent. Some instructors are turning to newer guidebooks that focus more narrowly on the types of writing students do most often, while others are using web apps like Grammarly. According to an informal poll of our team, our favorite writing guides include Joseph Williams' Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life. As an editor, I'm always on the lookout for writing guide recommendations. Send me your suggestions!

Seren Snow's reads

Ever wondered what kids' scribbles and doodles mean? Researchers say they may be more significant than we think. Much of their artwork, whether it's a human figure or an object, is meant to make sense only to the person to whom it is shown. Other times, kids draw something a particular way because "they’re in a hurry and want to do a bunch of them," says David Pariser, a professor of art education at Concordia University. In either case, children's drawings have actually inspired a fair number of abstract artists, such as Robert Motherwell and Paul Klee. So although your refrigerator may be the current home of your child's artwork, it may just have another home in an art gallery one day if you let their imaginations run.

Michelle Obama's official portrait is underway. The artist, Amy Sherald, has had her work featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a number of other exhibitions. Her paintings typically show African-Americans in their everyday lives, highlighting their complexions. She's extremely proud to have been chosen to work on the former First Lady's portrait, calling her an "archetype that a lot of women can relate to—no matter shape, size, race or color."

Kathleen Escarcha's reads

Daydreamers may not deserve the bad reputation they often get. Those who let their mind wander may even have higher quality and more efficient thoughts, suggests a new study published in Neuropsychologia. But "not all daydreaming is created equal," warns the study's lead author. Daydreaming during a fairly easy task may be okay, but more challenging situations will still need your full attention, she says. 

Halloween is just around the corner, which means many of us will be handing out—or eating—candy by the handful. In my mind, candy conjures up scary, unpronounceable ingredient names. But amateur cooks don't have to be intimidated by the challenge of cooking candy at home, says Jami Curl, a homemade candy entrepreneur. All one really needs is a thermometer, lots of sugar, and a willingness to experiment, she says. 

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