For the longest time, I avoided gift guides like the plague. They generally reek of commercialism and are often full of frivolous stocking stuffers that no one wants or super-expensive items that no one can afford. Plus, they tend to be categorized by gender, so you see the same shaving kit and cocktail sets over and over again for guys. But I realized a lot of the things I think are cool would be great gifts for anyone. So I’ve put together my own list of items I’m thinking of getting for friends and family or that I’d be happy to receive this year. Hope you enjoy!

Moment Lens

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Welcome to May and the promise of warmer weather! I’ll be spending the next two days indulging in blossoms, sun and good company to recalibrate after a difficult week. Here’s some weekend reading for the quiet moments.

Palm trees

Photo: via FleurDeMode

– When you live in a city, you generally accept that you’re sacrificing ready access to nature in its truest form. Thankfully, in Manhattan, there are parks every few blocks to make things a little less depressing. But the truth is: trees and all their benefits (cleaner air, serenity, etc) are a luxury, that like income, is unequally distributed. See for yourself.

– Is there such a thing as too much reading? As an avid reader — of books, articles and words in all their forms — I sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of material there is to consume. I had to make space for this article, though, that examines how we process and retain information when we are reading thousands and thousands of words a day.

– I couldn’t help but share and discuss poet Saeed Jones’ powerful essay on being a writer of color with all my close creative friends. It’s worth a read for everyone, regardless of what you look like.

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I took a break from regularly scheduled photo inspiration this weekend to share some recommended reading from around the Internet this month. Enjoy the links below when you have a moment of quiet this weekend!

Brother Orange

Photo: Qingqing Chen / BuzzFeed

– Have you heard about Brother Orange? It’s one of the craziest, most random stories I’ve come across in a while. Basically, a guy loses his cell phone and manages to track it all the way to China, where he gets swept up into a life-changing adventure and bromance. Go check it out at Buzzfeed!

– WNYC did a great multimedia feature on “Being 12.” Their adorable Tumblr round-up took me right back to my 12-year-old days, complete with the ambitions, angst and awkwardness.

– Here’s what America looked like 50 years ago (via The Atlantic). A couple of the images look like they could have been taken today.

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I’ve resisted the urge all day to clap my hands and giggle like a 5-year-old on this rare snow day from work. The fact that I’m home alone and have no one to join me in a snowball fight certainly helps.

Instead, I’m using the opportunity to catch up on my reading list, a pleasure I’m finding is increasingly more difficult to make time for lately. With 12 more books (not including 37 Shakespeare plays) to read by September, I needed to start the year off strong.

Currently Reading

Earlier this month, I finished “A Clash of Kings,” book two in George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. And, now I’m simultaneously reading “The Better Angels of Our Nature” and “Henry Clay Frick: An Intimate Portrait.”

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September was busy beyond belief — especially at work! But I also squeezed in time to accomplish a major goal I set for myself and to do a lot of planning for future projects (More to come later!)

It’s slightly embarrassing that the last thing I posted was August’s round-up, but what can I say? Here are some things I enjoyed last month.

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