Top Picks: 'Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art,' James Blake's 'The Colour in Anything,' and more

'World War I: American Artists View the Great War' displays pieces from the country's conflict, Philip Kerr's 'The Other Side of Silence' involves a forgotten tragedy, and more top picks.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The art of war

As you celebrate Memorial Day in the United States, take a look at artwork from one of the nation’s past conflicts. Art about World War I is on display at the Library of Congress; pieces depicting recruitment efforts, photos of soldiers in combat, and more can be viewed online as well. Check out World War I: American Artists View the Great War at bit.ly/WWIexhibit.

Learn a new skill

Looking to learn some basic coding for your job or simply for fun? The Lrn app takes you through the basics of HTML, Python, and more using a fill-in-the-blank format and quizzes. It can also be used off-line so you can practice anywhere. Lrn is available free of charge for iOS.

Art from the earth

Many artists use unusual materials, but what motivates those who use our environment to create? The documentary Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art explores land art, which was popular in the 1960s and ’70s. The film is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. 

Illuminating a forgotten tragedy

Somehow, Berlin policeman and private detective Bernie Gunther survived World War II despite hating Nazis and working, in constant defiance, for the likes of Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels. Now in Philip Kerr’s novel The Other Side of Silence, he’s wasting his days as a concierge. The book also involves a forgotten tragedy: the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff by the Soviets in 1945. A blackmail-heavy plot and threads of World War II and cold-war spying history keep the pages turning, but as always, Bernie’s pitch-black humor carries the day.  

James Blake’s singular style

No one does bleak and beautiful like James Blake. The British electronic star, a favorite of hitmakers Beyoncé and Frank Ocean, plays it slow, sensual, and enigmatic on The Colour in Anything, his atmospheric new album. Blake’s careworn tenor voice carries real emotional weight on songs like “Put That Away and Talk to Me” and the paean to renewal “I Need a Forest Fire,” featuring guest Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). You’ll detect faint echoes of Radiohead and Marvin Gaye in the swirling, whirring sonic landscapes, but Blake paints in a singular style.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.