For those of us that strive to live live mindfully and consciously, Christmas (or any other end-of-year holiday) is a great time to take stock. It's nearly impossible to think mindfully or consciously, though, without lamenting a bit the excess, commercialism, and frivolity of the season in its current form.
Gift-giving can be a particularly trying endeavor. It's hard enough to come up with a thoughtful gift that satisfieds the giftee, but even more difficult to satisfy the gifter. You want to give something that speaks to the love and respect you have for your recipient, but you also want to feel good yourself about the gift you give. A tie, a new teapot, a sweater, or a basket of shower gels just won't cut it. You also don't want to break the bank.
Let me suggest a solution: The Browser. If you're unfamiliar, The Browser aggregates some of the best reading from all over the web. Today's front page, for example, contains these headlines:
- "Recognizing Nelson Mandela"
- "The Decay of American Political Institutions"
- "Job's Misery"
- "How Robots Will Transform Human Intimacy"
The Browser covers a wide array of content in many, many subjects: business, lit, food, history, thought, and quite a bit more. In addition to the main page, there are also tech and literary supplements. The Browser's editors don't simply scan the most popular online publications for headlines, but scour the dark corners of the web to find truly great writing (The Mandela piece mentioned above, for example, comes from africanarguments.org).
The Five Books feature happens to be one of my favorites. In Five Books, The Browser interviews thought leaders regarding their area of expertise, asking for five book recommendations that the interviewee would recommend to those interested in their subject. The interview then revolves around what makes the five chosen books great reads.
And there's much more to like about The Browser than its curation- everything about the site has a deliberate and mindful approach behind it. The design of the site itself is clean, calm, and focused on the content, both on desktop and on mobile. Small, thoughtful snippets appear next to each article- not a copy and paste job from the article, but an artful, enticing blurb. Those blurbs are written both to inform and engage (for the reader), and to intrigue readers sufficiently to click over to the original source (for the creator).
Much access is given freely, but a subscription to The Browser gives you unlimited use of the site (it's unclear exactly how much access is available to free users), direct saving to Instapaper, Readability, or Pocket, and access to the private RSS feed. Subscriptions are almost absurdly cheap, too, at $12 per year.
So, as a gift idea, what's not to love? Access to great writing for a full year, the knowledge and warm fuzzy feeling of supporting a top-notch digital creator, access to premium content, and a gift that says "I thought about this, and decided you warrant more than a tie or a sweater." Right now, The Browser is making it easy to give gift subscriptions, and they accept major cards, Stripe, or PayPal.
Non-disclaimer: I was not contacted by The Browser, was not paid or even encouraged to write this. I simply feel that it's one of the best things on web, and it happens to make a great gift.