Reads For The Road: "Master Thieves—The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off The World's Greatest Art Heist" by Stephen Kurkjian

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

Investigative journalist Stephen Kurkjian has written the definitive, revealing history of the famed Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist that took place 25 years ago. Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist takes a look at the investigations, theories, blunders, and complex web of the Boston mafia that all contributed to the paintings being stolen and remaining hidden for all this time.

After twenty-five years, the biggest art theft in world history is still an open case… no one has been arrested and nothing has been recovered. In fact, there hasn’t even been a single confirmed sighting of the thirteen stolen pieces.
— page 217 of "Master Thieves"

On the night of the theft, two men disguised as police officers gained entry to the museum through the back entrance. They tied up the two security guards, and, wearing masks, ran through the museum smashing glass and cutting priceless works of art from their frames. They then disappeared into the night without a trace and despite the local police, the FBI, investigative journalists, and even members of the mob making inquiries; there has been no trace of these paintings.

The heist is second on the FBI’s list of the longest unsolved art thefts in the world.

Amongst the stolen works was a priceless Rembrandt that is thought to be the most valuable work of art currently missing from any museum in the world.

Well almost all investigative techniques have been exhausted in the search for the missing paintings; the last one that both the FBI and the museum are relying on is the public. The hope is that by getting the word out in the press and social media, there will be a tip that will lead to the recovery of the paintings.

Oh, and did I mention that there is a $5 million reward for any tip that leads to the recovery of the works and a promise that the tipster will never be prosecuted!?

Here’s hoping that the reward money and Kurkjian’s book will help generate even more interest that will lead to the recovery of this missing piece of art history. 

"642 Things To Write About" by The San Francisco Writers' Grotto

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

Write a short story that is set in Argentina in 1932, in which a teacup plays a crucial role. Describe the greatness of sandwiches. You are a pirate — describe your perfect day. What is a character holding a blue object thinking right now? Write ten new cheers for a high school cheerleading squad. 

Ever get the dreaded “writer’s block”? Looking for inspiration? Want to write but just never have the time?

I know that this isn’t a conventional book to throw on a book list, but even those that deem themselves the “worst writers”, will get a kick out of 642 Things To Write About

Packed full of witty, outrageous (aka inappropriate), and thought-provoking writing prompts, you can open to any page and be sure to find literary inspiration.

The coolest part? The book was written in A SINGLE DAY! A single-24 hour period with NO advance notice. 

Go get your write on! 

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Reads For The Road: "Hot Art" by Joshua Knelman

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,

Joshua Knelman is an award-winning journalist and editor who has created a major work of investigative journalism in this fast-paced, fascinating book.

Hot Art traces Knelman’s immersion in the shadowy world of art theft where what he uncovers takes him all over the world, through a web of corruption, secrecy, and violence.

He delves into the lives of both professional thieves and the people that chase them, revealing that (though it may not make it to the front page of the newspaper) art theft is no fringe activity. It has evolved into one of the LARGEST black markets in the world, one that even Interpol and the FBI admit that they can not contain! 

What this book reveals is that when it comes to art theft, the thieves are winning.

This book is the perfect accompaniment to a previous Book List selection: Loot by Sharon Waxman

Reads For The Road: "The War of Art — Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles" by Steven Pressfield

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance
— from "The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles" by Steven Pressfield

I have always avoided (like the plague) anything that could be considered a ‘self-help’ book, but The War of Art came into my life exactly when I needed it (thanks Scott!). It gave me the motivation to get off my butt, stop making excuses and realize that the only person preventing me from doing what I REALLY wanted to do, was me.

In his book, Steven Pressfield calls procrastination and all other forces preventing you from exploring your inner potential (aka, getting off your butt and doing that creative thing you keep dreaming about doing) "Resistance".

According to Pressfield:

Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us way, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.
— from page 7

The book goes on to further define this term and gives straightforward, logical tools to combat Resistance that are meant to help readers feel empowered and turn their dreams into reality.

This book is not geared only to those who are creatively inclined, however, if there is anything that you have ever wanted, but just keep putting off (tighter abs perhaps?), this book is worth the read.