Having subscribed to a fair number of literary email services over the years, there is one that stands out in its ability to consistently educate, entertain, and inspire, and that service is Delanceyplace.
The name derives from the street where founder Richard Vague lives in Philadelphia.
The service is self described as a brief daily email “with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context. There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came.”
In a letter to subscribers, Mr. Vague provides insight into how the eclectic content is selected. For example “real history” is highlighted that “has scars and disillusionment alongside victory.” He likes passages that quantify things, and those that encompass values such as compassion and helping others, and most important, resiliency (read the entire letter here). (Note, link is no longer available.)
And it gets better, Delanceyplace is strictly not-for-profit and the money made through books sold via the site is given to children’s literacy organizations.
Delanceyplace is delivered Monday through Friday and the site provides a searchable archive with briefings dating back to 2005.
One of my favorite briefs is entitled “An Octopus’s Favorite Arm,” and the selection is from The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery. It focuses on research that indicates that each arm of an octopus has its own personality. “Octopuses are intelligent and aware, but how much of that is centrally located in their ‘brain.’ Is it possible that they have a ‘distributed mind’ with each arm having a mind of its own?”
Now in 2021, this site continues to provide daily excerpts of text that are thought provoking and enriching. The subjects included continue to be as eclectic as ever. For example, last month these are some of the topics covered: Amazon women, samurai steel, first American convenience foods, Cleopatra’s worth ($96 billion), mule wrangling, Mary Wollstonecraft, early days of television, the great depression and real estate, and hibernating bears and NASA.
Business topics are covered as well, such as this selection from The Bonanza King by Gregory Crouch, entitled: One of America’s Greatest Business Leaders – John Mackay. Here is a quote from the text: “As a leader, Mackay was unpretentious, natural, unaffected. He never ‘put on the dog’ and lorded it over his underlings. He never made himself out to be something he wasn’t. He never pretended to know something he didn’t. John William Mackay was simply himself, always.”