500 Years Later: A Journey Into the Life and Mind of Leonardo da Vinci

May 2, 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. Today, his legacy endures, inspiring scholars and experts around the world in medicine, science, music and art. Among the many things I discovered: he taught himself Latin; had a great singing voice; and cared more about the creative process than the finished product. An exquisite mind.

Excerpt from my story for National Geographic:

“An inherently curious note-taker and truth-seeker, Leonardo pursued knowledge voraciously. His to-do lists included jottings to “construct glasses to see the moon larger” and “describe the cause of laughter” as he sought answers to a cascade of questions: What’s the distance from the eyebrow to the junction of the lip and the chin? Why are stars visible by night and not by day? How do the branches of a tree compare with the thickness of its trunk? What separates water from air? Where is the soul? What are sneezing, yawning, hunger, thirst, and lust? Although his paintings are far better known, Leonardo’s wealth of manuscripts and drawings lay bare the inner workings of his genius.”

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The Science of Genius

My latest work on genius, available on newsstands and via Amazon, teases out the elements that entwine to create a person capable of changing the world: intelligence (not specifically IQ, but all kinds of intelligence), creativity, grit, and luck. Read about familiar giants (Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci) and lesser-knowns who deserve attention (Hypatia and Murasaki Shikibu). Take a Mensa quiz, explore a timeline of incredible minds, and soak in the photography, including spectacular images by Nat Geo photographer Paolo Woods.

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Picasso: Restless Brilliance

My exploration of Picasso’s journey to genius—from prodigy to icon—took me from his childhood home in Malaga, Spain to the Musée Picasso in Paris. I visited Plaza de la Merced, where a young Picasso etched his first drawings in the dust; watched as his painting, “Femme Accroupie (Jacqueline)” sold for $32.5 million at a Christie’s auction in New York City; and had the privilege of interviewing Picasso’s son and several of his grandchildren. Excerpt: “How does a person evolve from newborn to mastermind? How can a single soul redefine the way we see? Picasso the man was messy. He loved life at the circus and death at the bullfights. He could be both boisterous and silent, amorous and domineering. But from his beginning as a prodigy to his final years painting musketeers and matadors, Picasso seemed destined for artistic greatness, his journey to genius fixed as firmly as paint on canvas. All the elements were there: a family that cultivated his creative passion, intellectual curiosity and grit, clusters of peers who inspired him, and the good fortune to be born at a time when new ideas in science, literature, and music energized his work and the advent of mass media catapulted him to fame.” Hats off to photographers Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti for their brilliant images. Read the story here.

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Paperback Debut Today!

Today is paperback pub day! I'm thrilled that Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History's Great Personalities is fueling important conversations about mental health. Storytelling engages all of us and I've heard from many readers who find themselves identifying with the remarkable individuals featured in the book. Talking openly about our minds and our behaviors chips away at stigma and leads to understanding, acceptance, and healing. Here's to more reading and more dialogue!

One-Year Anniversary!

Today, on the one-year publication anniversary of Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder, I'm celebrating all of you wonderful book lovers out there. Thank you for reading, coming to talks & signings, asking questions, and sharing your stories. I have enjoyed meeting every one of you and look forward to many more events and conversations in the months ahead!

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Gaithersburg Book Festival, Saturday 5/21

Book festivals are always wonderful events. You get to indulge in the written word for hours on end and hear great authors talk about their work. I am lucky enough to be speaking Saturday 5/21 at the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Gaithersburg, MD. Please take a look at the fabulous lineup of writers (click here) and come on over! 

CBS This Morning!

What a treat to talk about famous minds with Anthony Mason and Vinita Nair on CBS This Morning. Thoughtful, inquiring hosts; wonderful show. And such great visuals. I was especially delighted by their Warholian depiction of the book cover! Click here to watch the interview.

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Welcome, everyone! Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities is now in bookstores and I am absolutely thrilled to share it with all of you. This book delves into the lives and minds of 12 famous individuals, from Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin to Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana. My hope is that these stories will put a face on the complexities of the mind and unravel the mental health conditions that affect so many people. 

Writing a book about historical figures means that your primary sources are no longer available for interviews. But each one of these individuals lives on in some unique way. Darwin left behind a trove of letters and journals, beautifully written and deeply honest. I spent quite a few lovely afternoons drinking tea and poring over his writings. Albert Einstein died in 1955, but slices of his brain tissue are on display for all to see at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. I paid him a visit. When I toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House in Alexandria, VA, with its stunning mix of glass, brick, and wood, I could easily imagine the architect holding forth on his aesthetic vision. And thanks to the Internet, I was able to listen to George Gershwin play "Rhapsody in Blue," watch Marilyn Monroe sing "Happy Birthday" to President Kennedy, and see Princess Diana walk down the aisle at St. Paul’s Cathedral. 

These are just a few of the many wonderful experiences I had while researching this book. Enjoy the tales of these remarkable people. I hope you’ll take solace in their challenges and find inspiration in their triumphs.

New York Times Sunday Book Review

Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder is featured in "Group Portraits" in the New York Times Sunday Book Review!

"Without presuming to analyze them, Kalb presents psychological profiles of a dozen iconic figures. Was Andy Warhol a hoarder? He crammed his Manhattan townhouse with collectibles and debris, ranging from a Picasso to 175 cookie jars. By the time he died he was living mainly in his bedroom, while the rest of his dwelling served as a storage closet. Recent research, we learn, says that hoarding is distinct from but related to obsessive-compulsive disorder."
--Amy Finnerty

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