The top 20 best new books of 2021 so far, according to Amazon’s book editors

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What a whirlwind 2021 has been – and we’re only halfway through. Although only six months in, 2021 has already been an exciting, challenging, and hopeful year for so many. If you’re looking to pass the time as you restart your commute, seeking an escape from reality, or eager to learn, a good book can go a long way.

Enter: Amazon’s best books of 2021 (so far). Amazon’s book editors have curated a list of their 20 favorites from January through June, with descriptions provided for the top 10 below. The best overall pick – ‘Great Circle’ by Maggie Shipstead – is a story about flight, connections, and perception all rolled into one thrilling plot.

Here are Amazon’s 20 best books of 2021 so far:

*Captions have been provided by Amazon’s book editors.

‘Great Circle’ by Maggie Shipstead

'Great Circle' by Maggie Shipstead

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At a young age, Marian Graves becomes obsessed with flying, and she’ll do whatever it takes to get into the sky and circumnavigate the globe. Fast forward 100 years, and Hadley Baxter is remaking herself in Hollywood as the role of Marian Graves in a Hollywood bio-epic. From Montana to Los Angeles, London to New Zealand, “Great Circle” follows these two women who yearn for adventure and freedom, and like flying, it’s the thrill of the century. –Al Woodworth

‘Klara and the Sun’ by Kazuo Ishiguro

Amazon books Klara and the Sun

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When he was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature, the committee noted how Ishiguro “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” In this beautiful novel, Ishiguro presents an “Artificial Friend,” a robot girl with artificial intelligence designed as a playmate for real children. It is a simultaneously heartbreaking and heart-mending story about the abyss we may never cross. —Chris Schluep

‘The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race’ by Walter Isaacson

Amazon books The Code Breaker

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Isaacson is famous for writing “Steve Jobs” and “Leonardo da Vinci”, so a title like “The Code Breaker” might imply a book about a lesser character. But the 2020 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, biochemist Jennifer Doudna, who co-developed the gene-editing technology CRISPR, is a giant in her own right. CRISPR could open some of the greatest opportunities, and most troubling quandaries, of this century — and this book delivers. Chris Schluep

‘We Begin at the End’ by Chris Whitaker

Amazon books We Begin at the End

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“We Begin at the End” is a story of regret and revenge, wrapped around a mystery, buried inside a tale of star-crossed love. 13-year-old “outlaw” Duchess Radley — fierce but vulnerable — attempts to protect her troubled mother but instead sets off a fateful chain of events in this gorgeous, harrowing novel. Vannessa Cronin

‘What’s Mine and Yours’ by Naima Coster

Amazon books What's Mine and Yours

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For fans of Celeste Ng, Ann Patchett, and Jacqueline Woodson, “What’s Mine and Yours” beautifully unravels the hurt, happiness, and hope that one generation bestows upon the next. An unforgettable portrait of how parents and kids — white and Black — handle love and loss, racism, and loyalties. Al Woodworth

‘The Four Winds’ by Kristin Hannah

'The Four Winds'

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Set during the Great Depression and featuring an unlikely heroine who will lodge herself into your heart, “The Four Winds” is a reminder, when we so urgently need it, of the resiliency not only of the human spirit, but of this country as well. Kristin Hannah’s latest reads like a classic. —Erin Kodicek

‘Punch Me Up to the Gods’ by Brian Broome

'Punch Me Up to the Gods' by Brian Broome

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Hard-hitting, unflinching, and written with the unfettered gusto of a fist in motion, “Punch Me Up to the Gods” is a searing memoir of racism, homophobia, and addiction from a writer of enormous talent. With humor, grace, and honesty, Broome investigates his own identity and his experience as a gay Black man in America. Al Woodworth

‘Gold Diggers’ by Sanjena Sathian

5 Amazon books Gold Digger 4x3

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This debut novel is part-examination of the immigrant experience, part-exploration of the dark underbelly of suburbia, all with a dash of magical realism thrown in. Two second-generation Indian Americans discover the secret to success is drinking a lemonade made from literal gold, and their lives are forever fused together and altered. If this funny, realistic, and heartbreaking story is any indication, Sathian is an author to watch. –Sarah Gelman

‘The Plot’ by Jean Hanff Korelitz

'The Plot' by Jean Hanff Korelitz

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“The Plot” is a riveting story within a story that is a Rubik’s Cube of twists. Jake Finch Bonner, a once-promising young author, is floundering in obscurity when a one-of-a-kind plot falls into his lap. The resulting book rockets Jake to stardom — only, the plot wasn’t his. Korelitz’s thriller keeps readers guessing right up to its shocking end. Seira Wilson

‘Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It’ by Ethan Kross

'Chatter'

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It turns out that some of the most important conversations we have are with ourselves. Ethan Kross examines the voice that speaks inside our head, explains why it’s there, and reveals how we can learn to rely on it rather than being broken by it. ‘Chatter’ is a masterful, revealing take on human nature. Chris Schluep

More of Amazon’s best books of 2021 so far:

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The 10 best astrology books, according to professional astrologers

  • Astrology is about so much more than your Sun sign.
  • Understanding your birth chart, for example, can help you make career or relationship decisions.
  • We rounded up 10 great astrology books recommended by astrologers.

Throughout centuries, astrology has been used to help us understand ourselves better. By looking towards the planets and cosmos, astrologers can gain key insights about a person, including personality traits, interests, and even hardships based on their birth chart (a map of what was happening in the sky when we were born). This knowledge can be extremely validating, and can even help us make big career decisions or know what kinds of relationships fulfill us the most.

For those who are interested in learning more about astrology, the plethora of books and resources out there can be overwhelming. I spoke to several astrologers to find their best recommendations for beginner to advanced books, from introductory guides to deep-dives into transits and birth chart compatibility.

10 great astrology books recommended by astrologers:

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Beginner

A practical guide for understanding all things astrology

1 Astrology books The Essential Guide to Practical Astrology

Learning astrology can get complex quickly, but this book approaches the subject in a fun, casual style — as if you’re chatting with a friend. “April delivers exactly what the title promises: the whole kitchen sink of astrology, in a conversational style that makes potentially confounding concepts crystal clear,” says Elisabeth Grace, a consulting astrologer, writer, teacher, and conference speaker.

For example, the book addresses seemingly counterintuitive parts of astrology, like why horoscopes show southern planets above the horizon and northern planets below. “Thanks to April, I can now explain it in a few pithy sentences to a befuddled student,” adds Grace.

A beginner, hands-on astrology workbook to help you practice

2 astrology books Astrology for Real Life Beginners

This book breaks down astrology into an easily understandable format, with questions at the end of each section to apply what you’ve learned. It can be helpful to have a journal or notebook handy or jot down notes directly into the book.

This book comes recommended as a “thoroughly entertaining and fascinating guide to the language of astrology” by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber, astrologers, creators of The Enchanted World, and co-authors of the bestselling astrology books “Astrology for Wellness” and “Mindful Astrology: Finding Peace of Mind According to Your Sun, Moon, and Rising Sign.”

An astrology book that will help you finally understand Sun/Moon combinations

3 astrology books Heaven Knows What

Weekly or monthly horoscopes often broadly focus on a person’s Sun sign, but astrology is much more layered than that. This book focuses on all the possible 144 combinations of Sun and Moon signs, helping you understand how they work together.”

The ability to synthesize the horoscope — to see all the parts as an integrated whole — is what skilled astrologers do that computer-generated reports simply can’t,” says Grace. Plus, if you’ve ever struggled to relate to your Sun sign description, this book will have a lot of answers.

A beginner book for reading and interpreting birth charts

4 astrology books Chart Interpretation Handbook

Once you have a grasp on astrology, you’ll eventually want to be able to put all the pieces together and interpret your own birth chart (or the birth charts of your best friends/family/potential romantic partners).

Zerner and Farber recommend this handy, concise guide if “you already have some understanding of how real astrology works, and want to go deeper into the step-by-step process of reading a natal chart.”

Intermediate

An astrology book designed to help you find your destiny and life path

5 astrology books How to Co Create Using the Secret Language of the Unvierse

For anyone pondering their purpose in life, this book can provide some insight by looking at the rulers of your Midheaven and north node in your birth chart — two specific points in your birth chart.

“[North nodes] refer to past lives and soul growth in this lifetime; [the ruler of your Midheaven] refers to your ideal career,” says Grace. “What I love about this book is that it is a brilliant and concise reminder of how the world works, with specific guidance on how we can access our personal creative power,” she adds.

A book dedicated to transits and planetary placements

6 astrology books Planets in Transit

Transits are an important part of astrology — they refer to the current movements and placements of the planets and how they interact with your natal planets (aka, the locations of the planets in your birth chart).

“Whenever I see a pattern in a horoscope and I’m feeling stuck on how to relate its potential to my client’s life experience, I’ll reach for Hand’s candid insights, which suggest potential rewards and challenges,” says Grace. 

An in-depth guide on the astrological houses and house systems

7 astrology books The Houses Temples of the Sky

Astrologers each have their own way of reading charts. One key component of their unique style and interpretation is based on the house system they choose and use (it can stir up a lot of debate within the astrology community).

“I learned so much about how the meaning of the houses has evolved through history,” says Grace. “Astrology has been around for thousands of years, and like all languages, evolves with the consciousness of the humans who use it.” Grace recommends that astrology students familiarize themselves with all the house systems and then choose the system they prefer to use. 

A book about the oft-misunderstood Mercury Retrograde

8 astrology books A New Look at Mercury Retrograde

Mercury Retrograde may get a bad rap, but this book explains everything about this misrepresented astrological event and how it correlates to your chart based on the sign and house it’s in.

“There’s no reason to freak out when Mercury — or any planet — is retrograde,” says Grace. “There are plenty of productive things that can be done during these natural periods of rest and review. For instance, Wilkinson offers coping strategies like meditations for each Sun sign and Ascendant sign, which this book can help you figure out.

Advanced

A guide to understanding relationship compatibility using astrology

9 astrology books Planets in Composite

Whether you’re already dating and want to check your compatibility or simply curious about the most astrologically aligned potential partners for you, this book can provide valuable insight. It combines specific parts of each person’s birth chart to generate a third chart focused on the relationship, “as if the relationship was a person with its own needs and purpose,” says Grace.

“The composite chart offers insights on how a relationship actually functions, regardless of the attraction between the parties involved,” she adds. 

A thorough book on figuring out your career goals

10 astrology books Vocations

Astrologers can gain a lot of information from looking at someone’s birth chart, including the ideal jobs or career paths for someone’s personality type. This book is a useful guide for helping people get on track with their goals and find a career that is actually fulfilling.

“When I prepare a horoscope for consultation, I rarely know what my new client does for a living,” says Grace. “I use the techniques in this book to jot down the kind of career the horoscope suggests they need to pursue in order to be happy.”

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The 31 best thriller books to read this summer

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Insider Thrillers Books 4x3
  • Thriller books are naturally enticing, fast-paced fiction reads with notorious plot twists.
  • The best thrillers offer plenty of suspense and mystery throughout the novel.
  • This list has a wide variety of popular books, including crime and psychological thrillers.

Known for their shocking twists and turns, thrillers have taken the book industry by storm over the last several years for one clear reason: They make reading really fun. Thrillers stand out as gripping stories in a world where so many things compete for our attention. They build up fast and grip us tightly as we navigate shadowy hallways and unsolved murders, eliciting an adrenaline rush just from turning the page.

Almost half the books in my personal library are thrillers. I love the “can’t-put-it-down” feeling of a tense plotline and a twist that makes me want to throw a book at a wall (that’s a good thing – I swear!). I’ve read the vast majority of the books on this list and added the rest based on the rave reviews from other thriller book nerds. Whether it’s a deeply psychological thriller narrative, a fast-paced YA mystery novel, or a crime thriller too scary to read at night, there’s a book on this list for every thriller lover.

The 31 best thriller books:

Best psychological thrillers

Best crime thrillers

Best mystery and suspense thrillers

Best YA thrillers

Best horror thrillers

Psychological thrillers

A psychological thriller with an electrifying twist

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

“Before She Knew Him” by Peter Swanson, available at Amazon and Bookshop

Speaking of throwing books against a wall, this was the first book I ever chucked when the plot twist was revealed — one that I didn’t even know was a possibility until I reached the climax. Henrietta has finally found some stability between her bipolar medication and her new home with her husband. When they go to the neighbor’s house for dinner, Henrietta notices a unique trophy that definitely belonged to someone who was killed two years ago. Torn between the comfort of her new life and her weakness to find the answer to this unsolved case, Henrietta quickly unravels far more than she bargained for.  

Thrill factor: A plot twist that will have you rethinking the entire book.

A thriller with multiple truths

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

“The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, available at Amazon and Bookshop

There are four stories here: The one the jury decided, his, hers, and — completely separate — the truth. I love books with “solved” murders that push us to read on to uncover the real truth. One night, Alicia’s husband returns home late from his job. She shoots him five times in the face and never speaks again. Confined to a psychiatric ward, Theo — a criminal psychotherapist — is determined to get Alicia to talk and uncover why she murdered her husband. Digging into Alicia’s past reveals that there are many things that can drive us to do the unthinkable.

Thrill factor: Being sure of the truth just before new information is revealed.

A thriller around a kidnapping

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

“Then She Was Gone” by Lisa Jewell, available at Amazon and Bookshop

This one was particularly enticing and dark, the secrets running far deeper and with more complexity than I expected. It’s been 10 years since Laurel’s then-15-year-old daughter, Ellie, disappeared — and Laurel has never given up hope of finding her. Laurel is swept up in a romance with her new boyfriend and finds herself meeting his nine-year-old daughter, who looks exactly like Ellie did at that age. This is a tightly wound ball of thriller chaos that is so much fun to unravel as you read. 

Thrill factor: A plot that catches you completely off guard.

A deeply psychological thriller

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

“Behind Her Eyes” by Sarah Pinborough, available at Amazon and Bookshop

On Monday morning, Louise discovers her (very married) boss is the same man with whom she shared an amazing kiss at a bar just days ago. Though assuring her it will never happen again, David can’t keep his eyes off Louise. What ensues is a complex yet comprehensible web of manipulation and a twist that had me nearly yelling “WHAT?!” by the end.

Thrill factor: A baffling realization hiding in the final pages.

A chilling thriller all about the little details

The Push by Ashely Audrian

“The Push” by Ashely Audrian, available at Amazon and Bookshop

Blythe is fully committed to being the warm, nurturing mother she never had, but she’s convinced that something is wrong with her new baby — she doesn’t behave as other children do. As her husband dismisses her fears, she begins to question her sanity. When her second child is born, the familial connections are undeniable…until a devastating event has Blythe (and the reader) questioning everything. Best described as a tour de force, this is an extremely fast-paced thriller that’s easy to devour in a day. 

Thrill factor: A whiplash-y plot that launches you straight into the story.

An unsettling marital thriller

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

“Behind Closed Doors” by B. A. Paris, available at Amazon and Bookshop

Jack and Grace are the epitome of true love, radiating elegance, wealth, and charm, all while never being apart…ever. It’s hard to get to know the mysterious Grace because she can’t meet for coffee, she never answers her phone, and one of the bedroom windows seems to have bars on it. This is one that masterfully incites panic into a reader, worrying about the characters and desperately needing to know what happens. 

Thrill factor: The graphic descriptions in the already chilling scenes.

A psychological book with family intrigue

The Next Wife by Kiara Rouda

“The Next Wife” by Kaira Rouda, available at Amazon and Bookshop

This is a guilty pleasure of a thriller: fast, dramatic, and satisfying. Kate had a picture-perfect life with her husband and daughter — until her husband left for a woman half his age. Tish is gorgeous, luxurious, and only a little suspicious of her new husband’s previous infidelity. She plans a romantic getaway to fend Kate off, but love and revenge are powerful weapons that tear plans apart. 

Thrill factor: The dark humor that ramps up the intensity.

A psychological thriller that will leave you speechless

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

“Sometimes I Lie” by Alice Feeney, available at Amazon and Bookshop

With an unreliable narrator and more lies than you can count, this thriller is perfectly constructed and the plot is a baffling rollercoaster. When Amber wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember what happened, but she suspects her husband has something to do with it. This book alternates between the present, the week before her accident, and Amber’s childhood diaries to help us piece together a brilliant psychological twist. 

Thrill factor: The subtle inflections the narrator assigns to each character.

Crime thrillers

A dark yet elegant crime thriller

Behind the Red Door by Megan Collins

“Behind the Red Door” by Megan Collins, available at Amazon and Bookshop

Megan Collins became well-known for her debut thriller “The Winter Sister,” but I’m here to proclaim that “Behind the Red Door” is the one that should really be in the spotlight. I have never read a thriller that featured characters with such complexity or one where I said “oh NO” out loud so many times. When Fern hears the news that a woman named Astrid has gone missing, she’s sure she knows her. Fern’s husband is sure that it must be from Astrid’s infamous kidnapping 20 years prior, which happened just outside Fern’s childhood town but of which she has no memory. When Astrid starts appearing in Fern’s nightmares, Fern grapples to understand if it’s a dream or a memory with the help of her psychologist father.

Thrill factor: The main character’s unreliable memory.

A chilling stalker thriller

You by Caroline Kepnes

“You” by Caroline Kepnes, available at Amazon and Bookshop

If you have yet to be pulled into the Netflix adaptation, resist and pick up the book first! This is the creepiest yet most believable stalker thriller, packed with so many insane developments that you think it can’t get any wilder…until it does. Told from Joe’s perspective, the book depicts his rapidly growing obsession over a woman he meets in a bookstore, one that morphs and twists as Joe stops at nothing to make himself the center of her world. Joe is the most messed up fictional character I’ve ever encountered, making this book a fabulously creepy thriller to grab. 

Thrill factor: The chilling main character.

A terrifying serial killer story

The Whisper Man by Alex North

“The Whisper Man” by Alex North, available at Amazon and Bookshop

This thriller gripped me so much that I read the second half all in one shot and finished at 3:30 a.m. It’s about a serial killer and abductor who whispers to children to lure them away from safety. The Whisper Man has been locked away for 20 years, but the patterns of his crimes are emerging once again. The book also threw in a couple of mini-twists at the end that made reading until the very last page exciting. 

Thrill factor: Wanting so badly to protect the characters.

An alluring marital thriller

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

“My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing, available at Amazon and Bookshop

In this creepy thriller where we never learn the narrator’s name, a married couple does everything married couples are “supposed” to do: Settle down, buy a house, have a kid, and grow horribly bored with their lives. With the thrills building up in nearly every scene, the secret ingredient that keeps their marriage alive is getting away with murder.

Thrill factor: The layers upon layers of secrets behind every character.

A thriller for the true-crime lovers

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

“The Night Swim” by Megan Goldin, available at Amazon and Bookshop

Rachel’s true-crime podcast gained notoriety after it helped set an innocent man free. When a note begging for help is left on Rachel’s windshield, it launches an investigation into the past and present, exploring a town disrupted by a rape trial and a drowning accident from 25 years ago. This is an especially perfect thriller for true crime lovers — it swirls you quickly into the center of this plot and keeps you strapped in for the ride. 

Thrill factor: The two separate (yet intertwined) mysteries 

A multi-POV thriller

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay

“Every Last Fear” by Alex Finlay, available at Amazon and Bookshop

This heartbreaking story about familial tragedy is as deep as it is twisty. Matt returns home after a night of partying to be informed that nearly his entire family was killed by a gas leak in their hotel in Mexico. Though it seems like an accident, one FBI agent believes otherwise, but won’t disclose why. The deaths make national headlines because this isn’t the first time Matt’s family has been thrust into the spotlight: his brother is currently in prison for the murder of his high school girlfriend — a murder the public believes he didn’t commit. When Matt returns home to bury his family, the connections between his brother’s case and his family’s accident begin to emerge. 

Thrill factor: That “look over your shoulder” feeling.

A domestic legal thriller

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

“A Good Marriage” by Kimberly McCreight, available at Amazon and Bookshop

This domestic thriller is just as emotional and insightful as it is surprising and exhilarating. Lizzie spends long hours working at her law firm after her marriage slowly crumbled apart. When she gets a call from Zach, her old friend who’s currently being held on suspicion of killing his wife, Lizzie knows she has to drop everything and help him. As she begins to piece together what happened to Zach’s wife, she finds that maybe their idyllic marriage wasn’t so great after all. 

Thrill Factor: The marital drama and endless secrets.

Mystery and suspense thrillers

A staple in the genre

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, available at Amazon and Bookshop

An indisputable thriller staple, this is a great one to pick up if you’re just getting into the genre because it will introduce you to some of the nuances of thrillers on which many others are based. In this book, Amy goes missing on her and Nick’s fifth wedding anniversary. Dealing with the town breathing down his neck and haunting diary entries from his wife, Nick begins to spin a web of lies around his wife’s disappearance. 

Thrill factor: Carefully sculpted plot twists.

A full-throttle, high suspenseful mystery thriller

No Exit by Taylor Adams

“No Exit” by Taylor Adams, available at Amazon and Bookshop

I ignored my family during the holidays because of this book, and I’m not sorry about it! While driving home through Colorado, Darby is caught in a blizzard and forced to wait the storm out at a highway rest stop, stranded with four strangers. When she goes to her car to try and get a signal, she notices a child locked in a cage in the back of a van. Far from police help, Darby must figure out which person is the kidnapper and get the child and herself to safety. This was the tensest I have ever felt reading a book.

Thrill factor: The high-speed action scenes.

A thriller of multiple marriages (and multiple truths)

Too Good To Be True by Carola Lovering

“Too Good To Be True” by Carola Lovering, available at Amazon and Bookshop

With three points of view (and none of them entirely reliable), “Too Good To Be True” is a thriller about two marriages and the secrets that can uproot well-laid plans. Skye is overjoyed to be engaged to Burke, her seemingly perfect boyfriend who, in a series of letters to his therapist, reveals that he’s married and deviously manipulating Skye. The third perspective is of Heather, Burke’s ex from 30 years ago. It’s a twist-filled read that will leave you wondering how well you know those closest to you. 

Thrill factor: The feeling of an emotional car crash waiting to happen.

A book with a jaw-dropping reveal

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

“The Wife Between Us” by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen, available at Amazon and Bookshop

This is a thriller that thrives on your assumptions. It lets you assume that you’re reading the story of a jealous woman, obsessed with her ex-husband’s new wife, just to turn everything on its head halfway through this impeccably constructed book. Even when you know something is coming, the twists in this tangled love triangle are utterly shocking. 

Thrill factor: Questioning our own assumptions.

A thriller almost too wild to believe

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

“When No One Is Watching” by Alyssa Cole, available at Amazon and Bookshop

Sydney is tired of the gentrification of her Brooklyn neighborhood, the homes changing and her neighbors moving faster than she can keep up. She decides to start a deep-dive into the neighborhood’s history with her neighbor Theo, but what they uncover instills paranoia and fear as what they once thought were conspiracies are slowly revealed to hold hidden truths. This one is a wild ride with a pile of twists that happen all at once. 

Thrill factor: The conspiracy theories that might actually be true.

A binge-worthy book

Verity by Colleen Hoover

“Verity” by Colleen Hoover, available at Amazon and Bookshop

When you open this book, make sure you have no plans for the rest of the day — the first 20 pages or so ease you into the story and the rest of the book is a dead sprint to the end. Little-known writer Lowen has been hired to finish Verity’s well-loved book series after a car accident left her in a waking coma. While looking for outlines or notes in Verity’s office, Lowen discovers a horrifying autobiographical manuscript that depicts Verity’s darkest secrets, kept from her husband and children. This thriller is one gripping scene of action after another, barrelling towards an ending that will have you shoving this book into your friends’ hands so they can experience the wild ride for themselves. 

Thrill factor: The inability to choose which lie to believe.

The story of a murderous fashionista

#FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar

“#FashionVictim” by Amina Akhtar, available at Amazon and Bookshop

This book is unassumingly murderous, exciting, and fun. Anya is a fashion editor with an envious wardrobe, a flawless social media presence, a soaring career, and a stack of bodies of those who almost got in her way. When Anya’s desire to be friends with Sarah, her coworker, turns into an obsession, the intrigue may turn fatal. There is an unreasonably large amount of murder in this story, which is exactly what kept me interested. 

Thrill factor: Anya’s conniving ability to get away with murder.

A suspenseful mystery of a missing woman

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

“I Am Watching You” by Teresa Driscoll, available at Amazon and Bookshop

Ella nearly intervenes when she sees two recently released convicts flirting with two young women, Anna and Sarah. After Ella decides to mind her business, Anna goes missing — and Ella is still riddled with guilt one year later. But now someone is sending Ella threatening letters, and the gaps in Sarah’s account of that night grow wider as Ella realizes someone knows where Anna might be. This is one where the intense plot twist threw so many readers for a loop and settled with a satisfying resolution.

Thrill factor: The psychological distress of the protagonist.

YA thrillers

A heartbreaking YA thriller novel

See All The Stars by Kit Frick 

“See All The Stars” by Kit Frick, available at Amazon and Bookshop

I was not in the least surprised to learn that Kit Frick is also a poet. This book is teenage heartbreak mixed in a swirl of emotional prose and confounding thrills. Told between then and now, Ellory returns to her senior year of high school riddled with guilt, anxiety, and loss. As you read, you’ll sort through the lies to find the truth to Ellory’s pain. The whole book leads up to discovering the event that tore apart the main character’s world, so you always have the feeling that something is coming… but you never know what might be around the corner. 

Thrill factor: A potentially unreliable narrator.

A compulsively readable YA thriller

Lies You Never Told Me

“Lies You Never Told Me” by Jennifer Donaldson, available at Amazon and Bookshop

This is another book that I finished in one sitting, the two seemingly unrelated storylines leading to a climax so shocking, I’m not sure I even blinked until I finished the book. It follows Gabe and Elyse, complete strangers with similar secrets. They each fall for the wrong person and make one bad choice that spins their lives out of control. When you have no clue what you’re looking for, a thriller’s twist can hit you like a brick wall (in a good way!) and that’s exactly what this book did to me. 

Thrill factor: Two different tales with unsettling similarities.

A twisted teenage tale

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

“The Cheerleaders” by Kara Thomas, available at Amazon and Bookshop

Fans of “Riverdale” and high school thriller will undoubtedly devour this YA novel. The cheer squad at Sunnybrook High was disbanded after the death of five cheerleaders, all unrelated but close together. Five years after the deaths, the community is finally ready to move forward — except for Monica, who just discovered letters and an old cell phone in her stepdad’s desk. I accidentally read most of it in one sitting just because the story flows so smoothly.

Thrill factor: The flashback snippets providing little clues.

An investigative YA thriller

A Good Girl's Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson

“A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder” by Holly Jackson, available at Amazon and Bookshop

In this YA thriller favorite, the case is already closed. Sal Singh murdered Andie Bell five years ago. Everyone knows he did it — except Pippa, who chooses to investigate the murder for her senior year project. As she begins to uncover long-buried secrets, there might be some who need the truth to stay buried lurking in the shadows. If you love true crime, murder mysteries, and unstoppable young women, this is the perfect easy-read thriller to grab. 

Thrill factor: The feeling of investigating alongside the protagonist.

A thriller version of “The Breakfast Club”

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

“One of Us is Lying” by Karen M. McManus, available at Amazon and Bookshop

This YA thriller uses spectacular character development and dramatic, unreliable rumors to create a whodunnit thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. On Monday’s detention, five students walk in and one never walks out. Simon, now dead, planned to post high-profile secrets about the others the next day, making the other four students murder suspects in the ensuing investigation. There’s a lot of depth to this book besides the thrill ride, which makes it even more satisfying to read.   

Thrill factor: The equal probability of every suspect’s guilt.

Horror thrillers

A paranormal thriller novel

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

“Home Before Dark” by Riley Sager, available at Amazon and Bookshop

Riley Sager has published four great thrillers so far but this one’s my favorite. In this spooky and paranormal haunted house thriller, Maggie returns to restore the recently inherited home that made her family famous. Her father wrote a non-fiction bestseller based on their family’s three-week stay in the home before they were forced to flee in the night. Not only was Maggie too young to remember what happened; she doesn’t believe any of it is true. I genuinely had a great time reading this thriller — it was so much fun to feel the fear and expose the truths of this house alongside Maggie.

Thrill factor: Skepticism and doubt mixed with a foggy memory.

A haunted “smart” house

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

“The Turn of the Key” by Ruth Ware, available at Amazon and Bookshop

Ruth Ware is another notorious thriller writer and this is my favorite of her books so far — and was actually too scared to read it alone at night. It takes place in a technologically advanced home in the Scottish Highlands, where Rowan is hired as a live-in nanny and earns an outrageous salary. Told in the form of a letter from Rowan to her lawyer, she recounts the events from her arrival at the home to the death of one of the children. This story is so immersive and scary that I had to remind myself more than once that it’s just a book.

Thrill factor: Technology’s role in generating unease.

The tale of a spooky motel

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

“The Sun Down Motel” by Simone St. James, available at Amazon and Bookshop

This book is filled with so many vivid and borderline violent scenes that build tension throughout the story. Viv works at a 1982 roadside motel to pay for her move to New York City. As the secrets of the motel and its guests begin to reveal themselves, the nights seem to grow darker and darker. Once I finished this book, I felt like I could exhale for the first time in days — I was so satisfied with the resolution. 

Thrill factor: Realizing that the deeper the shadows, the more secrets that can hide within.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 8 best baking cookbooks, according to 2 award-winning bakers

  • Baking cookbooks can help you perfect your pie crust, sourdough bread, or chocolate chip cookies.
  • We tapped expert bakers Joanne Chang and Amber Croom to share their favorite baking books.
  • The books cover the basics as well as how to master French pastries and temper chocolate.

It’s no secret baking is a science – only the right ingredients interact properly to create chewy cookies, flaky pie crust, and airy cakes. Pastry chefs work hard to get those measurements right, and many pass on their knowledge in beautiful cookbooks. But which ones belong on your bookcase?

I reached out to James Beard Award Winner Joanne Chang (owner of Flour Bakery and Myers + Chang in Boston) and “Chopped Sweets” Winner Amber Croom (owner of And 4 Dessert confectionary studio in Baltimore) to find out which cookbooks every beginner and expert home baker needs. Many of the picks are classics that have been around for years, with the best now in its second, revised edition.

Chef Joanne Chang at her bakery
Chef Joanne Chang at her Boston bakery, Flour Bakery + Café.

Chef Amber Croom competing on Food Network's 'Holiday Baking Championship'
Chef Amber Croom competing on Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship.”

For those who learn better by watching, I also combed through hours of videos to find the best YouTube channel for upgrading your baking skills, plus an online platform that brings some of the best pastry chefs’ classes right into your kitchen.

These baking cookbooks belong in any kitchen library, whether you’re looking to perfect your chocolate chip cookies, want to become an authority on French patisserie, or simply love a great homemade loaf of sourdough.

10 great expert-recommended baking books and online baking resources:

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best overall baking cookbook

Best overall cookbook - "Tartine: A Classic Revisited: 68 All-New Recipes + 55 Updated Favorites" by Elisabeth M. Pruett and Chad Robertson

“Tartine: A Classic Revisited: 68 All-New Recipes + 55 Updated Favorites” by Elisabeth M. Pruett and Chad Robertson

The original edition of the “Tartine” cookbook was published in 2006 and became an instant classic among pastry chefs, home bakers, and fans of the legendary San Francisco bakery. “It’s gorgeous, the pastries are both familiar and special, the recipes WORK,” says Chang. “It’s so inspiring to read and I love every page.” For the award-winning 2019 edition, Pruett and Robertson doubled the number of recipes with all-new photography, making this a must-have for any cookbook collection.

The best beginner baking book

Best cookbook for beginners: "BraveTart - Iconic American Desserts" by Stella Parks

“BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts” by Stella Parks

While new bakers may dream of macarons, it’s easier to start with simple American recipes and slowly learn the science behind your bakes. Those two reasons alone are why “BraveTart” is the perfect cookbook to start exploring in the kitchen. Parks not only incorporates great stories for each recipe; she composes each one in a way that professional chefs and home bakers can use, says Croom. “BraveTart is amazing — all of the pastries you grew up with as a kid, but made by a master baker,” adds Chang.

The best bread baking book

Best cookbook for breadmaking - "My Bread - The Revolutionary No Work, No Knead Method" by Jim Lahey

“My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method” by Jim Lahey

Jim Lahey turned the pastry world upside down with the publication “My Bread,” which proved bread machines and exhausting kneading techniques aren’t necessary. “He started a bread revolution with his way of baking bread and every loaf I’ve ever had from this book tastes just like it does in his bakeries Sullivan St Bakery,” says Chang. More than a decade later, its flawless recipes are still a must-have for anyone who wants to bake bread at home.

The best cake baking book

Best cookbook for cakes - "The Cake Bible" by Rose Levy Berenbaum

“The Cake Bible” by Rose Levy Berenbaum

Every home baker has a story about a cake disaster since they are incredibly tricky to get right. Rose Levy Berenbaum’s classic “The Cake Bible” has taught a whole generation of bakers the mistakes to avoid, and everything else you need to know to turn out delicious cakes. “It has every single cake you can ever imagine and Rose is generous with her expertise and knowledge,” says Chang. “I’ve learned so much about cake baking just from reading and baking through this book.”

Th best chocolate baking book

Best chocolate cookbook - "Chocolate Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts" by Ferrandi Paris

“Chocolate: Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts” by Ferrandi Paris

Chocolate makes gorgeous desserts that are a delight to eat, but it can be quite temperamental and frustrates even the most expert of pastry chefs. “Chocolate,” from the famous culinary school Ferrandi Paris, gives readers step-by-step instructions to master the medium. “It covers everything from utensils to tempering chocolate,” says Croom. “It’s like going to a chocolate academy without the price tag, but in book form.”

The best French pastry baking book

Best cookbook for French pastries - "The Art of French Pastry  A Cookbook" by Jacquy Pfeiffer and Martha Rose Shulman

“The Art of French Pastry: A Cookbook” by Jacquy Pfeiffer and Martha Rose Shulman

Mastering patisserie takes time, patience, and a lot of butter. Jacquy Pfeiffer, the founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School, created “The Art of French Pastry” as a comprehensive guide that helps readers with the fundamentals and gives easy-to-follow instructions. “You can tell from every recipe in the book that Chef Pfeiffer has years of teaching classic French pastries,” says Croom.

The best pie baking book

Best pie cookbook - "The Book on Pie - Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies" by Erin Jeanne McDowell

“The Book on Pie: Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies” by Erin Jeanne McDowell

Erin Jeanne McDowell, whose work is regularly featured in “The New York Times,” Food 52, and on Food Network Kitchen, is one of America’s foremost experts on pies. In this pie cookbook, “she covers everything you could ever want to know about creating the perfect pie,” says Croom. That includes everything from making the flakiest crusts and picturesque decorations to mastering savory pies.

The best whole grain baking book

Best cookbook for baking with whole grains - "Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours" by Kim Boyce

“Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours” by Kim Boyce

Baking with whole-grain flours can help home bakers create delicious desserts beyond the usual all-purpose flour. “Good to the Grain” features 75 recipes that cover a dozen different whole-grain flours, from buckwheat to teff. “You will learn so much about how different flours enhance both taste and texture of baked goods,” says Chang. Boyce does utilize white flour in her recipes, so this is good for those beginning to experiment with different flours.

Th best baking online courses

Best online courses - The Butter Book

The Butter Book

Created by Chefs Sébastien Canonne and Jacquy Pfeiffer, The Butter Book is a portal to everything a burgeoning pastry expert needs. It houses more than 170 baking video lessons, articles, a glossary, and courses on bread making, classic pastries, and cake decorating. The platform is available for $25 a month, or $200 for a year.

The best YouTube channel for baking

Best Youtube: Food52

Food52

Food 52’s YouTube channel is great for exploring new desserts or figuring out your latest baking mistake. The channel features two baking-focused series, “Bake It Up a Notch!” with Erin Jeanne McDowell and “Our Best Baking Lesson.” Baking projects do come up in their other series though, like Sohla El-Waylly’s “How to Make Any Type of Pound Cake” or Rick Martinez’s lesson on buñuelos.

Read the original article on Business Insider

FutureLearn is an online learning platform with over 1,000 courses from top schools and organizations – here are 14 popular free classes

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

FutureLearn 4x3

Online education, especially massive open online courses (MOOCs), is a great way to try out classes before pursuing a degree, affordably advance your career, or just relax in a way that’s more engaging than a passive Netflix binge.

Like e-learning platforms edX and Coursera, FutureLearn, a UK-based e-learning platform, offers over 1,000 online courses from schools like Cambridge, UCL, and The University of Kent – making it a particularly good option for e-learning content from global universities.

Below, we rounded up some of the most popular ones, in topics from fiction writing and career development to forensic science and nutrition.

The 14 most popular free courses from FutureLearn:

Start Writing Fiction

Woman sitting at a desk writing in a notebook

Offered by: The Open University

Length: 8 weeks

In this course, established writers share their best tips for writing, from keeping journals to developing plotlines through research. Students also learn how to read as writers and offer good peer feedback.

Start Writing Fiction (The Open University) (button)
Introduction to Cyber Security

Security padlock and network

Offered by: The Open University

Length: 8 weeks

Whether you’re interested in a cybersecurity career or just want to keep yourself safe, this course covers the basics, including how to recognize online threats and how to protect yourself. 

Introduction to Cybersecurity (button)
IELTS Speaking Test Preparation

Woman taking a test at a desk

Offered by: British Council

Length: 3 weeks

This short course walks students through the steps towards preparing for the three parts of the IELTS exam, covering the four criteria used to assess their English.

Understanding IELTS: Speaking (button)
Teaching English Online

man teaching a course online

Offered by: Cambridge Assessment English

Length: 4 weeks

Designed for English teachers, this course shows how to transfer their skills to online teaching, from managing online classrooms to joining online teaching communities.

Teaching English Online (button)
Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching

Woman teaching Spanish to a group of children in a classroom

Offered by: British Council

Length: 4 weeks

No matter which language you want to teach, this course covers techniques that can apply to all language learning, including the benefits of using technology in the classroom.

Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching (button)
An Introduction to Screenwriting

laptop, notebook and clapperboard place on a desk

Offered by: The University of East Anglia

Length: 2 weeks

This short course teaches beginner screenwriting students some basic screenwriting theory and formatting along with techniques for character and plot development. 

An Introduction to Screenwriting (button)
Food as Medicine

Healthy vegetables on a table

Offered by: Monash University

Length: 3 weeks

For anyone interested in nutrition, this course talks about the benefits of macronutrients and antioxidants, and how certain foods can improve gut health, reduce IBS symptoms, and ward off preventable chronic diseases.

Food as Medicine (Monash University) (button)
Management and Leadership: Growing as a Manager

Woman leading a group of employees at work

Offered by: The Open University

Length: 4 weeks

Learn how to lead with this course on management styles and techniques, which can help you do everything from making tough decisions to interacting with stakeholders.

Management and Leadership: Growing as a Manager (button)
Understanding Anxiety, Depression and CBT

Female therapist speaking with a client in a session

Offered by: The University of Reading

Length: 5 weeks

This course provides in-depth looks at both anxiety and depression and then offers a potential aid: CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help curb unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.

Understanding Anxiety, Depression and CBT (button)
Developing Your Research Project

Two students in a library studying and researching

Offered by: The University of Southampton

Length: 8 weeks

If you’re planning on pursuing a scholarly project (such as a research essay), this course breaks down the fundamentals of academic writing and research so you can feel prepared rather than overwhelmed.

Developing Your Research Project (button)
Learn Forensic Science

Female forensic scientist at a crime scene

Offered by: The University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Length: 6 weeks

For anyone interested in a forensic science career, this course covers the main methods of investigating a crime scene, before having you investigate a theoretical murder and present your case yourself.

Introduction to Forensic Science (button)
Spanish for Beginners 1

Spain on a globe

Offered by: The Open University

Length: 4 weeks

Learn the very basics of Spanish, from introducing yourself to talking about where you live and what you do, and even ask for clarification if you don’t understand something.

Spanish for Beginners 1: Meeting and Greeting (button)
Researching Your Family Tree

Multigenerational family gathered in the kitchen

Offered by: The University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Length: 6 weeks

Diving into the science behind DNA research, this course helps you build out your own family tree using your genealogy data, family history, and even photographs.

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree (button)
Understanding Autism

Finger painting with handprints

Offered by: The University of Kent

Length: 4 weeks

This CPD-certified course provides an overview of what autism and the autism spectrum are, how autism is diagnosed, and what life with autism is like. 

Understanding Autism (button)

Read the original article on Business Insider

20 perfect gifts for people who love learning new things, from Anthony Bourdain’s travel book to a 3-month MasterClass subscription

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Masterclass Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking
  • For some, experiential gifts that satisfy curiosity are more exciting than material items.
  • We rounded up some of the best gifts for the voracious readers and learners in your life.
  • They include books, online classes, and subscriptions such as MasterClass and Audible Plus.

Shopping for gifts is easy when you know someone has a penchant for puns or desperately needs a new suitcase. It’s a little more challenging when the recipient is generally less into material goods and seems more thrilled by educational gifts like books or experiential presents like classes.

Luckily, there are plenty of unique presents for the voracious learners and readers out there. From engaging history books to online drawing classes to subscriptions like MasterClass, there are plenty of gifts for people who are always looking to learn something new.

20 perfect gifts for people who love learning new things

Subscriptions

MasterClass

Ron Finley MasterClass

All-Access Pass (button)

For $15 a month (or $180 a year), MasterClass users can get unlimited access to over 100 celeb and expert-led courses, from writing with Margaret Atwood to cooking with Gordon Ramsay. Classes come with high-quality video lessons, PDF workbooks, and community forums. New courses are added each month.

Subscriptions are available for one month, three months, or a full year. There is also currently a 2-for-1 Father’s Day sale.

You can read a review of MasterClass here.

Book of the Month

Book of the Month subscription

Membership (button)

For anyone who gets excited by new releases (but has trouble deciding which book to commit to), a Book of the Month subscription helps narrow it down by letting them pick one out of five selections each month to be delivered to their door.

Audible Plus

Audible Annual Membership

Plus (Monthly Subscription) (button)

Offering subscriptions from 1-month ($15) to a full year ($150), Audible Plus gives listeners one credit a month to buy any audiobook they want, plus access to a library of thousands of audiobooks, podcasts, and more.

One Day University

One Day University 4x3

Membership (button)

An annual membership to One Day University gives subscribers access to multiple daily, live lectures on a broad range of topics, from the history of Stonewall from Harvard to a Yale course on how famous movie scenes were shot.

You can read a review of One Day University here.

Babbel

Babbel 4x3

Subscription (3 Months) (button)

With a Babbel subscription, gift recipients can use a code to choose one of 14 languages to learn, from Spanish to Norwegian, and learn real-life phrases and conversation topics in this bestselling language app.

Books

‘World Travel: An Irreverent Guide’ by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever

“World Travel  An Irreverent Guide” By Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever

An Irreverent Guide (button)

Published in April, this travel guide of beloved chef Anthony Bourdain’s favorite places comes with his personal suggestions on what to eat, where to go, and what to avoid, all told with the wit and warmth his fans have always loved. The book also comes with essays from Bourdain’s friends and family offering their own reflections of the locations and their relationship with Bourdain.

‘Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Book (button)

An Indigenous scientist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer believes that plants are our oldest teachers. This beautiful book explores the interconnection between human joy and ecological consciousness, making it a perfect gift for anyone who strives to understand the environment better.

‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ by Bill Bryson

'A Short History of Nearly Everything' by Bill Bryson

of Nearly Everything” (button)

This funny, enlightening book is Bill Bryson’s attempt to better understand the world as he interviews archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians about everything from the Big Bang to the rise of human civilization.

‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking’ by Samin Nosrat

salt fat acid heat

Hardcover (button)

Turned into a Netflix show of the same name, this hit cookbook goes beyond other selections in the genre by breaking down the four major components of a great dish: salt, fat, acid, heat. With detailed explanations and drawings throughout, it’s a must-have for beginner and expert chefs alike.

‘Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen’ by Christopher McDougall

born to run

A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” (button)

In this fascinating and inspiring book, award-winning journalist and runner Christopher McDougall travels to Mexico’s Copper Canyons to research the Tarahumara Indians, who can run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. The book eventually has the tribe race America’s top ultra-runners, the recounting of the events as exhilarating as the race itself.

‘Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know’ by Malcolm Gladwell

"Talking to Strangers: What we Should Know about the People we Don't Know" by Malcolm Gladwell

What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know” (button)

Interviewing scientists, criminologists, and military psychologists — and looking at the famous cases of people like Amanda Knox, Bernie Madoff, and Sandra Bland — Malcolm Gladwell seeks answers to how we can better understand people we don’t know.

‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius

"Meditations"

by Marcus Aurelius (button)

For fans of both history and philosophy, this classic book offers life lessons from Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor and important figure of the Stoicism movement. His commentary on human virtue, rationality, and leadership feels shockingly relevant today.

Kindle

Amazon Kindle

Kindle (button)

The only thing better than a physical book is a Kindle so they can buy and download all their favorite books whenever they want. This version works well both indoors and outdoors and can connect with Audible for audiobooks and podcasts. 

Online classes

The Ultimate Drawing Course: Beginner to Advanced Class

Online drawing classes 4x3

The Ultimate Drawing Course – Beginner to Advanced (button)

One of Udemy’s most popular classes, this course walks aspiring artists through the basics of composition all the way through drawing human faces and figures.

Note: Udemy has frequent huge sales, so it’s worth checking back to see if the price has gone down.

Fundamentals of Photography with John Greengo

Camera man in shadows

Fundamentals of Photography (button)

Taught by an award-winning photographer, this course shows students how to find the right gear and understand how shutter speed, lighting, aperture, and more can drastically change a photo.

iPhone Photography – Take Professional Photos On Your iPhone

Clearing iPhone cache

iPhone Photography (button)

For that person in your life who loves taking photos on their phone, this course can help them find the right light and compositions for their pics, as well as edit them in Lightroom, a free Adobe app. 

Note: Udemy has frequent huge sales, so it’s worth checking back to see if the price has gone down.

Sangria and Secrets with Drag Taste

Sangria and Secrets with Drag Taste

Sangria and Secrets with Drag Taste (button)

Great for groups, this live virtual course from Lisbon features drag queens sharing the recipe for Portuguese sangria — peppered with fun performances throughout. 

Wired for Story: How to Become a Story Genius

writing

Wired for Story (button)

Led by an experienced writing coach, this course teaches students how to tap into their natural creativity, cut down first drafts, and write more confidently. This can be a perfect gift for the National Novel Writing Month fan in your life.

Piano & Keyboard for Beginners: The Pianoforall Online Class

Person playing piano

Pianoforall (button)

Meant for full beginners, this bestselling course comprehensively teaches students how to play piano both by ear and via sheet music, so they can get to playing real songs as quickly as possible.

Note: Udemy has frequent huge sales, so it’s worth checking back to see if the price has gone down.

The Essential Crash Course for Guitar Beginners

Person playing guitar

Complete Guitar Lessons System (button)

Newbie guitar players rapidly learn scales, chords, strumming techniques, basic music theory, and more in this popular course.

Note: Udemy has frequent huge sales, so it’s worth checking back to see if the price has gone down.

Read the original article on Business Insider

MasterClass, one of our favorite e-learning platforms, is having a 2-for-1 Father’s Day sale right now. Here are 16 great classes to try.

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Masterclass E Learning 4x3
MasterClass helps you learn new skills from experts in the field.

Who better to teach you writing than Margaret Atwood, a backhand than Serena Williams, or singing than Christina Aguilera?

Unfortunately, for most of us, taking a one-on-one cooking class with Thomas Keller or a photography lesson from Annie Leibovitz isn’t realistic. But MasterClass is bridging that gap by recruiting the best of the best to teach us the secrets to their crafts.

And for Father’s Day, you can purchase one subscription as a gift and get another for free through June 21.

All-Access Pass (medium)

Unlike most e-learning platforms focused on teaching hard skills like cloud computing or UX design, MasterClass targets a different audience: creatives who are looking to learn and gain some inspiration along the way.

The site has courses in categories like writing, cooking, sports, business, and politics, and each of them is taught by celebrities and masters of the field. For $180 a year ($15 a month), you get an all-access pass to all the courses on the site. Each class provides video lessons, a course workbook, and class feedback – which, on some occasions, comes from the stars themselves.

If you’re craving an online course to inspire you, help you hone a craft, or give you valuable advice from a respected expert, MasterClass is definitely worth a try. The videos are well-produced, which makes the courses more engaging, and the workbooks provide some extra insight to help reflect on what you’ve learned. You can even download the MasterClass app on your phone to squeeze in quick lessons whenever you have free time.

What you’ll find below:

  1. Some common FAQs
  2. A list of the 16 best MasterClass courses
  3. A personal review of MasterClass

All-Access Pass (medium)

MasterClass FAQs:

  1. How much does it cost? MasterClass costs $180 for its annual subscription ($15 a month), which gives you unlimited access to all its classes until you cancel. 
  2. Is it worth it? If you will use MasterClass more than a few times, yes, the yearly pass may be worth it. If you won’t, or you need something more intensive or traditionally academic, consider other online learning sites like Coursera or edX
  3. How does MasterClass work? MasterClass classes are about 2-5 hours on average, with individual lessons ranging from 2-5 minutes. Classes include pre-recorded video lessons by your instructor, a class workbook, interactive assignments, and sometimes community activities. MasterClass may have opportunities for students to submit work to instructors for feedback, but that’s not the norm. 

Some of the best MasterClass classes:

Questlove teaches DJing

Questlove

Learn music curation and DJing with Questlove

Questlove — iconic DJ, Grammy winner, and The Roots drummer — teaches collecting and mixing music. You’ll learn how to transition from genre to genre to curate the perfect playlist, whether just for yourself or to wow your friends.

Margaret Atwood teaches creative writing

margaret atwood

Learn the art of creative writing with Margaret Atwood

Writer’s block is a major challenge, but hopefully, some inspiration from Margaret Atwood can bring you out of your funk. The Man Booker Prize-winner’s lessons delve into character development, point of view, structuring a novel, and more. 

Samuel L. Jackson teaches acting

samuel jackson

Learn how to act with Samuel L. Jackson

It’s hard to believe now that Samuel L. Jackson had a stutter growing up, one that actually stopped him from talking for a year. You can learn about how he overcame this obstacle to become an Oscar nominee in this course on acting, which particularly focuses on how to develop a character. 

Annie Leibovitz teaches photography

annie leibovitz

Learn photography with Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz claims the title of first-ever female chief photographer at “Rolling Stone,” along with plenty of other accomplishments. Here, she sheds light on her photography philosophy and shows how a great photo comes to life. 

Ron Finley teaches gardening

Masterclass Ron Finley teaches gardening

Learn gardening with Ron Finley

Ron Finley has launched a movement around an unusual form of protest: gardening. In 2011, Finley was issued an arrest warrant for planting fruits and vegetables on the curbside strip outside his home in South Central LA — a food desert. Two years later, his story helped change LA laws and, a decade later, he’s helped plant dozens of community gardens. In his MasterClass, Finley teaches you how to grow your own food, avoid killing your plants, and the beauty and community you can find in healthy food.

Christina Aguilera teaches singing

christina aguilera

Learn how to sing with Christina Aguilera

Whether you want to fine-tune your vocal craft or have no musical experience beyond singing “happy birthday” to your friends and family, Christina Aguilera has the techniques to help you take it up a notch. The Grammy-award winning artist will give you practical tips on how to polish your sound as well as share some stories about her career trajectory. 

Serena Williams teaches tennis

serena williams

Learn how to play tennis with Serena Williams

If you want to be a pro, you have to practice like one. Get the chance to experience the same drills Serena runs every day, as well as some insight into the importance of mental strength in the game. 

Apollonia Poilâne teaches bread baking

Masterclass Apollonia Poilâne teaches bread baking

Learn bread baking with Apollonia Poilâne

Apollonia Poilâne, the third-generation baker and CEO of the famous Parisian bakery Poilâne, teaches you how to use all of your senses when baking an ideal loaf from scratch. Poilâne outlines best practices for a variety of French breads — rustic wheat, rye, brioche, and Poilâne’s beloved sourdough loaves — with warmth and clarity. You’ll be able to learn from Poilâne’s practiced movements, see ideal examples of each stage, and hear live troubleshooting. And though your environment will change daily, Poilâne gives you the working knowledge that allows you to adapt.

Thomas Keller teaches cooking techniques

thomas keller

Learn cooking techniques with Thomas Keller

Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants, like The French Laundry, have been awarded quite a few Michelin stars and have people eagerly waiting months at a time for reservations. In his MasterClass, he breaks down the basics of some of the most essential cooking techniques, like braising meats and making stocks. 

Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches scientific thinking and communication

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Learn how to think like a scientist with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Ivy League degrees, bestselling books, and a Grammy award are just some of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s accolades. In this course, the renowned astrophysicist will help you see into the mind of a scientist, giving you plenty of skills to help you strengthen the way you think and communicate along the way. 

Carlos Santana teaches the art and soul of guitar

carlos

Learn how to play the guitar with Carlos Santana

If you’re looking for a classic, technical guitar lesson, this course probably isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking to understand how one of the world’s most popular guitarists approaches the instrument, draws inspiration for his music, and found his unique sound, you’ll love this class with Carlos Santana. 

Bob Iger teaches business strategy and leadership

bob iger

Learn business strategies and leadership skills with Bob Iger

As the former CEO and current Executive Chairman of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger was responsible for some of the brand’s most important acquisitions, including Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. With 45 years in media under his belt, he knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a successful businessperson.

His lesson dives into everything from business insights from the acquisition process to how to use your time effectively and productively.

Kelly Wearstler teaches interior design

kelly wearstler

Learn how to design your space with Kelly Wearstler

Ever wondered how to make your space look like it’s plucked off an “Architectural Digest” page while still feeling like it’s distinctly yours? It’s a tall order, but Kelly Wearstler has designed enough celebrity homes and boutique hotels to give you all the tips and tricks you need to know to redefine your own space. You’ll learn how to choose colors for any room, make a space feel larger, and even curate an art collection. 

Chris Voss teaches the art of negotiation

Chris Voss

Learn the art of negotiation with Chris Voss

During his time as an FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss mastered all of the facets of communication and compromise. While your everyday negotiations may not be as high-stake, Voss’s strategies can help you get the outcomes you want — whether it’s a promotion at your job or a big decision in your relationship. 

Dominique Ansel teaches French pastry fundamentals

dominique ansel

Learn French pastry fundamentals with Dominique Ansel

Dominque Ansel is revered for his creative takes on delicious pastries, like the Cronut, a croissant-donut hybrid that garners hours-long lines outside of his SoHo bakery in New York. In this course, you’ll learn the precise technique Ansel uses to bake his famous treats. Fruit tarts, chocolate cakes, and mini madeleines are just some of the desserts you’ll learn to bake. 

Daniel Negreanu teaches poker

daniel poker

Learn how to play poker with Daniel Negreanu

There’s no one better to help you perfect your poker face than Daniel Negreanu — he’s won the World Series of Poker six times. He’ll help you learn even the most complex poker concepts so you can increase your win rate the next time you sit around the felt. 

A review of MasterClass:

MasterClass is one of my favorite online learning platforms, and I’ve had personal experience with a fair share of them (Coursera, Skillshare, edX, Rosetta Stone, CreativeLive, and so on).

Compared to many online courses, MasterClass’s follow the format of a one-sided conversation more than an academic setting, which can make learning feel more engaging.

I love that I’m able to learn conventional and not-so-conventional tricks and tips from giants of any industry — some of whom are on my shortlist of favorite authors, actors, musicians, and chefs. Classes are pretty short (2-5 hours total), and the lessons are between 5-25 minutes each.

I also get access to notes, additional reading resources, and a community. And it’s nice that I can download lessons or use Audio Mode in the car as a de facto audiobook on days when my attention span is low. 

Plus, the diversity, quality, and flexibility of its online classes is hard to beat. If I’m going through a cooking phase, I can watch bite-sized clips that are interesting and useful. And if something isn’t my number one passion, the allure of a “master” helps me remain interested in the lessons. 

Personally, I enjoy having yearly access. If you’re a lifelong learner, it gives you the ability to jump around different subjects with tools like “topic playlists” that queue up stuff you might like. For me, it’s worth the $180 — it’s informative without feeling overly stringent or overwhelming. But if you’re interested in deep-diving into only one topic, I’d recommend auditing a class at Coursera or edX rather than dropping $180 just to access one MasterClass. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter

Read the original article on Business Insider

MasterClass is one of our favorite online learning platforms – here’s how it works, and 16 great classes to try

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Masterclass E Learning 4x3
MasterClass helps you learn new skills from experts in the field.

  • MasterClass creates online video classes taught by celebrities and industry experts.
  • An annual subscription costs $180 ($15 a month) and gives access to all of MasterClass’s offerings.
  • Right now, you can purchase one subscription for Father’s Day and get one free.
  • Below, you’ll find a personal review, some common FAQs, and 16 of the best MasterClass courses.

Who better to teach you writing than Margaret Atwood, a backhand than Serena Williams, or singing than Christina Aguilera?

Unfortunately, for most of us, taking a one-on-one cooking class with Thomas Keller or a photography lesson from Annie Leibovitz isn’t realistic. But MasterClass is bridging that gap by recruiting the best of the best to teach us the secrets to their crafts. And in advance of Father’s Day, you can purchase one subscription as a gift and get another for free right now.

All-Access Pass (medium)

Unlike most e-learning platforms focused on teaching hard skills like cloud computing or UX design, MasterClass targets a different audience: creatives who are looking to learn and gain some inspiration along the way.

The site has courses in categories like writing, cooking, sports, business, and politics, and each of them is taught by celebrities and masters of the field. For $180 a year ($15 a month), you get an all-access pass to all the courses on the site. Each class provides video lessons, a course workbook, and class feedback – which, on some occasions, comes from the stars themselves.

If you’re craving an online course to inspire you, help you hone a craft, or give you valuable advice from a respected expert, MasterClass is definitely worth a try. The videos are well-produced, which makes the courses more engaging, and the workbooks provide some extra insight to help reflect on what you’ve learned. You can even download the MasterClass app on your phone to squeeze in quick lessons whenever you have free time.

What you’ll find below:

  1. Some common FAQs
  2. A list of the 16 best MasterClass courses
  3. A personal review of MasterClass

All-Access Pass (medium)

MasterClass FAQs:

  1. How much does it cost? MasterClass costs $180 for its annual subscription ($15 a month), which gives you unlimited access to all its classes until you cancel. 
  2. Is it worth it? If you will use MasterClass more than a few times, yes, the yearly pass may be worth it. If you won’t, or you need something more intensive or traditionally academic, consider other online learning sites like Coursera or edX
  3. How does MasterClass work? MasterClass classes are about 2-5 hours on average, with individual lessons ranging from 2-5 minutes. Classes include pre-recorded video lessons by your instructor, a class workbook, interactive assignments, and sometimes community activities. MasterClass may have opportunities for students to submit work to instructors for feedback, but that’s not the norm. 

Some of the best MasterClass classes:

Questlove teaches DJing

Questlove

Learn music curation and DJing with Questlove

Questlove — iconic DJ, Grammy winner, and The Roots drummer — teaches collecting and mixing music. You’ll learn how to transition from genre to genre to curate the perfect playlist, whether just for yourself or to wow your friends.

Margaret Atwood teaches creative writing

margaret atwood

Learn the art of creative writing with Margaret Atwood

Writer’s block is a major challenge, but hopefully, some inspiration from Margaret Atwood can bring you out of your funk. The Man Booker Prize-winner’s lessons delve into character development, point of view, structuring a novel, and more. 

Samuel L. Jackson teaches acting

samuel jackson

Learn how to act with Samuel L. Jackson

It’s hard to believe now that Samuel L. Jackson had a stutter growing up, one that actually stopped him from talking for a year. You can learn about how he overcame this obstacle to become an Oscar nominee in this course on acting, which particularly focuses on how to develop a character. 

Annie Leibovitz teaches photography

annie leibovitz

Learn photography with Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz claims the title of first-ever female chief photographer at “Rolling Stone,” along with plenty of other accomplishments. Here, she sheds light on her photography philosophy and shows how a great photo comes to life. 

Ron Finley teaches gardening

Masterclass Ron Finley teaches gardening

Learn gardening with Ron Finley

Ron Finley has launched a movement around an unusual form of protest: gardening. In 2011, Finley was issued an arrest warrant for planting fruits and vegetables on the curbside strip outside his home in South Central LA — a food desert. Two years later, his story helped change LA laws and, a decade later, he’s helped plant dozens of community gardens. In his MasterClass, Finley teaches you how to grow your own food, avoid killing your plants, and the beauty and community you can find in healthy food.

Christina Aguilera teaches singing

christina aguilera

Learn how to sing with Christina Aguilera

Whether you want to fine-tune your vocal craft or have no musical experience beyond singing “happy birthday” to your friends and family, Christina Aguilera has the techniques to help you take it up a notch. The Grammy-award winning artist will give you practical tips on how to polish your sound as well as share some stories about her career trajectory. 

Serena Williams teaches tennis

serena williams

Learn how to play tennis with Serena Williams

If you want to be a pro, you have to practice like one. Get the chance to experience the same drills Serena runs every day, as well as some insight into the importance of mental strength in the game. 

Apollonia Poilâne teaches bread baking

Masterclass Apollonia Poilâne teaches bread baking

Learn bread baking with Apollonia Poilâne

Apollonia Poilâne, the third-generation baker and CEO of the famous Parisian bakery Poilâne, teaches you how to use all of your senses when baking an ideal loaf from scratch. Poilâne outlines best practices for a variety of French breads — rustic wheat, rye, brioche, and Poilâne’s beloved sourdough loaves — with warmth and clarity. You’ll be able to learn from Poilâne’s practiced movements, see ideal examples of each stage, and hear live troubleshooting. And though your environment will change daily, Poilâne gives you the working knowledge that allows you to adapt.

Thomas Keller teaches cooking techniques

thomas keller

Learn cooking techniques with Thomas Keller

Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants, like The French Laundry, have been awarded quite a few Michelin stars and have people eagerly waiting months at a time for reservations. In his MasterClass, he breaks down the basics of some of the most essential cooking techniques, like braising meats and making stocks. 

Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches scientific thinking and communication

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Learn how to think like a scientist with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Ivy League degrees, bestselling books, and a Grammy award are just some of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s accolades. In this course, the renowned astrophysicist will help you see into the mind of a scientist, giving you plenty of skills to help you strengthen the way you think and communicate along the way. 

Carlos Santana teaches the art and soul of guitar

carlos

Learn how to play the guitar with Carlos Santana

If you’re looking for a classic, technical guitar lesson, this course probably isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking to understand how one of the world’s most popular guitarists approaches the instrument, draws inspiration for his music, and found his unique sound, you’ll love this class with Carlos Santana. 

Bob Iger teaches business strategy and leadership

bob iger

Learn business strategies and leadership skills with Bob Iger

As the former CEO and current Executive Chairman of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger was responsible for some of the brand’s most important acquisitions, including Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. With 45 years in media under his belt, he knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a successful businessperson.

His lesson dives into everything from business insights from the acquisition process to how to use your time effectively and productively.

Kelly Wearstler teaches interior design

kelly wearstler

Learn how to design your space with Kelly Wearstler

Ever wondered how to make your space look like it’s plucked off an “Architectural Digest” page while still feeling like it’s distinctly yours? It’s a tall order, but Kelly Wearstler has designed enough celebrity homes and boutique hotels to give you all the tips and tricks you need to know to redefine your own space. You’ll learn how to choose colors for any room, make a space feel larger, and even curate an art collection. 

Chris Voss teaches the art of negotiation

Chris Voss

Learn the art of negotiation with Chris Voss

During his time as an FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss mastered all of the facets of communication and compromise. While your everyday negotiations may not be as high-stake, Voss’s strategies can help you get the outcomes you want — whether it’s a promotion at your job or a big decision in your relationship. 

Dominique Ansel teaches French pastry fundamentals

dominique ansel

Learn French pastry fundamentals with Dominique Ansel

Dominque Ansel is revered for his creative takes on delicious pastries, like the Cronut, a croissant-donut hybrid that garners hours-long lines outside of his SoHo bakery in New York. In this course, you’ll learn the precise technique Ansel uses to bake his famous treats. Fruit tarts, chocolate cakes, and mini madeleines are just some of the desserts you’ll learn to bake. 

Daniel Negreanu teaches poker

daniel poker

Learn how to play poker with Daniel Negreanu

There’s no one better to help you perfect your poker face than Daniel Negreanu — he’s won the World Series of Poker six times. He’ll help you learn even the most complex poker concepts so you can increase your win rate the next time you sit around the felt. 

A review of MasterClass:

MasterClass is one of my favorite online learning platforms, and I’ve had personal experience with a fair share of them (Coursera, Skillshare, edX, Rosetta Stone, CreativeLive, and so on).

Compared to many online courses, MasterClass’s follow the format of a one-sided conversation more than an academic setting, which can make learning feel more engaging.

I love that I’m able to learn conventional and not-so-conventional tricks and tips from giants of any industry — some of whom are on my shortlist of favorite authors, actors, musicians, and chefs. Classes are pretty short (2-5 hours total), and the lessons are between 5-25 minutes each.

I also get access to notes, additional reading resources, and a community. And it’s nice that I can download lessons or use Audio Mode in the car as a de facto audiobook on days when my attention span is low. 

Plus, the diversity, quality, and flexibility of its online classes is hard to beat. If I’m going through a cooking phase, I can watch bite-sized clips that are interesting and useful. And if something isn’t my number one passion, the allure of a “master” helps me remain interested in the lessons. 

Personally, I enjoy having yearly access. If you’re a lifelong learner, it gives you the ability to jump around different subjects with tools like “topic playlists” that queue up stuff you might like. For me, it’s worth the $180 — it’s informative without feeling overly stringent or overwhelming. But if you’re interested in deep-diving into only one topic, I’d recommend auditing a class at Coursera or edX rather than dropping $180 just to access one MasterClass. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter

Read the original article on Business Insider

11 free online courses you can take from the University of Washington, one of the top 10 schools in the world

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

University of Washington free online courses

The University of Washington, ranked the 8th best school in the world according to US News, offers free courses online.

Like other top schools in the world – including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Cornell – UWash has made a handful of massive open online courses (MOOCs) available on e-learning platforms edX and Coursera. You can learn more about edX here and Coursera here.

Whether you’re interested in mastering machine learning or learning English for business, you can enroll in a course for free (or for a small fee if you want to earn a certificate of completion).

11 University of Washington courses you can take online for free

Machine Learning: Regression

11 free courses University of Washington by champc/GettyImages

Machine Learning: Regression (button)

Length:  6 weeks

Explore regularized linear regression models in prediction and feature selection — including predicting housing prices and implementing Python programming techniques.

This course is included in the Machine Learning Specialization, which is free with a seven-day trial, then $49 a month to keep learning. 

To audit this course for free, click “Enroll for Free” and then “Audit this course.”

Machine Learning: Classification

11 free courses University of Washington by Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images

Machine Learning: Classification (button)

Length: 7 weeks

Create classifiers that perform well on various tasks and become familiar with the most successful techniques — including logistic regression, decision trees, and boosting. You’ll also be able to design and implement the underlying algorithms to learn these models at scale. 

This course is included in the Machine Learning Specialization, which is free with a seven-day trial, then $49 a month to keep learning. 

To audit this course for free, click “Enroll for Free” and then “Audit this course.”

Machine Learning: Clustering & Retrieval

free courses University of Washington by Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

Machine Learning: Clustering & Retrieval (button)

Length:  6 weeks

This course focuses on clustering and retrieval, answering questions such as how to group similar documents; notions of similarity; and how to discover new, emerging topics that a set of documents covers. You’ll be able to create a document retrieval system using k-nearest neighbors, cluster documents by topic using k-means, implement the techniques you learn in Python, and more.

This course is included in the Machine Learning Specialization, which is free with a seven-day trial, then $49 a month to keep learning. 

To audit this course for free, click “Enroll for Free” and then “Audit this course.”

Introduction to Cybersecurity

11 free courses University of Washington photo by Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images

Introduction to Cybersecurity (button)

Length: 6 weeks

This introduction to cybersecurity includes an overview of the cybersecurity landscape using key terms and concepts. It provides national (US) and international perspectives on the field, the legal environment, and predominant threats. 

This course is included in the Essentials of Cybersecurity professional certificate program ($716.40).

Finding Your Cybersecurity Career Path

11 free courses University of Washington Photo by Oscar Wong/Getty Images

Finding Your Cybersecurity Career Path (button)

Length: 6 weeks

Use this course and a self-assessment to determine your skills, talent, and long-term interests when considering 32 cybersecurity career pathways.

This course is included in the Essentials of Cybersecurity professional certificate program ($716.40).

Building a Cybersecurity Toolkit

11 free courses University of Washington photo by Andrew Brookes/Getty Images

Building a Cybersecurity Toolkit (button)

Length: 6 weeks

A good cybersecurity professional needs more than technical skills — especially when choosing how to respond to inevitable breaches — and this course offers insight into the problem-solving skills you’ll need for the field. You’ll also work towards a self-evaluation of talents and interests to map your career path. 

This course is included in the Essentials of Cybersecurity professional certificate program ($716.40).

Business English: Meetings

11 free courses University of Washington photo by Nitat Termmee/Getty Images

Business English: Meetings (button)

Length: 4 weeks

This English language course teaches you the vocabulary and skills useful to scheduling and participating in meetings as well as sending emails. 

This course is included in the Business English Communication Skills Specialization, which is free with a seven-day trial, then $49 a month to keep learning. 

To audit this course for free, click “Enroll for Free” and then “Audit this course.”

Business English: Planning & Negotiating

11 free courses University of Washington photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Business English: Planning & Negotiating (button)

Length: 4 weeks

This English language course prepares you to host an event and find the right venue for it — and includes language and strategies useful in a successful negotiation. You’ll learn how to evaluate and compare services, write an event announcement after selecting your venue, and more.

This course is included in the Business English Communication Skills Specialization, which is free with a seven-day trial, then $49 a month to keep learning. 

To audit this course for free, click “Enroll for Free” and then “Audit this course.”

Attending a Networking Event

11 free courses University of Washington photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Attending a Networking Event (button)

Length: 8 weeks

Learn the key parts of networking, from creating and delivering an “elevator pitch,” to successfully navigating networking events. The course also covers how to dress for, make “small talk”, and end a conversation at networking events. 

Introduction to Internationalization and Localization

11 free courses University of Washington - photo by Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images

Introduction to Internationalization and Localization (button)

Length: 6 weeks

Learn how to design a digital product that’s ready for worldwide usage and how to adapt it for its international target markets. You’ll cover basic concepts, methods, types of releases, the case for internationalization and localization, and more. 

This course is included in the Internationalization and Localization professional certificate program ($537.30).

Speaking to inform: Discussing complex ideas with clear explanations and dynamic slides

11 free courses from University of Washington photo by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Speaking to inform: Discussing complex ideas with clear explanations and dynamic slides (button)

Length: 5 weeks

Learn how to convey complex ideas in an engaging and accessible way to your audience, regardless of topic, by considering the elements: What does your audience need to hear to understand key ideas? How much do they already know? What’s most important to convey? And how do you factor in time restraints? 

As part of the class, you’ll record speeches and provide and receive peer feedback.

This course is included in the Dynamic Public Speaking Specialization, which is free with a 7-day trial, then $49 a month to keep learning. 

To audit this course for free, click “Enroll for Free” and then “Audit this course.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

I took 11 MasterClass cooking classes from celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Dominique Ansel – here’s why they’re worth a subscription

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

masterclass cooking classes dominique ansel strawberry tart
  • MasterClass is an e-learning platform that provides classes taught by celebrities and experts.
  • It offers classes from famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Dominique Ansel, and Gabriella Camara.
  • I took 11 MasterClass cooking courses and made everything from Beef Wellington to huevos rancheros.

If you don’t have experience making complete meals day after day, it can feel overwhelming to search for a reliable recipe, complete multiple tasks at once, or roast everything long enough without burning or overcooking your dinner.

A MasterClass subscription gives you access to over 17 cooking courses from celebrity chefs, including Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, and Alice Waters.

What is MasterClass?

For $180 a year, or $15 each month, MasterClass gives you unlimited access to online courses from celebrities and world-renowned experts. It can be a pricey investment, but each course includes multiple lessons via episodes – sometimes as many as 36 videos – as well as a full-color PDF workbook featuring recipes and tips.

Additionally, there’s a community forum for each class where you can post questions, get extra info, and potentially interact with the instructor.

Also included in your membership is access to classes in film & TV, music & entertainment, writing, business, design, sports, and more.

For a full rundown of MasterClass, read our review here.

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All of the courses we recommend produced mouthwatering meals in our tests and can be followed easily in your home without special equipment or ingredients.

Here are the 11 best culinary arts and cooking classes you can take at home with MasterClass:

“Modern Italian Cooking” with Massimo Bottura

Massimo Bottura

“Modern Italian Cooking” with Massimo Bottura packs a lot of information and skills into this 14-lesson course that takes basic ingredients and turns them into a gourmet dish.

The class is taught by the chef patron of Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star establishment widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in the world. Most recently, Bottura has gained additional notoriety during the pandemic with his free Kitchen Quarantine series on Instagram.

In this four-hour course, Bottura covers his modern twist on classic Italian dishes, incorporating causes that are important to him such as reducing food waste. He also invites members of Il Tortellante, a fresh pasta workshop for disadvantaged kids, to help make tortellini.

So far, I’ve made two dishes from the course. First was the Sogliola al Cartoccio, or Mediterranean-style sole. Due to grocery shortages during the pandemic, I had to substitute some ingredients, but the finished product was beautiful, delicious, and healthy. Plus, it was relatively easy to make and didn’t take long.

masterclass cooking classes massimo bottura meditteranean sole

The other dish I made is less of a dish and more of a new habit. Bottura talks about a “Broth of Everything,” a vegetarian broth he makes using vegetable scraps. I started doing this using a gallon bag stored in my freezer. Once it was full, I dehydrated it overnight in the oven at 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The next morning, I put all of the dehydrated, aromatic scraps in a stockpot along with some herbs and simmered it for six hours. The resulting broth is like liquid gold, and yes the name suggests, I use it in everything.

‘French Pastry Fundamentals’ with Dominique Ansel

dominique ansel

If you’ve ever wondered how to make the mouth-watering treats available at your favorite pastry shops, “French Pastry Fundamentals” with Dominique Ansel is a good place to start.

In his 17-lesson class that runs about three-and-a-half hours, Ansel, the inventor of the cronut and winner of several James Beard Awards, walks you through the steps of how to make mini madeleines, fruit tarts, a chocolate cake, bonbons, and croissants. He also delves into how you can use your new skills to make your own inventions. The class is supported by a 59-page, full-color workbook and an active discussion forum, where you can get help. While I was testing the class, Ansel hosted a live lesson which was really fun and informative.

I chose to tackle the four-lesson recipe for Ansel’s strawberry tart. Though you can complete the whole process in a full day of baking, I decided to do it over the course of a weekend.

masterclass cooking classes dominique ansel strawberry tart

I’d never made anything like this strawberry tart before and was a bit intimidated, but Ansel did an excellent job of putting me at ease. The only ingredient I couldn’t find was NH pectin, and I didn’t like the prices online so I used apple pectin instead, even though he says not to. The glaze didn’t come out as beautiful as it could have been, but the resulting tart was still visually-appealing and absolutely delicious. When I shared a picture of it with my local foodie group, I got several requests for the recipe.

‘Cooking I’ with Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay Cooking Class

Even if you’re just starting to find your way around the kitchen, “Cooking I” with Gordon Ramsay has a lot to offer with a balanced collection of lessons ranging from kitchen layout to making his famous Beef Wellington.

masterclass cooking classes gordon ramsay red wine poached egg mushrooms asparagus

With Ramsay’s history of laying into chefs and restauranteurs who don’t live up to his standards on his various TV shows, I expected brusque advice and harsh instructions going into Cooking I, the first of his two MasterClass courses. However, this ended up being far from the truth – Ramsay exhibits the gentleness you see on the cooking competition for children, “MasterChef Junior.”

In the 20-lesson class, Ramsay gives a little history of how he got to where he is today. He covers the basics, including kitchen layout, knife skills, making pasta, and scrambling eggs before delving into fancier dishes.

masterclass cooking classes gordon ramsay beef wellington

I decided to take a crack at the Wellington, which took me about four hours. My favorite part of the process was learning how to make crêpes. The first couple I made were horrible, but by the fourth and fifth, I felt like an old pro. The Wellington looked amazing and tasted darn good – definitely restaurant-quality. In fact, I’d previously ordered a beef Wellington at an English restaurant and it didn’t compare to the flavor and quality of my effort. I plan on making this for special occasions in the future.

‘Mexican Cooking’ with Gabriela Camara

Gabriella Camara MasterClass

I absolutely loved the flavors of the huevos rancheros recipe Gabriella Camara shares in her Mexican Cooking MasterClass. It also encouraged me to make salsa verde for the first time, which was easy and delicious.

masterclass cooking classes gabriella camara huevos rancheros

Her course is rather short compared to others – only 13 lessons and less than three-and-a-half hours of content. Also, the skills you learn don’t really translate to other cuisines.

Still, if you’re interested in learning how to make authentic Mexican dishes, including tortillas, this course is worth your time and money.

‘Cooking Techniques I: Vegetables, Pasta, and Eggs’ with Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller MasterClass

There’s a lot to like about the first of Thomas Keller’s three MasterClass courses. First of all, it provides more material than any other culinary class: 36 lessons, nearly 7 hours of video, a 119-page full-color workbook, and an active discussion forum.

masterclass cooking classes thomas keller omelette

Keller’s emphasis on “tools of refinement” can be a bit much for beginning cooks, though I now find myself regularly putting in the extra effort to make his omelet recipe.

‘Cooking Techniques II: Meats, Stocks, and Sauces’ with Thomas Keller

thomas keller

“Cooking Techniques II: Meats, Stocks, and Sauces” with Thomas Keller is designed for the hardcore carnivore, with all you need to know to make inspired dishes using beef, poultry, lamb, and other meats.

Keller is best known for The French Laundry, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Yountville, California (and arguably the best in the world). This is the second of Keller’s three MasterClass courses, and it offers an overwhelming amount of content.

He explains different cuts of beef, pork, poultry, and lamb and what they are used for as well as how to wet- and dry- age. He touches on the different ways of cooking meat, including pan-roasting, frying, oven-roasting, braising, and grilling. In the process, he offers recipes that are accessible yet refined.

masterclass cooking classes thomas keller chicken arugula salad

My favorite recipe was the Chicken Paillard with Arugula Salad and Sauce Vierge. I had an easy time making it, and everyone in the family enjoyed it. I was struck by how well the chicken and Vierge complemented each other. My teenager said it was his new favorite chicken dish and my wife was impressed by the presentation, so it’s now in our regular rotation.

‘Mixology’ with Lynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana

MasterClass

This mixology course focuses on making top-notch alcoholic beverages using readily available ingredients and equipment. There’s four and a half hours of content and a beautiful 53-page PDF giving recipes and more details about the drinks.

As a teetotaler, I was bummed that Marrero and Chetiyawardana didn’t provide many alcohol-free substitutes. Still, if you want to up your cocktail skills, this class is for you.

‘Texas-Style BBQ’ with Aaron Franklin

Aaron Franklin MasterClass

This is another course that will only appeal to a limited audience: those who have smokers and want to up their game.

From picking the right wood and maintaining the fire to choosing the right smoker design, Franklin dives into the details of what you need for a good smoke. He also shows you how to trim and season your meat.

masterclass cooking classes aaron franklin smoked pork

I don’t have a smoker, but I tried the pork butt recipe in my oven following all of the same steps and the results were outstanding nonetheless. This class would be ideal for anyone who is just getting into smoking meat.

‘Cooking’ with Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang Puck MasterClass

In his cooking class, the celebrity chef walks you through his philosophy on cooking and business, how to train your palate, kitchen essentials, and even cocktails in addition to several inspired recipes. I liked that the skills you learn in the course can be used in a variety of contexts.

However, I relied heavily on the closed captioning due to Puck’s heavy Austrian accent. Also, I made his Béchamel sauce, an easy enough recipe, but found it lacked much depth of flavor.

‘The Art of Home Cooking’ with Alice Waters

Alice Waters Cooking Class

“The Art of Home Cooking” with Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California offers outstanding tips for making restaurant-quality dishes using ingredients and equipment most home cooks should already have.

Rather than go through countless recipes, Waters provides 17 lessons and nearly four hours of instruction on how to stock your pantry, outfit your kitchen, and get creative with the ingredients you have.

She also explores a few of her favorite home recipes, including tips on how to sub ingredients in and out. You can easily revisit the highlights in the 77-page full-color PDF workbook you receive with the class.

masterclass cooking classes alice waters oat pancaktes

I made her oat pancakes, which were easy and healthy. As recommended by Waters, I topped the creation with a strawberry and pear compote. If I say so myself, the results were worthy of a restaurant in California. I enjoyed the depth of flavor (though it did not play too well with my kindergartener).

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What to know before taking a cooking course on MasterClass

In my hours of watching and testing the cooking courses, I picked up a few tips that might enhance your experience.

1. Watch the whole lesson before attempting to make a dish.

You don’t necessarily have to watch the previous lessons (though it often helps). However, you do need a good idea of the whole process before getting started on a recipe. I found it helped to bring my laptop to the kitchen with me, and I’d reference the workbook and the video – making frequent use of the pause button – while preparing meals.

2. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time.

All of the chefs are encouraging, but several stress the importance of practice. If anyone could quickly and easily produce restaurant-quality meals, these chefs would be out of a job. They break down the steps so you can easily learn them, but it may take a few tries before you can master Beef Wellington or perfect a fruit tart.

3. Feel free to use substitutions.

Fresh ingredients are also a must. Yet, the instructors understand that substitutions often need to be made based on where you live and make recommendations accordingly.

Some chefs suggest you turn to local sources for your ingredients when possible, such as a nearby farmers’ market. Or, you might consider signing up for a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, which is a subscription-based service that provides you with weekly boxes of fresh local farm products. In addition to the environmental and economic benefits, CSAs can help you minimize your time in grocery stores.

How we evaluated the culinary arts courses

woman cooking at home

The $180 price is very expensive for online courses, even if they are taught by award-winning chefs around the world. That’s why we tested and reviewed MasterClass with a more critical eye.

I spent hours and hours in front of the screen watching and following all of the culinary arts courses offered on MasterClass. I spent even more time in the kitchen trying my hand at following the tips and skills taught in the classes.

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we evaluate them:

Generalizability: Will what you learn in the course be helpful when you make other cuisines? Will it help you create your own dishes? For instance, learning precise knife skills is helpful when prepping any meal. However, learning to debone one specific species of fish that isn’t even available in your area might not be that useful.

Accessibility: Due to the current pandemic, I had a hard time procuring various ingredients – the stores in my area can be hit or miss. A good MasterClass course or chef will teach you how to cook with easy-to-find ingredients or offer suitable substitutes. Also, you shouldn’t need specialized equipment. If a class required devices that have limited applications, such as a grain mill or a tortilla press, it lost points in our evaluation.

Meal Quality: If you’re taking the time to learn how to cook from the best chefs in the world, you’d expect the resulting meals to be restaurant-quality. Based on the assessments from my wife, two sons, and myself, I used four criteria to assess dish quality: taste, appearance, likelihood to make again, and if the dish was good enough to serve in a nice restaurant.

Enjoyability: Does the instructor make it fun to make the dishes? Does it take a long time to prep and cook the meals? I looked at both of these questions when assessing how enjoyable a course was.

Quantity: How many lessons are there? How many minutes of video are there? How much info is in the PDF workbook that comes with the course? Are the discussion forums active? These factors all played a role in determining whether a course provided enough bang for your buck.

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