21 Ways to Be Smarter in 2011

Article excerpt

Byline: Anneli Rufus, Danielle Friedman, and Raina Kelley

Forget Sudoku. Our picks of the best brain

boosters for the new year.

Smarter Theater

'Arcadia'

Coming to Broadway this spring, Tom Stoppard's 1993 masterwork cuts deftly between the realms of 19th-century teen Thomasina Coverly and present-day scholar Hannah Jarvis, who studies hermits. Romanticism, determinism, entropy, mathematical biology, and Newtonian geography figure heavily.

Smarter Reading

'Zero-Sum Future' and 'Why the West Rules--for Now'

Two books, Gideon Rachman's Zero-Sum Future and Ian Morris's Why the West Rules--for Now, offer sharp perspective on the world's trends and macro movements. Rachman foresees a major economic and political struggle between the U.S. and China while Europe flounders. And Morris explains how the West dominated for so long.

Smarter Documentary

'American Masters' on PBS

This series may be entering its 25th season, but it's more relevant than ever. Each film offers an intimate portrait of the artists who've shaped our culture. This season's crop in-cludes John Lennon, Jeff Bridges, and Glenn Gould.

Smarter DVD

'Sins of My Father'

The story of the late Pablo Escobar--the head of the Medillin drug cartel--is told from the perspective of his son, as well as the sons of two of the drug lord's highest-profile victims: Colombia's justice minister and its 1989 anti-cartel presidential candidate. The DVD hits shelves Jan. 18.

Smarter Art

'Picasso: Guitars

1912-1914'

Inspired by the artist's gift of two multimedia guitar sculptures, the exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art will showcase 70 "closely connected collages, constructions, drawings, mixed-media paintings, and photographs" all created in the years before World War I. You'll see Picasso in a whole new dimension. View the works from Feb. 13 to June 6.

Smarter Weight Loss

Imagine Junk Food

Think about chocolate and your mouth starts watering. But think about it dozens of times in a row and it's less appealing. A new study published in Science found that subjects who imagined eating 30 M&Ms were less likely to eat the real candy when presented with a bowl of it.

Smarter Electronics

PlayStation 3

The $300 console consolidates a videogame system, a Blu-ray DVD player, a Netflix streamer, a karaoke machine, and a virtual fitness coach into a single unit.

Smarter Religion

Patheos

A website that lets you compare the details of up to three religions or sects side by side, it also offers book reviews, commentary, and online symposiums.

Smarter Saving for College

Net Price Calculator

This new online tool from the College Board assesses a student's eligibility for financial aid and estimates how much it would cost to attend a specific school for one year.

Smarter TV

'Mildred Pierce'

For a silver-screen-caliber experience at home, tune into HBO's five-hour miniseries this March. Based on the James M. Cain novel set in Depression-era Los Angeles, it tells the epic tale of a proud single mother struggling to win her social-climbing daughter's love. Starring Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet and directed by Todd Haynes (I'm Not There, Far From Heaven), the series is a worthy successor to last year's Grey Gardens.

Smarter Shopping

Foursquare

What you sacrifice in privacy, you make up in discounts. Joining this GPS-based social-networking site will alert friends to your location whenever you "check in" using a smart phone. Now Foursquare is forging growing partnerships with businesses: when you check in at a particular shop, you can receive instant coupons on your phone. …