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Editor's Letter August 2013

My childhood friend and Southampton neighbor Dr. Samantha Boardman Rosen recently started a blog called Positive Prescription (positiveprescription.com), on which she offers up weekly doses of mind tonics and “visual Prozacs,” examining long-held theories and beliefs through the eyes of modern psychology. I get a thrill every time I read her relevant and resonant summations of pop culture, art, fiction, fashion; the site offers an intellectual version of the Daily Candy emails that sated my fashion cravings during the early aughts.

My son, Mario, making pizza at the Water Mill home of Holly Peterson, who wrote “Slow Down Summer” for this issue’s Brood section.

She tackles other, bigger topics too, related to health, science and child-rearing, and also shares her thoughts on simple things, like the size of your ice cream bowl as it relates to overserving—and, subsequently, overeating. (See our “Afternoon Delights” ice cream roundup in this issue, but mind your scoops!) 

But my favorite entries have been the ones Samantha’s posted on the importance of reading. Stories not only allow us to escape, they also connect us to our past, present and future. “Instead of a place to get lost, a book can be a place to find ourselves,” she writes. Of course, reading doesn’t just expand our minds, it also expands our understanding of our actions. For example, one study she mentions showed how reading fiction can build one person’s empathy by teaching him or her to understand another person’s perspective, intentions and beliefs. Other research found that, after reading a kind and compassionate moral tale, test subjects “were more likely to help a stranger than participants who hadn’t read the piece of fiction.” And yet another study indicates that entering a fictional world is revitalizing and helps restore one’s self-control. 

So, good news: We’ll be featuring a “Positive Prescription” column, written by Boardman, in our sister publication, Manhattan, beginning next month—be sure to look out for it. 

All this talk of reading only makes me hungry for more, so, happily, we have a few tasty morsels in this month’s Fictionist, our literary section. To further keep the conversation flowing, and perhaps to even deepen your understanding of human behavior, beginning with this issue we welcome to our fold literary editor Taylor Plimpton. Taylor’s not just a longtime friend and talented author, he’s a man with stories in his blood—literally, as he’s the son of late, great author George Plimpton. Read Taylor’s cocktail roundup, “Cannonball Run,” and enjoy the strafing run he went on, looking for the best drinks in the Hamptons.

To satisfy a hunger of a different order, this issue is full of other culinary narratives as well. For instance, Gael Greene investigates food as an aphrodisiac in “The Aphrodisiacal Illusion,” and we serve up a simply delicious summertime cookbook—a compilation of our favorite chefs’ best recipes—which can be pulled out and referred to for months to come, when summer’s long gone, but its tastes are still longed for. 

If all this sustenance doesn’t complete you, remember, there’s always the beach.

Dive in.