Something to read – more than news, different than fiction
Reading is the most important thing a language learner can do because most of our fluency comes from what we read.
Something to read is a monthly collection of articles and essays for high intermediate and advanced readers. They are more than news, different than fiction – longer, in-depth articles and essays about fascinating people, events, and ideas.
For some suggestions to make online reading easier, take a minute to read More reading, less looking.
Something to read during April 2011
On Libya’s Revolutionary Road (New York Times) – On the evening of Feb. 8, Khalid Saih found himself in the back of a speeding car on the outskirts of Tripoli. It was not by choice. Saih, a lanky 36-year-old lawyer, was part of a small group of Libyan activists who were openly calling for a new constitution and more civil rights. After months of harassment by the police, he and three fellow lawyers were ordered to report to the Interior Ministry.
Microsoft’s Odd Couple (Vanity Fair) – It’s 1975 and two college dropouts are racing to create software for a new line of “hobbyist” computers. The result? A company called “Micro-Soft”—now the fifth-most-valuable corporation on earth. In an adaptation from his memoir, Paul Allen tells the story of his partnership with high-school classmate Bill Gates, until its dramatic ending in 1983.
Why You Should Care about Cricket (ESPN Sports) – Wright Thompson goes on the road with the Indian national team and its greatest star, navigating a billion fans and chasing the soul of the game.
Blogging about my anorexia helped save my life (Guardian) – “Personally, I do not blame the internet for the six years I spent immersed in my own struggle with anorexia nervosa. In fact, it was in my recovery rather than my decline that the online world played a fundamental role.”
How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke (Sports Illustrated) – Recession or no recession many NFL and Major League Baseball players have a penchant for losing most or all of their money. It doesn’t matter how much the make. And the ways they blow it are strikingly similar.
Wall of Sound (Slate) – The iPod has changed the way we listen to music. And the way we respond to it
My Roommate, The Diamond Thief (Slate) – He found me on Craigslist. I found him on America’s Most Wanted.
The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In (New York Times) – Sherry Turkle, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Initiative on Technology and Self, has found that children’s feelings of hurt, jealousy and competition are widespread when parents spend too much time “plugged in.”
Meet the Airmen Who Watch Over America’s Nukes – And Await the Unthinkable (Popular Mechanics) – Deep underground in remote locales lies the United States’ stockpile of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Popular Mechanics descends into a Montana bunker to meet the airmen who stand guard over America’s nukes, awaiting the call they hope never to receive.
New York’s High Line (National Geographic) – New York’s High Line creates an urban park high above the traffic using an elevated rail line that one brought freight cars into factories and warehouses. (When you read the article, be sure to also watch the video.)
The Fire Last Time (The New Republic) – Labor, big business, and the forgotten lessons of the tragic Triangle Fire of 1911. Are we at risk of repeating their mistakes?
Life’s Swell (Outside Online) – To be a surfer girl in Maui is to be the luckiest of creatures. It means you’re beautiful and tan and ready to rip. It means you’ve caught the perfect dappled wave and are on a ride that can’t possibly end.
10 years of the iPod (Guardian) – In the beginning, there was the iPod.
Power and the Presidency, From Kennedy to Obama (Smithsonian) – For the past 50 years, the commander in chief has steadily expanded presidential power, particularly in foreign policy.
America’s Ancient Cave Art (Slate) – Deep in the Cumberland Plateau (Tennessee), mysterious drawings, thousands of years old, offer a glimpse of lost Native American cultures and traditions.
Funny business: the life of clowns (Guardian)
Out of options: a surprising culprit in the nuclear crisis (Boston Globe) – Why was Japan, a nation at high risk for earthquakes and natural disasters, using a type of reactor that needed such active cooling to stay safe? And the answer to that doesn’t lie with Japan, or the way the plant was built. The problem lies deeper, and concerns the entire nuclear industry.
Princeton vs. UCLA: Reflections on a Historic Upset (Time) – It’s March 1996. No one expects Princeton to beat UCLA’s basketball team. But they did.
Grace Coddington: Creative Indeed (More Intelligent Life) – Grace Coddington, the creative director of American Vogue, who turns 70 in April, has been a quietly revolutionary presence in the fashion world—first as a model, then as an editor—for half a century. But only since the release of the film “The September Issue” in 2009 has she been recognised in public—greeted by strangers who witnessed some of her creative battles and now see her as a reassuringly human face of fashion.
Sergei Korolev: the rocket genius behind Yuri Gagarin (Guardian) – The flight of Vostok 1 – whose 50th anniversary will be celebrated next month – was a defining moment of the 20th century and opened up the prospect of interplanetary travel for our species. It also made Gagarin an international star while his mission was hailed as clear proof of the superiority of communist technology. This is the story of the man who made it possible.
Voices from Chernobyl (The Paris Review) – I’m afraid to say it, but we love Chernobyl. It’s become the meaning of our lives. The meaning of our suffering. Like a war. The world found out about our existence after Chernobyl. We’re its victims, but also its priests.
Digital Africa (More Intelligent Life) – How the smartphone has invaded Africa.
A Talent for Sloth (Lapham’s Quarterly) – Philip Connors story of his lonely life in a fire spotter’s tower atop a 10-thousand foot mountain peak in the Gila National Forest in southwest New Mexico.
Derek Jeter’s Swinging Years (GQ) – Derek Jeter is not a victory robot. He knows his last season was rough. And yeah, he’s pissed at the Yankees about that contract negotiation. The most famous player in baseball talks his private life, the press, and the specter of his final years as New York Yankee.
Hiding Out (Slate/Financial Times) – The child of an outspoken Libyan dissident on attending boarding school in England.
Blood Brothers (Vancouver Mag) – In 1984 two soldiers, an Iranian and an Iraqi, meet on the battlefield. Amazingly, 20 years later, in Vancouver, they meet again.
The Liberation of Lori Berenson (New York Times) – Life after capture by Peruvian guerillas and 15 years in a Peruvian prison.
How to Get Good at Making Money (Inc.) – Entrepreneur Jason fried of 37Signals offers the most fundamental of all small-business advice: how to get good at making money.
Slugging – The People’s Transit (Miller-McCune) – In Washington, D.C., commuters have taken thousands of cars off highways via a homegrown rideshare system known as “slugging.” Can the government create more slugs — without stepping on any?
North Korea’s Digital Underground (Atlantic) – To smuggle facts into or out of North Korea is to risk imprisonment and even execution. Yet today, aided by a half-dozen stealthy media organizations outside the country, citizen-journalists are using technologies new and old to break the regime’s iron grip on information. Will the truth set a nation free?
Inside the secret world of Trader Joe’s (Fortune) – Apple’s retail stores aren’t the only place where lines form these days. It’s 7:30 on a July morning, and already a crowd has gathered for the opening of Trader Joe’s newest outpost, in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.
Giving Hitler Hell (Washington Post) – When Nazi decrees destroyed Arnold Weiss’s family, leaving him abandoned, it would have been hard to imagine this powerless child one day returning to Germany to mete out a rough justice of his own.