Something to read – May 2011


in Something to read

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 May 2011

How Slavery Really Ended in America (New York Times) – Before President Lincoln, there was Major General Benjamin Butler.

Net Impact (New Yorker) – One man’s cyber-crusade against Russian corruption. Alexey Navalny calls his pursuit of corrupt institutions “poking them with a sharp stick.”

How a big U.S. Bank laundered billions from Mexico’s murderous drug gangs (Guardian)

Sardine Life (New York Magazine) – New York didn’t invent the apartment, but it continues to re-invent the apartment.

How to cook perfect patatas bravas (Guardian)

They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45 (Head Butler) – A review of the books with an excerpt. Be sure to read both.

Leonora Rustamova: I taught my pupils to enjoy books – and got fired (Guardian)

The Assassin in the Vineyard (Vanity Fair) – Who would poison the vines of La Romanée-Conti, the tiny, centuries-old vineyard that produces what most agree is Burgundy’s finest, rarest, and most expensive wine?

Pocketful of Dough (Gourmet) – You want to go to the hottest restaurant, but you have no reservation. Bruce Feiler has a plan for you.

The Acid Sea (National Geographic) – The carbon dioxide we pump into the air is seeping into the oceans and slowly acidifying them. One hundred years from now will oysters, mussels, and coral reefs survive?

Going to Harvard from your own bedroom (BBC) – In the online world you don’t need to fill buildings or lecture theatres with people and you don’t need to be trapped into a lecture timetable.

The Saga of the Scientific Swindler (Skulls in the Stars) – When reading of the achievements of Einstein, Feynman or Darwin, it is far too easy to envision the person, and scientists in general, as some sort of being above the worries of daily life.  The reality, of course, is that scientists are subject to the same emotions and problems as the rest of humanity: they can be irrational at times, angry with others.  Scientists can be fooled by a clever con man — and can even become the con man themselves.

How the iPad revolution has transformed working lives (Guardian)

Aftershock: The Blast That Shook Psycho Platoon (ProPublica) – At 8:20 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2010, Iraq veteran Brock Savelkoul decided it was time to die. He lurched from his black Tacoma pickup truck, gripping a 9-mm pistol. In front of him, a half dozen law enforcement officers crouched behind patrol cars with their weapons drawn.

I escaped from Auschwitz (Guardian) – Kazimierz Piechowski is one of just 144 prisoners to have broken out of the notorious Nazi camp and survive. Today, at 91, he tells his extraordinary story

Fort Sumter: The Civil War Begins (Smithsonian) – Nearly a century of disagreement between North and South finally exploded in April 1861 with the bombardment of Fort Sumter.

We Were Angry (The American Scholar) – Jennifer Davis’ new short story about growing up in a small southern American town.

New York mob boss testifies in murder trial (Guardian) – Joseph Massino, the only official boss of a New York crime family ever to co-operate with federal authorities, became the first to testify against a former associate.

When a diver goes missing, a deep cave is scene of a deeper mystery (St. Petersburg Times/

Home birth: what the hell was I thinking? (Guardian) – Home birth sounded so good.

The Wreck of the Lady Mary ( – The mystery of the fatal scallop boat sinking.

The Ghost Park (Men’s Journal) – If you think global warming is some distant threat, come visit Yellowstone, our most beloved national park. Acres of trees are dying, trout runs are disappearing, and starving bears are attacking campers.

Obama’s Young Mother Abroad (New York Times) – A story of the young woman whose son would become president of the U.S.

After the Tsunami, Nothing to Do but Start Again (Bloomberg) – On March 11, the city of Kamaishi on Japan’s northern coast, home of the world’s biggest breakwater, had another brush with extinction.

The Consequentialist (New Yorker) – How the Arab Spring remade Obama’s foreign policy.

Jemima Kiss: How I kicked my digital habit (Guardian)

A Terrorist’s Tale (Chicago Magazine) – Almost seventy years ago this June, a German submarine dropped four Nazi agents on a darkened Florida beach, part of a terrorist team with plans to blow up American bridges and factories; one was an American.

The Casino Next Door (Bloomberg) – How slot machines snuck into the mall, along with money laundering, bribery, shootouts, and billions in profits.

Happy reading!

Warren Ediger

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