I’ve fallen into a reading rut

For the better part of three months now, I’ve been in a reading rut. HELP!

Here’s what my rut looks like: I get on the train in the morning and, instead of reading, I listen to musicโ€”sometimes I willingly listen to “Despacito,” even though I hear it four times a day through ambient street noise. I take the train home after work and, instead of reading, I think important thoughts, like “I hope the good taco place doesn’t close early” and “Better skip the gym just to be safe.” I settle onto my couch in the evening (tacos in tow) and, instead of reading, I watch televisionโ€”satisfying my inner nihilist by “ironically” expending more emotional energy on reality shows than IRL North Korea. I climb into bed at night and, instead of reading, mindlessly scan social media, burrowing down rabbit holes of internet beefs and Instagram braggadocio while sending myself nonsensical Slack messages like “fall fancy Friday” and “animal weekends??” On Sundays, instead of reading, I binge-watch Sons of Anarchy.

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An ode to the pop-fiction palate cleanser

I decided to try it at an airport, because… I was already drinking a bloody, you know? Anyway I loved it, practically inhaled it, and passed it on to a friend. She was looking for a pick-me-up, had been into the hard stuff lately. Pretty soon I found another friend who liked it, and a week later, a third confessed: She’d needed it, needed the break from reality.

So there you have it. If you’re looking for a reprieve from life’s daily frustrations, Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies is an almost guaranteed conduit to temporary nirvana. 

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I want to read a biography of each president to feel better, or much much worse


Sometime after seeing Hamilton last summerโ€”cough, humblebrag, coughโ€”I came up with an ambitious reading idea, so ambitious that I shelved it for some future month/year, in which I might theoretically have a surplus of time and a deficit of new reality shows to watch. (Other such ideas postponed indefinitely: reading all of the books from a “Best 100 Books of All Time” list; reading every No. 1 New York Times bestseller for a year; actually finishing Infinite Jest.)

Hamilton is fantastic, and I’ll spare you the unnecessary piling on of compliments here. But outside of its amazingness, the show also prompted me (and many others) to pick up the biography on which it’s based, a tome by Ron Chernow that inspired Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda when he read it on vacation. Now, in the interest of full transparency: I haven’t actually started that biography yet, but it does occupy a prime spot in my apartment’s hierarchy of book pilesโ€”it could very well get read this decade. More important though, Chernow got me thinking: What if I tried to read one biography of each president, in order, starting with George Washington? 

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The Martian trailer is here and yesyesyesyes

Remember a few months ago when I told you Andy Weir’s stranded-in-space sci-fi novel The Martian is amazing and deserves all the great attention it’s getting as well as its Ridley-Scott-directed, Matt-Damon-starring movie adaptation? Well the trailer came out today and it looks GOOD.

If you haven’t read this book yet, jump on it.

Some belated thinky thoughts on Justin Bieber


Being a card-carrying* member of the lame-stream media, I am often forced to accept the ease with which the average consumer can — and loves to — pillory the current state of news. In 2014, finding an example of lazy, pandering or simply nonexistent journalism is as easy as turning on the television, or daring to type the word “cat” into a Google image search. And while there’s still a great deal of good work out there — for those so inclined to spend more time looking for it than bemoaning its alleged absence — it’s difficult to ignore that the ever-blurring line between information and entertainment has resulted in an America where MSNBC interrupts a congresswoman to report on breaking Bieber news.

*Still waiting for card.

As an emblem of The Problem With Media, Justin Bieber is tailor-made. He’s young, attractive and famous to a degree that both fascinates and disgusts us, revealing as it does some fundamental human tendency toward idolatry. As of late, Bieber has also proven himself a perfect storm of wealth and immaturity, the kind of person who gets his mansion raided by police because he egged his neighbor’s mansion. Without getting all intense about the state of journalism, it’s fair to say that Bieber is a car crash and America loves rubbernecking.

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