Holiday Reads

Each Friday, I include a few good weekend reads in NextDraft. Here’s a look at some of the best ones from 2013, along with a few oldies, and a few other lists that will keep your iPads and Kindles humming throughout the holidays.

A blogger for a Chicago TV station made what, by Internet standards, was a pretty tame critique of singer Richard Marx. As he explained: “Just like all the other snotty remarks I make about local celebrities, as soon as I posted it I forgot about it.” Then he received and email from Richard Marx. And then they met in person. From Edward McClelland in The Morning New: Right Here Waiting. Think about it. How different would Internet discourse be if we all assumed the possibility of a follow-up face-to-face meeting? And how long is the song Should’ve Known Better gonna be stuck in my head? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I appreciate the hard work Marx put into that composition.

The story on the world’s most amazing pickpocket: The spectacular thefts of Apollo Robbins.

Catfishing was in the news this year. With that in mind, here’s Jonathan Williams’ Salon piece: I Had a Fake Online Girlfriend.

Ryan Leaf’s jailhouse confessions, as written by his cellmate.

Maria Konnikova: The Psychology of Online Comments.

Adam Fisher: Google’s Roadmap to World Domination.

Phil Bronstein: The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden.

Harper High School. A great listen from This American Life.

When I was in elementary school, I brought a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich to school almost every day. Today, I can’t send my kids anywhere near a school with anything that’s even been near a peanut. About one out of every thirteen kids in a U.S. classroom has a food allergy and it’s getting worse. In this excellent piece in the NY Times Magazine, Melanie Thernstrom looks at the rise of food allergies an and effort to treat them: The Allergy Buster.

Lyndon Baty has suffered many ailments that often make it impossible to attend school. But he still has a pretty great attendance record thanks to a little help from his robot. From The Dallas Observer, the inspiring story of Lyndon Baty and the robot that saved him.

“Raised by two drug addicts with virtually unlimited wealth, Georgia and Patterson survived a gilded childhood that was also a horror story of Dickensian neglect and abuse. They were globe-trotting trust-fund babies who snorkeled in Fiji, owned a pet lion cub and considered it normal to bring loose diamonds to elementary school for show and tell. And yet they also spent their childhoods inhaling freebase fumes, locked in cellars and deadbolted into their bedrooms at night in the secluded Wyoming mountains and on their ancestral South Carolina plantation.” Rolling Stone’s Sabrina Rubin Erdely on The Poorest Rich Kids in the World.

Wells Tower takes an annual trip with his now 69 year-old father. Their most recent adventure was to the desert to attend Burning Man. They learned a lot about the event and each other. As one friend explained to the author: “Your father is very good at walking up to bare-breasted women and asking if he can take their photograph.” From GQ: The Old Man at Burning Man.

Aeon’s Heather Havrilesky on the human condition: The laundry will never be done.

The excellent advice George Saunders gave to some graduates.

No holiday experience would be complete without a re-read of this McSweeney’s gem: In Which I Fix My Girlfriend’s Grandparents’ Wifi And Am Hailed As A Conquering Hero.

+ I love the oral histories of television shows. Here are a few especially good ones. (Some of them are from last year.)

– The Family Hour: An Oral History of The Sopranos.

– With Friends like these.

– Omar Listening: The makers and stars of The Wire.

– The Oral History of Freaks and Geeks.

There are plenty of other great long reads for your holiday reading enjoyment. Check out these excellent lists:

Longform Best of 2013

Longreads Best of 2013

Buzzfeed: 15 Most Memorable Profiles of 2013

BloombergBusinessweek’s 2013 Jealousy List: The 41 best stories (and one book) we didn’t write.

The year in Digg.

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