You’re reading the inaugural “Required Reading” column, where the wordsmiths at BTRtoday share stories we read and recently liked over the course of a given week. The stories aren’t necessarily new—in fact, one of this week’s selections is almost 80 years old—but they’re eye-catching, interesting, moving or otherwise just great. Enjoy.
Nice people just don’t become Nazis. That was Dorothy Thompson’s assertion in her 1941 Harper’s piece “Who Goes Nazi?” The story started making the rounds on Twitter a few days ago, and the parlor game Thompson plays serves as an interesting exercise for our present moment. “Those who haven’t anything in them to tell them what they like and what they don’t—whether it is breeding, or happiness, or wisdom, or a code, however old-fashioned or however modern, go Nazi,” Thompson writes. “It’s an amusing game. Try it at the next big party you go to.”
Luke O’Neil is one of my favorite writers, and his “Hell World” newsletter is a must-read. Maybe my favorite post to date was O’Neil’s emotional screed about losing his mother to Fox News brain, in which he also shared reader stories who’d experienced similar situations. The stories are sad and frustrating and highlight a uniquely modern issue with American propaganda. Unsurprisingly, Fox News anchors and viewers took offense and it blew out into a whole pseudo-controversy (as these things tend to). O’Neil wrote about the reaction to his post for New York Magazine. But the original post’s raw emotion is worth your time.
I love watching sports highlights, but I’m not fully on board with instant replay expansion in all sports. So when Manchester City’s late goal in their Champions League quarterfinal against Tottenham was overturned by VAR, I cleared a new space on my anti-replay shelf. And Deadspin’s Billy Haisley did a good job summing up how instant replay could hurt soccer in the long run.
Nick Cave is a connoisseur of music and romance. When he answers a fan’s questions about love and poetry on his blog The Red Hand Files, Cave not only writes with beauty and elegance, he also provides a list of ten of his “most treasured” love songs. It’s the perfect short and sweet read for any music lover, Nick Cave fan and/or hopeless romantic.
Keanu Reeves always makes for good reading. He’s as relatable as an A-list celebrity can get and his life story is very interesting. His recent GQ cover story features Reeves looking very handsome and talking about all kinds of amazing things. However, if you don’t have the time or attention span for a long feature article and wanna jump to the juicy bits on Reeves’ musical insights, check out this Stereogum article highlighting Reeves’ old punk band Dogstar and his love for the pop-punk band Metz.
I completely agree with this article’s idea that this new wave of pop artists are dispensing with genres, but I also love that it discusses Billie Eilish, my current pop music obsession. This article goes deep into the concept of genre-fluidity and how it relates to Gen-Zers’ gender-fluidity and resistance to labels.
I don’t know or even really like anything about gymnastics but I enjoyed this Slate article about controversial elite gymnast MyKayla Sinner. Evidently, Skinner’s superbly talented but doesn’t smile as often as the sport dictates, so officials and fans judge her more harshly than her performances arguably merit. She’s vocal and frankly kind of snotty about getting judged unfairly, which prompts her haters to post a litany of petty complaints about her sportsmanship and presentation on social media (the article’s only flaw is failing to articulate the mania of Sinner’s critics). I’ve never understood why people invest emotions in athletes. Getting angry at a blonde Arizona Mormon college student who’s good at landing summersaults seems particularly absurd.
Splinter reporter Libby Watson shines when writing about healthcare and her recent article on the rise of useless insurance is a great example. She makes her case with the urgency it needs, writing “All of this is determined by the logic of what enables health insurance companies to continue to reap astronomical profits, what permits healthcare providers to keep charging high fees, and what allows drug companies to keep charging absurd amounts for drugs. It is not determined by the logic of what provides the best care to everyone.
Lastly, I enjoyed this article on Pressland about arrest reports and the right to be forgotten written by some fellow by the name of Adam Bulger. This Bulger guy seems like a real talent. Looking forward to hearing more from him in the future.