Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You come in, I can read you.

How's my 52 Books in 2009 going? Well, February was a little slow, given that I've been reading Anna Karenina (which is amazing; I'm roughly 200 pages away from finishing it!). But I'd like to bring your attention to another book I read in February -

Every year I read a book called The Best American Magazine Writing. It's a selection of the previous years winning magazine pieces. I don't read every magazine out there - but usually this book gives me a great compilation of things I may or may not have missed. The great thing about magazine articles these days, is that you can usually find them online. In fact, I tend to look up many of my favourite articles from the book, since it doesn't come with pictures. In some profiles, like the one below about a girl named Cynthia who ends up in Atlanta - I just want to see the face of this extraordinary person. And, I can easily share with anyone who might be interested in these stories, as well. So below I've picked out just a handful of the articles from the book, and if you ever feel bored or in the need for a look at good writing (if so, why are you here?? - ha), I hope you look into some of these.

"The Black Sites," Jane Meyer for The New Yorker

"Specialist Town Takes His Case to Washington," Joshua Kors for The Nation -

All of the soldiers interviewed passed the rigorous health screening given recruits before being accepted into the Army. All were deemed physically and psychologically fit in a second screening as well, before being deployed to Iraq, and served honorably there in combat. None of the soldiers interviewed during this eleven-month investigation had a documented history of psychological problems.

Yet after they returned from Iraq wounded and sought treatment, each was diagnosed with a pre-existing personality disorder, then denied benefits. As in Town's case, Army doctors determined that the soldiers' ailments were pre-existing without interviewing friends, family or fellow soldiers who knew them before they were wounded in combat.

"You Have Thousands of Angels Around You," Paige Williams for Atlanta Magazine - Probably my favourite in the book; I got quite emotional reading it -

"Out in the Cold," Mike Kessler for 5280 Magazine -

"I Am Joe's Prostate," Thomas E. Kennedy for Newsletters [PDF, 4 Pages] - hilarious essay in second person, unfortunately only part of the article is available here.

"Casualties of War," Steve Oney for Los Angeles Magazine

Anyway, hope you enjoy these. And if you do, you should check out past issues. My favourite piece I've ever read has stuck with me over the years, and I can't find it online. It's from the 2003 anthology, and called "Lucky Jim." It's about a marathon runner who survives two near-death accidents, both which leave his body with permanent damages. I re-read it every year. It's also by Elizabeth Gilbert, yes - that Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat, Pray, Love, which I picked up but was unable to continue. I didn't care for it. I'm getting carried away here!

My 52 Books continues, and I'll probably be reading shorter books after Anna as a "break," and then get into the other thicker contenders like 2666 and A Storm of Swords. I haven't decided exactly, but I have 22 unread books on my shelves - probably The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Never Let Me Go. I'm also always open to suggestions, even though I already have 192 books on my "to-read" list and continue to add every day!


  1. this is great! i read a lot of magazines and newspapers online, but i'm sure i'm missing some good stuff. added it to my wishlist.

  2. oh a new layout :) what a cool book. i didn't even know something like this existed. thanks!

  3. sarah - yeah! like, 5280 is a denver magazine i've never heard of, and i can't get my hands on an atlanta magazine with ease!

    ria - yeeeeah new layout - still working on it :)

  4. i totally just added all of those magazine writing books to my to-read list on goodreads.
    which, by the way, i am eternally grateful to you for introducing me to. I LOVE that site!!!

  5. I'm pretty sure my AP cover story on Paramore is in there somewhere, which tackles equally important topics like are Hayley and Josh dating?

    You can read it here: