Reflections on healing trauma, writing, and books by Tokyo-based memoirist
Sifting to Find the Good Stuff on the Internet

Sifting to Find the Good Stuff on the Internet

Sometimes, when I’m reading an article that I really like, I’ll stop just before the end and do something else for a few minutes. I don’t consciously decide to stop. I stand up, and halfway to the other thing, I’ll realize that I’d stopped reading.

I do this because I want time to digest what I’ve read before the thing has ended. Once something has ended, I’m no longer in it, and I can’t observe it from the perspective of being inside of it. Once I’ve finished it, I’ll forever be outside of it.

I just did that now while reading an article by Ann Patchett published in Harper’s. It’s long, but it’s worth it.

Am I the only one who craves well-written articles, but struggles to get to them?

The internet is a big place and I should be able to find good stuff for free, but the bad stuff outnumbers the good stuff by what? 1000 to 1? I don’t have the time to sift through it all. The only way for me to narrow the odds is to go to a well-established publication, but even that isn’t a guarantee.

I could occasionally buy a copy of The New Yorker at the English-language bookstore here, but one volume is about $20. You can buy a 500-page novel for less than that. I looked into getting a hard copy getting mailed to me occasionally, and the subscriptions department just laughed at me.

I once had a monthly digital subscription for The New Yorker, but the main problem with that is that I don’t live in New York. The majority of what is printed in The New Yorker is written for New Yorkers (who’d have thought?), so it ended up not being worth it to me.

Lately, I’ve mostly been reading The Atlantic and The New York Times. Maybe 2-3 times a month or so, I read something from The New Yorker, and I occasionally read articles in Wired and Harvard Business Review. I don’t subscribe to any of them. I make do with the freebies and move on. It’s not that I don’t want to support them. I believe that the writers, editors, and staff deserve to be paid, but if I paid for a monthly subscription for all of the publications I read, I’d go broke.

For the most part, I’m satisfied with my article reading, but occasionally, I read something like that article from Ann Patchett, and I wonder to myself, “Why am I not always reading articles that are this good?” Maybe it’s too much to ask that all articles be written by people that have as many awards and experience as Ann Patchett. Also, I almost skipped it because the title is so generic. Someone should’ve done something about that.

Today, I was planning to work on my short story first and then post an entry afterward, but after reading Ann Patchett’s article, I had the sudden urge to post here first.

What I Read in 2020

In 2020, I read 51 books. Here’s a list of my 5-star reads:

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Body by Stephen King
Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup
Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens

The number of books I read per year depends on how many podcasts I listened to and how much writing I did. I wrote a lot in 2020 and listened to quite a few podcasts, so I’m surprised I read 51 books.

Well, the dishes are calling and so is my lunch, so it’s time to go.

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