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Oh, the Humanities! A Reading List Pertaining to the English Major

"Majoring in English was both the joy and bane of my life. I struggled in the face of a Faulkner-heavy Southern Lit course, even though Faulkner remains beloved. I groused through Shakespeare. But I wrote my senior thesis on Michael Chabon. And I transformed my love for editing into a prestigious position on the college newspaper. My Lit Crit class—a notorious gauntlet at my college—introduced me to Derrida’s jeu and the revelation of feminist theory."
PUBLISHED: July 20, 2014

Song of the Little Hobo Bird

Deep in the unforgiving desert of California's Imperial County, one lone dreamer has built a mountain of outsider art, a celebration of God and love rendered in every possible color, looming three stories high and 100-feet wide. But what will become of Salvation Mountain now that its legendary creator has passed away?

PUBLISHED: July 11, 2014
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6095 words)

Without You I'm Nothing

Molotkow takes a closer look at the memoirs of rock stars' ex-lovers—from Cynthia Lennon to Angie Bowie. "'The truth is that if I’d known as a teenager what falling for John Lennon would lead to,' read 'John'’s final lines, 'I would have turned round right then and walked away.' Aside from the living death of losing her husband abruptly and in public, Cynthia never recovered the life she could have had without him."
PUBLISHED: July 2, 2014
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6135 words)

Longreads' Best of WordPress, Vol. 1

10 stories we love right now, featuring The Awl, Harper's, Grantland, the Washington Post, and more.
PUBLISHED: June 27, 2014

The Arranged Marriage That Ended Happily Ever After: How My Parents Fell In Love, 30 Years Later

The writer on watching her parents fall in love three decades after their arranged marriage and what she learned from it:

I was 24, and deeply absorbed in my own dramas. I barely noticed how close my mother was sitting to my father at dinner at our favorite restaurant. They watched me with giddy smiles. Poor parents, I thought. So lonely when I’m not here. Then I saw them playing footsie under the table.

That night, after we’d all gone to sleep, I woke up to the sound of them laughing. “You!” my mother squealed. “No, you!” my father insisted. I’d never heard them speak that way to each other in my life. Were they . . . flirting? The next morning, just as I was beginning to think it had all been a strange dream, I walked into the kitchen, and my parents sprang to opposite corners, blushing.

AUTHOR:Mira Jacob
PUBLISHED: June 26, 2014
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2401 words)

Why We Play

Reconciling our love of sports with the risks associated with them:

When I graduated after four seasons of high school rugby, and prepared to head off for four more seasons in college, I felt transformed. I no longer called myself a tomboy, and rugby was no longer a crutch.

So much for the revenue side of the balance sheet. Rugby had, for a time, given me everything. But around the same time I'd begun to outgrow my need for it, I'd also begun to understand its potential cost. I racked up pulled muscles and strained ligaments, and chipped a bone in my ankle that still aches under pressure, more than 15 years later. I played with women sporting twin scars on their knees from ACL surgeries. I saw a man come off the pitch one afternoon with his ear torn half off. I helped concussed teammates stagger off the field, unable to remember their own names, and suffered one concussion myself — a minor one, but still an injury with the terrifying power to reach back in time and erase my memories from even before the hit. I had one friend, on my college's men's team, who swore he would quit after three concussions, but he only counted the big ones. Once, I saw him pick himself up after a collision and line up alongside the wrong team. And then, finally, I watched that young man break his neck under the floodlights on a cold night in northern England. I was haunted by the question of my own potential regrets.

PUBLISHED: June 25, 2014
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5110 words)

Love and War

A legendary Special Forces commander was quietly forced to leave the U.S. Army after he admitted to a love affair with a Washington Post war correspondent, who quit her job to secretly live with him for almost a year in one of the most dangerous combat outposts in Afghanistan.

Tyson knew most of the visiting VIPs well from her long stint at the Washington Post, a job she quit to join Gant and write the book, and said she had to keep her presence in Gant's combat "qalat" secret. News media "embeds" in Afghanistan with Special Operations forces rarely exceed a few days and she was not authorized by any task force to be in the Mangwel operation – much less for nine months.

"I stayed out of the picture," she said in the ABC News interview with Gant in Seattle. "We didn't want my presence there to be widely known, but at the same time a lot of people knew about it... I was glad for the opportunity to help the man I had fallen in love with, as well as to write about a potential solution to the incredible suffering I had witnessed over a decade almost."

PUBLISHED: June 24, 2014
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4286 words)

A Sister's Sleuthing Unravels a Teenage Love Triangle Murder Mystery

A twisted tale of teenage love and cold-blooded murder in Hollywood, Florida.

For detectives, the killing at first glance must have seemed an all-too-common crime: another dead thug, likely felled by the same drug culture that had left him homeless and broke. Yet Savage's life and death — as told through hundreds of pages of police records, text messages, and interviews with his family and itinerant friends — were far more complex.

PUBLISHED: June 23, 2014
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6501 words)

Can America’s Favorite Ex-Con Mayor Win Again?

Buddy Cianci is the poster boy of U.S. political scandals. But that may be ancient history in Providence, where the still-beloved figure may seek one more go of it in City Hall.

As Providence blossomed into a Seattle of the East in the ‘90s, with its brick-building stock getting converted into lofts for the postgrad art-school set, Cianci again reigned as its crown prince, in a whirlwind of parades and ribbon cuttings and school graduations. “I’d attend the opening of an envelope,” he says now. He was out on the town nearly every night, pulling up in his limo, breezing past lines of waiting diners to hold court at the choicest tables, leaving without paying. “The cost of doing business,” one restauranteur told a Cianci biographer

PUBLISHED: June 22, 2014
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3567 words)