Happy December, #content fans. How’re we doing? Hanging in there? The world’s going to hell in a handcart but luckily you can still rely on your old friend, Mr Internet. It really does feel like the worse things got this year, the better the writing became. Conspiracy theory: maybe everyone’s stopped going outside and are just sitting in front of their laptop, weaving perfect word-tapestries on their obsessions.


TL;DR = I’ve got some seriously wonderful reads lined up for you this month. Since they’re chosen by yours truly, they cater to my not un-niche interests: my Sound of Music fixation, a little fictional misandry and some gentle weeping on public transport.


“What So Many People Don’t Get About The U.S. Working Class” by Joan C. Williams (Harvard Business Review) 


This was the first semi-convincing explanation I read as to why the thing we shall not name (the Voldemort of 2016 American political events) happened. I also got through it without keeling over in boredom (too deathly dry) or depression (too hopeless). Still, I’m British and know nothing, Jon Snow. Is this a convincing take? Tweet me, plz. 


“If Women Wrote Men The Way Men Write Women” by Meg Elison (McSweeneys)


Did I spit up a little half-masticated cereal on reading this? Yes. Was it too much fun for a mid-breakfast peruse? Definitely. Though, sure, most of the really prominent young adult dystopian books it briefly takes the mickey out of were penned by women, not men…but hey. This is still wonderful.


“Walking While Black” by Garnette Cadogan (Lithub)


Hands down the best article I’ve read all year. I was reading it on the u-bahn and found myself tearing up, and obviously that’s the moment some acquaintance I haven’t seen for half a year sees me and grabs my shoulder and being confronted by my ugly cryface regards me with a certain amount of panic, clearly thinking I’m Going Through A Thing (mental breakdown? Breakup? Bad news?).


But enough about me. This article is genuinely amazing. It’s very subtle and very well-paced and at some point you find you’ve been pulled under by the tide of the prose and the story of being a would-be Jamaican flaneur in America feels more vivid than your own reality. Also, the nuances of how he’s treated as a Jamaican expat in America as opposed to an African-American were fascinating. 


Please finish your book soon, Garnette Cadogan. One article isn’t enough. Want more? Check him preaching the gospel of walking the city here.


“I Don’t Read The News Anymore, And It’s Great” by Benjamin Hart (The Awl) 


Satire about that one friend. You know the one.  Anyways, this article is as great as the fictional protagonist’s current affairs-free existence.


“My Four Months As A Private Prison Guard” by Shane Bauer (Mother Jones)


This came out in summer, but I wanted to flag it up before the end of 2016 in case you hadn’t read it yet. America’s prison situation (5% of the world’s population, 25% of the world’s prison population) is fucking nuts and means the state is increasingly reliant on private prisons, which pursue cost-cutting at the cost of prisoners and guards’ sanity.


This article, in which Shane Bauer goes undercover in a private prison to expose its inhumane conditions is a very, very long read — set aside your evening. But do it. It’s all those words that people bandy about bombastically — eye opening and shocking and terrifying — but for real. Please, if you read anything on this list (OK, aside from the beautiful Garnette Cadogan piece), make it this.


“An Unclaimed Country: The Austrian Image In American Film And The Sociopolitics of The Sound Of Music” by Robert von Dassanowksy (Bright Lights Film)


This article is older than some of our readers, maybe. It hails from way back when in 2003 but I only stumbled across it recently and it is truly EXCELLENT. Do you love The Sound Of Music? Have you seen it? Do you care about pre-second world war politics? If you tick any of the above, you check out von Dassanowsky’s argument why The Sound Of Music “is a film every Austrian should see, if only to discover what the world understands about Austria and the Austrians.”


It’s a supremely delicate and nuanced take on the film as an allegory for the Austrian Ständesstaat and how Hollywood manages to swerve some of the tricky political stuff while remaining true to the feeling of the time (ie. how Captain von Trapp isn’t anti-Nazi because of their attitudes towards the Jewish population, but because he’s pro-Austria).


“Why You Should Aim For 200 Rejections A Year” By Kim Liao (Lithub)


Ugh sorry two Lithub shoutouts in one article. I swear to god they’re not paying me to have prose orgasms about their essays all the time. But yeah. If you’re any sort of artiste, this article is an amazing resource for getting over yourself and putting your work out there.


“Regimes and Revolt: Authoritarian Ways of Counterinsurgency” by David. H Ucko (War On The Rocks)


While Ucko only uses the civil war in Syria as a jumping off point in this piece, his take on the overlap between authoritarian and democratic states (penned in January this year) feels like it’s going to be increasingly relevant for examining how civilians are evacuated from Aleppo.


Written by: Sophie
Image by: Coco