I love to read, and I have one of those remarkably unhelpful personalities that wants to take everything in and read every last word. I’d also like to see every film and watch every good TV show and listen to every beautiful note of every song that’s ever been composed worth hearing.
I do this because I’m probably a consumer. These things fill me up in a way and I think they make me feel good. Words are the top of my list and part of this is because I have found that the power of a well written word provides lasting dividends over the space of your life. Most people won’t watch an entire season of a TV show and have it change their life (My friend Carl is a remarkable exception). But, give yourself to a well-written book or article and you might find a slice of an idea that keeps coming back to you in situation and context over and over again. It’s a beautiful thing. Plus, a large bank of information is the foundation, or the well, for where good ideas come from. If you want to form ideas then you have to have a lot of information in your well. This begins with reading.
I though it might be a nice thing to share a few of the tools I’ve used to be able to consistently read the journalistic pieces that I want to read. I have cobbled this method over time and not very intentionally, but now I’ve arrived at something that seems to work and I’m happy with my ability to keep up with the content that I generally like and am curious about.
So, here it is.
1. Start reading or subscribe to longform.org and longreads.com
Both of these sites are curating the web for the best of long, narrative style pieces of journalism. They give you a bite-sized hook and the link. It’s up to you whether you take it or not.
The beauty of following one or both of these services is that they are free and are doing the hard work for you. No need to scour 25 various websites, searching out the good stuff. They’re doing that work for you. Now you get to pick the best of the best, or whatever happens to strike your fancy.
The pro for longform.org is that it is extensive. They seem to miss very little and are also active in bringing back lots of older articles that are relevant to today’s news. They also will bring together collections that feature either a certain writer or a certain topic. I’ve seen the “Longform Guide to Saturday Night Live” for instance. I grew up on SNL before it was probably appropriate for me to even stay up that late, so I’m fascinated by the inner-workings of the show. When I was in the 3rd grade I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and I told them, “I want to be on SNL.” So there you can see why a guide like this would provide me with endless entertainment. Over the past 35 years there have been many, many profiles on the show. Longform.org is providing a service.
Longreads.com is subscribed to as well. They have less posts and are not as filled-out as Longform, which could be blessing if you’re trying to get to the point. The biggest service that Longreads gives is that in their header they tell you the number of words of the article and the estimated time it should take you to read it. That’s incredibly handy.
In the next post I’ll talk about where to put all of those articles now that you’ve found them.