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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 23 November, 2014

Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the globe.

Michael Freeman

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and comfy chair. We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour this Sunday.

1. Two brain injuries, one love story
Ruthann Richter tells the incredible story of a skydiving accident, and two people who made an unusual life together (Stanford Medicine).

“See you below,” he yelled to Deborah as he flew through the air. Five seconds into his fall, the static line engaged his chute, which opened above. Randy clutched the handles around his shoulders, terror in his throat, resolving never to skydive again.

2. Death on the table
Deborah Blum on the long history of food additives – and how meals are the most dangerous thing we’ll ever eat (Lapham’s Quarterly).

“It looked well but had an odor similar to that of a dead human body after being injected with preservatives,” an Army medical officer wrote of the refrigerated meat.

3. Love in the time of Kingdom Come
Nora Gantenbrink on the courting rituals of teenage Jehovah’s Witnesses (Der Spiegel).

“I fell in love with a non-believer once but it didn’t work,” says Melanie. It’s easier to be with someone who shares the same values. There are fewer fights and less conflict – just more silent obedience to Jehovah.

4. How elephants grieve for their dead
Alex Shoumatoff follows the elephant herds in danger from a new poaching crisis (Vanity Fair).

The salesman tells us there is strict government control of ivory. “We can’t sell ivory publicly, but” – his voice lowers – “I have a friend who can do it. How many hanko you want?

5. The Pope’s Tweets
Paul Rudnick gets an exclusive peek at how the pontiff is (well, ought to be) handling his new Twitter feed (New Yorker).

It’s hard to tell all the cardinals apart, so sometimes I put different dinosaur stickers on their backs.

6. Shovelling dead fish into the sea
Aboard a fishing trawler, Tom Gogola learns some unpleasant truths about the industry (New York Magazine).

The fisherman’s admonition was, “You’re going to see a lot of stuff out there that’ll knock you back on your heels, but there’s not much we can do about it. Do your job, shut your mouth, collect your money.”

…AND A CLASSIC READ FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Last year, Jonathan Rauch wrote about caring for his father through the last days of Parkinson’s disease, in The Atlantic.

One of the few times he ever cried in my presence was when he saw me on my knees, scraping hardened ice cream or jam, or whatever it was that day, off the floor. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry. I never meant for you to scrub the floor for me.”

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