I'm so bad at keeping up with this, but that doesn't mean I haven't been reading great journalism, great fiction books, great non-fiction books. Since I'm on sabbatical, I'm actually reading even more than usual. But, since I have failed to update the blog, here is a list of the best works I've read since the winter:
* April 7, 2022: Inside an L.A. youth home where a violent clash ended in a counselor's death. Los Angeles Times reporter James Queally heard about a youth counselor being beaten to death by teens in an LA group home. He tweeted that he then spent the next year figuring out what led to this tragedy.
This piece just showcases what terrific reporting looks like -- finding and rubbing together public documents, conducting great interviews. Excellent piece of journalism.
* March 22, 2022: 'This Whole Thing Has F---ed Me Up': When the Raiders’ Henry Ruggs III drove 127 mph into a stranger’s car, a man living in a nearby garage rushed into the fiery chaos. Tony Rodriguez did not, ultimately, save Tina Tintor—and that haunts him to this day. This is a Sports Illustrated piece in the vein of the OLD Sports Illustrated, completed with a former senior writer for the magazine, Jeff Pearlman.
When I was young, SI was the pinnacle of sports journalism. It showcased longform before "longform" was a word or descriptor. The writers were pillars of what I, growing up, thought sports journalism was -- Gary Smith, Sally Jenkins, Leigh Montville, Frank Deford, Rick Reilly, Johnette Howard, Rick Telander. They told vivid, memorable stories.
Pearlman does exactly that in this piece. You aren't going to forget this one.
* March 15, 2022: Lia Thomas controversy surrounds NCAA swimming championships, incites national debate. There is no more divisive topic in politics and sport right now than the trans athlete. (That is insane to me, given that trans people make up .5 percent of the population and even fewer are competing in athletics, but I digress.) The topic includes biology, psychology -- all these "sciency" things. The topic is complicated, nuanced, sensitive. Behind the "topic," though, is a human being.
There is no better writer on all of this than ESPN's Katie Barnes. And Barnes hits this out of the park by making the complicated understandable with a non-judgmental perspective while still bringing the humanity out.
If you're looking for some great fiction, "Cloud Cuckoo Land" by Anthony Doerr is my favorite so far this year.
2019 FIFA Women's World Cup: Media, Fandom, and Soccer's Biggest Stage is available online from Palgrave Macmillan. (Hardback available in September 2021.)
Molly Yanity, Ph.D.