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What Writers and Editors Are Reading: January 2023

Wish you could ask your favorite writers what they’re reading? We did it for you in our January round-up of articles recommended by writers and editors we love.

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At the end of each year, as we celebrate Pocket’s “Best of” awards, we poll our most-read authors to get a glimpse at the pieces they loved the most. But January 2023 has already brought an abundance of great storytelling, and we didn’t want to wait.

So we asked some of our favorite writers—as well as editors from our go-to publications—to recommend the best pieces they’ve read this past month, both new and old. Read on for stories on the intersection between gender and age in the workplace, the literary crisis facing American children, a master luthier’s process, and more.

Image by Jasmin Merdan/Getty Images

The Man Who Fixes the World’s Finest Violins

Elly Fishman

Recommended by Benjamin Cassidy: “Elly Fishman’s profile is as exacting and well-structured as her subject’s work. Master luthier John Becker repairs some of the world’s finest instruments at his space in Chicago. To do so, Becker employs a monastic routine that Fishman renders in rich detail. Like in the clever opening scene, when world-class violinists Joshua Bell and James Ehnes watch Becker toil. For a few moments at least, these performers are audience members in awe. Relatable.”

Read Benjamin’s piece “The Twisted Life of Clippy,” which featured in Pocket’s best technology articles of 2022.

Kate Price Remembers Something Terrible

Janelle Nanos
The Boston Globe

Recommended by Heather Ciras: “This was a tough one: This article tells the story of a woman who has spent her adult life trying to understand if she was sexually abused and trafficked as a child by her father. In telling the story of Kate Price, author Janelle Nanos digs into the mystery of memory and the messiness of family ties, and shows the power of the human spirit. The big reveal is more like a quiet, bone-chilling moment that raises as many questions as answers. I walked away in awe—sad, but in awe.”

Read “Blind Spot,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into hidden dangers on American roads, for which Heather led digital strategy.

Misreading the Cues

Christine Smallwood
The New York Review of Books

Recommended by Derek Robertson: “Christine Smallwood, in a review of the American Public Media podcast “Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong,” explains the crisis in literacy facing America’s children and its roots in a misguided (and highly lucrative) decades-long teaching experiment in our schools. Smallwood makes a powerful case that the way we learn to read is about so much more than literacy — it’s the way we learn to think, and to be. Her subtext is clear: This isn’t just an educational problem, but a civilizational one.”

Read Derek’s piece “‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Is America’s Cry for Help ,” which featured in Pocket’s collection of stories that lived rent-free in our heads last year.

The Hour Between Babe and Hag

Jessica Grose
The New York Times

Recommended by Dr. Andrea Wojnicki: “Inevitably at some point in our careers, we shift from elaborating on our (limited) experience to hiding our age. AGE-ISM is real, it’s not fair, and, as this article points out, it’s GENDERED. I love how this article explicitly calls out the disparity and implications associated with gendered age-ism and implicitly encourages us to think about our personal brand in terms of both of these factors (gender and age). Where are you on the scale between babe and hag? And how does that affect your personal brand?”

Read Andrea’s article “A Simple Way to Introduce Yourself,” which featured in Pocket’s most read articles of 2022.

New Yorkers Never Came ‘Flooding Back.’ Why Did Rents Go Up So Much?

Lane Brown

Recommended by Joe DeLessio: “New York City rents are out of control, but it’s just a matter of supply and demand, right? Lane Brown’s column suggests it’s not so simple. Lane crunches the numbers and comes to the conclusion that something doesn’t add up: If more people are leaving the city than moving to it, prices just shouldn’t be skyrocketing. So what’s going on here? Might there be empty apartments New Yorkers can’t just rent? And could a piece of software be at least partially to blame? Lane’s obsessive reporting makes a compelling case that the answer to both of these questions is yes.”

Read Joe’s sports coverage for New York magazine here.

How Should We Think About Our Different Styles of Thinking?

Joshua Rothman
The New Yorker

Recommended by Faith Hill: “Like Joshua Rothman, I’m someone who tends to think not in words or pictures, but in “unsymbolized” thoughts. Or am I? This is a fascinating, earnest inquiry into a grand philosophical question: How well can you know your own mind? Reading it made me feel like a stranger to myself—but an interesting stranger, one I’ll keep wondering about with some mixture of curiosity, bafflement, and delight.”

Read Faith’s piece “The Nocturnals,” which featured in Pocket’s 2022 best long reads collection.