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7 great reads

Sitdown Sunday: Britney Spears' conservatorship nightmare

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

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

1. Independence Day

An oral history of the 1996 Roland Emmerich action movie that was absolutely great craic to watch in the cinema.

(The Hollywood Reporter, approx 30 mins reading time)

ROLAND EMMERICH, director I went for a meeting at Warner Bros. They wanted to make a movie about a prison escape starring Harrison Ford. They said the budget was about $70 million. When I came out of the meeting I said, “Oh my God. A prison escape movie, $70 million? I could finally do the alien invasion movie I’ve always wanted for that.” I went into Book Soup and bought War of the Worlds. I read it, and I felt it was dated. I went to Dean and said, “I think I know our next movie.”

2. Sally Rooney

Read an extract from Sally Rooney’s forthcoming novel – and then read this interview with her about it.

(The New Yorker, approx 42 mins reading time)

At one o’clock she told her colleagues she was going to lunch, and they smiled and waved at her from behind their monitors. Pulling on a jacket, she walked to a café near the office and sat at a table by the window, holding a sandwich in one hand and a copy of “The Brothers Karamazov” in the other. At twenty to two, she looked up to observe a tall, fair-haired man entering the café. He was wearing a suit and tie, with a plastic lanyard around his neck, and was speaking into his phone. Yeah, he said, I was told Tuesday, but I’ll call back and check that for you. When he saw the woman seated by the window, his face changed, and he quickly lifted his free hand, mouthing the word Hey.

3. Britney’s conservatorship nightmare

Jia Tolentino and Ronan Farrow delve deep into the story of Britney Spears’ conservatorship, unearthing new facts about the shocking situation.

(The New Yorker, approx 50 mins reading time)

Running the business of Britney had become routine: every Thursday at noon, about ten people responsible for managing Spears’s legal and business affairs, public relations, and social media met to discuss merchandise deals, song-license requests, and Spears’s posts to Instagram and Twitter. (“This is how it works without her,” one member of the team said.) Spears, according to her management, typically writes the posts and submits them to CrowdSurf, a company employed to handle her social media, which then uploads them. In rare cases, posts that raise legal questions have been deemed too sensitive to upload.

4. Billion-dollar hack

How North Korea hackers planed a billion-dollar raid on Bangladesh’s national bank. 

(BBC, approx 23 mins reading time)

And the printer played a pivotal role. It was located inside a highly secure room on the 10th floor of the bank’s main office in Dhaka, the capital. Its job was to print out records of the multi-million-dollar transfers flowing in and out of the bank. When staff found it wasn’t working, at 08:45 on Friday 5 February 2016, “we assumed it was a common problem just like any other day,” duty manager Zubair Bin Huda later told police. “Such glitches had happened before.”

5. The secret he carried

Phillip A Tavares’s father was killed, and Phillip believed that cops were responsible. So how did he go on to become a police chief himself?

(Boston Globe, approx 22 mins reading time)

But the accomplishments and optimistic demeanor mask a long-ago family tragedy, one that has left him — in this national season of reckoning for police — straddling two worlds: The proud cop who wears his Marshfield Police T-shirt on family vacations to Florida and holds tightly to the old adage that police represent the thin line between order and chaos. And the still grieving son who believes in his bones that his father’s death was the result of a vicious beating by police. 

6. Quitting Twitter

Caitlin Flanagan argues that perhaps we need to – yes – quit Twitter. Or at least, she did.

(The Atlantic, approx 10 mins reading time)

Every thought, every experience, seems to be reducible to this haiku, and my mind is instantly engaged by the challenge of concision. Once the line is formed, why not put it out there? Twitter is a red light, blinking, blinking, blinking, destroying my ability for private thought, sucking up all my talent and wit. Put it out there, post it, see how it does. What pours out is an ungodly sluice of high-minded opinions, sharp rebukes, jokes, transactional compliments, and mundane bulletins from my private life (to the extent that I have one anymore).


This 2016 article about two sets of twins who were mixed up in Bogotá is a fascinating read.

(The New York Times Magazine, approx mins reading time)

Laura was baffled: Why was Jorge pretending to be someone else? Maybe, she thought, he was embarrassed to be seen moonlighting this way — the bloodied apron, the white cap. Janeth insisted she was mistaken, but Laura was not convinced. It was almost easier for her to believe that Jorge was playacting as someone else, rather than that there could be two people who looked so much alike. It was not just their similar coloring or the high cheekbones. It was their frame, the texture of their hair, the set of their mouth and dozens of other details that Laura could not have readily identified but that she knew all added up to a rare likeness.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday

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