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7 deadly reads

Sitdown Sunday: Are sex scenes in film dying a death?

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. The death of sex in film

Is sex on film dying a quick death? That’s what this article explores, noting how while European films tend to not shy away from sex scenes, American films aren’t lingering over coital moments.

(The Guardian, approx 14 mins reading time)

Even films that begin their run on the small screen, never insulated from competition with the harder-core offerings in your own home, seem no keener to get their kit off. Netflix’s output is a mix of squeaky-clean teen romance and awards bait such as Roma and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, in which any sex is brief, discreet and generally precedes substantial tragedy.

2. In search of slow news

There are so many ways of accessing news these days – but do you actually spend time reading news properly? 

(The New Yorker, approx 18 mins reading time)

Usually, in the morning, I skim e-mail newsletters in my in-box, scroll through my Twitter feed, and peruse the news apps on my phone; later, in the office, I tap through my notifications and monitor more than a dozen news-related apps, including Facebook and Twitter, while juggling other tasks. I usually feel as though I’m managing to stay abreast of the day’s biggest news stories, but my reading tends to be fragmentary—I’m only skimming a story or absorbing a partial update. Although I’m reading more than ever before, it often feels like I’m understanding less.

3. The Awakening of Kim Kardashian

This profile of Kim Kardashian is fascinating – for one, we find out she’s studying law. On top of this, she speaks for possibly the first time on her husband Kanye’s West visit to the White House.

(Vogue, approx 22 mins reading time)

What you probably don’t know is that Kim has been working with Jones and the attorney Jessica Jackson, cofounders of #cut50, a national bipartisan advocacy group on criminal-justice reform, for months, visiting prisons, petitioning governors, and attending meetings at the White House. 

4. The dark side of 1990s boybands

Lou Pearlman was a big name in the 1990s boyband world – manager of bands like NSync and Backstreet Boys. But it is emerging that his reign was not a positive one.

(The Guardian, approx 8 mins reading time)

[Lance] Bass, along with director Aaron Kunkel, created the YouTube documentary The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story to reveal how this extraordinary character became a pop kingmaker and eventually lost everything, cataloguing in unflinching detail the damage he caused, the people he ripped off and the lives he ruined. It is part disaster movie, part warning from recent history.

5. Game of Thrones, cancer and me

Sarah Hughes, writer for The Guardian, has been diagnosed with cancer. It made her think about whether she’d get to see how Game of Thrones ends.

(The Guardian, approx mins reading time)

Yet it’s important to acknowledge those thoughts, grim though they might seem. We talk a lot about fighting cancer, and about surviving it, too. Less often about living with and, eventually, in all probability, dying from it. Since last October when I learned that the cancer had spread, this has been my reality: a daily grind of living with a chronic illness – blood tests, steroids, chemotherapy every three weeks, scan after scan after scan.

6. ‘It all started with my balls’

Colm Tóibín has penned a moving – and funny – article about his testicular cancer diagnosis.

(London Review of Books, approx 43 mins reading time)

The doctor said there was nothing in the blood or the urine that pointed towards a clear diagnosis. For that, I would have to get an ultrasound; the hospital would contact me to arrange that. She didn’t think it was cancer, she said, as there was no sign of a lump anywhere. So that was good news. The bad news was that the pain in my right ball grew more annoying. I managed to make an appointment with a urologist in Dublin and flew home one morning in late June. As soon as he examined me, the Dublin urologist seemed concerned, though he said nothing.


This week, after almost seven years Julian Assange was taken from the Ecuadoran embassy in London and arrested. Four years ago, Andrew O’Hagan wrote about what happened when he was asked to be Assange’s ghostwriter.

(London Review of Books, approx 133 mins reading time)

It was to be called WikiLeaks versus the World: My Story by Julian Assange. They said I would have a percentage of the royalties in every territory and Julian was happy with that. We talked about the deal and then Jamie went into detail about the security issues. ‘Are you ready to have your phone tapped by the CIA?’ he asked. He said Julian insisted the book would have to be written on a laptop that had no internet access.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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