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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: The murder that shook Iceland

Grab 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 murder that shook Iceland

original Birna Brjansdottir


Iceland is a safe country – so the murder of 20-year-old Birna Brjánsdóttir was absolutely shocking.

(The Guardian, approx 28 mins reading time)

She was walking alone, which was not unusual behaviour in Reykjavík, even for a young woman. More so than in most other countries, Icelanders feel they know their own people; it is a peaceful place where entire years have passed without a single murder. It was -9C with the windchill, but Birna seemed unperturbed. She wore Dr Martens boots – regular black ones, not her knee-high pair with the glow-in-the-dark skeleton foot on the side – black jeans, a grey sweater and a black hoodie draped over her shoulders. Her hair hung loose and a pair of white earbuds dangled around her neck.

2. Brides of all sizes

A timely piece about women who are pushing back against the pressure to slim down for their wedding day.

(New York Times, approx 8 mins reading time)

Instead of shelling out for bridal boot camp or sweating for the wedding videos, they are cleansing their social media accounts of images that make them feel unlovely; exercising for “the joy of movement,” as Bevin Bralandingham, a bride-to-be in Los Angeles who teaches a class called “Fat Kid Dance Party,” said; and signing on to online bridal forums that better represent their body types.

3. Tasty videos

Rainbow Lasagna⠀ INGREDIENTS: ⠀ 4 large red beets, peeled and chopped⠀ 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped⠀ 3 cloves garlic, peeled⠀ Olive oil⠀ Kosher salt and pepper, to taste⠀ 1/4 cup vegetable stock⠀ 2 ounces goat cheese⠀ ⠀ CARROT PUREE: ⠀ 8 medium carrots, peeled and chopped⠀ 1/2 small onion, diced⠀ 3 cloves garlic, peeled⠀ Olive oil⠀ Kosher salt and pepper, to taste⠀ 1/4 cup vegetable stock⠀ 1/2 cup ricotta cheese⠀ ⠀ GREEN PUREE:⠀ 5 cups (about 5 ounces) baby spinach⠀ 1/4 cup basil leaves⠀ 1/2 cup shelled salted pistachios⠀ 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil⠀ Pinch red pepper flakes⠀ 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese⠀ ⠀ BECHAMEL SAUCE:⠀ 5 tablespoons butter⠀ 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour⠀ 3 1/2 cups whole milk⠀ Grated nutmeg⠀ Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper⠀ ⠀ ASSEMBLY:⠀ 1 (16-ounce) box oven-ready lasagna noodles⠀ 1 cup grated Parmesan⠀ ⠀ FULL RECIPE ->⠀⠀ #lasagna #beets #onions #goatcheese #pastalover #carrots #parmesan #noodles #spinach

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Ever found yourself watching a short video of someone cooking something, and gotten totally absorbed in it? This piece looks at exactly why we love those ‘hands and pans’ food videos.

(The Guardian, approx 8 mins reading time)

The roots of the hands-and-pan genre go deeper than BuzzFeed. “You could trace it back to the 90s, when food imagery underwent a transformation from being very staged and formal to featuring more closeup shots; suddenly you could see textures,” says Hathaway. It became less about showcasing a perfect pudding and more about manipulating the viewer into imagining the feel of a cold spoon plunging into a hot, gooey chocolate lava cake. “You can see that same super-closeup technique repeated in most of these videos,” says Hathaway.

4. The legacy of childhood trauma

Author Junot Diaz writes for the first time about how he was raped as a child, and the enduring impact this has had on his life.

(The New Yorker, approx 26 mins reading time)

I know this is years too late, but I’m sorry I didn’t answer you. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth. I’m sorry for you, and I’m sorry for me. We both could have used that truth, I’m thinking. It could have saved me (and maybe you) from so much. But I was afraid. I’m still afraid—my fear like continents and the ocean between—but I’m going to speak anyway, because, as Audre Lorde has taught us, my silence will not protect me.

5. Art vs work


If you’re an artist – or poet, or writer – would having a ‘normal’ job on the side (or as your main pursuit) be beneficial to your career? Or is it better to focus entirely on your art? That’s what this piece examines.

(New York Times, approx 13 mins reading time)

The avant-garde composer Philip Glass shocked at least one music lover when he materialized, smock-clad and brandishing plumber’s tools, in a home with a malfunctioning appliance. “While working,” Glass recounted to The Guardian in 2001, “I suddenly heard a noise and looked up to find Robert Hughes, the art critic of Time magazine, staring at me in disbelief. ‘But you’re Philip Glass! What are you doing here?’

6. Alcohol and cancer

Stephanie Mencimer was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 47. Here, she writes about the link between cancer and alcohol. She asks the question: Did drinking give me cancer?

(Mother Jones, approx 40 mins reading time)

When you take a drink, enzymes in your mouth convert even small amounts of alcohol into high levels of acetaldehyde, a carcinogen. People who consume more than three drinks a day are two to three times likelier to contract oral cavity cancer than those who don’t. Alcohol also damages the cells in the mouth, priming the pump for other carcinogens: Studies have found that drinking and smoking together pose a much higher risk of throat, mouth, and esophageal cancer than either does on its own.


You might have been watching the new Netflix series Wild Wild Country, about the Bhagwan Shree Ranjeesh and the cult he created in the US. Here’s the first of a 20-part look at what happened, in a series published in 1985.

(Oregon Live, approx 27 mins reading time)

Almost overnight, they turned the former Big Muddy Ranch, renamed Rancho Rajneesh, into the commercial and spiritual hub of Rajneesh’s empire — even though it was supposed to be a simple farming commune. Their incorporation of a theocratic city called Rajneeshpuram and subsequent business development on the 64,229-acre spread in Wasco and Jefferson counties has sparked widespread opposition.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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