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Dublin: 21 °C Tuesday 23 July, 2019
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Sitdown Sunday: The billionaire and his wife found murdered in their basement

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 sunburnt country

shutterstock_610612751 Source: Shutterstock/superjoseph

Today, Australia has a very strong slap-on-your-suncream message. But this wasn’t always the case, and the smell of summer used to be the smell of tanning oil or – imagine! – baby oil. Here, Madeline Watts explores how skin cancer changed people’s approach to tanning in Oz.

(Believer, approx 27 mins reading time)

As a child, I would tan to a solid gold. “A lovely color,” my grandparents would observe when I wandered inside from their backyard, because to my grandparents, like many Anglo-Australians who had lived through the twentieth century, it was considered healthy to be golden. The nation’s wealth, after all, was built on gold. Gold was the color of the sand on our beaches. Gold was the color of the sugar and the wheat that we farmed on the plains. Gold was the color of the sun that beat down relentlessly through the mild winters and fierce summers. 

2. The billionaire murder

Pharmaceuticals billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Honey had lived in Toronto for two decades. Last December, they were found dead by an estate agent preparing to show their house. Why were they murdered, and by whom?

(Bloomberg, approx 33 mins reading time)

Canadian high society is a small place, and everyone in it was familiar with the Shermans, not least because of their enthusiastic fundraising for the governing Liberal Party. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among about 6,000 mourners at a memorial service held a week after the deaths. During a long procession of eulogies, affectionate recollections mixed with a sort of stunned incomprehension. 

3. From Lithuania with love

shutterstock_564942676 Source: Shutterstock/Damian Boeselager

In January 2015, Ann Cooper got a mysterious email about a protest she attended in 1987. Why did someone want the tapes she recorded that day?

(Roads and Kingdoms, approx 28 mins reading time)

 I recognized the name on the message as Lithuanian, and the author said I’d interviewed him in 1987. I didn’t remember him, though, and his email felt abrupt, devoid of the platitudes we often put into such reaching-out messages (“I hope this finds you well.” “You may not remember me, but…”).

4. Jane Doe 

Song Yang was a Chinese immigrant who moved to New York to start a new life. She found herself working in a massage parlour, trying to make ends meet. When that parlour was raided, she had to make an instant and tragic decision.

(New York Times, approx 49 mins time)

More police. Tromping through the dusky vestibule of her building, across the worn scarlet rug and up the 50 tiled steps. Past the Chinese sign that says if you’re looking for the driving school, you’re in the wrong place. Then right to her door. The handcuffs. The hurried escort to a police vehicle. The humiliation. Again.

5. Swatting turned deadly

shutterstock_256159375 Source: Shutterstock/Getmilitaryphotos

Andrew Finch was shot dead by Wichita police after he became the focus of a ‘swatting’, where police were sent to his house by someone pretending to be him and admitting to have committed a crime.

(Wired, approx 40 mins reading time)

Blinding white lights were trained on Andy’s body as voices yelled at him from multiple angles to raise his hands. Andy did as he was told, but then he lowered at least one of his arms toward his waist—perhaps because he was instinctively recoiling from the sudden assault of light and sound, or perhaps because he was bewildered to find himself in a very different situation than what he could have possibly imagined.

6. You’ll want a Kit Kat after reading this

Who knew an article about Japanese Kit Kats could be so fascinating?

(NYT Magazine, approx 21 mins reading time)

Wafers are an art form within the food industry. And although plenty of companies make decent wafers, there is something about the Nestlé wafer, Takagi said, that is quite extraordinary. Not that he knew exactly what it was. The wafer was the corporate secret, the heavily guarded soul of the Kit Kat. But like many lightweight, low-fat industrial wafers, the Kit Kat wafer is, very likely, mostly air and gelatinized wheat flour. 

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

As a journalist, one of your fears is a bad interview – unless you can turn that bad interview into some great copy.

(The Guardian, approx 10 mins reading time)

“You can’t ask me to explain the lyrics because I won’t do it. You understand that, right.” He gives me another look. Anyway, he says, this is just the character talking. Yes, but has he ever considered what his older self could teach his younger self, and vice versa? “I can’t answer questions like that. What is it you really wanna know, because if it’s personal stuff, you won’t get it. So, you know, whaddya want?”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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