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7 deadly reads

Sitdown Sunday: The mysterious death of the boxer Sonny Liston

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 battle to separate Safa and Marwa

In a town in Pakistan, two young girls are born to a mother who didn’t realise she was expecting twins – much less conjoined twins. This fascinating story details how doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital separated the two young girls, who were conjoined at the skull.

(BBC, approx 11 mins reading time)

But this is no routine operation. The shrouded shape of two small girls is picked out by the bright theatre lights. Safa and Marwa are joined at the head. Their brains are exposed as the surgeons work to separate a labyrinth of shared blood vessels. But then the calm and peace of the theatre disappears, as anaesthetists raise the alarm.

2. Here’s how Notre-Dame was saved from collapse

The Notre-Dame was much closer to collapse than we realised – here’s how it was saved.

(The New York Times, approx 16 mins reading time)

Go check for fire, the guard was told. He did and found nothing. It took nearly 30 minutes before they realized their mistake: The guard had gone to the wrong building. The fire was in the attic of the cathedral, the famed latticework of ancient timbers known as “the forest.”

3. The mysterious death that haunts boxing

Sonny Liston was found dead in his home in 1971 – and the coroner concluded he died of natural causes. But did he?

(BBC, approx 17 mins reading time)

The doors were unlocked and the house was in darkness. Geraldine felt uneasy. She hoped to find her husband in one of his usual spots – perhaps playing cards with a friend or watching TV. Instead, as she entered their large, split-level, home, she was struck by a sickening smell that hung heavy in the winter air.

4. Why has hardly anyone seen this amazing dinosaur fossil?

An incredible dinosaur fossil was was discovered in Montana in 2006. But barely anyone has seen it and other fossils in the area since.

(The Guardian, approx 15 mins reading time)

Phipps had been hunting for dinosaur fossils since 1998, excavating and preparing them to sell at trade shows and to museums and private collectors. But he had never found anything like this. “I think,” he says, “my hat went in the air that day.”

5. Have we hit peak podcast?

That’s what this longread aims to find out.

(New York Times, approx 10 mins reading time)

But six episodes in, when neither Casper mattresses nor MeUndies had come knocking, the friends quit. Today, Ms. Mandriota says the same D.I.Y. spirit that made having a podcast “alluring” is precisely what doomed the project. “You can talk about the trees outside as much as you want, but if you’re not going to serve listeners and do it in a way that’s engaging, your chances of going viral are low,” she said, calling her show “the most makeshift podcast, with mediocre advice.”

6. The influencer surfer moms of Byron Bay

Is their incredibly idyllic life real?

(Vanity Fair, approx 25 mins reading time)

On Adamo’s Instagram feed, which consists almost entirely of photos of herself, her beautiful children, and her photogenic friends perpetually dressed in rumpled linens in dust bowl colors, life appears to be not so much a permanent vacation as a permanent travel shoot; a slightly overexposed, subtly saturated, high-contrast vision of free-spirited order and control. At the moment, however, she is stressed. She has a lot on her plate.


Back in 1993, Joan Didion wrote about a teenage gang who targeted a postwar US town.

(The New Yorker, approx 68 mins reading time)

When people in Lakewood spoke about what they called “Spur,” or “the situation at the high school,” some meant the series of allegations that led to the March arrests—with requests that charges be brought on ten counts of rape by intimidation, four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, one count of forcible rape, one count of oral copulation, and one count of lewd conduct with a minor under the age of fourteen—of nine current or former Lakewood High students who either happened to be or were believed to be members of the informal fraternity known locally as the Spur Posse. 

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday

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