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7 deadly reads

Sitdown Sunday: I was raised in a doomsday cult

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. This Friends lawsuit set #MeToo back by years

Now the woman at the centre of the case is speaking out.

(Bustle, approx 16 mins reading time)

But it must be noted too that years before this public reckoning, Amaani Lyle tried to fight it herself — and she didn’t have a movement on her side. Indeed, when Lyle took the most popular show on television to court in 2002, the entire entertainment industry rose up against her. And when, after six years, her case was shut down by none other than the California Supreme Court, it was called a great victory — a win for free speech. Hollywood leaders cheered the end of the infamous Friends harassment lawsuit, then closed their doors and carried on.

2. The cult of Columbine 

How two young people inspired by the Columbine shootings hatched their own deadly murder plan.

(The Guardian, approx 22 mins reading time)

The idea took root. During the fall of 2014, her final semester of college, Lindsay decided that her novel should have a mass-murder subplot. Suddenly, she was spending all her time researching school shooters. She immersed herself in the school shooter/serial killer subculture that flourished on Tumblr. “It was all just academic at first,” she later told an interviewer, “but I found myself identifying more and more with the shooters.” 

3. How sugar fueled slavery

In this interactive article, read the fascinating – and horrible – story of how sugar and slavery are linked.

(The New York Times, approx 30 mins reading time)

Many African-Americans aspired to own or rent their own sugar-cane farms in the late 19th century, but faced deliberate efforts to limit black farm and land owning. The historian Rebecca Scott found that although “black farmers were occasionally able to buy plots of cane land from bankrupt estates, or otherwise establish themselves as suppliers, the trend was for planters to seek to establish relations with white tenants or sharecroppers who could provide cane for the mill.”

4. Outlaw country

Klamath County in Oregon is a great place to go if you don’t want to be found… but a terrible place to be if your life is under threat.

(The Atavist, approx 45 mins reading time)

Taylor began cruising real estate websites that promised acres of wilderness for as little as a few thousand dollars, which in monthly payments would be doable even on his paltry income. Taylor’s family thought his plans were foolhardy, but his mother understood the pull of returning to Oregon. “I think he was looking for something different,” Wanty said. “I don’t know. Something that would help him go back to the past. To easier times.”

5. The quickening

Leslie Jamison writes the story of two births.

(The Atlantic, approx 26 mins reading time)

When you were about the size of a lentil, I flew to Zagreb for a magazine assignment. As our plane banked over Greenland, I ate a huge bag of Cheez-Its and wondered if this was the week your brain was being forged, or your heart. I pictured a heart made of Cheez-Its beating inside me, inside you. Much of that first trimester was spent in awe and terror: astonished that a tiny creature was being gathered in my inner reaches, petrified that I would somehow knock you loose. What if you died and I didn’t know it? I obsessively Googled miscarriage without bleeding. 

6. I was raised in a doomsday cult

Ben Shenton speaks about the 15 years he spent living in a doomsday cult in Australia.

(BBC, approx 6 mins reading time)

Ben and the other children were told that Anne was their mother. She taught them to avoid outsiders and if any approached them – on the shore of the lake perhaps – to follow the mantra Unseen, Unheard, Unknown. “It was very much a thing of: you do not tell any outside person who is not a sect member anything,” Ben says. “If I had any interaction with them, I would check through what I said to make sure that I hadn’t revealed anything.”


What is glitter? A journey to the glitter factory.

(New York Times, approx 13 mins reading time)

Humans, even humans who don’t like glitter, like glitter. We are drawn to shiny things in the same wild way our ancestors were overcome by a compulsion to forage for honey. A theory that has found favor among research psychologists (supported, in part, by a study that monitored babies’ enthusiasm for licking plates with glossy finishes) is that our attraction to sparkle is derived from an innate need to seek out fresh water.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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