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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 12°C
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# 7 great reads
Sitdown Sunday: The science behind the syndrome that makes you feel like a fraud
Settle down 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. Portrait of a killer

A fascinating look at how a group of artists came together in an effort to rehabilitate prisoners in one of Mexico’s most dangerous maximum security prisons through art.

(The Guardian, approx 25 mins reading time)

César painted wounded flesh and the outlines of missing people, incorporating statistics on crimes and fragments of police reports on his work. His first exhibited work, titled Numberless Victim, depicts a young person, bound and gagged, but looking defiantly at the viewer. It was this work that introduced him to Puente Grande prison: he won a contract to paint a large outdoor mural there in 2016. It was a difficult process. As he tried to work, prisoners crowded around him. One inmate asked him how much he was getting paid for the gig, a hint of menace in his voice. Another prisoner said if he really wanted to help, the artist should teach them to make handicrafts to sell instead. Under the blazing sun in the open air courtyard, the idea grew on him: why not teach inmates to paint and sculpt?

2. The terror of Turkey’s earthquake

A survivor’s account of the devastation caused by this week’s earthquake, which has claimed thousands of lives both in Turkey and in Syria. 

(The Spectator, approx 16 mins reading time)

Turks are chatty, sociable people. For hours, no-one said a word. They must have tried to contact relatives in Antakya, and either had no response, or heard initial reports of the nightmare that was unfolding there. The silence was awful. I was almost dreading daylight when we would see. Even though I was freezing cold, the darkness gave a sort of consolation.

3. Impostor syndrome

An interesting look at the concept where people – particularly high achieving women – struggle to believe they deserve their success, and the effect it has on them. 

(The New Yorker, approx 29 mins reading time)

The phrase “impostor syndrome” often elicits a fierce sense of identification, especially from millennial and Gen X women. When I put out a call on Twitter for experiences of impostor syndrome, I was flooded with responses. “Do you have room in your inbox for roughly 180,000 words?” a high-level publishing executive wrote. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin confessed that her feelings of fraudulence were so strong that she’d been unable to enter the college’s library for her entire first year. A university administrator said, “I grew up on a pig farm in rural Illinois. Whenever I attend a fancy event, even if it is one I am producing, I feel like people will still see hayseed in my hair.” An artisanal-cider maker wrote, “I’ve made endless ciders, but each and every time that I start fermenting, my mind goes, ‘This is the one when everyone will find out you don’t know what you’re doing.’”

4. Harrison Ford

The legendary actor, who isn’t particularly fond of interviews, speaks about his career, the upcoming Yellowstone prequel and acting into his 80s.

(The Hollywood Reporter, approx 24 mins reading time)

When asked what he’d want written on his tombstone, Ford replies: “I wouldn’t want it to be  ‘Harrison Ford, blah-blah-blah, actor.’ I’d settle for ‘Was Useful.’ ” I point out that’s a particularly reductive way to sum up a life, and Ford shoots back: “Well, there’s not a lot of space on a tombstone.”

5. The book with 1,300-year-old doodles

How new technology is bringing invisible etchings in centuries-old books and manuscripts to light.

(BBC Future, approx 8 mins reading time)

Even more intriguing, Hodgkinson and colleagues found drawings of little people on other pages. In one margin, a square figure with outstretched arms – could it be a nun perhaps? (see below, top-left). In another, a person holding up their hand to the face of glum companion (bottom-right). An 8th-Century version of “talk to the hand”? Their meaning is a mystery.

6. Disgust

While scientists have argued that this trait is distinctly human. However, researches have found it to exist in all kinds of animals.

(The Atlantic, approx 9 mins reading time)

If fear is what shields animals from predators—threats that tend to dwarf them in size and strength—disgust is its underappreciated sibling, protecting against the minuscule dangers that wriggle into bodies and destroy them from the inside out. And some version of that impulse “is probably universal, cutting across humans and nonhumans alike,” Ezenwa told me.


A 2013 interview with legendary composer and songwriter, who died on Thursday at the age of 94.

(The Telegraph, approx 24 mins reading time)

His career took off when in 1956 he was teamed with the lyricist Hal David, the son an Austrian delicatessen owner, who had written songs for Frank Sinatra and Teresa Brewer before meeting Bacharach. The two men could not have been more different. The Broadway lyricist Sammy Cahn once said of Bacharach that he was the only songwriter who didn’t look like a dentist. David looked like a songwriter. Seven years older than Bacharach, he was a straight, old-fashioned family man who commuted in each day from his home on Long Island. Bacharach was a smooth, urbane ladykiller with a bachelor pad on the East Side, whom friends described as ‘the playboy of the Western world’. Yet their partnership would prove one of the most fruitful in the history of pop music.

Note: The Journal generally selects stories that are not paywalled, but some might not be accessible if you have exceeded your free article limit on the site in question.

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