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Dublin: 18 °C Tuesday 11 August, 2020

Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

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. Love and loss


Irish writer Megan Nolan looks back at a relationship and abortion she had when she was 18.

(Human Parts, 11 mins reading time, approx 2381 words)

I learned I was pregnant in the toilets of a theatre in Waterford, before sitting through an excruciating production of Romeo and Juliet. Afterwards I sat in the corner of a disused carpark and called him and howled down the phone. He said the right things and promised I would be ok.

2. Big eyes

Artist Walter Keane Walter Keane (left) with two paintings by his wife Margaret, which he claimed were his. Source: AP/Press Association Images

A fascinating tale of art fraud and deception is the subject of Tim Burton’s new film, Big Eyes. Jon Ronson finds out the true story.

(The Guardian, 16 mins reading time, approx 3324 words)

“He had me sitting in a corner,” she tells me, “and he was over there, talking, selling paintings, when somebody walked over to me and said: ‘Do you paint too?’ And I suddenly thought – just horrible shock – ‘Is he taking credit for my paintings?’”

3. Nancy Cooper’s murder

Source: The News & Observer/YouTube

Nancy (34) was found dead, days after going missing. Did her husband kill her? The search to find out the truth was a dark one.

(Edmonton Journal, 24 mins reading time, approx 4811 words)

Two days after Nancy was reported missing, a man walking his dog saw a body floating in stormwater in an undeveloped subdivision just outside the town of Cary, about five kilometres from the Coopers’ house.

4. Shakespeare & Co

1609896_10153905281055045_1282896911_n Source: Aoife Barry/

A look at the history of the famed Shakespeare & Co bookstore in Paris, which will forever be linked with the likes of James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway.

(Vanity Fair, 37 mins reading time, approx 7432 words)

Strolling up to the store’s early 17th-century building on a one-block stretch of Rue de la Bûcherie, with its small half-plaza in front, its weather-beaten bookstalls, its green-and-yellow façade, its hand-hewn, rustic-looking signage, can feel like entering a time warp to a quieter, older Paris—a little bit Beat Generation, a little bit Victor Hugo.

5. Life in captivity

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Hostage Freed Curtis Source: AP/Press Association Images

American journalist Theo Padnos was kidnapped and tortured in Syria. Here is his story.

(New York Times, 46 mins reading time, 9252 approx words)

In October 2012, however, when I was first kidnapped, I used to sit in my cell — a former consulting room in the Children’s Hospital in Aleppo — in a state of unremitting terror. In those first days, my captors laughed as they beat me. Sometimes they pushed me to the floor, seized hold of a pant leg or the scruff of my jacket and dragged me down the hospital corridor.

6. The truth behind bread

63% of bread 'contains pesticide' Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

A fascinating look at bread, its history and modern ways of making it… and why so many people are giving up eating it.

(The New Yorker, 35 mins reading time, 7055 approx words)

“I’ve been gluten-free these last four years, and it has changed my life,’’ Marie Papp, a photographer, told me at the expo. “I would have headaches, nausea, trouble sleeping. I know that I’m intolerant because I gave it up and I felt better. That explanation is probably not scientific enough for you. But I know how I felt, how I feel, and what I did to make it change.”


SpaceshipTwo-Branson Source: AP/Press Association Images

Alright, so it’s not exactly a classic yet, but after yesterday’s tragic news, this is a look at Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic project.

(The Guardian, 38 mins reading time, approx 7778 words)

So far, nearly 700 people have paid either $200,000 or $250,000 (£125,000 or £155,000) for a two-hour trip into space inside the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, a trip that includes five minutes of weightlessness.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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