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What Writers and Editors Are Reading: March 2023

How to forgive a difficult colleague, the struggle to treat chronic pain, and a small business trying to stay afloat amidst the homelessness crisis: Catch up on the best recommendations from our favorite writers and editors.

Pocket Collections

Read when you’ve got time to spare.

Each month at Pocket, we ask our favorite writers and editors to share their good taste and discerning reading habits. They tell us the best pieces—both new and old—they read last month, and we share them with you. It’s like being in a group chat with writers you love, swapping links of great pieces and notes on why they loved them.

Our January and February editions covered imposter syndrome, Madonna’s face, New York City rents, and more. For March, stories explore the all-powerful semiconductor industry, our fascinating microbiomes, and the quest for pain management, among others.

Image by Jasmin Merdan/Getty Images

I Saw the Face of God in a Semiconductor Factory

Virginia Heffernan

Recommended by Susan Dominus: “Gonzo philosopher/reporter Virginia Heffernan unpacks the global and cultural meaning of the all-powerful semiconductor industry in Taiwan. I can’t think of another writer who can do this kind of dazzling virtuoso technological writing while also taking us to deep places about what it all means—all the while keeping the reader not just engaged, but entertained.”

Read Susan’s piece “Women Have Been Misled About Menopause,” which featured in our February edition of what writers and editors are reading.

A Sandwich Shop, a Tent City and an American Crisis

Eli Saslow
The New York Times

Recommended by Justin Heckert: “It’s a story by one of my favorite writers about a small business—a sandwich shop—doing its best to deal with a situation that has overwhelmed the owners, with no easy fixes, no humane solutions. It’s quite a remarkable piece.”

Read Justin’s piece “Jason Brassard Spent His Lifetime Collecting the Rarest Video Games. Until the Heist.” which was one of Pocket’s best gaming articles of 2022.

Chronic Pain: The Long Road to Discovery

Lucy Odling-Smee

Recommended by Gail Cornwall: “‘The pain research field is small, and fractured between different specialities,’ making Lucy Odling-Smee’s feat of amassing and collating evidence on pain treatment particularly impressive. ‘I struggle to understand why the health-care systems of the world’s richest countries are not yet using all the knowledge that science has provided to bring more help to…millions…living with pain,’ she writes in a powerful—and personal—call to action for Nature.”

Read “Stop Venting! It Doesn’t Work.” by Gail and Juli Fraga which featured in Pocket’s best great advice articles of 2022.

‘You Must Believe You Can Repair It’

Scott Gilbertson

Recommended by Simon Hill: “We always focus on the next big thing with tech, but as the devices we rely upon become harder to understand and fix, we throw away too much and lose something in the process. This ode to self-reliance unfolds through a road trip in a 1969 Dodge Travco motor home. It might just inspire you to take on a repair or restoration project.”

Read Simon’s piece “How to Block Spam Calls and Text Messages” which was one of Pocket’s best Small Wins articles in 2022.

The Detroit Tigers Flipped the Switch and Nothing Happened

Maitreyi Anantharaman

Recommended by Dan Moore: “Anyone who has ever rooted for a bad team—no matter the sport—will relish and relate to this wonderful, very funny essay from Maitreyi Anantharaman about the 2022 Detroit Tigers, which originally appeared in the 2023 Baseball Prospectus Annual. Maitreyi is a wonderful writer; no matter your favorite sport or team, you’ll love this piece.”

Read Dan’s piece “What Do Cities Lose When They Lose Pro Sports?” which featured in Pocket’s best sports articles of 2022.

‘It’s Kind of Embarrassing’: Why Animators Are Unhappy With the Oscars

Eric Vilas-Boas

Recommended by Bilge Ebiri: “Eric Vilas-Boas’ piece entertainingly and informatively highlights something that some of us have occasionally thought about without knowing how to investigate it—animators’ frustration with the way that animated films are thought of, and the way that the Best Animated Feature category has become dominated by Disney and family-oriented fare. It’s beautifully written and argued, with revealing quotes from some really important people in animation.”

Read Bilge’s piece “‘This Is a Cry for Help,” which was recommended in our February edition of what writers and editors are reading.

Eleanor Catton Wants Plot to Matter Again

B. D. McClay
The New Yorker

Recommended by Derek Robertson: “In an essay on the recently-published “Birnam Wood” by Eleanor Catton, the writer B.D. McClay explores how, and why, plot remains a powerful narrative device in literary fiction. McClay deftly illustrates not just how the chain of human consequence works in this particular novel, but in our lives as technology increasingly alienates us from our very own decision-making. The piece unironically justifies the classic ironic quip from Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan”: ‘I don’t read novels. I prefer good literary criticism. That way you get both the novelist’s ideas as well as the critic’s thinking.’”

Read Derek’s piece “‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Is America’s Cry for Help,” which featured in Pocket’s collection of stories that lived rent-free in our heads last year.

Forgiving a Difficult Colleague

Ron Carucci
Harvard Business Review

Recommended by Dr. Andrea Wojnicki: “Do you hold grudges? Do you stew? (I know I do!) If yes, I encourage you to read this article. It left me feeling inspired. Forgiving that difficult colleague means taking away their power, even—or perhaps especially—when they aren’t sorry for their behavior. Being resentful and holding grudges can take a negative toll on our mental and physical health. “When we harbor resentment, spite, and other negative emotions, the person at whom we aim them isn’t suffering (and is likely oblivious to our feelings). The only one suffering is us.” Instead, follow the advice in this article to forgive. When we forgive, we empower ourselves to focus our limited cognitive capacity on positive and productive endeavors.”

Read Andrea’s article “A Simple Way to Introduce Yourself,” which featured in Pocket’s most read articles of 2022.

Global Microbiome Study Gives New View of Shared Health Risks

Yasemin Saplakoglu
Quanta Magazine

Recommended by the author: “We constantly hear about the microbiome and how important it is to our health. But did you know that we actually share our microbes with those that we spend the most time with? That means that other people have the power to shape our microbiomes—and potentially our health. Reporting this was fascinating for me, and I hope reading it will be fascinating for you!”

Read Yasemin’s piece “A Good Memory or a Bad One? One Brain Molecule Decides.” which was one of Pocket’s best science articles in 2022.