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#NPRreads: Four Great Reads Worth Going Out Of Your Way For

A desolate Highway 36 runs past what is now a ghost town on the eastern plains in Cabin Creek, Colorado.
Helen H. Richardson
Denver Post via Getty Images
A desolate Highway 36 runs past what is now a ghost town on the eastern plains in Cabin Creek, Colorado.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the#NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

From Selena Simmons-Duffin, Associate Producer for All Things Considered:

I love this story – possibly because I have family in Perth, Ontario and know those rural routes well – but it's also just so freaking sweet. Summer camp, benevolent bureaucrats, crowdsourcing, and grandma impersonators — what more could you want? A welcome reprieve from the brutal news cycle these last few weeks.

From Deputy International Editor Didrik Schanche:

Qandeel Baloch "wouldn't shut up," writes Melissa Jeltsen in the Huffington Post, even though she knew she enraged men in conservative, patriarchal Pakistan with her provocative social media posts.

The 26-year-old gained hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where she posted videos and selfies flaunting her sexuality. She could be outspoken and suggestive. Social media proved the perfect platform for a young woman who wanted to "try to become something, to be able to stand on my own two feet, to do something for myself," as she said in one of her final interviews.

And by many measures, she succeeded. Baloch was Pakistan's most popular internet celebrity, says Jeltsen. She was seen by some as a daring feminist rebel.

But to Baloch's brother, she was an embarrassment who brought dishonor to the family. In a news conference after the murder of his sister, he said he had no regrets about killing her.

Honor killings seem a brutal artifact of another time. However they remain all too common. Jeltsen reports nearly 1,100 women died in honor killings in Pakistan last year.

The Huffington Post and The New Yorker both look at the short life of Qandeel Baloch.

From news editor Lauren Hodges:

This article is like a layer cake of identity and representation struggles. The most interesting aspect was the contention that arose when people thought they knew how others would react, what they would want, how they would feel. The writers thought George Takei, the original Mr. Sulu and now a gay icon, would automatically love that they made the updated character gay. He didn't — but not for the reason you might think. And John Cho a.k.a. Current Sulu, shares his concerns about the feminization of Asian men.

Then there's this whole "alternate timeline" angle Cho mentions that had the potential to frame homosexuality as a choice. No pressure, John! But this is the perfect example of why we should never assume anything based on stereotypes. We can only really know the truth when we engage. Also, John Cho might be my new celebrity crush. Sorry, Oscar the Grouch.

From Miles Parks, Associate Producer for Here & Now:

After Bob Boilen pointed me toward the first track on Pinegrove's debut album, I felt a familiar and melancholy drop in my stomach.

I remember the last time it hit so deeply. I was walking to work in the snow listening to Mitski's "Your Best American Girl" for the first time.

It's a sort of painful accessibility: Songs that create a cocktail of scenes so vivid that you simultaneously ache to never hear them again and to hear them just one more time.

Ian Cohen's review of the album for Pitchfork captures how Pinegrove sent me there.

"All together, you might call it alt-country," Cohen writes, "though it's more in the spirit of Saddle Creek circa The Execution of All Things, Album of the Year, and Lifted—there's banjo and twang and formalist structure."

I'm a 20-something who was raised on early-2000s Taking Back Sunday and old Avett Brothers records, so the genre-bending emo folk hit home for me.

But as Cohen writes, it's the lyrical tone that elevates this album.

"I saw Leah on the bus a few months ago," songwriter Evan Stephens Hall sings on the opening track, "I saw some old friends at her funeral."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Didi Schanche is NPR's chief international editor. Her team of correspondents, based around the world, is on the scene for breaking news and specializes in coverage of issues of international policy and national security. NPR's award-winning international coverage is consistently recognized for its excellence.
Selena Simmons-Duffin reports on health policy for NPR.
Lauren Hodges is an associate producer for All Things Considered. She joined the show in 2018 after seven years in the NPR newsroom as a producer and editor. She doesn't mind that you used her pens, she just likes them a certain way and asks that you put them back the way you found them, thanks. Despite years working on interviews with notable politicians, public figures, and celebrities for NPR, Hodges completely lost her cool when she heard RuPaul's voice and was told to sit quietly in a corner during the rest of the interview. She promises to do better next time.
Miles Parks is a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk. He covers voting and elections, and also reports on breaking news.