I recently enjoyed a New Yorker essay about Metallica. That’s right, the heavy metal band that my mother’s friends fretted about during the “Satanic panic” of the 1980s. I’m not sure I’ve ever listened to one of their songs. I didn’t know I would be interested in learning their story.
But we subscribe to the New Yorker, and I turned the page and started reading, and now I want to know.
I bring this up here not so much because I recommend the article itself, but because it reminds me of the delights of reading that has been curated by an editor rather than dictated by an algorithm.
My phone will suggest Instagram posts and Amazon will suggest books to me based on my prior reading history. And I find lots of things I like there. I learn about books related to spirituality and healing or disability and faith. Lots of different Enneagram memes pop up. I’m introduced to other parents of children with Down syndrome.
But there is a different joy that comes from trusting an editor to put together a selection of essays and just stumble upon the unexpected ones.
Compassion grows within me just a little bit when I encounter a story of someone I wouldn’t ever read about or know about otherwise.
Put Down the Algorithm
So here’s to putting down the algorithm and picking up a magazine, or newspaper, or walking into a local bookstore and browsing the staff recommendations. Who knows what unexpected delight might expand your heart with a story you never expected to encounter?
(P.S. I also did the browsing-the-bookstore thing while Christmas shopping this week and stumbled upon Lost and Found by Kathryn Schulz. Another unexpected gem so far as she considers the loss of her father alongside all sorts of other concepts of loss and the hundreds of thousands of physical objects we lose on a regular basis.)
More with Amy Julia:
- Favorite Books I Read in 2022
- 6 Favorite Shows and Movies We Watched in 2022
- Friday Favorites and AJB Recommends
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