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Good Reads: From raising champions, to Norway’s slow TV, to making real friends

This week's round-up of Good Reads includes a profile of Olympian Missy Franklin, American sitcoms in Kyrgyzstan, a strange TV phenomenon in Norway, a 'slow friend' backlash to Facebook, and productive early risers.

By Staff writer / July 19, 2013

Missy Franklin executes a backstroke start at the US National Championships.

Michael Conroy/AP


A true champion

Missy Franklin isn’t your ordinary teenager. Not only does the 18-year-old four-time Olympic medalist get straight A’s and spend her free time visiting children’s hospitals, she’s known to be one of the nicest elite gold medal athletes out there. So how did her parents raise such a well-adjusted champ? 

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Jenna Fisher is the Monitor's former Asia editor, overseeing regional coverage for and the weekly magazine from 2010 through 2013.

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“There is no blueprint,” writes ESPN The Magazine’s Wayne Drehs. “More often than not, parents are making mistakes without even realizing it. In [the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State’s] 2005 study of elite youth tennis players ... roughly 30% of parents were unintentionally acting in a way that troubled their children. It could be as simple as the way a father holds his face in his hands after his son strikes out, or as complex as an up-and-coming tennis star, seeing the money his parents are shelling out for coaching and travel, feeling pressure to deliver on the investment.”

But the Franklins’ effort to not get caught up in the race to athletic insanity seems to have worked: “If it’s one thing my parents have taught me it’s to follow my heart,” says Ms. Franklin in a related ESPN video.

Is it that simple? “By many standards, Missy is spoiled. Her parents have built their lives around her needs and her schedule,” writes Mr. Drehs. “But somehow, Missy hasn’t devolved into a self-centered egomaniac. Instead, she’s the exact opposite.”

What Americans do best

Empathy is spreading in Kyrgyzstan, and just in time, writes Emily Canning for, with the introduction of a new TV show called “Dorm,” funded in part by the United States. (Think a Russian “Friends” with a sentimental moral in each episode.) The show confronts pressing social issues that include racism, corruption, and cross-border tensions with neighboring Uzbekistan. While Ms. Canning laments the US government cutbacks for research and education in Central Asia, a critical area as American troops pull out of Afghanistan, “Dorm” serves as a good reminder of what she says Americans truly do best: entertainment.

Norway’s ‘slow TV’ movement

While many networks around the Western world are vying for viewers with short attention spans and a hunger for the latest exciting concept, a rather odd thing is happening in Norway, writes Mark Lewis for TimeWorld.


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Doing Good


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Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

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