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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.

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“More than 3 million people out of a population of 5 million tuned in to ‘Hurtigruten: Minutt for Minutt,’ the five-day, nonstop cruise program, at some point during its marathon broadcast.” That’s right. They tuned in to stare at a live feed showing people enjoying a cruise. Not an MTV-drama-filled cruise, mind you, just a rather normal cruise that your grandma might take, without the scripts that have taken over “reality” TV. Building on that success as well as that of an evening-long program about firewood, the network has plans to release a minute-by-minute knitting program this winter. The producers are already swamped with e-mails and calls from viewers wanting to be involved in some way.

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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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Why? Part of it, Mr. Lewis writes, is that these “slow TV” programs “hark back to a simpler time when people enjoyed the more spartan pleasures of stoking fires, enjoying the landscape and knitting warm clothes for the freezing Nordic winter.” But ultimately this is something that’s different, and strange – and that is exciting. 

Growing real, local friends

It’s no secret that processed foods are out, and local, organic foods are in. The logic behind why now extends to digital friendships as well, writes Alexis C. Madrigal in The Atlantic Monthly. “Processed relationships get scare quotes: Facebook ‘friends.’ Processed relationships can’t be as genuine or authentic or honest as real life friendships.... So the solution is to make local friends, hang out organically, and only communicate through means your Grandma would recognize. It’s so conservative it’s radical!”

The theory behind this emerging trend is that “by stripping away the trappings of modern life, we reach a place where humans naturally fall into deep and honest relationships with each other,” says Ms. Madrigal.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been mused about by everyone from Henry David Thoreau to Naturalists in the 1960s and ’70s. Today it may seem more pertinent than ever: It’s hard to think when our phone is always making noises. 

But Madrigal cautions that just as any individual’s dietary habits don’t solve global agriculture’s issues, “the biggest technological problems of our time ... are collective problems that will require collective action based on serious critique.”

Productive people are early risers  

Ever wonder why productive people get up insanely early? Paul DeJoe, writing in an op-ed for Fast Company, may have figured it out: Morning is the one time in the day when there is no pressure and no expectations. “The second you check email or LinkedIn, an internal clock of new items immediately starts in our minds – a vicious cycle. Planning your day the night before allows you to feel on top of your day and even look forward to it.”

– Jenna Fisher / Staff writer


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Doing Good


What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

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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