I can’t believe I’ve been writing this column for twenty months!  Remember, I’m always happy to receive your recommendations.  I’ve tracked down a few books recommended by readers over the past year and a half.

I’ll get started with a few article recommendations.  First up, I read the January 31 issue of The New Yorker.  A few things stood out:

  • America’s Favorite Pickup Truck Goes Electric is about the release of a new electric vehicle in the United States.  In the usual New Yorker fashion it meanders through a rough history of the Ford Motor Company and about the automobile industry in general.  I found it fascinating, and it is about a topic that is certainly attracting quite a lot of attention nowadays.
  • Invasion of the Pacific Football Fish! is about a sighting of a peculiar type of anglerfish.   Unlike most New Yorker articles, this one is similar in length to a real TOEFL article.  Actually, I think the anglerfish has made a few appearances on the TOEFL over the past year.  I might have created a few questions about it myself.

Next, I peeked at the February 7 issue of the same magazine.  One article stood out:

  • Can Germany Show Us How to Leave Coal Behind? is another long article that mixes a technical topic with a social history.  There is a lot to dig into here.  The New Yorker articles I’ve linked to over the past couple months are quite long, so you might want to read them over the course of a day or two.

I also read the April 2022 issue of Reader’s Digest (Asia). One article seems relevant:

  • The Farmer Trying to Save Italy’s Ancient Olive Trees is about efforts to prevent the spread of a bacteria that is killing olive trees.  TOEFL veterans will know that this sort of topic is really common on the test, especially in the integrated writing section.  If you read only one article from today’s column, this one should be it. Note that I’ve linked to the original source of the article, which is Atlas Obscura.

Lastly, I read the memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D Vance.  In it, Vance talks about growing up in poverty in rural America and how he improved his life through education and personal growth. This one attracted a ton of attention five years ago when people were seeking answers to why America went crazy in 2016.  People claim this book  has some profound insights into why that happened, but I didn’t find them.  It is a good book, though, and if ETS wasn’t so conservative they could do an amazing reading about the “Hillbilly Migration.”  The subject matter here overlaps a little with that of “Educated” which I wrote about a few months ago.  You can borrow a copy from the Open Library or buy your own from Amazon

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