Off the Beaten URL: Things to Read

At Cooper, we concern ourselves with people, what they think and do and feel. We look at the past and the future. We read literature and news and academic research and essays to get a sense of the world and ideas in it. And in this era of fake news and echo chambers, it’s more important than ever to seek out original and authoritative voices.

We read a lot of tech punditry, of course, as I’m sure many of you do, as well, publications like The Verge, Daring Fireball, Wired, Hacker News, and others. In the spirit of variety and discovery, though, here are some of my personal sources of great reading that you may not have encountered before, and I think worth your time.


Periodic emails with links to good writing.

  • Quartz Daily Brief: Global political and business news, usually with a slight bias towards technology.
  • NextDraft by Dave Pell: Interesting current events. Always something unique that I haven’t encountered elsewhere, and thoughtfully curated. His site has a bunch of testimonials from serious journalists who subscribe to the email.
  • NYTimes What We’re Reading: Links to good non-NYTimes writing, with recommendations from NYTimes staff. I like when journalists admit that great things get written by other people, too.
  • Quora Digest: Top questions from your feed.

Web (or RSS)

Sites with excellent content written by very smart people.

  • Marginal Revolution: a blog written by two economists at George Mason University, widely read in policy circles. Tyler Cowen is a voracious reader of fiction and non-fiction (he reads at least a handful of books per week), and has a very wide range of interests. Always interesting.
  • Arts & Letters Daily: my go-to source for provocative things to read, published by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Divided into “Articles of Note,” “New Books” (book reviews), and “Essays & Opinions.”
  • Foss Patents: a patent lawyer named Florian Mueller writing about the intricacies of the patent wars between very large technology companies, e.g. Apple v. Samsung. It’s certainly a niche topic, and I only read this occasionally, but Mueller is very good at writing about this, and provides very detailed play-by-play analysis of these cases. As designers, we are in the business of generating intellectual property, so it can be valuable to understand the big trends in that space.


Paper things to read, although you can get a lot of this content online, as well.

  • N+1: High-brow writing about literature, culture, and politics. Three issues per year, and also a bunch of online-only content. Simply terrific writing.
  • NY Times Magazine: I subscribe to the Sunday Times pretty much just so I can get the Magazine, which is a satisfying glossy tome, and also it has the big crossword.
  • Harpers: My favorite of all publications. I love the Index, Findings, Readings, and cryptic crosswords. Poetry, opinion, short fiction, essays.
  • The Week: So well put together, lots and lots of information digested into something bite-sized.

Print periodicals I used to read, but then I had a kid and something had to give, but I’ll still pick up occasionally if I see them in a book store

  • Daedalus: the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. It’s a bunch of good writing by Very Serious People.
  • Foreign Affairs: also Very Serious People, but writing about current events.

There are a lot of great things to read out there—don’t waste your time with bad writing! I’d also love to hear other suggestions—where do you find great things to read (besides the Cooper Journal, of course)? You can reach me @nclinton or on the Cooper Friends slack

Nate Clinton

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