Weekend reads: The 100 best songs of 2018, NYC’s statue of Shirley Chisholm, an ode to college town diners

Kathleen Escarcha's reads

"Call Your Girlfriend" podcast host and writer Aminatou Sow recently shared her work diary in the New York Times. Sow explains how she kicks off her morning with Afrobeats, handles her inbox, and makes time for her mental health. I love her method of working on her laptop until it dies: "I don't care if it's good for the battery, it's great for my brain." She's also honest about the less glamorous parts of writing, like terrible first drafts.

Out of the hundreds of statues in New York City, there are only five depicting women from history. The She Built NYC initiative aims to remedy that by commissioning and installing public monuments that honor women. The city named Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to serve in Congress, as its first subject. A statue of Chisholm will stand at the entrance of Prospect Park. Other cities, including San Francisco and D.C., are considering legislation to fund new statues of women and people of color.

Emily Arnim's reads

NPR Music staff have compiled a list of the 100 best songs of 2018. "During a turbulent year rife with personal and political trauma, the most memorable songs pulled no punches in the pursuit of pop," writes NPR staff. The list features music from industry veterans and newcomers alike, from every genre from every part of the country. Topping the list is Childish Gambino's politically charged "This Is America." "The video instantly defined the song," says hip-hop journalist Rodney Carmichael. "The views piled up. The symbolism smacked us in the face. It wasn't subtle. It couldn't be unseen."

Astrobiologists have headed south to the world's oldest desert with the hopes of studying terrains and lifeforms that are believed to be similar to those on Mars. The Atacama Desert, stretching 600 miles south from the Peruvian border, is thought to be home to organisms similar to the last surviving life on Mars (if Mars ever housed living organisms, that is). The desert's landscape even mimics Mars' surface, and in some areas, the "microbe-per-inch count can compete with near-sterile hospital surgical suites."

Kristin Tyndall's read

Every college town has that place—the all-night diner dishing out plates of the kind of food you need at 3:00 am after reading too much Dostoevsky. The kind of place where everyone goes for the afterparty, where the marching band decompresses after the big game, where the college president might show up with his Labrador on Tuesday night. In a recent article, the Atlantic celebrates these places. I grew up in Georgia and, like the Morehouse students quoted in the article, that place for me was a Waffle House. As one student explains: “Across races, across religions, across sexualities, any demographic in the South—we all end up at Waffle House.”

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