Sexy Brains


When Matt and I met on our (now) infamous and serendipitous flight to Las Vegas in 2005 (he was seated in 12A and I in 12B) it was not the Jersey-by-way-of-Brooklyn twinkle in his eye, nor the moody, brooding expression he wore while scanning his iPod that got us to dinner that night. It was the reading material he had tucked into the back pocket of 11A that sealed the deal. How could this crispy Nike-wearing, hipster windbreaker-donning, obscure reggae-listening stranger have any interest in Harper’s Magazine (and not the Bazaar variety) and the New Yorker? I must have looked back and forth from Matt to the seatback pocket twenty times. Little did I know that crazy juxtaposition was only the first in what would become years of surprising Matt Goias paradoxes. Ok, I was intrigued.

Now I am not a woman that is intimidated by much. I was born and raised in Queens by a single mom and have lived on my own since age seventeen. I’ve traveled across the former Eastern block alone, testified before the Supreme Court for fifteen days straight, and have two divorces under my belt. I’ve walked through innumerable personal and professional fires that would have pushed the average person over the edge. Having said that, this reading material made me very nervous. These were the titles that I’d seen in strewn about the library when I visited Harvard during my senior year of high school. (For the record, I didn’t even apply.) I started feeling very insecure – Was he smarter than me? Would he make all sorts of off-the-cuff literary references that I wouldn’t get? Would he be one of those annoying SAT word spewers? Worst of all, would he keep asking if I’d read this or that article. That’s the worst. You have to say no and look like a total barbarian.

None of the above. As it turns out, the more of this super-interesting reading you do, the infinitely sexier and cooler to be around you become. If your guy reads these, you’ve got an interesting one on your hands. If not, here’s a tutorial on what these titles are and how to (as Matt puts it) do some reading that makes your brain hurt. But it’s the kind of hurt that feels good. Like when they tighten your braces.

HARPER’S: Launched in 1850 in NYC by book publishers Harper’s & Brothers (who also launched Harper’s Bazaar and Harper Collins) this heavily leftist mag covers politics, culture, finance, and the arts. They also publish literary fiction. Contributors have included Winston Churchill, Robert Frost, Horace Greeley, Winslow Homer, Jack London, Norman Mailer, Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, John Updike, and Woodrow Wilson. This is Matt’s favorite and most indulgently heady read.

THE NEW YORKER: Launched in 1925, The New Yorker takes an eccentric look at life in New York and in America. The mag’s short stories are legendary, having spawned movies including Meet Me in St. Louis, Casualties of War, Adaptation, and Brokeback Mountain. Brilliant writing, perfect art direction, infamous cartoons, and the best covers ever, period. This is Matt’s weekly fare.

THE ATLANTIC: Founded in 1857 and aimed at what they call “thought leaders” the magazine features articles in the fields of political science and foreign affairs, as well as book reviews. They have published some of the most important and moving writings in history. You may have heard of some of them: The Battle Hymn of the Republic (1862) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s defense of civil disobedience in “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

THE PARIS REVIEW: Founded in Paris in 1953, the Paris Review is now based in New York City. This is a magazing about literature for writers. Interviewees include Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges, Toni Morrison, and Ian McEwan. In the early 60’s artists including Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Willem DeKooning, and Andy Warhol produced limited edition posters in an effort to raise money for the struggling title. Oh yeah, George Plimpton was a founding editor.

The New Yorker
The Atlantic
The Paris Review


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