Things we like: September 2014

Our monthly round-up of stories that have got the Mosaic team thinking.

Plot twist: how a hero narrative can transform the self (Aeon)

Will Storr’s tale features larger-than-life characters and explores how our brains make sense of the world through telling a story – our own. Full of fabulous prose and interesting ideas, we debated whether the author’s introduction of his own story added or distracted from the piece, and whether the ideas held together as a whole.

Sky burial (Oxford American)

A fascinating visit to a body farm reveals much about our reaction to death, as well as those studying it. It features a wealth of background detail, but is it a bit too long? Might it have benefited from a fewer characters and a tighter focus on the body farm narrative?

This old man (New Yorker)

A 93-year old journalist writes about the world from his perspective. We loved this because it was just as you’d imagine an old man talking at you would be – almost a stream of consciousness but one shaped by the flair and sharp tongue of a writer with over 60 years’ experience.

China’s island factory (BBC)

Another of the new age of interactive multimedia stories, this time from the BBC. You get some great insight from the videos and maps, but we argued about whether the judder of moving through different media distracted from the narrative flow of the piece.

The Sunni-Shia divide (CFR)

Another multimedia offering and a really in-depth look at a historical, but also very contemporary, conflict.


Finally, we watched three very different approaches to online films: a Discovery Channel-style film about evolution from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the New York Times’ animated take on microbiology, and a poetic film about Scotland from Aeon Film. We had discussed likes and dislikes about each. Which do you prefer?

What stories have caught your eye recently? Do share in the comments.