Why is this interesting? - The Monday Media Diet with Andrew Tuck

On great bookstores, the horizon, and the charms of Beirut

Andrew Tuck is an old friend. Together with Tyler Brûlé, they’ve built Monocle, an interesting (and durable) media property that spans retail, a beautiful print edition, radio, collaborations, books, and more. Andrew is also an astute commentator on urbanism, and in addition to all of this output, he writes a column in the Saturday edition of Monocle’s excellent daily email. The brand is also re-upping its coverage of entrepreneurship, seeking to be helpful in what is a very challenging time for small businesses. Here, we get a peek into his media consumption. -Colin (CJN) 

Tell us about yourself.

I’m the editor of Monocle magazine, I present the podcast ‘The Urbanist’ and write a column that I hope is mostly amusing for our email newsletter, The Monocle Weekend Edition. And I live in London with my partner and Macy, a wire-haired fox terrier who has been sneaked into a lot of shoots.

Describe your media diet.

When it’s your job, you find yourself behaving like a hungry cow, munching on anything that comes your way. I go on the websites from all the major US news players and I skim office copies of newspapers in languages that I don’t even speak – it’s surprising how something worth translating jumps out at you. At home I listen to the news shows on our station, Monocle 24, and lots of Radio 4. If I’m in a taxi abroad, I always ask the driver to play his favourite station – you find good music. But stick me in a dentist’s waiting room and I will happily read an old magazine about sailing or farming. I buy the local paper whenever we stay with friends in the countryside. And I have the apps for all the NY titles on my phone: ‘Times’, ‘The New Yorker’, ‘New York’ mag.

What’s the last great book you read?

Francesca Wade’s book ‘Square Haunting’. It’s about five women who, between the wars, lived in London’s Mecklenburgh Square, which is at the end of my road. They were all people who didn’t go along with what was expected of women and included Dorothy L Sayer and Virginia Woolf. Researching one biography must be hard enough but five in one is just showing off. But I also loved how Wade uses the square to hold the narratives together. 

What are you reading now?

Well, when this pandemic began to lock down London, I dashed to the great Daunt Books shop in Marylebone and shopped like I was going to be sitting by a pool for a very long time. My stack included a whole pile of PG Wodehouse. I was determined to have nothing grim for the house arrest. And ever since it’s been unrelenting work. I have read 10 pages.

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?

Not sure that I have one. I buy a lot of design, homes and architecture magazines wherever I go but I admit that my strategy is often not to read them; they can be annoying. 

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

Epidemiologists.

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?

Have you heard of Shazam? Look, I am not a rare app collector and indeed almost all of mine now look as though they’re from another age – will I need currency convertors, numerous train, taxi and airline apps again? When? I do have a very good photo-editing app for my personal Instagram – but why share the names of such things? 

Plane or train?

It’s so strange how that question now comes weighted with so much meaning. I love both but I am looking forward to flying again – to staring out the window and watching the world edge by. The lockdown is fine but wondering what’s over the horizon is a natural thing to act upon.

What is one place everyone should visit?

It’s hard to beat waking up in the Albergo Hotel in the Aschrafieh neighbourhood of Beirut. Having lunch at Kamal Mouzawak’s Tawlet restaurant. Swimming at the Sporting beach club and letting the Lebanese night lead you astray.

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. 

It’s whatever we are working on at that moment. Journalists shower attention, then move on. I am talking purely professionally.

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Andrew (AT)


Why is this interesting? is a daily email from Noah Brier & Colin Nagy (and friends!) about interesting things. If you’ve enjoyed this edition, please consider forwarding it to a friend. If you’re reading it for the first time, consider subscribing (it’s free!).