Why is this interesting? - The Monday Media Diet with NPR's Aarti Shahani

On coming to America, yearning for news from back home, and the Secret Life of Trees

Aarti Shahani (AS) is a journalist covering technology and Silicon Valley for NPR. She’s also the author of “Here We Are,” a memoir about her family coming to America. It is described as “a persuasive critique of the impossibly stacked deck against poor immigrants…” Here, she shares what she’s reading and other recent inspirations. We’re pleased to have her on the page. -Colin (CJN) 

Tell us about yourself.

Skeptical optimist. Likes to laugh.

Describe your media diet. 

I keep my favorite apps on my phone's home screen: NYT for politics, investigations and tech analysis/commentary; Financial Times for international news and business; NPR One for ambient news throughout the day. That last one is funny because you can set it to a local station. Instead of streaming just in the Bay Area, I often tune into news from NYC (where I grew up). It's classic immigrant behavior. No matter where we go, we want news from back home.

I go to FB and IG to see what friends are sharing (entertainment and conspiracy theories). Twitter is for when I want to feel as anxious and negative as possible...or see what fellow journalists are up to. 

What’s the last great book you read?

Good Economics for Hard Times by 2019 Nobel prize winners in economics (and power couple) Ester Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee. Read it if you need help seeing postcolonial modernity clearly.

Oh, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is light and dark, total page turner.

What are you reading now?

Just started The Hidden Life of Trees. Doing the audiobook while hiking. When trees are thirsty, they scream for water. Uh-mazing.

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

My non-book reading is nearly all digital. I do get the New Yorker. They usually collect in a bin by my bed. Then I grab a bunch to read when in getaway/vacay mode. The essays are more timeless than timely.

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

Um, shameless self promotion allowed here? [Though she is being shy, her new book is getting great reviews, like this one. -Colin]

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

Live Transcribe. I write entire scenes and essays on the road using voice transcription. (It makes talking to yourself feel really productive.)

Plane or train?

Depends if Amtrak or bullet train.

What is one place everyone should visit? 

Flushing, Queens (last stop on the 7 train). And bring dollar bills for the fast food stalls.

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

When my dad was being deported from the U.S., I stopped going to college so that I could basically be a family lawyer and fight his case. I thought it would take me a year. It took longer than a decade, and cost a lot more than time. (AS)

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Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Aarti (AS) 

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!).