Making Lists

Author: The editors

“Reading without thinking is nothing,” Louis L’Amour once said. “For a book is less important for what it says than what it makes you think.” This advice from the Western writer (whose 105 books sold more than 200 million copies) is a fitting caveat for the pages that follow. You are about to encounter a rhapsody of lists — a far different musical score than you normally get in this magazine.

But each list — while perhaps jaunty and pithy and quick — contains a rich stack of ideas to linger over, loiter with and think about. So read and push pause on your life and listen to the music in your head.

Why did we do it this way? Here is a list of why:

We, too, needed a lighter melody to go with the news of the world in recent months.

CNCartoons029940/photo via Conde Nast

The doctor prescribed a vacation from too much seriousness to counter the seasonal affective disorder that often accompanies the heavy, gray permacloud of winter.

Wit, wisdom and truth coming in bite-size bits is just the ticket for today’s too-busy-to-read world.

At, you, too, can join the discussion, argue about the items on these lists, make up your own and scold us for trying something trendy — all making this print vehicle more interactive, inclusive, participatory and modern.

We thought a minicourse in American history and culture proffered by David Shribman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, newspaper editor, author and pansophic surveyor of the national landscape presented in a list format, would offer a catchier, more palatable alternative to doing one’s own reading and research.

We thought this sportive approach to getting some faculty expertise and scholarly sagacity into the magazine just made good sense.

We had fun (fun is a professional requirement of editors) coming up with the list of lists and then finding folks who could fill them out in good order, testing to see how fast — and well — they could think on their feet.

Packing so many pieces into one edition of the magazine must surely incite wonder at the marvelous multitude of layers we live on, among, simultaneously.

And having so many lists to ponder just might mean you’ll continue picking up this magazine, leafing through it and thinking about ideas and your education here, all those layers and your life.

The editors