How do people deal with the torrent of information pouring down on us all? We regularly reach out to prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts, and the literary world to hear their answers. This piece is drawn from a conversation with Julia Collins, who dominated Jeopardy! to the tune of $428,100 over a 20-day win streak.
The first thing I read is my email. Probably the second thing is I look at the New York Times and see what’s going on. I check social media, see what’s there: Facebook, Twitter. There’s a lot more going on Twitter lately than normal, but mostly see the news that’s on my Twitter feed.
I get the [Times] paper digitally, so I have the iPad app. I always read it online but not on paper. I follow a couple news things, see what the headlines are. I follow Vulture and see what’s going on on Vulture. That’s not exactly news usually but those kind of entertainment-related stories.
You don’t have the time to look at something but you think “Oh, I want to read this.”
Friends will send me Atlantic articles, and usually I’ll bookmark it or open it in a tab and get back to it later, so I do a lot of that. You don’t have the time to look at something but you think “Oh I want to read this.” And then I’ll get back to it sometimes the next day, sometimes later in the day. It depends what I have going on.
I have a friend who sends me a lot of articles, we exchange a lot of articles from The Atlantic, from Vulture, the Times, and all sorts of things. She reads different things than I do. I usually get to it eventually, [though] sometimes it takes a little longer. Sometimes it's when I get things from my friends like “Did you read this yet?” They will want to talk about it, and then I’ll make it a little more of a priority.
Right up my alley is women and girls education, [and] feminism.
My friend knows what I’m interested in. Right up my alley is women and girls education, [and] feminism. That’s a popular topic for me. And then regular political news.
I used to read Jezebel more regularly, and I don’t really read that very often anymore. [My reading] is more topical, like the Times has their big features sometimes, like women who opt out of the workplace and now they want to get back in. More things in that vein. A little less blogger style and more fully fleshed out news articles. I’m more interested in long research and that kind of stuff than quick posts style. I skim things like the Hairpin, and they’ll often link to other work or summarize articles and I’ll click over to the longer piece. I use those kinds of sites as a filter to see what’s out there.
I watch the local news quite a bit in the middle of the day. I tend to watch more local news than national news, because I get my national news from the Times and not as much from the TV.
So many other people are like “Oh it’s part of my dinner routine to have [Jeopardy] on in the background,” but it’s on in the middle of the day where I’m from.
I do watch Jeopardy pretty often, but that’s a middle of the day thing for me because where I work it’s on in the afternoon. Now I tape it. Since I’ve been on it, I started taping it. It’s on at 2:30 in the afternoon where I live. So many other people are like “Oh it’s part of my dinner routine is to have it on the background,” but it’s on in the middle of the day where I’m from. I used to watch it after school when I was a kid because it was on at 3:30 so I’d catch it after school often enough.
A lot of questions [on Jeopardy] I thought “I know this specifically because of X, Y, or Z.” There was that Atlantic category and I read some of the articles that were referenced in it. [The Wire: "I think it was ‘Why Women Can’t' blank."] Oh, ‘Why Women Can’t Have It All,’ I definitely read that. That’s right up [my alley], the feminism and women in the workplace. That was one I definitely read and talked about with people I knew. That was Anne-Marie Slaughter, right? There was no hesitation.
I actually try to limit the amount of time I’m spending clicking on random things on the Internet.
I read a lot of books, too. I actually try to limit the amount of time I’m spending clicking on random things on the Internet. It takes me away from reading books. [I’ll] go down the rabbit hole, and you’ve read 35 articles on Slate and you’re like “What happened to the last couple hours?” That happens sometimes, but I like to read books. That’s actually the last thing I read at night is usually a book.
I recently read The Hare with Amber Eyes which came out a couple years ago. It’s kind of a micro-family history. [Author Edmund de Waal] inherited this collection of antique little Japanese carved figurines and he traces how they came to be part of his family and who they passed to within the family and how he ended up with them. It’s very interesting. The Goldfinch is probably the last novel that I really was into. I read a mix of non-fiction and fiction. I like to have a balance with that.
[I get] no newspapers. Mostly fashion magazines like Vogue, In-Style, Lucky. I read Us Weekly online, I have the app on my phone and I scroll through that pretty often. I have the Times iPad app and I look at that often. But for entertainment news that Us Weekly app, that’s kind of enough. I read lifestyle blogs, too. Not so much news; it’s just entertainment, like Cup of Jo and Oh Joy are pretty ubiquitous, pretty popular, pretty widely read. I enjoy those and scroll through those for an idle five minutes.
I focus more on the things I read in books. Clearly I’m spending a lot of time on the Internet, but that’s partly because I'm between jobs so I have plenty of time to read stuff, which is nice.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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