Not from the Atlantic, but worth reading all the same!

1) A very interesting collection of very short essays from the Washington Monthly, in which 19 writers and academics answer the question: what book do you really hope our new reader-president will take time to read? Disclosures: I am a proud alumnus of the Washington Monthly, and I have a brief item on the list. But I was surprised and impressed by the recommendations in general and in turn recommend that you read it.

2) An extensive "Oral History of the Bush White House," by Cullen Murphy and Todd Purdum, in the current issue of Vanity Fair. This is a timeline recreation of the last eight years -- not all the big moments and turning points, but a lot of them -- in the words of original participants. I read this two days ago on the flight from Beijing to Washington (don't worry, it only took 20 or 30 minutes of the 13 hours of reading time, with plenty left over to watch the Chinese pirate video of Pineapple Express) and was both riveted and newly shocked about our recent history. Several of my Atlantic Voices colleagues have already reported similar reactions.

If I had been shown this project with no names attached, I would have guessed immediately that Cullen Murphy was involved. During his twenty years as the Atlantic's managing editor, I worked with Cullen on dozens of articles. He had many inspired, favorite approaches, of which one of the most favorite was the careful recreation of "familiar" events, which usually led to surprising results. Two of my Iraq-policy articles -- Blind Into Baghdad, and Bush's Lost Year -- grew out of exactly this approach. This latest package shows the power of this simple idea.

When you're done with those two, return to our great Jan-Feb issue.