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You’re not gonna use that holiday time off to work out. Read instead.

Bonus: You’ll end up with dinner conversation fodder that isn’t directly related to the impending inauguration, but also isn’t totally superficial. Dig in:

  • In a year of failures (sorry), the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance at Standing Rock was a rare success. How? Why? Louise Erdrich explains for The New Yorker.
  • How do women’s ambitions change when they “grow up?” More importantly, what role does pervasive sexism play in that change? Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace documented how their sorority sisters’ trajectories changed after college for The Atlantic.
  • Standing Rock victory aside, it’s been a very bad year for environmental activists around the world. Kimon de Greef explores the dark world of mining in South Africa via the assassination of an activist who fought to fix it.
  • Food keeps us, you know, physically alive — but the right kind of meal can bolster the will to live. The Ringer’s Danny Chau wrote up a detailed account of the 10 best comfort meals of the year.